Welcome to the Wonderful World of Weird Gin

Ginvent, Tasting notes

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.

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Hiding behind #Ginvent door number three is this beauty! . The exclusive and incredibly limited edition Gin, Tan Ha Mor, was made in partnership with @tarquinsgin. . She's a smoky, higher proof beauty – best enjoyed over ice or with Ginger Ale for those tasting later. It's been bottled at 50.5% ABV as a nod to the start co-ordinates of the beach on which the botanicals were prepped. Speaking of which… To make the gin, having set up camp on Polzeath beach we infused wood chips with sea water from the incoming surf, then charred them over two fire pits, along with whole oranges and pink grapefruit peels, coriander seed and juniper. The result is one of process, place and people. . Tan Ha Mor – Fire and Sea. . #Gin #NewGin #Tarquins #Ginvent #Cornwall #MadeInCorwall #Collab #SouthwesternDistillery #GinFoundry

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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).

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Tarquin’s Dry Gin

Ginvent, Tasting notes

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.

tarquins

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.

 

 

Junipalooza

Events

Last Sunday, slightly hungover and bleary eyed from one-too-many gins the night before, I headed over to the wonderfully named Junipalooza – the brainchild of @ginfoundry and @theginblog.

The event, held in a trendy old warehouse in East London, was perfectly organised. From the moment I walked in, and was asked if I’d eaten lunch (drink responsibly, kids), to the tiny card I was given, which was hole-punched to signify how many gins I’d sampled, every detail was perfect.

gin me

Fifteen different makers were on hand, sampling 46 different gins. If there’s one way to get over a hangover, it’s a hair of the dog, right? Well no, actually. Turns out it’s a fistful of fur, which roughly translates to five gin samples and 5 gin and tonics. Who knew?

I started off with Langley’s No.8, a delicious hand-crafted gin, made with 8 botanicals in an English-produced pot still. Slightly stronger than your average ‘high-street’ gin (Gordon’s, Bombay, etc.) at 41.7% ABV, this English grain spirit was surprisingly smooth, and tastes great when served with Fever Tree or Fentiman’s Tonic over ice with a wedge of grapefruit and a basil leaf, according to Langley’s Brand Manager Nik Koster.

 

Iron Lady2

Find out more about Langley’s No.8 here.

Next up was Adnams. Well known for their beer and cider, but less so for their gin. They were sampling two types; Adnams Copper House Distilled Gin, and Adnams Copper House Distillery First Rate Finest Cut Gin.

At 48% ABV, the First Rate Finest Cut Gin was powerful and smooth with sweet notes. The Copper House Distilled Gin (40% ABV), made with six different botanicals, including hibiscus flower which really adds another dimension to the flavours of the gin. Recently awarded Gold Outstanding Winner at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2013, it really is worth a try.

adnams sign

Find out more here.

My third discovery was Bathtub Gin (43.3% ABV), produced by Professor Cornelius Ampleforth. It was the only gin at Junipalooza which is infused, not distilled. It’s been around for about two and a half years now, but is still produced in super small batches of no more than 60 bottles at a time. Cinnamon, clove and cardamom give this a really earthy, perfumed flavour and scent, but the overall consistency is smooth and almost creamy. A really lovely gin on its own, or with tonic (in this case, we tried it with Fever Tree).

bathtub

Fun fact: each bottle takes four and a half minutes to wrap, print, entwine and wax.

Next up (and feeling slightly giddy by this point), I tried Elephant Gin. As a brand with a cause, I’d already heard a lot about Elephant Gin, and was keen to see if the taste lived up to the company ethos.

elephant

For those who don’t know, Elephant Gin donates 15% of all profits to elephant conservation trusts in Africa. 

Made with 14 botanicals, including the more exotic Lion’s Tail, African Wormwood and Devil’s Claw, Elephant Gin is floral, fruity and spicy, and is best served with a wedge of apple. I found it had an almost menthol-y taste when it first hit my tongue, which was quickly replaced by the spice and fruit flavours. It’s a fresh, strong (45% ABV), but not overpowering taste, and is perfect if you fancy something a little different.

My final gin of the day was Tarquin’s Handcrafted Cornish Gin (42% ABV), made by the Southwestern Distillery. After tasting this in a hotel in Bath last summer, I was super excited to meet Tarquin himself.

tarquins

It’s a fragrant, dry and zesty gin which tastes fantastic with Fever Tree. It’s warming without being harsh, and has a lovely lasting after-taste. Made by hand, every single bottle (no more than 300 per batch) is subject to testing by nose and taste, and is then hand filled, signed, corked, sealed and inspected. My current favourite.

I came away with a fantastic selection of miniatures (reviews to follow) and a spring in my step. Here’s to next year!