The first bottle that I bought at the City of London Distillery (COLD) in Bride Lane, just off London’s Fleet Street, was their City of London Authentic London Dry Gin, the first gin they produced, in 2012, although the current version is now on its sixth recipe. The rules around a London Dry Gin classification are quite strict; no artificial colours or flavours can be added, only water and neutral grain spirit can be used along with the selected botanicals, and sugar, if present, has to be restricted to no more than 0.1 of a gram per litre.
Just to muddy the water a little, this is the ginaissance we are talking about, there is another City of London Gin on the market, made by Burlington Distillery and aimed at the export market. The inevitable confusion may have contributed to COLD’s bumpy start, after all, you can’t trademark a location very easily, and will help to explain why they have emphasised their connection with the City of London by incorporating their logo on the labelling and using the word authentic in the gin’s name. If you happen to have a City of London gin in your hand, the easiest way to tell that it is from COLD is to look at the shape of the bottle.
What gives it its somewhat distinctive shape is that the upper part of the bottle, leading up to the neck, is ribbed and just blow is a band with the distillery’s name, giving the impression of the dome of St Paul’s cathedral. I say somewhat distinctive because to me, apart from the dome, it looks like a slightly slimmer Tanqueray bottle. The coat of the Corporation of the City of London is embossed in the glass below the dome and appears twice, once on the neck and once on the labelling at the bottom of the bottle. Just in case you don’t get the message, two griffins appear separately on the label and we are told it is “distilled in the heart of the city”.
The bottle has a distinctive blue hue to it, a sort of washed out royal blue, and the stopper is made of artificial cork. It may be just be my bottles but the seal is phenomenally tight, great for transporting home if a little unsteady after a session in the bar, but a nuisance to open when you’ve got it home. That all said, it looks great.
As to botanicals, it uses juniper, coriander, angelical, liquorice, fresh orange, lemon and pink grapefruit. COLD have styled it as a classic London dry gin, and it doesn’t fail to live up to that billing. Once I had got the top off, to the nose it was reassuringly juniper-led with hints of a citrusy zest. In the glass it is perfectly clear, and in the mouth, it presented a well-balanced, smooth drink with juniper and coriander to the fore. The citrus and the liquorice make their presence felt but do not overwhelm the other flavours. The aftertaste is smooth with a hint of pepper. It went well with a premium tonic, not too much, and makes for a perfect opener for an evening’s drinking.
Its ABV is a respectable 41.3% but if I had one criticism, it would be that it was a bit underwhelming. It had all the right ingredients and was up there among the better London Dries I had tasted but seemed to be missing a little bit of oomph. Perhaps the seventh recipe will fix it.
Until the next time, cheers!