Wessex Wyvern’s Classic Gin

Pick up the right bottle of gin and you can learn a thing or two. A wyvern is a legendary winged dragon, commonly found in insignia and as a heraldic symbol. Unlike its fire-breathing four-legged compadre, the wyvern is bipedal and usually comes complete with a tail which either has a diamond- or arrow-shaped tip. It appears in the heraldic symbol for Wessex and its name is thought to derive from the French word guivre meaning viper or snake. Based in Godalming on the eastern side of the old kingdom of Wessex, the distillery is aligning the name and geographic location of this gin to a tee.

I have tried Wessex’s Alfred the Great Gin before – I am on my second bottle – and I have been impressed by the quality of the product, following on from Jonathan Clark’s sterling work at the City of London Distillery. He certainly knows a thing about making gin and after moving out of the metropolis he commenced operations at Wessex Distillery in 2017. As a distillery they seem adept at marketing and if you keep your eyes open or join their mailing list, they promote some mouth-watering offers from time to time.

Wessex Wyvern’s Classic Gin is not one for the faint-hearted but is aimed firmly and squarely at the drinker who loves a juniper-heavy, juniper-led spirit in the classic London Dry Gin style. And this does not disappoint. With an ABV of 47% it is not about to take any prisoners and from the outset when you remove the enormous cork stopper from the neck, you are overwhelmed by the delightful aroma of juniper in its full glory, tempered with hints of liquorice and pepper and, just discernible, some sweeter notes provided by lemon and honey. In the glass, the crystal-clear spirit is a delight to behold and smell and, in the mouth, it has a kick to it, full-bodied and powerful, and yet allowing the other elements some elbow room. It is a wonderfully well-balanced drink with a prolonged spicy and peppery aftertaste. Perhaps the heralders got it wrong and the wyvern did breathe fire after all.  

Aesthetically, the bottle stands out from the crowd, squat, broad shouldered, rather like an apothecary’s bottle or a decanter, a short neck and an enormously broad cork stopper. The Wyvern gin comes in a dark bottle, compared to the turquoise of the Dry gin, and the label has the same design, the wyvern looking to the right, and Wessex embossed in the glass on the shoulder. The wyvern emblem is also stamped on the cork stopper. Where space is at a premium on a shelf groaning with the fruits of the ginaissance, its size may a problem, but it is a beautiful shape and bottle.

A nice touch is that hanging around the neck of the bottle on a string is what looks like a small silver token. It was only on later inspection, usually the first time I handle a bottle I am more interested in the contents than the external décor, that I realised that is an exact replica of a silver penny coin from the reign of Alfred the Great, the erstwhile and most famous king of Wessex, who ruled around 871 CE.

That sums the gin up. Attention to detail, providing a first-class and thoroughly enjoyable drink.

Until the next time, cheers!

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