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Category Archives: Gin

Gin O’Clock – Part Forty One

The fortunes of social media platforms seem to wax and wane with astonishing rapidity. Who remembers Friends Reunited? Facebook has lost its appeal for many and LinkedIn with pretentions to be the medium of choice for professionals to stay in contact with each other or to rediscover long-lost colleagues is on a downwards slope. But occasionally, they have their uses and you can unearth someone you have lost track of and who is now doing something exciting and interesting. Bear in mind, my contextual framework is insurance and the financial services sector!

Take Tim Boast. I used to work with him in London about ten years ago. I knew he had gone back down-under and had assumed he was beavering away in some financial institution over there. But no. His name came up on one of those irritating prompts that plague social media sites, bringing attention to people with whom you share mutual connections.

What intrigued me about Tim was that he is now the head distiller at Never Never Distilling Company in South Australia. Indeed, he is described on their website as the Fermentalist. Mind you, he has a pedigree in this line; his great, great, great-grandfather was Alfred Gilbey, who founded along with his brothers Gilbey’s of wine, spirits and, of course, gin fame.

At the moment, Never Never produce three gins, which, I understand, are heavily juniper-orientated but with balance restored by a careful selection of botanicals. Sounds my type of gin. I have not tasted any of their wares but Tim told me via e-mail, as he was running off another batch – social media does have its uses – that they are expanding rapidly, have their sights on the Asian market but with no current plans to tap into the English ginaissance. If that changes, I’m sure he will let me know.

In the meantime, more power to his elbow.

Another welcome entrant to the ever-growing field of gins is Berry’s London Dry Gin, which is as you would expect from London’s oldest wine merchants, Berry Brothers and Rudd, definitely a gin of the old school. Relaunched this year (2018) it is based on what was previously known as Berry’s Best. Only one bottle of the original gin remained, dating from the 1950s, and from this the distillers, rather like scientists recreating an extinct animal from DNA samples, have produced a spirit which they believe matches the original.

The bottle is a rather stubby wine bottle with an artificial stopper. My bottle was marked 2018/002, presumably meaning it was from the second batch that they made commercially. The label is black and white with the firm’s two royal warrants proudly printed in gold and bears an illustration of their wine merchant shop at No3, St James’s Street in London in days of yore.

Was the effort worth it?

It is a relatively simple blend of juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root and winter savory, a cure, amongst other things, for flatulence, which might be helpful. On opening the bottle, the primary sensation was of juniper – always a good start in my book – with a sweeter, more floral smell coming through. Crystal clear in the mouth it was smooth, very moreish and with a slightly sweet aftertaste. Competitively priced, weighing in at 40.6% ABV and not to be confused with their already well established no 3 gin, this is a welcome addition to the traditional, juniper led gin stable.

Off to Cornwall to fill my boot and boots with gin. Until the next time, cheers!


Gin O’Clock – Part Forty

Fusion is a style which has gained a foothold in the culinary world and it is beginning to carve out a niche in the ginaissance as distillers jostle to find an edge in an ever-growing marketplace.

Take our featured gin, Jinzu Gin. At first glance you may be forgiven for thinking that it is a Japanese gin but you would be wrong. True it draws its inspiration and some of its botanical from the Land of the Rising Sun but it is distilled in Scotland and is the brainchild of English bartender, Dee Davies. The name Jinzu comes the river that wends its way through the prefecture of Toyama, on the coast of the Sea of Japan on central Honshu, about 300km north-west of Tokyo.

A feature of the river is the profusion of cherry blossom that lines its banks. It would not surprise you, then, to find that cherry blossom is a key botanical in the gin that bears its name. The other botanical giving the spirit an Oriental flavour is yuzu, which, to the uninitiated, is a citrus fruit whose flavour is a mix of lemon and grapefruit. It is used by the Japanese to make jams, marmalades, and ponzu sauce and by the Koreans with honey as ersatz tea.

