Most of us have done it; criticised a product, declared we could do better and dreamed of making it big. Few of us have the guts and wherewithal to give it a go, fewer still the talent to make it a success. But two friends from Dorset have done just that and set the gin world alight. In a true rags-to-riches tail, Lukasz Dwornik and Martin Jennings have, in little more than 18 months, gone from bemoaning the average gins on offer in their local pub to producing one of the most critically acclaimed British gins on the market.
Disappointed with gins which struggled to hold their own against a splash of tonic water, Dwornik and Jennings decided to have a go at distilling their own. Wary of not being taken seriously by the industry, and short on financial investment, the friends bought a 35-litre copper still and set it up in Jennings’ spare bedroom. Then, in a wrangle that Sipsmith would no doubt sympathise with, the pair had to wait seven months before HMRC agreed to grant them a license to start their distillery.
Once legal, Dwornik and Jennings experimented with over 100 ingredients in a bid to find a distinctive flavour profile for their new gin. In the end the pair dismissed some of the more common botanicals and settled on an unusual combination of largely wild foraged, and organic, Provencal lavender, Anatolian black mulberries and tilia flowers alongside juniper and lemon peel. In a further twist, the friends make their gin using the less common fractional distillation process whereby each botanical is individually distilled before the distillates are then carefully blended together to achieve the final product.
Keen to test their product, and despite not yet having a label for their bottle, Dwornik and Jennings entered their gin in the highly respected and influential San Francisco World Spirits Competition. No one was more surprised than they when Pothecary Gin was awarded the exclusive Double Gold award; signifying that all the judges unanimously agreed that the outstanding product merited a gold medal.
Having already made a name for themselves in the industry, Pothecary Gin launched at Junipalooza on World Gin Day where I was lucky enough to be one of the first to taste it. Already they are struggling to keep up with demand and are working on expanding their premises so they can scale up production.
The 500ml bottle, designed by Adam and Company and inspired by vintage apothecary jars, is a true stunner and instantly appeals. The teal label with its gold embossed font is both classic and premium and will stand out in any gin palace. On the back of the bottle are beautifully delicate illustrations of the five botanicals alongside brief tasting notes.
What lies within is defiantly distinctive. On the nose Pothecary Gin is floral and aromatic with citrus and juniper to the fore. On the palate, the dry, savoury lavender assaults the senses before giving way to sweeter, smoother, almost butterscotch-like notes. The citrus comes in on the finish with a tangy marmalade flavour. Pothecary is smooth and dry and, at 44.8% ABV, is a robust gin which will hold its own in any company.
Pothecary Gin is undoubtedly good enough to drink neat with just ice and lime if you fancy it. Given its roots it also, obviously, makes an excellent gin and tonic with a lemon peel and orange peel garnish. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous you could try a Vesper Martini, Gin Sour or a Gin Fizz with elderflower, champagne, lemon juice and zest. Whichever way you serve it be sure to savour it; you won’t find another like it.
Thanks to Pothecary Gin for sending me a sample to review.