The Boutique Bar Show London is only 2 weeks away (21-22 Sept) and, as usual, will feature a plethora of Boutique drinks brand exhibitors as well as a host of other features. This includes talks, competitions and new product launches.*
The recent boom in new gins coming to market has been led by a range of diverse boutique gins. In preparation for this year’s show, a tasting of Boutique Gins was held at the Graphic Gin Bar, Soho.
In addition to the six gins at the tasting, I have included notes for other gins who will be exhibiting over the two days. Further details can be found here.
To review five gins in the three true tests of a gin (neat, in a G&T and in a Martini) would lead to a mammoth article, so I have, instead, gone with a simple, three word review for each.
Adnams First Rate
From the famous Norfolk Brewers, Adnam’s is available in two varieties: one with 6 botanicals (40% ABV) and another with 13 botanicals (48% ABV); it is this latter “First Rate Gin” that is featured below.
Own: Juniper Spicy Flavourful
Gin & Tonic: Cardamon Cooling Dry
Martini: Classic Dry Floral
It is safe to say that Hoxton Gin takes the traditional gin lover out of their comfort zone. Grapefruit and taragon are not unknown in the world of gin botanicals, but coconut is the real wildcard. Hoxton was developed by Gerry Calabrese as his vision of a gin for the new millennium.
Own: Flamboyant Tropical Confectionery
Gin & Tonic: Fresh Twisted Coconut
Martini: Creamy Coconut Citrus
Another gin with unusual botanicals can be found in the Mediterranean Gin Mare from Spain. Each of the 10 botanicals is distilled separately and then blended to ensure a better balance. Signature botanicals include: thyme, rosemary, basil and, unusually, olive.
Own: Savory Herbal Intense
Gin & Tonic: Rich Dry Refreshing
Martini: Complex Contemporary “Can-I-Have-Another?”
With Iceberg Gin, it’s all about the purity of the water, which comes from North Atlantic icebergs. The brand considers this to be the least polluted water on earth. Iceberg is a 100% corn-based spirit and has 6 botanicals, including coriander, bark and pepper.
Own: Silky Smooth Earthy
Gin & Tonic: Juniper Clean Zesty
Martini: Pure Subtle Sophisticated
Edgerton Pink is one of the more distinctive gins on the market, not least because it’s pink. Created by the same folks behind London Blue Gin, it is flavoured and coloured with pomegranate. It is produced at Thames Distillery using 14 botanicals including nutmeg, damiana and Grain of Paradise.
Own: Jammy Soft Floral
Gin & Tonic: Fresh Fruity Florid
Martini: Unusual Lasting Berries
Edinburgh Gin is a Scottish, Art-Deco-styled spirit is made by Spencerfield, the folks behind Sheep Dip and Pig’s Nose Whisky. Edinburgh Gin takes pride from its Caledonian heritage and uses Scottish grain alcohol as well as Scottish botanicals such as milk thistle and heather.
Own: Soft Spicy Festive
Gin & Tonic: Juicy Fresh Cinnamon
Martini: Crisp Creamy Nutmeg
Modern meets traditional with Ish Gin, a Classic London Dry style with contemporary packaging and an extra boost of juniper for old-school gin lovers. Ish is bottled at 41% ABV, made at Thames Distillers and contains 12 botanicals.
Own: Bold Warm Juniper
Gin & Tonic: Dry Refreshing Flavoursome
Martini: Crisp Fresh Juniper
Made in the heart of Hammersmith, Sipsmith Gin is produced in one of only four operational gin distilleries in London. The gin contains ten classic botanicals and is bottled at 41.6% ABV.
Own: Classic Balanced Juniper
Gin & Tonic: Refreshing Clean Exemplary
Martini: Powerful Juniper Citrus
Hayman’s London Dry Gin
Created by Christopher Hayman, the great grandson of Beefeater founder James Borough, Hayman’s London Dry Gin is designed to be a very Classic London Dry and, as such, contains rather classic botanicals.
Own: London Dry Gin
Gin & Tonic: Fresh Lemon Classic
Martini: Clean Clean Crisp
Created by Joanne Moore, the Master Distiller at Greenall’s Distillery, after she had spent several years as the custodian of the Original 1761 Greenall’s. Bloom was largely inspired by her love of gardening and, as such, contains floral botanicals such as Honeysuckle, Pomelo and Chamomile.
Own: Sweet Soft Floral
Gin & Tonic: Bright, Blossoming, Beautiful
Martini: Delicate Silky Floral
Vacuum distilled in Highgate, North London; Sacred Gin is helping to bring back gin distillation to the Capital. Botanical are distilled separately and then blended to create a balanced product. Be sure to try the Cardamon “Final Touch” Gin & Tonic, it’s something of a revelation.
Own: Silky Balanced Flavoursome
Gin & Tonic: Juniper Citrus Powerful
Martini: Unusual Cardamon Lovely
London No.1 Blue Gin
This is a commercially successful gin that is exceptionally popular in Spain. It contains 13 botanicals, including Gardenia, which gives it its blue colour. This is not a London Dry Gin, as the colour is added post-distillation, but this doesn’t effect the flavour.
Own: Warm, juniper, reasonable
Gin & Tonic: Sweet, neutral, easy-to-drink
Martini: Ice-blue, cinnamon, concise
GVINE Flouraison Gin
G’Vine Gin is produced in ___ France. Rather than using the usual grain-based alcohol for its base, G Vine uses grape spirit. It also uses grapevine flower as one of its __ botanicals. In addition to the Flouriason a Nouvaison gin is made, this is at a higher strength and contains a different balance of botanicals. It reminds me strongly of the now defunct Gordon’s Distillers Cut.
Own: Dry, spicy, cardamon
Gin & Tonic: Bold, cardamon, invigorating
Martini: Sprightly, floral, cardamon
This is a gin that was made especially for Portobello Star, a bar in Portobello Road and home of the Ginstitute Gin Museum, a small still and tasting room where visitors can make their own gin. Portobello was designed to be classic in its style with a modern twist, which comes from the inclusion of nutmeg in the botanical mix.
Own: Juniper, nutmeg, pepper
Gin & Tonic: Flavourful, fruity, spicy
Martini: Crisp, classic, contemporary
Launched in 2007, Bulldog was originally promoted as being the perfect spirit for a Gin & Tonic and, more unusually, a Dirty Martini. It is produced at Greenalls and contains a variety of botanicals including the rather unusual and exotic lotus leaves & dragon eye.
Gin & Tonic: Unusual, mild, juniper-light
Martini: Juniper, Coriander, Twangy
Founded in 1998 and produced at Langley, Brokers contains 10 botanicals and, with its distinctive packaging and bowler hat bottle cap, is quintessentially English. The 47% is very popular in Export Markets and this variety won a plethora of awards.
Own: traditional, london, dry
Gin & Tonic: strong, flavourful, punchy
Martini: Textbook, clean, crisp
Knockeen Hills Heather Gin
Made at Thames Distillers and owned by the same folks behind the excellent Knockeen Hills Irish Poteen, this gin has heather as a prominent botanical, in addition to juniper t is bottled at 47.3%. Its sister gin, made using elderflower, is produced at a lower strength of 43%.
Own: smooth, creamy, floral
Gin & Tonic: Strong, flavourful, fresh
Martini: Creamy, smooth, mellow
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*At least one of the above brand are having their UK launch at Boutique London.