The principal constituents of Jinzu are juniper, coriander and angelica which are added to a neutral grain spirit and allowed to macerate before the Japanese elements, the cherry blossom and yuzu, are added. It is when the gin taken off the still with a proof of 82%, then something controversial, at least from the point of view of the gin purist, happens. It is blended with Jemnai sake, also distilled on site, and then watered down with Scottish mineral-free water until its fighting weight of 41.3% is achieved. For some the presence of another spirit puts it beyond the pale.

I think you can get a bit too petty about these things and for me what really matters is what the drink tastes like.

To the nose it has a fairly citrusy smell, although there is a hint of sweetness which I assume comes from the sake. In the mouth it is wonderfully clear, smooth, and creamy, again courtesy of the sake, but the solid gin base of the juniper comes through as do the floral hints of the cherry blossom and the citrus of the yuzu. It is unlike any other gin I have tasted and it seems to have been designed to appeal both to the gin drinkers who like a juniper-led hooch and those who prefer a more contemporary style. It runs the danger of falling between the two stools but avoids failure with some panache.

The bottle is clear and slightly dumpier than a wine bottle, with a wooden top with a bird holding an umbrella on it. The stopper to the top is a cork. The front of the bottle again features the brolly carrying bird together with a branch of cherry blossom and an opened bird cage. It is a delicate design in a Japanese style. The label claims that it is distinctively crafted, whatever that means.

If you want to go slightly off-piste, you could do worse than try this outlier of the gin world. My bottle was picked up in CostCo at a price at least a tenner below the RRP.

Gin O’Clock – Part Thirty Nine

The ginaissance continues apace and in a crowded market place it takes something special to create a buzz and to set yourself apart from the rest of the field. So why not use bees?

That seems to be the idea of the brains behind the successful Warner Edwards gin range, founded in 2012 by Tom Warner and Sion Edwards and operating out of the delightful Northamptonshire village of Harrington. Sitting in the garden, doubtless with a glass of the nation’s favourite spirit in hand, they watched the bees going about their business, pollinating the flowers in their borders. The genesis of an idea developed; how about creating a gin using local honey and botanicals from, amongst other places, the garden?

The result – Warner Edwards Harrington Botanical Garden Honeybee Gin. A bit of a mouthful, for sure.

Astonishingly, along with the mandatory juniper and honey, the latter coming from the eleven hives that they now have on their farm, there are 26 other botanicals in the mix, including the obligatory secret ingredient. I could name them all but it would be a bit of a tiresome read. The ones I don’t believe I have come across in a gin before are fresh quince and blue cornflower petals.

Philosophically, I’m always a bit sceptical about gins which are overloaded with lots of botanicals. The risk is that there is too much going on as each flavour fights for dominance or that they all just cancel themselves out. But, hey ho, this seems to be the way with contemporary gins. The botanicals are not macerated ahead of the distillation process and the honey is added post-distillation.

The dumpy, bell-shaped bottle is yellow in colour with a wax seal and a synthetic cork. My bottle was marked “year 2018, bottle 2677”. Come in number 2677, your time is up, I said, as I spotted it on the Waitrose shelf. The label at the back tells me “we lovingly distil 28 carefully selected botanicals and infuse with locally sourced honey and a dollop of golden nectar from our very own hives ion Falls Farm.” At £40 a pop, I would have been pissed if love and care didn’t go into the process. It also bears the imprimatur of the Royal Horticultural Society.

The spirit is clear and at 43% ABV packs a punch. On opening the bottle, the aroma hits you instantly and seems to be a mix of floral, citrus and, perhaps, a touch of herb. To the taste it is a testament to the distiller’s skill. Yes, there are a lot of sensations going on, the honey in particular leaving a delicious hint of sweetness on the back of the throat but the floral notes, citrus and spices make an appearance in a way that complements rather than detracting from the overall sensation. It is also incredibly smooth and, dare I say it, moreish. Despite my reservations, it is definitely a hit.

Bees are tricky things and down tools when temperatures drop below 12C. Honey is only collected in May and September and a distillation run produces 840 bottles a time so there are some natural inhibitors to the amount of the gin that is available. Also the quality and taste of the honey, a key ingredient, will presumably vary.

