Tag Archives: cold compound gin

Bathtub Gin – Grapefruit And Rosemary

The ginaissance has spawned a crowded marketplace and distillers need to be on top of their game, or at least their marketeers, to carve out a comfortable niche. Bathtub Gin has one of the most distinctive bottles on the market, bell-shaped, encased in brown paper, with a wax seal and string around the neck, redolent of the days of the Prohibition and bootleggers, that fits in perfect harmony with its name. It is a delicious gin and is highly regarded, rightly so,

One of the recent bandwagons that has emerged in the gin sector is the mania for flavoured gins. This presents a significant dilemma for established brands. Do they develop a flavoured gin from scratch or do they tinker around with their existing hooch. Bathtub have chosen to follow the latter patch but have added an extra element of jeopardy by inviting the great British public, via a social media campaign, to select their preferred pairing of additional flavours.

Democracy has not had a happy track record in recent years, but, for once, the public, carefully steered, have come up trumps. Grapefruit and rosemary were the selected pairing and for what is already a bold gin it is an excellent choice, adding a bit more in the way of vibrancy, zest, and floral notes to the original recipe.

The base gin is the tried and tested Bathtub, which is made by cold compounding where the botanicals are added by infusion without distillation, as was the case in the bootleg days. The grapefruit and rosemary are added after the original gin has been created. As the label says “we blend and infuse Bathtub Gin with natural grapefruit and rosemary to hit those fragrant bittersweet and herbal notes that make this craft gin so delicious”.

They are not wrong. Retaining the light-brown colouring, botanical profile, creaminess, and strength (43.3% ABV) of the original Bathtub Gin, on the nose the familiar aroma of a hefty wedge of juniper, cardamom, and orange is joined by the more delicate, fragrant, floral notes of the rosemary. In the mouth the immediate hit is that of grapefruit that makes a full-frontal assault on your tastebuds, before allowing the earthier notes of the juniper, cinnamon, and rosemary to get a look in. This impressive and intriguing gin signs off with a lingering aftertaste full of spice and sweet citrus.

What could have been two completely disparate parts bodged together have been melded together with some finesse to create a well-balanced spirit which is reminiscent of but different from the original Bathtub. Whether it was worth the effort, only the consumers and sales figures will ultimately determine. For me, no great fan of flavoured gins, it did at least recognise the concept that a gin should be juniper-led and was moreish. Whether it would sway to forsake the original, I doubt.

At least democracy sometimes can come up trumps.

Until the next time, cheers!

St Ives Gin

Cornwall is fast becoming the epicentre of the British ginaissance and it is difficult to keep on top of all the small distillers who are using the area’s beauty and prolific botanicals from which to draw their inspiration. St Ives is one of the jewels in the crown as the peninsula tapers towards Land’s End. Once a vibrant fishing port, it is now heavily dependent upon tourism and can get uncomfortably crowded in the height of summer. In 2016 the townsfolk took the unusual step of voting to ban the sale of new houses in the town as second homes, hoping to make housing once more affordable for the locals. Recent studies have suggested that the move has backfired, simply driving those on the lookout for second homes to other parts of the county, reducing new builds and further increasing house prices.

As its name suggests, St Ives Gin is from St Ives and is produced by the Thompson brothers aka the St Ives Liquor Co. It claims to be Cornwall’s first small-batch cold compound gin. What distinguishes a cold compound gin is that the spirit is not distilled, but instead the botanicals are simply mixed with a neutral spirit. Many aficionados are a little sniffy about the quality of such gins. I prefer to keep an open mind and am prepared to judge cold compound gins as I do distilled gins, on their own merits.

The gin uses thirteen botanicals. There is no definitive listing but amongst the botanicals, some of which have been harvested from the local coastline, cottage gardens and clifftops, are basil, rosemary, thyme, coriander, coriander, orange peel, pink peppercorns, cardamom, liquorice, vanilla, and, of course, juniper. What is unmistakable about the finished product, which has an ABV of 38%, is its golden hue, rather akin to a weak speciality tea. It is rather reminiscent of the colour of the gin I made from scratch, an experiment that I have not repeated since and one that produced a tatse that can only be described as execrable.

The bottle is stylish with a rectangular shape, plain glass, a flat shoulder and a moderately sized neck. The stopper is cork and each bottle is marked with its batch number – mine is from batch 160. The front label has a turquoise background and an attractive pastel image of town created by Chris Thompson. The label at the rear informs me that the secret alchemy of “fresh herbs and hand-foraged botanicals create a sea-breeze aroma, individual taste, and unique golden hue we love. Every pour, from every bottle is crafted by us three Thompson Brothers to ensure a colour, flavour and clarity that we’re proud to put our names to. From start to finish, experience a truly small-batch, handcrafted gin”.   

On the nose the aroma is a mix of vanilla, citrus and herbal notes. In the glass the first sensation is of an intense smokiness, followed almost immediately by sweeter textures before the warmer, spicier sensations of the peppercorns and liquorice get to work. The aftertaste is predominantly one of citrus with a hint of coriander. What seems to be almost completely missing from the flavour profile is juniper and as gin is supposed to be predominantly juniper-led I always find this a tad disappointing.

The drink itself was perfectly acceptable but for someone who is not as enamoured with contemporary gins as with other styles it seemed a little tame and understated. If herbal, floral gins float your surfboard, then this is worth exploring.

Until the next time, cheers!