If the ubiquity of their product is a hallmark of success in the world created by the ginaissance, then Whitley Neill must be doing rather well. Supermarket shelves, offies and bars and gin palaces are groaning with their extensive ranges of gins. I tried their original gin, featuring inter alia the fruit of the baobab tree and Cape gooseberries, and was impressed – see https://windowthroughtime.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/gin-oclock-part-twenty-three/
The world has moved on and as I have explored a wider range of gins, my preference has crystallised towards gins which are prominently juniper-led. I seem to be becoming more increasingly out of synch with the gin-consuming public, or at least what gin distillers imagine they want, because coloured and flavoured gins really don’t float my boat. However, as this blog is meant to reflect what is going on in the world of gin, then it would be remiss of me to shut my eyes to what is a significant and vibrant part of the market.
Rhubarb has been a go-to for distillers because it adds a contrast to the piney, peppery flavours imbued by juniper berries. Whitley Neill have gone one step further by adding ginger to the mix to create their Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger Gin. They have certainly got the product presentation right. The bottle is a striking violet colour, quite what that has to do with either rhubarb or ginger, I’m not certain, and the labelling is in a discreet white band about a quarter of the way from the base of the bottle. There it tells me that the gin was “inspired by the glory of the English Country Garden. Essence of rhubarb adds a tart crisp edge whilst the real ginger warms the palate”. It also tells me that they have been distilling for eight generations, from 1762, so you would hope they would know what they are doing.
A couple of things about the labelling put me on alert, the contrast between essence of when describing the rhubarb component in contrast to the real used in relation to the ginger and the impression that the hooch is distilled by them when it is outsourced to Halewood Wines and Spirits in Liverpool. I will pass on my usual moans about the absence of any information about the other botanicals. I understand that the starting point is their original gin to which the rhubarb and ginger have been infused so, if that is the case, it is juniper, Cape gooseberries, baobab fruit, coriander, lemon peel, orange peel, angelica root, cassia bark and orris root.
Removing the artificial cork stopper from the rather dumpy bottle, the immediate hit on the nose is one of rhubarb and ginger, pretty much to the exclusion of anything else. In the glass the crystal-clear spirit is surprisingly sweet to the taste, unlike any other rhubarb gin I have tasted which have been somewhat on the tart side. The sugary sweetness, if you spill some it is very sticky, is probably testament to the use of an essence rather than the real McCoy. Once the spirit has settled down, the juniper attempts to make its presence known as do the citrus element before finishing off with a warming, peppery aftertaste.
It wasn’t an unpleasant experience, although it was a little too sweet for my taste and the essential components of a gin seemed somewhat left behind. It was another one of those gins, there are too many around in my opinion, that seems to be aimed at people who don’t like gin. Why spoil a perfectly good gin to make this concoction?
Until the next time, cheers!