Oh, and the bottle comes with a packet of wild cornflower seeds. I assume you are meant to plant them rather than sprinkle them in your gin as a sort of garnish.

All in all, a welcome and refreshing addition to my gin stock which is rapidly diminishing. All my Cornish gins have gone so another trip down there is in the offing.

Until the next time, cheers!

Gin O’Clock – Part Thirty Eight

The ginaissance seems to have spawned a bit of a competition at the moment – who can come up with the strangest combination of taste sensations to mix up into a gin. I suppose it helps to raise the profile of my favourite spirit but I find that the search for eccentric or outlandish mixes of botanicals comes at the expense of the more traditional tastes that we associate with gins, principally juniper, as also rans.

Here are two that have almost kissed juniper goodbye but in their different ways provide us with flavoursome contemporary styled gins. Such is the popularity of chocolate – for many it is the ultimate comfort food – that it was inevitable that a chocolate based gin wouldn’t be too long in making an appearance. When it emerges with the imprimatur of the master chocolatiers that are Hotel Chocolat, then it is one to take note of. So I was intrigued to try Hotel Chocolat’s Cocoa Gin which, as far as I can tell, is only available via their outlets (and the web, of course).

The grey labelled dumpy 50 ml bottle, which was of two which Santa kindly brought me, informed me that the gin uses seven botanicals – juniper berries, lemon peel, macadamia nuts, angelica, coriander, roasted cocoa shells and minneola aka tangelo which is a hybrid of a Dancy tangerine and a Duncan grapefruit, some of which come from Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate in St Lucia. The base spirit is a vodka made by the English Spirits Company and the label states that this “small batch artisanal gin” with an ABV of 42% is “infused with cocoa shells.” From this I can only deduce that this is done after the gin has been distilled which would account for the slight discolouration of the gin.

As you might expect having perused the list of botanicals, the aroma upon removing the black wax cap is heavily citrus-orientated but there were hints of chocolate coming through. To the taste it had a strong citrus flavour with a smidgeon of chocolate coming to the fore. The juniper was very much in the background but spices did come to the fore as it moved to the back of the throat, leaving a pleasant, mellow aftertaste. It certainly seemed well made but without a very strong chocolate taste or, indeed, a more traditional juniper-heavy feel to it, it seemed to me to be neither one thing nor the other. It did complement the chocolates that accompanied well, though.

I’m not much of a cake eater but I do like a Bakewell tart. A gin which boasts the principal ingredients of the tart, cherries and almond, was bound to pique my interest and I was lucky enough to be offered a sample of Bakewell Gin. This is a craft gin which features juniper, cubeb peppers, sweet gale, cardamom, hibiscus flowers and cherries and almond. It has a very distinctive pinkish-red colour to it and at 40% ABV has enough kick in it to tickle any palate. The cherry and almond are to the fore but not at the expense of the more traditional flavours and the aftertaste is a subtle mix of cherry and pepper. It is not as sweet as you might think and if you are after something very different, then it is well worth a try.

I was looking at my rapidly diminishing gin supply and I may well have to make a trip down to Cornwall soon. Until the next time, cheers!

Gin O’Clock – Part Thirty Seven

Regular readers of this series will have come to realise that throughout my explorations of the ginaissance, my preference is for the classic juniper-led London Dry Gins rather than the botanically loaded contemporary gins. Occasionally, very occasionally, something comes along which makes me reconsider my prejudices. One such gin is Pink Pepper Gin from Audemus Spirits.

The rather dumpy bottle with a slightly pale yellow liquid had caught my attention on the shelves of my local Waitrose but the price of £40 had rather put me off. Fortified by a nice win on the Premium Bonds, a money-off voucher and a timely drop in price I was encouraged to take the plunge. And I wasn’t disappointed.

It is French, distilled in the Cognac region and has been on the market since late 2013. It was originally produced by Audemus to trial their ability to distil spirits but so popular was the hooch that they watered down plans to be a third party distiller and concentrated on knocking out their very distinctive gin.

