There are only so many of bottles of gin that you can pack into an already crammed car boot and, frankly, afford. So some hard choices have to be made when you are surfing the ginaissance. On my visit to the wonderful Constantine Stores last September I debated long and hard about adding Tarquin’s Handcrafted Cornish Gin but ultimately decided to leave it until my next trip. So, naturally, it was near the top of the list of gins to buy on my recent visit.
Unlike Herno and Granny Garbutt’s you can’t say that the bottle doesn’t stand out from the crowd, courtesy of a rather spooky looking, light blue, melted wax creation which runs from the top of the bottle down to its mid-point. Once the contents have been consumed it would make a great candle holder or a decoration for your Halloween celebrations. The label is black with Tarquin’s Dry Gin in silver print and a picture of a flying bird with berries in its beak – juniper, perhaps. The logo is repeated on the wax wrapping on the cap and the stopper is an artificial one.
The hooch comes from Southwestern Distillery which is located on Higher Trevibbhan Farm in St Ervan, near Wadebridge in Cornwall. The distillery was established in 2012 – it now has three copper stills – and the gins were first made available commercially in the following year. Each batch produces 300 bottles of hooch and only spirit from the heart of the run, the head and tail lis discarded, makes it into the bottles. My bottle came from batch 1033 and bears Tarquin’s signature, as do all bottles made for commercial sale. Beware all imitations!
The sourcing of the botanicals is distinctly cosmopolitan. The juniper comes from Kosovo, the coriander from Bulgaria, angelica root from Poland, orris root and bitter almond from Morocco, cardamom seeds from Guatemala, cinnamon from Madagascar, liquorice root from Uzbekistan and Devon violets from Tarquin’s garden. The citrus notes are provided by the zests of seasonal sweet orange, lemon and grapefruit.
The base is a wheat spirit into which the botanicals are steeped overnight, distilled, tasted and adjusted and cut with pure Cornish water sourced from the Boscastle area to bring it to its fighting weight of 42% ABV. When Tarquin, the distiller, is satisfied with the end product, it is laid to rest for a few days before being bottles, sealed and labelled. Quite a performance!
And all the effort is not wasted. It has a very solid base of traditional gin botanicals and these come through loud and clear when the stopper is removed. But the citrus elements are also to the fore. When poured into a glass I found it a very well-balanced spirit, clear, juniper to the fore before the more earthy spices and citrus flavours come into play. It was neither too spicy nor too sweet, a sure sign that the mix and balance was just right. Surprisingly, perhaps, it did not leave much of an after taste but, I suppose, that is an invitation to reacquaint yourself with the taste sensation by having another mouthful.
I was really impressed and it is up there with my all-time favourites. At the rate I am going I can see I will have a spooky candle holder well in time for Halloween!
Until the next time, cheers!