In the south-east of Cornwall, some seven miles of Liskeard, is to be found the coastal town and resort of Looe. Its intriguing name comes from the Cornish word Logh which means a deep water inlet. The River Looe dissects the town into West and East Looe, connected by a bridge. As well as a sandy beach it boasts a small harbour and a quayside. One of the more recent occupants of the attractive properties along the quayside is Copperfish Distillery, the distillers of a range of gins including Looe Original Dry Gin.
The brainchild of Andy Walton, the distillery began operations in 2018 producing moonshine. With aspirations to distil a range of spirits including whisky, rum, and gin, he decided he needed to buy a still, something that proved easier said than done. However, teaming up with consultants, Ryebeck, Walton obtained the necessary finance and settled for a still with a capacity of five hundred litres, which had to customised to fit a building with low ceilings. It has three columns rather than the usual two and twelve bubble cups.
The still was installed and commissioned in late 2019 and a week later, just before Christmas, Looe Gin was launched, the first of an extensive and growing range of gins that the distillery produces as it surfs the ginaissance. As the strap line on the rear of the bottle says, it is “made on the quay by the sea”. As distillers they make a point of sourcing all their ingredients locally, wherever possible, both to reduce their carbon footprint and support the local economy. All their spirits are made from scratch and, reassuringly, they sample and test all their drinks to ensure that the drinker will have a product at its best.
Although appearances are not everything, with a consumable product which commands a premium price and with so many options to choose from, it is essential that the consumer’s attention is grabbed. Some distillers seem to forget this aspect or take a rather po-faced approach to packaging their product. Copperfish, though, have taken this essential ingredient of a brand’s success on in (buckets and) spades. There is a distinctly seaside, saucy postcode-feel to the branding, a bold colourful picture of a mermaid adopting a model’s pose in front of Looe beach. The illustration may be a little passe and, perhaps, a tad controversial in these politically correct days of sexual equality, but it certainly makes an impression.
The bottle itself is made of clear glass, cylindrical in shape with a narrow shoulder and neck leading to a silver screwcap. The label at the rear, pale yellow background with gold, light blue, and black lettering, tells me that the “fine gin is made from grain spirit and a carefully selected recipe of botanicals” and that my bottle is number 52 from batch 16. A little detective work reveals that among the botanicals that make up the spirit are juniper, coriander seed, orange peel, cinnamon bark, lemon peel, angelica root, and orris bark. It is a firmly traditional set of botanicals that puts it firmly in the London Dry Gin camp.
On the nose it provides a welcome hit of juniper with citric elements mellowing the impact. In the glass, this spirit with an ABV of 40% packs a powerful punch of juniper and orange and the other botanicals provide a long dry finish. It reminded me of a louder, brasher, more traditional relative of Tarquin’s Cornish Gin and there is nothing wrong with that.
Until the next time, cheers!