Towards the end of June my wife and I normally make an annual pilgrimage to the Falmouth area of Cornwall. One of the highlights, for me at least, is a trip to Constantine Stores, an unprepossessing store with an Aladdin’s cave of gins of all shapes, sizes and qualities. It is also the headquarters of Drinkfinder.co.uk and as, what with one thing and another, we haven’t got down there, I have had to resort to their exemplary mail order service. It was simple to use and the bottles arrived, well packed, the following day. Superb, although I did miss the opportunity to browse through shelves of tempting goodies that the ginaissance has spawned.
Given its location Drinkfinder has a fine selection of Cornish gins and so my selections all come from the south-western peninsula and its outcrops. The first I selected was Rosemullion Dry Gin from the little Cornish village of Mawnan Smith, a village we have driven through many times en route to Glendurgan and Trebah gardens and the head from which the gin takes its name. Among the reasons for selecting it was that I was keen to taste some new gins from the area, the distillery was established in 2018 and the Dry Gin was launched the following year, and I was intrigued by the base spirit that was used.
Not content to do things by halves, husband and wife team, Andy and Liz Bradbury, have not only decided to create their own range of gins but also to develop their own base spirit. Most distillers find the task of creating a gin daunting enough and bring in pre-prepared spirit. Grain is the usual base, although I have sampled apple-based spirits, and spirits using potato and even wine. Fermented sugar, though, the ingredient of choice for the Bradburys is a new one on me. My concern with “unusual” base spirits is that without care a flavoured spirit can unbalance the taste of the gin, giving the botanicals even more work to do. I find that wine spirit, for example, makes the gin too astringent.
The bottle is a work of art, reminiscent of a Plymouth Gin bottle on steroids. Its Cornish roots are shown in the Celtic-influenced logo, repeated both on the front and on top of the wide cork stopper. At the rear at the base is a sticker telling me my bottle is number 90 from Batch DG6 and initialled AJB, presumably by Andy. The only other other labelling is a tag at the neck which informs me that the gin is “born from a passion to create world beating (a phrase now surely devalued) spirits, using traditional techniques from the very heart of the Cornish countryside”. Beautiful, but understated presentation.
The gin is made in copper stills in batches of 100 bottles. Twelve botanicals go into the mix including juniper, coriander seeds, orange, orris root, angelica root, liquorice, black pepper, lemon and cassia bark and Cornish rainwater, of which they get a lot from my experience, is used in the distillation and fermentation process. At 43% ABV it is mid-range in strength, packing enough punch to make it interesting.
So, what is it like?
On the nose it has a full-bodied, intense aroma, a heady mix of the floral and the spicier, peppery juniper-based elements. In the mouth it has quite an intense taste, marking it out from other gins, probably because of the choice of base spirit. It seemed well-balanced with the sweeter elements combining well with and complementing the welcome and intense hit of juniper and the earthier elements. The aftertaste was prolonged and enticing, providing a warm spicy glow.
When I added a mixer, I found that it louched, due to the oily elements in the botanicals, nothing wrong in that. It also seemed that the addition of a tonic gave extra prominence to the herbal and floral elements within the botanicals. I would suggest if you are going to use a mixer, you need to select a fairly bland, neutral one. There is so much going on that to disrupt with an unfortunate choice of tonic would be a shame, if not a crime.
I really enjoyed this gin and it had a taste as distinctive and sophisticated as the bottle it came in. It made me pine for the area.
Until the next time, cheers!