Whitley Neill Connoisseur’s Cut Gin

Whitley Neill have been around since 1762 and Johnny Neill is the eight generation of the family involved in distilling spirits. Since launching their gin range in 2005 with a gin featuring baobab fruit and Cape gooseberries, they have seen a meteoric rise in their fortunes, producing the number one selling premium gin. Over time they have produced a variety of gins to pander to the demand created by the ginaissance, including Rhubarb and Ginger, Blood Orange, Raspberry, Parma Violet, Quince, Lemongrass and Ginger, Protea and Hibiscus, and more. Given my preference for juniper-led London Dry gins, very few of their gins have ever interested me enough to buy one. Clearly, they do not need my custom.

However, browsing the gin shelves of my local Waitrose store, I did come across one that looked intriguing, Whitley Neill Connoisseur’s Cut Gin, aimed, the publicity said, at the true gin connoisseur. It is an interesting collaboration with the City of London Distillery in Bride Lane, the first distillery to operate in the City of London for two hundred years and still the only one, so far as I can tell. As I am a fan of the City of London gins a bottle went into my grocery basket.

The aim was to create a classic London Dry style gin which was rich in juniper and refreshing citrus. The list of botanicals used in creating the spirit are the classics you would associate with that style of gin – juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, and the peels of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits – a combination that certainly seems to meet the brief.

The bottle is in the distinctive Whitley Neill using a vibrant dark blue glass for its cylindrical bottle with a narrow shoulder, embossed with “Whitley Neill” and a short neck. The stopper is wooden with an artificial cork. There are some subtle changes to the standard Whitley Neill to show the association with City of London Distillery, the coat of rms of the Corporation of London displayed on top of the stopper and in the centre of the front of the bottle. The riband towards the bottom of the bottle, just above the embossed “distilling for generations”, also has the coat of arms around which some wording tells us that it is distilled at the City of London Distillery. It is clearly trying to set itself apart from the normal Whitley Neill fare, whilst retaining the characteristics of the brand.

On opening the stopper, the initial sensation is satisfying and reassuring, an enormous hit of peppery juniper assails the nostrils, softened by the citric notes. In the glass it is a perfectly clear spirit, and it does not disappoint. There is no mistaking that it is juniper-led, the peppery notes are bold and brash, before the subtler hints of lemon, grapefruit, orange, and liquorice start to make their presence felt. The aftertaste is long, warm, and peppery, the lemon and pine making a pleasant and lingering sensation in the throat. At an ABV of 47% it is not for the faint-hearted, but it is a well-balanced and impressive gin.   

It shows what a gin can be without the distractions of exotic or eccentric flavourings and has gone a long way to restoring Whitley Neill’s reputation in my eyes.

Until the next time, cheers!

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