Category Archives: Gin

Jynevra Organic Gin

In 2006 that head brewer Stuart Thompson and distiller David Carbis formed Atlantic Brewery with the specific brief of creating unique, memorable, and quality small batch alcoholic drinks. They quietly beavered away for a decade or so on Treisaac Farm, a 2.5-acre site a few miles from the sea near Newquay in Cornwall, making a name for themselves by using traditional methods to create contemporary organic ales, using the wealth of natural and organic ingredients which they grow on the farm, including their own hops, or forage or otherwise acquire from the county. Atlantic Brewery is still an important part of their endeavours.

However, in 2017 they decided to see if they could make some headway in the market spawned by the ginaissance and established Atlantic Distillery. They now have a range of gins and vodkas to offer the discerning drinker, all organic, vegan, and organic producer and processor accredited. Their sustainable practices ensure that the botanicals used in their spirits are free from herbicide, pesticide, and insecticides. Adding further to their green credentials, Atlantic Distillery is powered by the wind and Cornish sunshine, they use their own Cornish spring water and for packaging, the bottles are made from re-cycled glass, the labels are paper rather than plastic and the cardboard boxes contain as little printed matter as possible.

The spirits are distilled in copper Bain-marie stills, which are essentially double boilers, often used to produce delicate sauces such as hollandaise and béarnaise as well as alcoholic beverages. The design is simple; an interior pot chamber which sits above a larger pot half-filled with water. The water acts as a form of insulation, allowing the mixture in the interior pot known as the mash, to heat slowly, and generally very evenly, thus preventing the botanicals from scorching and preserving their natural flavours.

Bain-maries can run continuously, as the water does not need to be replaced often. Steam is purified by the still’s copper, is condensed, and then falls back into the large pot to be used again. They are also highly efficient; the reflux and natural refining of the distillate means that fewer cuts are needed to make the spirit.

Jynevra is Cornish for gin and, appropriately, is the name for what Atlantic Distillery describes as its signature gin, and the first they produced. The bottle is squat, dumpy with pale green glass. Rounded shoulders lead up to a short neck, a wooden cap, and a cork stopper. The eye-catching part of the bottle os the labelling just below the neck, a riot of copper coloured engraving and wording against a black background, giving it a distinctive and somewhat old-fashioned feel. Underneath that, the essential information, including its ABV of 40% is given in more subdued black and white lettering against a blue background.

Sadly, they are not forthcoming on the precise make up of the botanicals, but it is clear from the aroma of the spirit that there is a bold hit of juniper, and that orange dominates the citric elements. This impression is not dispelled when the crystal-clear spirit is poured into a glass. The juniper is punchy and more than holds its own against the overtures of the orange, bergamot, soft spices, and some discernible floral notes.

I wonder if Juniper and orange is a particularly Cornish combination. I have had several gins over the last couple of years from the region where orange is the dominant citric element. I am not complaining as I think it makes a great companion for the juniper.

All in all, this is a delightful gin, one that grows on you. It is well worth seeking out.

Gin Resolutions

Here are my hopes for the gin world for 2023.

Survival of the fittest

With rising energy costs and the cost-of-living crisis, you do not to be a genius to realise that the artisan gin world is going to have a tough time with many lucky to come out the other side with a business intact. Let’s hope that as many as possible survive, especially those that bring something distinctive and refreshing to the market, survive to tell the tale and resist the siren calls of the big boys.

More information for the consumer

The other side of the coin is that the consumer will have less spare cash to make impulse purchases and will increasingly stick with the tried and tested. Gins that command a premium price will be seen even more as a luxury item, a treat. There is even greater incentive for distillers to be more up-front with the identity of the botanicals they use and the flavour profile, stripping away the marketese to give the prospective consumer an honest description of what is inside the bottle. While the precise calibration of botanicals is, rightly, a trade secret, it is not too much to expect a complete list of botanicals rather than a select number plus “special ingredients”. Distillers who are open about their product are more likely to survive.

Industry standards

With too many products marketed as gins that are either not gin by the generally accepted definition, having an ABV of 37.5% or above, or where the juniper has been so dissipated that it has waved a white flag and surrendered, there is a very strong case for a strengthening of the criteria for a gin to be so classified. At the same time, a standard flavour profile could be agreed on and distillers encouraged/forced to include it on their labelling. It is getting a bit of a Wild West out there and serious distillers and gin enthusiasts would welcome such steps. Let’s hope 2023 sees some progress on this.

Until the next time, cheers!