It is distinctive in a number of ways, firstly in the range of botanicals – nine in all – that they have chosen, two of which have a whiff of controversy about them in certain parts of the world. The first is pink peppercorn which has given the spirit its name. Botanically it is not a black pepper but is rather a berry from a bush found in South America. However, the similarities to the black peppercorn in shape and its slight peppery taste have given it its popular name. But the American Food and Drug Administration are not amused, preferring a spade to be called a spade, and there has been a bit of a stushie with the French government over its import. The French should stand firm – it will mean more for us to consume!

The other botanical used which is under a bit of a cloud is the tonka bean which is a definite no-no State-side. There are two reasons for this – a high level of coumarin which is moderately toxic to the liver and kidneys and because it was often used as a cheap substitute for vanilla. But, hey, I am doing enough damage to my liver and kidneys drinking gin that a bit of coumarin won’t make too much difference. What is undeniable is that it imparts a wonderful blend of taste sensations ranging from vanilla through to honey, caramel and cinnamon.

What is missing is juniper’s usual companion, coriander – another mark of distinction. For the record, the other botanicals which are named – two are anonymous – are black cardamom, cinnamon, honey and vanilla. The gin is made using the fractional method which means that each botanical is steeped and distilled separately in a neutral wine spirit base before being blended and proofed down to the still punchy 44% ABV, rather than all thrown into the mix together. Yet another mark of distinction.

On removing the synthetic cork stopper, it has a spicy, perhaps peppery aroma with more than a hint of citrus, perhaps one or both of the unnamed botanicals. The taste is complex, well-balanced and an exotic blend of sweetness and spice. It is slightly oily in the mouth and it leaves a wonderful sensation of vanilla and pepper as an aftertaste. It is also incredibly moreish.

Apparently, the taste of the gin changes with age, with the sweeter notes enhanced. Maybe I will be disciplined enough to find out with the next bottle. This is a gin that knocks all your preconceptions about contemporary gin into a cocked chapeau.

Until next time, cheers!

Gin o’Clock – Part Thirty Six

The ginaissance shows no signs of running out of steam. The UK now produces some 500 gins and, according to the tax man – and he should know – there are now 273 distilleries producing hooch. The surge in gin production has given rise to a new term, ginterpreneur, to describe those individuals who are beavering away mixing botanicals to base spirit in the hope of finding the latest elixir to take the market by storm.

Bombay Sapphire in 1988 was the first to try to do something different with gin, bottling the spirit in a distinctive blue bottle and making a great play in detailing the botanicals that went into the mix and their provenance. With bottles of so-called premium gin retailing at prices upwards of £30 a time, it is not unreasonable for the consumer to be told what has gone into it and where it has come from. Of course, you cannot judge the taste by the listing of the ingredients but you can get a sense of what it may be like, whether it is going to have a classic flavour, going to be spicy or have a more citrusy feel.

There is also a definite trend towards what may be termed field to bottle, where producers are sourcing ingredients from their own locality. This is a particularly so with the ever-increasing number of Scottish gins and perhaps the example par excellence is the gins coming from the Chase distillery where the base spirit is made from apples and potatoes grown in the orchards and fields at the farm.

Another classic example is our featured gin, Waddesdon Housekeeper’s Rhubarb Gin, which has only recently hit the market in September 2017 and is distilled in very small batches, the first of which was only 96 bottles. It is difficult to get hold of but Santa rather kindly delivered me a bottle to enjoy. The eponymous housekeeper was a certain Mrs Boxall who, amongst her other duties, was responsible for making liqueurs from the fruit grown on the Waddesdon estate, the weekend retreat of the Rothschild family and now bequeathed to the National Trust. One of her most successful liqueurs was Rhubarb gin and it is her recipe that the estate is following some 117 years later.

