Who would have thought that when I bought a bottle of Elemental Cornish Gin in St Ives and decided to write about it, I would be penning my 100th ginaissance inspired piece? Not me, certainly.
Over time, my taste has crystallised around gins which are juniper-forward, a gin is not a gin without a heavy hit of juniper; enough additional botanicals to make the taste interesting but not too many to overload it, less is often more; a neutral base spirit rather than one made from wine or apple which bring their own, distracting and often brings its own astringency; a bottle that gives a clue as to the botanicals used; and an ABV in excess of 40% to give it a bit of a kick. As for tonics, if you are spending a lot of money on your gin, it is foolhardy to mix them with anything other than a tonic that is going to accentuate the flavours without taking over.
Much of what I have prescribed does not apply to this week’s featured gin, Crawshay’s Welsh Dry Gin, but more of that as we proceed. As the name suggests, it is made in Wales, more precisely in the cellars of the 17th century Hensol Castle which nestles in the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan countryside, just outside of Cardiff. The distillers are the appropriately named Hensol Castle Distillery and the name of the gin bears tribute to the London iron merchant and South Wales ironmaster, Thomas Crayshaw (1739 – 1810).
In 1786 he took over the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil, developing it into one of the most important ironworks in South Wales. Nicknamed The Tyrant by some because of his imperious manner, he left an estate worth £1.5m and the ironworks to his son, William. And his connection with gin? None, other than he was a lad of 12 when the Gin Act of 1751 was passed. Still, you have to have a backstory, no matter how tenuous.
The bottle, though, is a thing of beauty, tall, slim and elegant, rather like an elongated wine bottle, green in colour with black labelling. The band at the side tells me that it is “distilled with 15 botanicals and crammed with fresh fruit from a secret family recipe”. The lettering is mainly silver although, to make it stand out, Crawshay is in white. To press the Welsh provenance, the labelling is bi-lingual and on the neck, there is to be found the Welsh dragon. It took a little digging to find out what the botanicals are but it seems that the following go into the mix: Juniper, Cilantro, Angelica, Lemon Grass, Green Cardamom, Star anise, hibiscus, Laos, Jamaican pepper, Ginger, Rosehip, Paradise seed, Strawberry, Raspberry and Blueberry.
The top of the bottle is grey in colour with a cork stopper. On removing it, the aroma that greeted me was a pleasant mix of juniper, the first sensation, and the crisper notes of citrus. In the mouth, again the juniper made itself known but then the citrus and floral elements came into play before a more spicy, peppery sensation made its appearance, lingering into the aftertaste. With an ABV of 37.5% it is a little undercooked for my taste and while it is a well-balanced drink, it is hard to discern what many of the botanicals are contributing.
In summary, I found it a light, refreshing drink, ideal as a sharpener on a languid summer’s evening before hitting the harder stuff. For the record, they also do a range of flavoured gins, strawberry, orange, and rhubarb and vanilla, don’t get me started on those, as well as a range of liqueurs and a vodka.
Until the next time, cheers!