Such is the proliferation of gins that have emerged courtesy of the ginaissance that it is well-nigh impossible to keep on top of what is going on. I have long since abandoned as somewhat forlorn any ambition I might once have had of sampling them all. In truth, there are many, particularly the outlandish end of the flavoured gin spectrum, that I could live without but I do enjoy exploring small craft, distinctly regional gins and this week’s subject, Lantic Gin, from the Skylark Distillery in Lostwithiel fits the bill perfectly.
The name Lantic is a tip of the hat to Lantic Bay, a stunning stretch of coast with near white sand, turquoise water and lush clifftops, running between Fowey and Polperro in south-eastern Cornwall. In former times it had associations with smuggling but for distiller, Alex Palmer-Samborne, it is today the source for some of the botanicals that go into the mix. Whilst out walking with his dog, Alex gathers Rock Samphire, Gorse Flowers, Water Mint, Heather, Lemon Thyme, and Apple Mint which give his gin its distinctive flavour and play upon the solid base provided by the other nine botanicals.
The base of the gin is a neutral English grain spirit, diluted with Cornish spring water, into which the nine base botanicals including juniper. They use a 150-litre copper pot still called Virginia into which the mix is poured and left overnight. The six locally foraged botanicals are then added the following day and reheated. The spirit is then diluted with Cornish spring water to bring it down to its fighting weight of 42% ABV. The use of Cornish water allows Skylark to designate their product as Cornish gin.
I bought my bottle at the excellent Constantine Stores, the physical incarnation of drinkfinder.co.uk. It is bell-shaped, clear with a synthetic stopper. The labelling consists of very light blue and white stripes with the lettering in a dark blue (think Cambridge and Oxford). There is a bit of a nautical feel to the label which informs me that it is “hand made by the Skylark Distillery, the Spirited Company of Foraging Ginmakers”. Disappointingly, there is no batch number or bottle number on the label. I know it must be a fag to do that but if you are going to go to the trouble of presenting yourself as a small, artisan distiller, it helps to make the point.
It seems Alex and his friends, it pays to be friends with a distiller, had fun testing the various batches in an attempt to come up with the perfect recipe. The initial gins were juniper-heavy but they decided to move away from that to produce a more contemporary, floral, lighter, smoother gin. To the nose it is clear that this is going to be distinctive with the juniper downplayed and the floral elements to the fore. In the mouth it is a complex drink with a nice balance of all the elements in play with a smooth, lingering and none too spicy aftertaste. I mixed it with Navas tonic and its lightness brought out the best of the spirit.
I enjoyed it, although I was missing the heavy juniper notes, and I found it a good opener to the evening. Indeed, so moreish is it that I am in danger of having to send out for some emergency supplies.
Until the next time, cheers!