The starting point, unsurprisingly, is rhubarb grown in the house’s Eythorpe garden, which is carefully washed to remove any impurities as well as any green sinewy parts and dead flowers, and then chopped up into one-inch squares to leave mainly pink rhubarb, full of those vital Anthocyanins which give it its distinctive colouration. About 450 grams of rhubarb goes into each bottle. The rhubarb is then put into a base spirit comprising of 48% ABV London dry gin and left to macerate for around 4 to 5 weeks before the resultant liquid is blended with a sugar solution. The finished article has an ABV of 21.5% and for those who are sugar conscious contains around 130 grams of sugar per litre.

The bottle is delightfully bell-shaped with an artificial cork stopper. On removing the stopper, there is a delightful aroma of rhubarb. To the taste it is smooth and very rhubarby. I tried it neat and then with a tonic. The labelling on the bottle suggests that it is served with ginger beer – I have not tried that – or with Prosecco. It is a very refreshing drink and would go down a treat with a slug of ice on a warm summer’s evening. The bonus is that its low alcoholic content means you can sup a lot of it before it catches up on you.

It is worth seeking out.

Gin o’Clock – Part Thirty Five

One of the interesting by-products of the ginaissance for the seasoned traveller is that the airport duty-free shops are packed full of premium gins. As well as the usual suspects it is possible to stumble across an unusual gin which at the modestly discounted prices on offer is worth a punt.

Wandering through the duty-free shop in Alicante airport my attention was caught by a white, dumpy, ceramic pot – I am a sucker for a ceramic pot – with a grey, pixellated map of the world on the front. The only splash of colour is a red arrow and a red spot on the area that is the north-west coast of Spain. There is no doubting where Nordes Atlantic Galician Gin comes from. The back of the bottle is like a modern-day Rosetta Stone, with descriptions in Spanish, Italian and English. After reading the ingredients – we will come to them in a minute – and as it was the only gin on offer I hadn’t tried, I decided to deploy my last few Euros and buy a litre bottle.

Readers will know by now that our favourite hooch falls broadly into two main camps – the more traditional, juniper heavy, London dry gins and contemporary gins where a whole cocktail of botanicals are thrown into the mix, leaving the juniper as an also-ran rather than the main protagonist in the taste sensation. Nordes is very much in the latter camp – indeed, it is very hard to detect any of the traditional tastes you would associate with a gin in the drink.

For a start, the base spirit is made from Albarino grapes, rather than the usual grain spirit. Wine buffs tell me that Galician vino made from these grapes are the next thing in summer wines – we will see – but for me, they give the foundation of the spirit a rather sweet taste, from which it never recovers. Continuing on the Galician theme, the majority of the botanicals deployed are garnered from the region. So we find verbena, which, it is claimed, is a cure for melancholy, glasswort, hibiscus, lemongrass and peppermint. A touch of exotica is provided by eucalyptus leaves and the ultra-trendy marsh samphire or sea bean, which no self-respecting contemporary gin can be without, it would seem. To complete the cast list we have juniper – at last! – cardamom, ginger, and tea. The spirit has an ABV of 40%.

Unscrewing the dark blue cap, the aroma from the spirit was definitely floral. To the taste, initially, it seemed as though I had ingested some perfume but gradually other flavours, including a hint of juniper, began to come into play. There was the customary warmth coming through at the back of the throat but it was gentle and as I got accustomed to the crystal-clear spirit, I began to appreciate the complexity lurking within. The aftertaste was rather fruity and floral and lingered, leaving a not unpleasant sensation in the mouth. I found that Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic complemented it well.

In summary, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. It wasn’t unpleasant and would work well if you were spending a languid afternoon basking in the heat which the Nordes wind is said to bring to the Galician region. But for me, it confirmed my preference for the more traditional London Dry Gins. As the French say, a chacun son gout.

Until the next time, salud!

Gin o’Clock – Part Thirty Four

One of the pleasures of members of the family knowing about my explorations of the ginaissance is that they seek out unusual gins for me to try from places that they visit. One such was a bottle of Ibz Premium Gin, which is only available for direct sale in the Balearic island of Ibiza. Such is the power and the reach of the internet, though, I’m sure it can be ordered online from some of the more enterprising wholesalers around. It is produced by Familia Mari Mayans  who are to be found at Sant Antoni de Portmany.

