Tag Archives: Atom Brands

That Boutique-y Gin Company (3)

Strawberry flavoured gins, I find, are too sweet for my taste and so I tend to give them a wide berth. If nothing else, a pairing with balsamic vinegar seemed too intriguing to ignore. Setting my prejudices to one side, I sampled the miniature bottle of Strawberry and Balsamico Gin in my Retro Gin Fridge Tin from That Boutique-y Gin Company, a brand of Tonbridge-based Atom Brands.

The vinegar that has been chosen for this rather unusual gin is not your common or garden balsamic but Aceto di Balsamico tradizionale di Modena DOP, made from cooked Trebbiano grapes and aged for between twelve and 25 years in wooden casks made from chestnut, cherry, oak, mulberry, ash, and juniper. Together with fresh strawberries and strawberry and black pepper distillates, the balsamic is added to a classically-styled gin base and the result is unforgettable.

The gin is a deep tawny red in colour and the sweetness of the strawberry, which hits you as soon as the cap to the bottle is removed, is toned down by the balsamic to make a surprisingly peppery and oaky drink, albeit a tad syrupy. Its finish is warm and woody and makes for an interesting drink, even if it is not one I will be rushing to repeat.

Citrus australasica, to give the finger lime its correct botanical name, is one of those fruits that is becoming increasingly trendy. As its name suggests, it hails originally from the rain forests bordering Queensland and New South Wales and grows on short, thorny trees. It is a tube-shaped fruit which contains pearl-like citrus bubbles in pastel hues of pale green, yellow, coral, and dusky red, which pop like caviar. Botanists are divided as to whether it is technically a citrus, but so popular has this most gourmet of bush tucker become that it has been grown commercially since the mid-1990s.

Finger Lime Gin celebrates this fruit in spirit form. The immediate sensation upon removing the bottle’s cap is one of lemon and lime with juniper and spices filling in the background. A clear spirit, the citrus elements come to the fore initially in the mouth. As the flavours settle, it has a distinctive floral quality, and the finish is surprisingly short and perfumed. It is a refreshing drink, which would go down exceptionally well on a warm summer’s evening.  

Cherries are not a fruit I would have naturally associated with gin but That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Cherry Gin is a valiant attempt to rectify that misimpression. Using sweet and sour Mascara cherries and distilling in the finest sloe gin tradition, the dark red spirit reminded me, on opening the bottle, of a well-seasoned Christmas cake. In the mouth the initial hit was of sourness from the cherries until the spicier elements led by juniper came to the fore before retreating to allow the sweetness of the sweet cherries and orange to linger at the end. It was a heavier and drier spirit than I had imagined, but of the fruit gins in the pack, this was my favourite.

The Retro Gin Fridge tin certainly allowed me to explore some botanicals and some combinations that I had not encountered before. That is the joy of a tasting pack. It allows you to experiment and broaden your horizons. If one is not to your taste, put it down to experience and move on.

Until the next time, cheers!

That Boutique-y Gin Company (2)

I am taking another dip into my Retro Gin Fridge Tin from That Boutique-y Gin Company, a brand of Tonbridge-based Atom Brands. Rosemary is a staple botanical in the gin world, but Smoked Rosemary Gin takes it to a new level. Rather than sitting in the background adding to the general floral and herbaceous feel and flavour of a gin, here it is slap bang in the centre of the stage.

As the name suggests, the rosemary has been set on fire, adding a smoky flavour to the already distinctive taste of the herb. If you did not get the message, the label shows some smouldering rosemary leaves against a background of juniper berries. Add a good helping of juniper and you have an interesting and distinctive drink.

As soon as you unscrew the cap, you can tell that you are dealing with a drink that will take no prisoners. A heady hit of rosemary and juniper assaults your nose along with a peculiarly smoky whiff. In the mouth the rosemary is to the fore before the juniper and peppers make their presence felt while the aftertaste is long and distinctly aromatic. I found it a little too floral for my taste but I would imagine that it would be a good addition to a cocktail.

Rhubarb has long been a favourite of distillers and where better to source the fruit than the Tusky Triangle, the nine-square-mile area of West Yorkshire between Wakefield, Morley, and Rothwell, famed for producing early forced rhubarb. Yorkshire forced rhubarb became a protected name in 2010 but, sadly, the triangle has shrunk in size from its heyday in the early 20th century when it covered the area between Wakefield, Leeds, and Bradford. In 2005 Wakefield Council erected a steel and oak sculpture of a rhubarb plant standing 3.6 metres tall in Holmfield Park to celebrate its importance to the area.   

