Last week I posted about Highclere Castle gin (if you missed this, you can catch up here). I wanted to learn more so snagged myself a quick Q&A with co-founder Adam von Gootkin…
Can you give us a quick introduction to yourself Hi, I’m Adam von Gootkin, co-founder of Onyx Spirits Co., an award-winning craft distillery producing New England’s first whiskey. In 2017, I partnered with the 8th Earl & Countess of Carnarvon, the owners of Highclere Castle, creating the Highclere Castle Cigar Company. This partnership grew and in 2019 we launched Highclere Castle gin.
It’s September! For some people that means back to school time, or holiday time (which is actually also me), but it mostly means it is Craft Gin Club delivery time! This month’s gin is a lockdown project from Viki Baird and Pat O’Brien in Dublin. The roots of Social gin started long ago when Pat first tried to set up a distillery in Dublin, but sadly weren’t able to secure the necessary funds to get the project up and running. Pat never gave up on the idea, and when they found their plot in Dublin 8, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with it.
From day one, Pat and Viki had three goals for their brand: one, to be modern and use cutting edge technology; two, to be as sustainable as possible; and three, to do good for their local community. From this, Stillgarden Distillery was born. In front of their distillery, they worked hard to build a community garden – what is now known as the Social Botanist Project. They grow a number of their own botanicals and encourage the local community to get involved with their garden as well as teaching them to cultivate their gardens at home. The botanicals in this gin include lavender, mint, rowan berry and rosehip alongside classics juniper, lime peel, lemon zest and cubeb.
I’ve been very quiet recently on the blog, mostly because I got myself a new job which keeps me very busy during the week and I’m trying to have a real social life so not had time to sit down and do any proper gin tasting for a while. I mean, I’ve definitely had gin, but not in a sit down in front of my computer and make notes kinda way. But that changes today because I got my quarterly Craft Gin Club subscription! This month includes a gin I’ve never heard of – Astraea gin.
Distilled in Seattle, Craft Gin Club is providing the platform for their UK launch. Founded by Danielle Leavell, the gin might be made in America, but is Scottish in spirit. After failing to find adequate courses that would teach her the art of distilling in America, she was accepted onto Heriot-Watt’s Brewing and Distilling Masters of Science – one of only seven women in her year of just 50 students.
During her time in Scotland, she saw the emergence of hyper-local gins that are based on foraging botanicals from their local area. She took this ethos home to Seattle and created four gins, each named after a landscape of the Pacific Northwest. This edition, the Meadow gin, is inspired by Paradise meadow at the foot of Mount Rainier – a meadow full of wildflowers. Here she decided on her botanical list including: chamomile; rosehip; lemon verbena; honeysuckle; and lemon balm.
Happy March! The evenings are getting brighter and, for me at least, it’s Craft Gin Club delivery time! This month’s box contains a special edition of Shivering Mountain gin (for a full view of box contents, check out my reel here). Hailing from the Peak District, founder Nick Malaczynski set up his distillery near Mam Tor.
Officially named for “Mother Hill”, Mam Tor is also known as Shivering Mountain due to the soft limestone deposits that wash away and move during rainy periods, giving the mountain the illusion of moving and shivering. The landscape doesn’t just inspire their name. The beautiful bottle features the landmass itself in the base, along with the textured glass refracting the light, and the base being embossed with the co-ordinates of Mam Tor’s summit.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year….aka Christmas! And what does Christmas mean? It’s Craft Gin Club delivery time! This month’s bumper box contains a festive special edition of Kirkjuvagr gin. I have tried their Origin and Aurora gins in the past, and since then they’ve had a rebrand and have some rather stunning new bottles. Based on an island which is closer to the Arctic circle than it is London, their home is important to them. Not only are they inspired by their Viking ancestry, but they are also lucky enough to pick their own native angelica on the island. For this Christmas edition, they carefully selected Aronia berry (also known as the Viking berry) alongside festive spices cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Because it’s Christmas, they also add some frankincense and myrrh – although the only gold you’ll see here is on the bottle. To balance all the spices, they add rose hips and three types of rose – Burnet, Ramanas and Red roses.
