Gin O’Clock (111)

An early pioneer of the ginaissance, Martin Miller’s Gin has divided opinion amongst the gin cognoscenti, not least because in its early days, the distillate was taken all the way to Iceland and back, to be blended with that country’s fresh and pure water. The water now comes to Martin, so to speak, and so the rather heavy carbon footprint associated with the gin has been reduced. Despite its critics, the gin is a survivor, celebrating its 20th anniversary last year, 2019, and regularly to be found on the shelves of some of the nation’s larger supermarket chains.

How, then, to celebrate their anniversary? Obviously, by releasing a twist on their staple Gin in the form of Martin Miller’s Summerful Gin, which was made available between May and September 2020. I secured my bottle in August from our local branch of Waitrose. It comes in the distinctive Martin Miller bottle, tall and slim and extremely well-shaped for the hand. The labelling has a green background, representing the botanicals and, in particular, the two, rosemary and Arctic thyme, that make this version so distinctive. The label at the rear of the bottle informs me that “as Arctic thyme is emblematic of Iceland’s short summer and rosemary, a distinctive flavour of the English countryside, Martin Miller’s Summerful Gin includes an additional distillation of those botanicals, filling it with the essence of summer”.

As far as I can tell, the starting point is the original gin whose botanicals are juniper, coriander, angelica root, orange peel, lemon peel, lime oil, orris root, cassia bark, ground nutmeg, liquorice, and cucumber distillate. In the process the earthier botanicals are distilled separately from the citrus elements, before being combined and the cucumber distillate added. This dual process is supposed to give the citrus some extra oomph. Summerful adds a third distillation to the process, for the Arctic thyme and rosemary. The thyme is supposed to bring some floral and earthier notes to the distillation with hints of citrus and mint while the rosemary brings lemon and piney aromas.

The good news is that the drink retains the distinctive smoothness and freshness of the original. On unscrewing the silver metal cap, the aroma is intriguing, distinctly junipery but with floral and citric notes. In the mouth the initial sensation is one of warm, reassuring juniper and spice. Almost imperceptibly the warmer flavours of the floral elements and pepper creep up on you before ending with the soft savoury notes of the thyme and coriander. It made for an intriguing and satisfying drink which, with an ABV of 40%, made for a gentle and welcome thirst-quencher on a warm summer’s evening.    

It worked well with a good tonic and I would imagine it would make an excellent, reliable base for many a cocktail. If this is what happens when Britain combines with Iceland, then long may the entente cordiale continue.

Until the next time, cheers!

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