The Familia have been producing liqueurs and spirits for around 130 years and gin for around 50. However, they decided in 2010 to make a premium gin to take advantage of the surge in interest in gin. They began experimenting with various combinations of plants, fruits and aromatic herbs before, in 2012, hitting on their preferred recipe and launching the hooch on to the market.  The base spirit is a pure grain alcohol to which the juniper berries are added in a copper still. Next come the botanicals, sourced from the island to give it a distinctive Mediterranean flavour, namely thyme leaves, fresh rosemary and citrus peels.

The gin comes in a distinctive, cylindrical bottle with an artificial cork stopper. Slightly irritatingly, the neck of the bottle is narrowed which makes pouring the gin a longer process than it might otherwise be the case but probably makes it ideal for optics. There are no labels on the bottle. Instead, a design has been etched into the glass with acid using green and black inks, giving the bottle a greenish hue, and features thyme and rosemary.

To the nose it has a distinctive aroma of juniper and citrus and the taste does not disappoint, with citrus and spice to the fore and a glorious spicy aftertaste. At 38% ABV it as the lower end of the gin strength spectrum but with a splash of your favourite tonic, makes for a distinctive and refreshing drink. A definite hit!

Our next gin is Two Birds Countryside London Dry Gin, which is made in batches of 100 bottles from a 25 litre handmade copper pot still in the Leicestershire town of Market Harborough. It is not to be confused with Two Birds Artisan Spirits of Michigan. This is a classic London gin with the traditional set of botanicals – juniper, citrus fruit., coriander and orris root – to which is added an unnamed countryside botanic. To the nose it has a very distinctive and pronounced juniper aroma but to the taste it is more subtle than some of the more straightforward London gins. The aftertaste is quite spicy, not unpleasantly so, but lingers with you for a while.

The bottle is a dumpy, cylindrical shape with a screwcap. Rather like the bottle of Ibz, the information contained on the bottle is etched into it using blue principally as a background and white for the lettering. You won’t be surprised to learn that there are two birds on the lettering, one atop the W and one perched on the bottom of the S. The ABV is 40% and whether drunk neat or with a mixer, its quality shines through. It is a well-balanced gin where everything within it plays its part well. If your taste inclines towards the more traditional type of gin, this is highly recommended.

Gin o’Clock – Part Thirty Three

The next Cornish gin I purchased from the Aladdin’s cave that is Constantine Stores was a bottle of Caspyn Cornish Dry Gin which, according to its rather prosaic label is distilled with passion. There was me hoping that it would have a base spirit and some botanicals but I think I may have misunderstood the intent of the advertising message.

The spirit comes in a bell shaped bottle with an artificial cork stopper. The front label which is fixed at a jaunty angle is a mix of dark blue and gold on a white background. There is a rather off-putting image of a shark with its mouth wide open and a red seal but get past that and you will find much of the information you need. It is handcrafted, a product of Cornwall made in West Penwith in the west of Cornwall and my particular bottle was distilled on 8th July 2017, the seventy-third bottle from batch 18. The hooch has an ABV of 40%.

Cornish Dry Gin is the first gin to have been produced by Pocketful of Stones Distillery and is supposed to have been inspired by the crisp Cornish spring mornings. The base of the gin is an organic (natch) grain spirit to which the botanicals are added. They seem to consist of juniper, orris, lemon and orange peel, lemon verbena, Japanese tea, hibiscus flowers and some locally foraged ingredients including gorse. The mix is allowed to mascerate overnight and then put into a copper pot still for six hours. The spirit is then reduced to the 40% ABV by the introduction of Cornish water before it is left to settle for a few days. The gin is then bottled, labelled and numbered by hand.