Rhubarb Triangle Gin, the marketeers have eschewed the Yorkshire name for the fruit, pays homage to the area, the label using a stick of rhubarb to represent each side of a triangle. The only way I can describe the gin is that it is like my favourite pudding, rhubarb crumble, in a glass, adroitly mixing the tartness of the rhubarb with the sweetness of the citrus elements. From the immediate hit on opening the bottle to the initial taste in the mouth through to the long, lingering aftertaste, this is one rhubarb fest. The juniper and spices in the mix make a forlorn attempt to make their presence known, but there is no disputing who is the star of the show. As a rhubarb fan, I am not complaining.

The final one of this week’s trio is a gin that was apparently all the rage in the 1920s, pineapple gin, although, inevitably, That Boutique-y Gin Company put their own twist on it by producing a Spit-roasted Pineapple Gin. Yes, that’s right, the pineapple has been put on a skewer, coated with Demerara sugar, and roasted until they are caramelised. The pineapple is then added to a gin to produce then sort of fruit gin that is all the rage but is really not my cup of tea.

On the nose there is no mistaking that this is a pineapple drink and, in the mouth, it is right there at the fore with some oily juniper and a touch of honey. The drink signs off with a lingering melange of pineapple and caramel. I found it surprisingly syrupy and a tad too sweet and sickly for my taste, but that is the joy of sampling, not every gin will hit the spot for you.

A word of warning. A bottle of it is prone to produce a sediment, a by-product of the interaction between the fruit and the spirit. It does not affect the drink and can either be poured off or dispersed by shaking the bottle.

I will review then last three gins in the pack next time. Until then, cheers!      

That Boutique-y Gin Company

Atom Brands do not beat about the juniper bush. “We make and select liquids that are the best they can possibly be, and package them in a way that is awesome” is their bold claim. The Tonbridge-based company, whose stable includes the rather clunkily named That Boutique-y Gin Company brand, have certainly set about adding some pizzazz into the gin drinker’s world, if their Retro Gin Fridge Tin is anything to go by.  

The presentational pack is quirky and eye-catching, consisting of a turquoise-coloured tin, shaped like a retro fridge that you may remember from the 1950s, nestling inside of which are eight 50ml miniature bottles, each containing a different gin from the company’s range, all with an ABV of 46%. It makes for an attractive gift for the gin lover in your life as well as offering a low-risk way to explore the company’s wares.    

The first bottle that my rheumy fingers prised from the secure packaging was a London Dry styled Yuzu Gin. The bell-shaped bottle pictures a pile of juniper berries with a yuzu atop, a citrus fruit from East Asia, particularly favoured in Japanese style gins, such as Nikka Coffey, Roku and Jinzu. Shaped like a small grapefruit with a knobbly, uneven skin, it is tart and fragrant, a blend of grapefruit and mandarin orange.

I was expecting a citrus-led gin and I was not disappointed. On removing the small black cap, the welcome aroma of juniper was permeated with that of the citrus notes, not overpowering but confidently stating their presence. In the glass, the spirit was surprisingly creamy in texture and the citric elements were prominent and sharp with depth provided by the spiciness of the juniper. This rather impressive gin signed off with a lingering aftertaste bringing in ginger and the earthiness of the spices to temper the sweet and sour of the other botanicals.

A gin that is out of this world, literally and metaphorically, is Moonshot Gin, a vacuum-distilled London Dry Gin. Its particular claim to fame is that all the botanicals used in the mix have all been sent into the stratosphere at an altitude of at least 20 kilometres where they were exposed to extremely low pressures to preserve their particular flavours. There may seem to be a certain randomness, if not eccentricity, for this criterion for botanical selection, but, fortunately, the cast list includes all the firm favourites you would expect to find in a classic London Gin; juniper, coriander, cubeb pepper, fresh lemon peel, chamomile flowers, cardamom, dried bitter orange peel, cinnamon, liquorice root, angelica, and, to bring an outer space element to the experience, a bit of rock from a lunar meteorite.

On the nose the juniper is prominent along with the citrus peels while in the mouth the spirit has a curiously sherbet-like texture to it with a sweetness generated by the citrus elements. The tarter, spicier, pepperier elements do a fine job in bringing the balance back on to a more even keel as the spirit orbits around your mouth before producing a long, lingering aftertaste of citrus and spice as its contrail marks its progress down into your stomach.

I had concerns that this gin might be overly gimmicky, but I found it well-balanced with a quite distinctive taste and one that I would be more than happy to try again.

I will explore three more gins from the tin next time. Until then, cheers!