The following is an extract for an article I wrote which first appeared on Flaviar.com in September 2018. You can read the full thing here.
While it’s true that there are some things that probably shouldn’t be distilled into Gin (fish eyes, earwax, old socks…), it all comes down to personal preference, and without experimentation we’d all be drinking the same damn thing, anyway.
So keep an open mind while we take you through some of the most unusual ingredients you’ll find in Gin – from the fun, to the far-fetched, and even the down-right weird.
Actually, since the time of writing, I’ve tried a few other unusual Gins, but I suppose the distinction I haven’t made is what’s weird and brilliant, and what’s weird for the sake of it. I’m dubious that Anty Gin actually tastes good, but the latest limited edition offering from Tarquin’s Gin and GinFoundry.com is certainly the latter.
Tan Ha Mor, which translates to ‘fire and sea’ in Cornish, is outstanding. Devised on Polzeath beach, made with charred oak chips, whole grapefruits and oranges and infused in Tarquin’s Navy Strength Gin before being cut to bottling strength (50.5% ABV), it’s a thing of beauty. Salty, smokey, citrusy-sweet, spiced beauty.
Unsurprisingly, it’s sold out online, as only 500-ish bottles were made, but rumour has it there’s still some lurking around the distillery, and you can try it all this week (while stocks last) at the Gin Kiosk pop up in Old Street Roundabout (until 8th December).
Produced by the Southwestern Distillery, Tarquin’s Gin (42% ABV) is made in Cornwall with hand-picked Devon violets and fresh orange zest. The grain spirit is diluted to bottling strength with Cornish spring water.
I first tried this at a hotel in Bath, and then had the pleasure of meeting Tarquin himself at this year’s Junipalooza. It’s clear that he’s passionate about this stuff; he hand-fills, signs, corks and seals every single bottle.
You’ll be hard pushed to find this small batch gin (at just 300 bottles per batch) on the shelves unless you live in the West Country, but the good news is, you can buy it online – and it’s well worth seeking out.
Made in Hackney Wick, I first discovered Butler’s Gin (40% ABV) a year ago, when I received a bottle as a Christmas present. Produced on a boat by Ross William Butler (aka The Butler), Butler’s Gin is made with cardamom and lemongrass for a light, crisp flavour.
The spirit is infused with nine botanicals for 18 hours, before being hand bottled and signed by The Butler himself. The cardamom and lemongrass give it a yellow-y, greenish tint (similar to the colour of the glass bottle in which it’s stored).
The best bit? Butlers Gin is currently offering £6 off the bottle price. Snap it up, quick!
I like my gins strong and bold, with lots of juniper, lots of citrus, and clean, fresh, zesty tastes. That’s my go-to, my basic, and exactly what I want from an every day gin and tonic. But every once in a while, something different crops up that makes me question what I know.
Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin (40% ABV) is bold, and it is clean, but it also has lots of spicy, sweet, peppery flavours. Cardamom, cumin and ginger are dominant on the nose and it has a warmth that tingles and lingers on the tongue without an overpowering heat.
The cutest gin miniature ever?
Made with botanicals found on the ancient Spice Route, this Oriental spirit is a London Dry Gin made at England’s oldest gin distillery. I was first introduced to it served warm with ginger ale (I hate ginger ale) and it was delicious; aromatic and spicy and sweet. Since then, I’ve heard of it served with tonic and a slice of ginger or a red chilli. There are so many things about this that I shouldn’t like, but I really, really do. A must-try for those looking for something a bit different.
What’s better than a really bloody good gin? A really bloody good gin which donates 15% of its profits to charidee, of course.
Elephant Gin (45% ABV) is created by three friends who, following their own adventures in Africa, felt passionate about what they saw and wanted to help elephant conservation trusts. What’s more, this tastes really rather excellent, too.
Using a whopping fourteen botanicals, including some rarities from the African Savannah, Elephant Gin is fruity, floral and spicy and best served with a wedge of apple.
The next time you’re stocking up on gin, give this one a go. You’ll be helping to save the lives of Africa’s great elephants, and you’ll have a cracking drink in hand while you do it.
Langley’s No.8 (41.7%) is an English grain spirit made with a blend of eight secret botanicals.
One could be forgiven for assuming that the drink gets its name from these eight botanicals – in fact, the number refers to the batch that was deemed the best during tasting and consumer research when the product was in development.
A well-balanced flavour with sweet, aromatic notes is bold, punchy and has a rich, spicy dryness. Works wonderfully in a martini, and tastes just as good in a G&T (try it with juniper berries as a garnish).
But don’t take my word for it, pop along to Langley’s Yard above the Crown & Shuttle pub in Shoreditch, where you can try one of their signature cocktails.