For those who have put up with my ramblings on the ginaissance will know by now, I have long been an advocate of less is more. There is a detectable trend amongst some distillers to throw the botanical version of the kitchen sink, perhaps a herb garden, into the mix and to attempt to impress us by making something vaguely drinkable from a wide range of disparate ingredients. There is a skill in doing that, for sure, but the benefits to the drinker are marginal compared with the effort and ingenuity that has gone in to making it. I like to have a fighting chance of identifying the individual botanicals.
To help make my case, I call upon the second bottle I bought from the City of London Distillery (COLD), their Christopher Wren Gin. I had mentioned elsewhere that COLD had experienced a bit of a rocky start but this gin, which was a winner of a Double-Gold Award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition of 2016, can fairly be said to have put the distillery back on its feet. In a change of direction Their Christopher Wren Gin, launched in 2015, was designed by Jonathan Clark in conjunction with Tanqueray’s former master distiller, Tom Nichol.
It comes in the distinctive trademark bottle of COLD with a dome resembling that of nearby St Paul’s, appropriate as the cathedral was Sir Christopher Wren’s architectural masterpiece. Unlike the bottle of Authentic London Dry Gin, which is blue, it is a light, almost carbon, grey in colour. However, like its companion gin, it has that infernally tight artificial cork stopper which is a so-and-so to remove, both initially and on subsequent occasions. The labelling, apart from the obvious change for the name of the gin, and the embossing on the bottle are the same.
As for botanicals, there are just five in the mix – juniper, coriander seed, angelica, liquorice root and sweet orange. On removing the stopper, it is remarkably light on the nose, perhaps designed to lull us into a false sense of security, because it reveals its full colours in the mouth. The first sensation is one of orange but soon the juniper and angelica make their presence known before the liquorice rounds the drink off, giving it depth and long aftertaste.
It is a gorgeous drink, complex, well-balanced and smooth, and with an ABV of 45.3% packs the punch that the Authentic London Dry Gin seems to lack. There are a lot of London Dry Gins on the market but this one hits the spot, providing a welcome hit of juniper and, because of the decision to use a small number of but complementary botanicals, a touch of complexity and balance as the other flavours get to work. The quality of the gin was not diminished by the addition of a premium tonic, if anything the gin tasted even more moreish.
I can see why this gin has turned the fortunes of COLD around and once I have finished my bottle, I will be ordering another. You can’t say fairer than that.
Until the next time, cheers!