It’s summer, and for me that means gin and tonic. What better to dispel these gloomy lingering clouds than to taste some wonderful, artisan gins I thought. Bring on 6 gins and a raging hangover the next day. Much as I love the stuff, gin has a terrible tendency to encourage a herd of clumsy, overweight wildebeests to charge around my head the next morning.
Up first Darnley View, a creation by the Weymss family of Weymss Castle, which overlooks the Forth. It has six botanicals – juniper, elderflower, angelica root, lemon peel, coriander seed and orris root. The lemon peel and elderflower are most dominant, giving this gin an overall light and delicate impression.
Next up Brokers 47% a London dry gin that is distinctive with its bowler hat topped bottles. This has a more juniper-salty tone and a sharper nose. It is at this point that I realise I’m simply not drinking enough. Really must improve. Out goes the judicious use of water.
Gin number three is Dutch in origin – Sloanes, so named after Sir Hans Sloane, a botanist whose collections were the foundations of the British and National History collections, and most likely introduced the botanicals to the UK that go into a lot of gins. The least he deserves is a gin named after him; and it’s a pretty good one two. Sloanes aren’t so coy about their botanicals, unlike some other producers, with vanilla, cardamom and liquorice roots being added to the list of usual suspects. They make themselves known, creating a smooth, creamy and approachable texture. I am a fan, and this glass disappears in no time.
The Botanist, a gin by Bruichladdich has been widely applauded. They hand pick wild botanicals from Islay to use in the blend, along with the classics. Tried as I might, I couldn’t find a list of said botanicals, apart from in Latin on the bottle. So naturally I translated them. Highlights include gorse, heather, bog myrtle, red clover..etc. Initially mild and yet complex on the nose, the palate really grew and expanded. There is a definite artisan character here. I would call this the intellectual’s choice.
Blackwoods next, and the gin where my love affair with the spirit all started. Oops look at that – another glass seems to have vanished. Blackwoods is a Shetland gin, and one of the first to position itself as a vintage i.e all the botanicals are harvested from a single year. This boasts sea pink, meadowsweet, cinnamon, turmeric and nutmeg as some of the less common botanicals. The nutmeg really comes through, along with big spice and liquorice. It doesn’t get lost with tonic, and still retains its warm, smooth character. Still delicious, and I’m still in love.
Finally there is a bit of an oddity; Rogue Spruce Gin, from Oregon. Its main botanical being, shockingly, spruce. Cucumber is also in the mix, and is an overwhelmingly dominant note, along with something like olives. Strange, and takes a bit of getting used to, but I like that it goes off on a tangent and offers a whole different perspective.