Wessex Wyvern’s Spiced Gin

Even the most intrepid explorer of the ginaissance will find that they have their favourites or hit upon a distillery whose range of gins, like the Sirens in Greek mythology lure, and charm them into their warm embrace, never to let them go. This is the effect that the spirits of Wessex Distillery, found deep in the Surrey Hills in Wormley, near Godalming, in what was eastern Wessex in days of yore, are having on me, establishing them amongst my all-time favourites.

There is a lot to admire about the Distillery. It is firmly a family enterprise, the Clarks having set up shop in 2017, although Jonathan had been involved in the City of London distillery from 2012 in what was a long, protracted, and occasionally bitter, saga to establish the first distillery in the Square Mile of the capital in two hundred years. All their gins are made in a 240-litre copper pot still, named Toby after a grandparent, reinforcing the family feel about the enterprise.   

The bottles are distinctive with a no nonsense look of a potion bottle about them; dumpy, thick glassed, fluted, with a wide shoulder embossed with the name Wessex, leading to a short neck and, a welcome feature, a real cork stopper. Their logo features the Wessex Wyvern, a legendary bipedal dragon, noted for the lack of fire that it exhales from its mouth, wrapped around the iconic Wessex Gin goblet. The choice of logo certainly grounds the distillery to its locale but sits a little oddly on the greyish coloured bottle which they use for their Wessex Wyvern’s Spiced Gin.

Jonathan and his team are also proficient marketeers, always willing to tempt neophytes and old hands alike with interesting and innovative offers. Ahead of Valentine’s Day they were promoting a 15% discount and free branded goblets on their range of spirits, an offer that proved too much for me to resist. There are also nice, if unnecessary, features to look out for such as the silver penny that hangs around the neck of some of their bottles, an exact replica of the rare coin from the age of Alfred the Great. Everything about the product and its presentation exudes careful thought, love, pride, and being at one with the traditions of craftsmanship.

Tired of gins that are insipid to the taste, or too sickly and sweet, or have lost contact with the central premise that first and foremost gin is a juniper-based spirit, I like to taste the juniper and for the drink to be distinctive, with a presence and, ideally, a bit of a kick. It is not much to ask for, but, increasingly more difficult to find. What intrigued me about Wessex’s Spiced Gin was that it promised me a “robust, fiery gin”.

Although, frustratingly, there is no definitive list of the botanicals that go into the spirit, it is pretty clear that the foundations of this gin are built on a solid and welcome bedrock of juniper and coriander. The top notes are provided by fresh ginger, cardamom, and cubeb, while a not inconsiderable kick is provided by Indian cloves before the longer lasting citric notes provide a cooling aftertaste. I found it remarkably well-balanced as a drink with all the disparate elements allowed time to play their part and the potency of the spices not allowed to overwhelm the whole. Some care needs to be exercised over choice of mixer to avoid upsetting the delicate balance.   

With an ABV of 40.3% its punch is not so much one to the solar plexus as one that lets you it means business. It is a seriously impressive gin from a seriously impressive distillery. Keep an out for it, you might even stumble across an offer.

Until the next time, cheers!

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