It’s somehow September, which means it’s time for me to get my quarterly Craft Gin Club box. This month is yet another special edition, this time hailing from Yorkshire’s Otterbeck Distillery. Founded by a group of friends and set up in a formerly derelict cotton mill on their land, their original gin took six months of experimenting to develop. Clearly this is time well spent as the Cotton gin has won a Gold at the 2020 Spirits Business Awards, Bronze at the 2021 IWSC, and Silver at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Since then, they have designed the Cotton Garden gin to reflect the long, sunny September evenings spent outdoors.
They wanted to highlight some of Yorkshires native botanicals that are found in their garden and along hedgerows including elderberry, yarrow, rosemary, sage, thyme and mint. They balance these herbal notes with lemon, orange, cassia and coriander seed and leaf. This is their fifth gin – their original Cotton gin features watercress and hand-foraged spruce, and their collaboration with Sir Tom Moore is inspired by his childhood holidays in the area. Eliza – their custom built still – includes a vapor chamber allowing them to include the more delicate flavours, which would otherwise get lost in the main pot.
Note: I was kindly sent this bottle as part of a collaboration for International Scottish Gin Day, but as always I’ll let you know my real thoughts.
Let’s face it, we’re all swayed by branding. In my opinion, some of the most beautiful bottles on the market come from the Rock Rose team. I love a ceramic bottle, and the detailing on their bottles is exquisite and instantly recognisable. Started by husband and wife team Martin and Claire Murray, they launched for pre-sale in July 2014 and sold out within 48 hours. Now celebrating their 7th birthday, their range includes four core gins, four seasonal gins, a sloe gin, a vodka, and a host of special edition spirits.
Previously I’ve tried their Winter Gin and Pink Grapefruit Old Tom through Ginvent calendars, but today we are drinking the Citrus Coastal gin which was created in partnership with, and launched through, Craft Gin Club in August 2020. It went down so well that they added it to their permanent collection, and is now available to buy as an eco-refill pouch or through their refill club subscription. This gin certainly doesn’t take the “more is less” approach, it is packed with flavour. Botanicals include two types of juniper, bilberries, locally foraged rock rose root, water mint, lemon verbena (from the distillery garden), and kelp foraged from the shore amongst others. After distillation they add a touch of liquorice salt, sourced from Hebridean Mustard Company, to give it some extra zing. Continue reading →
Note: I was sent a sample of The Artisan Gin to try, but as always I’ll let you know my honest thoughts. Any links marked [Ad] are affiliate links which means I’ll receive a small commission if you use it to buy anything.
If I asked you what country you associated with gin, what would you say? Today I’m drinking a gin from Croatia which isn’t known for producing gin, despite being a big exporter of juniper. The Artisan Gin is made by Vedran Sisak who wanted to create a London Dry style gin using the flavours of his homeland. He uses 14 hand picked, organic botanicals including lemon and orange peel, elderflower, lavender, olive leaf, almond and Croatian national flower, iris. As the botanicals are grown in small scale family farms, each batch is unique and reliant on that season’s weather and growing conditions. This level of care extends to their branding, with a stunning black opaque bottle. Designed with flowing ridges around the bottle, you just want to reach out and hold it in your hands. To ensure what is inside the bottle is just as good as the outside, Vedran vacuum distils each botanical to ensure only the best flavour makes it into the final mix. So, how does it taste?
Note: I was kindly sent a pouch of 44ºN gin to try from BBBdrinks, but as always I’ll let you know what I think. This blog post also contains affiliate links which are marked by [Ad] and if you purchase the gin through this link, I will receive a small commission.
44ºN gin hails from Côte d’Azur in France and is named after the co-ordinates of their home town. They aimed to create a luxury spirit which reflects the Mediterranean coast, with the bottle is designed to reflect the bright blue colour of the sea as the sun starts to set. Based in a perfumery, they’ve been renovating the building and bringing together traditional distilling and new technology. They distil bitter orange with cade (a juniper variety from the Med), immortelle (a scrub plant which mixes dried fruit with hay), mimosa (no, not the cocktail, instead a sweet plant), verbena (for that lovely herby/citrus note), and Centifolia rose. They describe the taste as an “intriguing journey”, so let’s see what it’s got.