There’s no getting away from it. The boom in the interest in and the proliferation of makers of gin, what I call the ginaissance, has created a wide range of types and styles of the nation’s favourite spirit. Some, though, are a little too wacky for my taste, some a little too clever for their own good and some strain the boundaries of what a gin really should be a little too hard. If I was pressed against a cellar wall and asked to describe my favourite type of gin it would have to be one that was heavily juniper-led with citrusy and peppery notes. It’s not much to ask for but the desire for market edge and differentiation makes it increasingly difficult to find.
So, it is a rare pleasure to come across a gin that is unmistakeably gin and old school gin, at that. Undoubtedly falling into this latter category is the third of my gins supplied by the on-line ordering system offered by drinfinder.co.uk, Burleigh’s London Dry Gin.
It comes from Leicestershire, specifically Bawdon Lodge Farm, adjacent to Burleigh’s wood, part of the Charnwood Forest in the north-west of the county. The story goes, there is always a story with gin these days, that the inspiration for the spirit came during a walk through the woods, Jamie Baxter seeking to summon up the essence of the area. The Dry Gin was the first they produced, launched in July 2014, quickly followed by a number of others, including Leicester Dry Gin (40% ABV), Distiller’s Cut (47% ABV), Export Strength Gin (again 47% ABV) and, regrettably in my view, a Pink Gin (again 40% ABV).
There is something rather no nonsense with the London Dry Gin, starting with the bottle. It is a bell-shaped, black bottle with minimalist labelling in silver and a cork stopper. Alas, there is no clue as to what botanicals are included in the mix, always a bugbear of mine, save that it is made in England and, at the rear, that they are “spirits of adventure”.
Fear not, dear reader, a little bit of research revealed that the local ingredients consist of silver birch, elderberry, dandelion and burdock root. The base ingredients of the gin are juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, cardamom, cassia and fresh orange, all solid and traditional components of gin as a gin should be. The distillation process, which takes about ten hours and produces around 600 bottles a batch, takes place in a 450 litre Holstein copper pot still which has a four-plate side column.
So, what does it taste like?
On the nose, the aroma is a distinctive one of citrus and juniper, fresh and redolent of old school gin. In the glass the spirit is crystal clear and is a very crisp drink, robust, no nonsense but one which allows the more subtle flavours provided by the likes of cardamom and orris to have their fleeting moment in the sun. The aftertaste is long and peppery.
All in all, with an ABV of 40% it is a good solid gin which ticks all the criteria I am looking for in a gin. I am old enough to remember the days when lorries used to tour around selling soft, carbonated drinks, a health hazard on wheels or an obesity truck it would be dubbed these days, and my particular favourite was the very distinctive dandelion and burdock. But the thing that baffles me is that I could not detect those elements in the gin. It may be my taste buds, of course, or that these elements have been toned down to make a better gin. If that is the case, why include them, other than for marketing edge? A strange one.
Until the next time, cheers!