Sir Robin of Locksley Gin

The ginaissance has spawned so many gins that it is inevitable that some of the age-old categories of gin, London Dry, Old Tom, flavoured, contemporary and the like, are under strain. One gin that is certainly category-fluid is one that I picked up on my recent visit to Constantine Stores, the unprepossessing headquarters of Drinkfinder.co.uk, Sir Robin of Locksley Gin.  

The gin is named Robin of Locksley after the outlaw, Robin Hood, who made his name, so legends and film industry tell us, by robbing the rich to give to the poor. I assume that there is no irony intended in the name by producing an artisan gin that costs well in excess of £30. Robin Hood operated around Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, but the gin that bears his name is distilled in Portland Works, a co-operative in Sheffield.

By ginaissance standards the gin has been around for ages, first launched in 2014. The botanicals that go into the mix are the classic five of juniper, coriander, cassia, angelica, and liquorice, supplemented with dandelion picked in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire elderflower with the citrus element provided by pink grapefruit. The distiller, John Cherry, uses a neutral grain base spirit in which the botanicals are soaked ensemble for around 18 hours, before distilling them in a stainless teel hybrid still. My bottle is marked is marked number 1,380 from UK batch 68. When blended and bottled the end product has a very acceptable ABV of 40.5%.

The bottle is rather squat with rounded shoulders, a red cap with an artificial stopper and the back of the labelling gives the bottle and spirit a light green hue, a clever touch. The logo is a very distinctive “R”, made up from a still, a feather and botanicals and appears both on the top of the bottle and on the front label. The light green colour scheme is continued on the front labelling which informs me that it is “distilled artisan gin” and that it is from recipe number 61.

The rear of the bottle informs me that the distillers “lovingly blend traditional botanicals with more delicate infusions of elderflower, dandelion, and pink grapefruit, which make for a uniquely distinctive gin”. It is commendable that they go some way towards answering the perennial question: what is in the gin? The bottle is embossed with Locksley at the top of the neck and has further embossing encircling the lower part of the bottle. It has an elegant look, but I do wonder whether the look is strong enough to stand out on a crowded shelf. Perhaps it is aimed at those who are on the look out for it rather than the opportunist buyer?

Looks and ingredients are all very well, but what does it taste like? To the nose the dominant aroma is one of citrus from the grapefruit and coriander coupled with a herbier tone from the dandelion. It has the sweet sensation of an Old Tom. In the glass the juniper initially makes its presence felt in the clear spirit before giving way to first the elderflower and then more sweeter notes before a more bitter but sweet sensation, presumably from the grapefruit, takes over. The addition of a tonic had a transformative effect, enhancing the sweetness within the botanicals before producing a crisp, dry aftertaste.

In style the gin seemed to be a cross between an Old Tom with its distinctive sweetness and a more conventional juniper-led London Dry. I enjoyed it, but you need to be careful with your choice of tonic as an unduly sweet mixer could tip the whole thing into a sickly mess.

Until the next time, cheers!

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