Having recently returned from Seattle, where I spoke on the use of different base spirits in gin production, it was fitting that the first
gin that I tried back home had an interesting base. In fact, it is the first British-distilled gin to use grape spirit as its base.
Bottled at 44.0% ABV, Chilgrove Dry Gin is a London dry Gin made at Thames Distillers and uses a mix of 11 botanicals:
Grains of Paradise
Wild Water Mint
On its own
Nose: Ripe, fruity and floral. The luscious elements of the grape come through, along with a little sweetness and warm spice.
Taste: A very clean and smooth spirit; the different character that the base provides is evident from the outset. Notes of juniper, angelica and coriander come through, with bright citrus and then some mint and menthol notes on the finish, both from the Grains of Paradise and the water mint. There’s a long and lingering finish of mint and pine. This is a complex gin and a good example of harmony and distinctive botanical flavours. Excellent.
Gin & Tonic
Pure and clean, with the flavours of the gin coming through and the citrus peels, especially lime, adding to the drink, making it cooling and crisp. This is a great example of why the Gin & Tonic is such a popular drink – delightful.
A smooth and rich Martini that’s rather plump thanks to the grape base. It’s easy to drink and works well with a bit more vermouth (medium to medium-dry). A good appetite-raiser.
This is a clean Negroni that allows the Campari the finish say with a clean-cutting finish and the mint and Grains of Paradise mingling in a menthol pepperiness to these flavours. It is smooth, succulent, moreish and one a Negroni fan would crave for. Garnish with a twist of pink grapefruit peel.
Excellent flavour with a spicy pepper note, and menthol towards the end. There are also strong notes of juniper and lively lime, which complement the bitters and lemon juice well. A truly celebratory drink!
Chilgrove Gin is a great example of how the base spirit of a gin can make a big impact to the final flavour and an exemplary use of grape spirit. Beyond this, it’s a great gin, the botanical flavours are well-defined and can be easily picked out, whether you are sipping the spirit neat, on the rocks, or even in a Martini. In addition, it mixes well in a variety of cocktails; my favourite drink was the Negroni, although it also has great potential as the base for a Fruit Cup.