There is something of the perfectionist apparent in the packaging of the 6 O’Clock Gin range, with its clean lines and bold yet intricate cog pattern. And little wonder really. 6 O’Clock gin was inspired by the engineer Edward Kain, great-grandfather of the founder, Michael. Mr Kain sr was clearly a man with a fine eye for detail – as well as a great fondness for gin – he once said that any intricate blueprint demands and deserves balance, poise and precision; the mantra by which 6 O’Clock Gin is still created.
With such a finely tuned background, not to mention the business’s home in Bristol, who better to name their latest ambitious edition after than one of the UK’s most celebrated engineers: Isambard Kingdom Brunel – designer of Bristol’s SS Great Britain, Temple Meads Station and the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge. All these and more turned Brunel into one of the icons of the Industrial Revolution, and helped to cement the global pre-eminence of Victorian Britain. But his endeavours had a far more important spin-off, as Michael Kain rather romantically points out:
“He also standardised British time for the railways, so 6 o’clock gin-time is enjoyed by gin drinkers at the same time across the UK!”
Inspired by Brunel’s achievements, and to celebrate his contribution to world travel, 6 O’Clock Gin added six new botanicals to their original eponymous gin: green cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, cassia, cubeb and lemon. They also increased the ABV of the Brunel Edition to a mighty export strength 50%, all wrapped in their premium bottle in a striking black and copper colourway. On the nose, the gin has a juniper backbone but is also distinctively spiced with cardamom and black pepper to the fore.
To taste, the Brunel Edition is aromatic and smooth (belying its 50% ABV). Cardamom, cumin and piney juniper are well balanced alongside a little peppery heat at the back of the throat. There is also a surprising note of sweetness on the finish, perhaps from the original botanicals of elderflower and citrus. All in all, this is a punchy and robust gin with plenty of depth and character. It retains the quality and smoothness of the flagship gin but is both more ambitious and distinctive and, as is emblazoned across the front of the bottle, it certainly does come across as “exquisitely engineered”.
I tried the Brunel Edition in one of 6 O’Clock Gin’s recommended serves with ginger ale and a ginger and lemongrass garnish. A long drink with a little fragrance from the lemongrass and spice and kick from both the gin and the ginger garnish, this is incredibly refreshing. I’m not usually too keen on using ginger ale as a mixer with gins but the Brunel Edition can certainly hold its own against the ale, while the spicy notes of the gin complement the ginger superbly.
The classic gin and tonic is, of course, equally successful. 6 O’Clock Gin recommend an orange garnish but I added a few cardamom pods to my glass and I suspect star anise would work equally well if not even better to enhance the aromatic notes of the gin. I tried my G&T with Distiller’s Original Tonic – previously sold under the name 6 O’Clock Indian Tonic Water – which complements the original gin beautifully, but I found it slightly washed out the flavours of the Brunel Edition. For my palate, the gin was better complemented by Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water which resulted in an incredibly clean, smooth and moreish serve!
The 6 O’Clock Gin range already includes fantastic sloe and damson gins, in addition to the original eponymous gin and this Brunel Edition is a wonderful, less traditional, addition to their line-up. The Brunel association is, perhaps, a little romantic but do not underestimate the careful balance and precision, and – dare I say it – love, with which this gin has been crafted. The result is a distinctive and delicious gin that I, for one, will certainly be returning to. I’m not even sure I’ll wait for the clock to strike six…
Read my earlier review of 6 O’Clock Gin, Sloe Gin and Damson Gin here.
Purchase Brunel Edition Gin here at £43 for 70cl (50% ABV). For every Brunel Edition sold, £1 is donated to the SS Great Britain Trust, which will be opening the new Being Brunel museum in Bristol’s Floating Harbour.
With thanks to 6 O’Clock Gin for the complimentary bottles of Brunel Edition Gin and Distiller’s Original Tonic.