Gin Awards 2022 (3)

Bottle Design of the Year

I have long been fascinated by the design and shape of gin bottles, a sure fire way to get your product noticed in the crowded field spawned by the ginaissance. Here are my two favourites, and they are diametrically opposed in concept and execution.

Artingstall’s Brilliant London Gin

The paramount statement piece of this gin and what makes Artingstall’s stand out from the crowd is the bottle. It is stunning, a huge, square block of embossed glass, reminiscent of the classic cut glass decanters of the 1950s and 60s, which would do serious damage if you dropped it on your toes. The design was based on an old cut-glass decanter Feig found in a charity shop and has a wide glass top with a white synthetic stopper. The labelling is a classy black, textured with a gold foil border and gold lettering. It is magnificent.

I cannot bear to part with it and even though its contents have long gone, it stands proudly amongst my gin collection.

Ebba Cornish Dry Gin

Mounts Bay Distillery have managed to grab the browser’s attention in a completely different way. The bottle housing their Ebba Cornish Dry Gin is stunning, simplicity personified, but elegant and something you will want to keep and cherish, long after the original contents have gone.

Slim, circular with a medium-sized neck, leading to a wooden top and cork stopper, it is made of a sort of duck egg green ceramic. Labelling is minimalist. A long thin strip near the base of the bottle, giving simply the name of the product, the size of bottle (700ml) and the ABV (40%) in orange and black type on a white background. The continuation to the rear of the bottle is marginally more informative. The only other colour used is orange on the security label.

If you are looking for minimalist elegance, this is it in a bottle.

Logo Of The Year

The revamped 58 and Co have come up with a stunning logo that took my breath away. Elegant in a contemporary style, it features a hand-drawn juniper leaf dipped in copper, an image drawing its inspiration from the copper sun-powered alembic still used in the production process. The gin is good too, especially their Navy Strength.

Gin Awards 2022 (2)

The Alternative Version Award

Tappers Brightside Coastal London Dry Gin

Innovation in the ginaissance tends to focus around ever more outlandish botanicals or distilling methods, but Tappers have taken a leaf out of the music business where it is commonplace to put out a different remixed version of the same song.

Tappers started out with Darkside, distilled using the cold compound method, in which the selected botanicals are steeped in a neutral spirit, in this instance from grain, to infuse the flavours without distillation. The botanicals are then filtered out leaving a resultant spirit that is packed with flavour and retaining the colouring from the botanicals.

Launched in 2020 Brightside uses the same botanicals and neutral spirit as Darkside but they are distilled by a process of boiling and condensation in a small copper still.

The result is a gin without any trace of colouring from the botanicals and is crisp and sharp, perhaps the more clinical CD to the earthier, more “natural” vinyl sound of Darkside.

Tappers are the first distillers to have done this and it is an intriguing development which might catch on. I found it in my local Waitrose and it is now a regular on my gin shelf.

Gin Awards 2022

It is around this time that the editor, scratching their head to fill the space, suggests that it would be a good idea to pick out some of the highlights of the year. Well, here goes. Over the next three posts I will pick out the pick of the crop in my exploration of the gin scene in 2022.

The Gin is Juniper Award

Never Never Triple Juniper Gin

There is more than a whiff of Master Chef in this beaut from South Australia and the deservedly globally acclaimed Never Never Distilling Company. Gin is a spirit where juniper should first and foremost, with other botanicals playing to its strengths not overpowering, something that many distillers seem to lose sight of. Not Never Never.

Rather like triple-cooked chips, they use three different processes for adding the juniper. First, it is macerated in the spirit for 24 hours before it is filtered out, then fresh juniper is added to the macerated spirit and distilled, and then the vapour basket contains yet more juniper.

It is not just a pure hit of juniper but something more complex and subtle, using coriander, angelica, orris root, pepper berry, and cinnamon to good effect. Citrus elements are provided by orange and pomelo, which are detectable to the nose, giving the intense hit of juniper even greater depth. This is gin heaven.

Makar Original Dry Gin

Closer to home, this is the Glasgow Distillery’s paean to juniper. Produced since 2014, it uses seven other botanicals – lemon peel, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cassia bark, rosemary, angelica root, and liquorice – each carefully selected to complement, support, and enhance the juniper. Old school the botanicals may be, but they make a wonderfully complex gin which sees the juniper assert its dominance after allowing the lighter elements to tickle the palate.

Makar is Gaelic for poet and this gin is a distinctive ode to the botanical that is the cornerstone of gin.