So what is it like? On taking the cork out of the bottle there was an immediate sensation of juniper, floral notes and a hint of tea. I tried it neat first and the Japanese tea was to the fore before a rather pleasing spicy, warm feeling hit my mouth in the aftertaste. Perhaps it is my taste buds but I was surprised that the floral components were not so prominent but the addition of a dash of Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water seemed to enhance the floral elements and tone down the tea. Overall, I was a bit disappointed. It will grow on me, I’m sure.

Near the distillery is to be found a Neolithic stone circle called the Merry Maidens, nineteen of whom were turned into stone for having the audacity to dance on the Sabbath. Two megaliths to the north-east of the circle are known as the Pipers and they are said to have been the musicians who accompanied the girls. The name of the gin, Caspyn, is a variant of the Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network, the y added to make the name more mellifluous. I hope I’m not petrified for being sniffy about the product.

What started me off on this long exploration of the ginaissance was a bottle of Elemental Gin I bought in St Ives. I couldn’t mark my return to Cornwall without buying another bottle. I have reviewed it elsewhere but suffice to say it didn’t disappoint, being a well-balanced gin with a pleasant mix of sweetness at the start leading on to a more bitter aftertaste. It is very smooth and it takes an iron will not to pour another glass.

Until the next time, cheers!

Gin o’Clock – Part Thirty Two

Scanning the array of gins at the Constantine Store, my attention was drawn to a broad, vaguely rectangular-shaped bottle which tapers slightly to the bottom. The labelling had an art deco feel about it deploying blues and gold to reflect the sea and sand of the Cornish coast. What particularly piqued my interest was that it described itself as “handcrafted Trevethan Cornish Gin infused with tradition since 1929.” The top of the bottle is broad, larger than you would find with a normal gin, and boasts a cork. It is a very attractively packaged gin with a hint of quirkiness and rustic charm.

Having made my purchase I couldn’t wait to get it home and give it a try. Fortunately, my expectations were not dashed. Taking the cork out of the stopper my nose was met with a lovely mix of juniper and citrus and the freshness of herbs and spices. I tasted it neat and the first sensation was that of the citrus quickly followed by the juniper base and then a slight bitterness as the liquid washed around my mouth. The addition of a tonic seemed to tone down the bitterness and accentuate the citrus effects and brought the juniper to the fore. It was a thoroughly impressive, well balances, somewhat bold gin and sits proudly towards the top of the list of my favourites.

There are ten botanicals in play – juniper, coriander, cassia, angelica, cardamom, orange peel, lemon peel, vanilla and to add a touch of Cornwall, elder flower and gorse flowers which are picked from the hedgerows of a dairy farm in Trenelgos. The botanicals are macerated with the base spirit for 18 hours before being put into a 300 litre still. The resultant spirit has an ABV of 85% which is then reduced to 70% before being laid to rest in a stainless steel container for up to 48 hours. Natural spring water is added to reduce the spirit to a still punchy 43% ABV and then bottled and labelled by hand. My bottle came from batch number 047.

Naturally there is a story to this gin – isn’t there always? Norman Trevethan was a chauffeur to Earl and Lady St Germans in the 1920s and drove them between Cornwall, where they lived, and London where they were part of the society set. The Trevethans had been distilling gin for some time and by 1929 Norman created a recipe for a perfect Cornish gin. As gin went out of fashion and later generations were not so keen to continue family traditions, the recipe, which was never written down, was laid to rest. Norman’s grandson, Rob Cuffe, along with his friend, John Hall, decided to resuscitate the family tradition.

The only person left alive who had tasted Norman’s hooch was Rob’s mother and she gamely assisted the duo in recreating her father’s pride and glory. By 2015 the spirit was sufficiently close to Norman’s daughter’s recollection of its taste and this encouraged the duo to surf the ginaissance by producing it commercially. The rest is history, as they say.

Of course, whether the current Trevethan actually recreates Norman’s recipe, as the bottle tries to suggest, is a matter of some conjecture. What is certain, though, is that it is a wonderful gin. When my bottle runs out, my dilemma will be whether to try out the mail ordering system of or to have another trip to Cornwall. Decisions, decisions.