One of the hardest things about exploring the ginaissance is striking a balance between returning time and again to gins that you like and taking a risk with something new. Now that there are many more premium gins on sale in pubs and bars you can mitigate the risk of trying something new by ordering a double of what you fancy while you are out on your travels. The problem with this approach is that your palate may not be fresh when you sample it and anyway the sheer pretentiousness that goes with tasting a gin is best done in the privacy of your own four walls.
The gin I am featuring this time is a local one, Silent Pool, whose distillers are to be found on the Albury Estate in the Surrey Hills near Guildford. Legend has it that Prince John came across the daughter of a woodcutter bathing in the altogether in the spring-fed lake known as Silent Pool. Instead of wooing her as he had intended the lusty prince startled her and she swam off to the centre of the lake, got into difficulties and promptly drowned. Her screams, they say, can still be heard around midnight.
Whether there is any truth in this I know not or what the frightened maid has added to the waters of Silent Pool is unclear but Silent Pool Distillers use the spring water, filtered I’m pleased to say, in the process of making their hooch. Their aim, according to their publicity, is to make a spirit which resonates with the area and utilises as many local botanicals as possible.
The gin comes in a beautiful turquoise tinted bottle with the 24 botanicals used pictured in a coppery colour. The top has a copper coloured seal and the stopper is made of glass. The front of the bottle bears the legend in white “Silent Pool – intricately realised gin – distilled from grain”. It is 43% ABV and there is no batch number, at least on my bottle supplied with their normal efficiency by those nice people at 31Dover.com.
The gin is crystal clear and to the nose is quite fresh and floral with a hint of honey. It is a surprise when to the taste it appears much more peppery and spicy than the aroma might indicate. The juniper is there but is quite subdued and there are a variety of flavours and sensations to enjoy as the botanicals jostle for attention. The aftertaste is citrusy and then spicy with a hint of lavender. I would put it at the more floral end of the gin tasting spectrum and, perhaps, there are too many botanicals in play to make it a truly exceptional gin.
The base spirit is made from grain and to that is added the first tranche of botanicals including angelica, bergamot, bitter orange, cardamom, cassia, coriander, cubeb, grains of paradise, locally sourced honey juniper, liquorice and orris. These are allowed to soak in the base spirit for 24 hours before being transferred into a 250 litre copper pot still. Alongside, chamomile, elderflower, kaffir lime leaves, linden flowers and rose petals are soaked in a higher proof spirit, filtered and then added to the mix already in the still.
Within the still is a gin basket in which the remaining botanicals – lavender, lime, orange and pear – are added together with additional angelica, bitter orange, coriander, grains of paradise and juniper. By the time the alcohol has travelled up the rectification column it has attained an ABV of 90% and then is blended with the spring water to ensure that socks are not knocked off by the first sip.
Until the next time, cheers!