I find pre-boom gins fascinating. By pre-boom, I mean those that predate the current period of gin popularity – that started around 1998 with the introduction of gins such as Martin Miller’s – and continues to the present day. The best source of information on these gins is Geraldine Coates’ “The Gin Book”, published in 1997.
Brands from this period include favourites such as Bombay Sapphire, Old Raj and now-forgotten gins such as Burberry (yes, made for the fashion house) and 1666 London’s Burning – a lightly-spiced gin.*
Also detailed in Coates’ tome is Polo Club Gin, the subject of today’s article. This is bottled at 43% ABV and was made using a Carterhead still for Hurlingham International, London. Hurlingham Club in Fulham invented the rules for polo in 1873 and the name has been synonymous with the gin ever since; whether or not the club actually has anything to do with the gin remains a mystery.
Polo Club Gin contains seven botanicals:
On its own
Nose: A minimal nose of predominantly juniper.
Taste: Textbook classic gin in style, with strong, piney juniper, citrus and some earthiness. A touch of black pepper spikes towards the end, followed by some fruitiness. Very good, indeed.
Gin & Tonic
Juniper on the nose. This is a very juicy Gin & Tonic, full of fruity, piney juniper; there’s also a touch of coriander and citrus. Very crisp and rather tasty, this is one for the traditionalists.
Again, this was very classic in style with lots of juniper and earthy botanicals. It tastes quite strong, but, overall, it’s clean, crisp and quite excellent.
A very crisp, almost razor-sharp Negroni. Full of flavour, it’s balanced and well-formed; a drink that doesn’t mess around. Really rather excellent and one to remember.
Despite being a Sweet Martini, this is actually quite dry and the juniper is quite prominent, as are the more earthy notes of the botanicals.
This is quite a clean and smooth Fruit Cup. Quite sweet, there is – again – notable juniper. It’s very refreshing and rather like Pimm’s or the Plymouth Fruit Cup. Lovely!
Polo Club Gin hails from an era when tradition reigned and, as such, it is the absolute height of classic style and a very tasty one at that.
* Described by Geraldine as “a radical departure from tradition”, it appears to have been quickly discontinued; it is interesting that, fifteen years later, Geraldine herself helped to create another spiced gin for Darnley’s View.