Imbibe Live is Europe’s largest on-trade drinks exhibition, showcasing an intimidating number of beers, wines, ciders and spirits. Even with my gin googles firmly on, there were more distilleries present than I could shake an empty glass at. With so much to see and so little time, I opted to skip past some of the more familiar (at least to me) and well-established brands, such as Sipsmith and Southwestern Distillery, but also, regrettably, missed out a few of the newer kids on the block like One Gin. Nonetheless, I definitely still succeeded in trying more gins than is probably wise on a Monday afternoon!
Three of the gins I was determined not to miss, and went out of my way to taste, were three of the very newest to the market. Officially launched on 7th July 2017, the one and only bottle of Kuro Gin in the UK so far was gracing the shelves of the awe-inspiring Hammonds of Knutsford display. A Japanese-inspired London Dry Gin, featuring bamboo and silver birch as well as more traditional botanicals, this is certainly a gin to seek out.
Also launching at Imbibe was the country’s first coffee gin from Manchester’s Faith & Sons. The Organic Cold Press Coffee Gin is made first by roasting green coffee beans before cold-pressing them to remove excess bitterness. With minimal sugar added, this 37.5% ABV spirit retains both its gin and coffee characteristics, although a traditional gin it certainly is not.
The last of the trio I had to try was Palmers Gin; launched by Langley Distillery to mark their family’s 200 years in the business. And a family business it certainly is, with the spirit named after the director’s gin-loving grandmother, Angela Palmer, and produced in the family’s copper pot still, also named Angela, built in 1903. With such history this is, as it should be, a traditional and classic gin, albeit with a modern twist of grapefruit.
A trend towards lighter, more summery, gins was something I also noted with Caspyn‘s Original Gin featuring hibiscus flowers and citrus and, particularly, their Midsummer Dry gin infused with refreshing cucumber. Then there was Manchester Raspberry Gin (almost certainly the best raspberry gin I’ve tried), Tinker Gin‘s soft, slightly sweet, Spanish style gin, and Belgium’s Clover Gin, featuring pear and lavender among its botanicals.
The standout gins for me had to be Cornwall’s The Wrecking Coast Clotted Cream Gin and, particularly, their Sloe Gin, with sweetness from local honey and warmth from cloves. Gorilla Spirits‘ Silverback Mountain Strength Gin also more than lived up to the first impression created by its stunning new bottle. Finally, Copenhagen Distillery‘s clean and crisp Orange Gin and their single botanical Dry Gin made from double distilled mead demand a second sip.
And it would be remiss of me not to mention Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur simply because it caused quite a stir. I had quickly dismissed it as a gimmick and, while it is somewhat sweet and syrupy, it was also considerably better than I expected. And it was, I have to admit, very pretty with its swirling, glittery contents catching the light. It is definitely not one for the serious gin-drinker, but Unicorn Tears will be a lot of fun for the more light-hearted occasions, that’s for sure. Just keep it well out of reach of the kids!