As someone who is enthusiastic about many styles of gin, I have an interest in innovative and unusual juniper products, including any variety that deviates from using bought-in Neutral Grain Spirit (NGS) as its spirit base.
Spirit bases made in-house can be produced from a range of new ingredients, from grapes to grain (of the terroir kind) and from apples to honey; some folk assert that gin is best when made with NGS, but I think that the gins that use new make do have their own value. Such is the case with the new gin from Chase, Chase Great British Extra Dry (40%ABV), which is based on potato spirit.
I have already reviewed three gins that use potatoes as their spirit base and Chase experimented with potato-based gin a few years back, but, when the result was not up to their specifications, they instead used it in their first batch of sloe gin. In 2012, Chase have perfected their potato spirit base for gin and, as a result, have released William Chase Great British Extra Dry Gin.
Made with the Spanish Market in mind (a leading world consumer of gin), the gin is bottled at 40%ABV and contains a mix of 9 botanicals:
1) On its own
Nose: Dry juniper with zesty citrus (orange) and then some warm, spicy notes, making this complex and full.
Taste: Juniper to start and some dark, bitter chocolate and citrus zest. This is followed by warm, spicy notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
2) Gin & Tonic
This is a tasty and spicy Gin & Tonic, full of flavours of nutmeg and ginger. It reminds me of the likes of Portobello or Knickerbocker Gin. In this drink, the fact that the gin is potato-based is also imperceivable, apart from a slight succulence, which you would normally attribute to a potato gin’s fruitiness. Tasty and refreshing.
Crisp juniper to start, followed by some warm, spicy notes, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as ginger, which give the impression of a dry Martini with a tasty, gingerbread finish. Unusual, but very moreish.
Spicy notes on the nose, which are very inviting. Flavour-wise, some initial, juicy juniper is followed by sweeter spicy notes, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, and then some citrus. This cocktail is smooth and has an excellent bitter-sweet balance; simply superb.
5) Sweet Martini
The deep sweet and herbal flavours of the red vermouth are a natural match for the sweet spiciness of this gin. The dry juniper gives the drink a clean backdrop and stops it from becoming sickly. This is very tasty and comforting, too, and, on a wet Sunday afternoon like this one, with winter knocking at the door, it is just what I need.
Having tried other potato-spirit based gins, the purity of Chase’s Great British Extra Dry Gin is unparalleled and there is no feeling of inferior quality to the spirit. The balance of botanicals is of a good standard, although there is certainly more emphasis on spice than in many other gins. However, that does mean that the gin adds more character to drinks and is less easily drowned out by other ingredients. The Negroni and Sweet Martini were highlights and I think that this will shine in almost any cocktail containing red vermouth.
Chase Great British Extra Dry Gin is available from VodkaEmporium for around £26 for 70cl.