One Time Gin is back! Originally launched on 1st January 2017, the UK’s only limited-edition gin subscription club has recently relaunched after a (slightly longer than anticipated) hiatus. And they’re even bigger and better than before!
One Time Gin (OTG) have retained their USP of collaborating with different distilleries to offer their members a truly limited-edition gin. Subscribers can also continue to look forward to receiving the ingredients to make a unique cocktail with each new delivery; an idea that takes advantage of the enthusiasm that has been growing for home cocktail-making.
So, what’s changed? The most significant development is that OTG now bottle and label all the gins themselves. This has a couple of advantages; firstly, it simplifies the process for collaborating distilleries who now only need to focus on making the gin. Secondly, it gives OTG more control, and the ability to create a solid and recognisable brand identity. And they haven’t shied away from that opportunity!
Original subscription packages included one full-sized (700ml) bottle of gin, and a couple of bottles of tonic and cocktail ingredients. Now OTG are able to offer not one, not two, but three different sized packages: the Dinky package features a 350ml bottle of gin with mixers and cocktail ingredients for two; the Full Size includes a 700ml bottle of gin and mixers and ingredients for four; and the mighty Magnum package boasts a massive 1.5litre bottle of gin and mixers and cocktail ingredients for eight! All three sizes of bottles are also wrapped in paper featuring bespoke (and what is likely to become instantly recognisable) artwork by OTG’s resident artist – Manasses Machado – which will no doubt help their brand image.
The only catch (if you consider it a catch, and I’m not sure that I do) is that OTG releases are now bi-monthly, rather than monthly, to allow time for all the extra work that creating a new product necessitates. And if you do consider that a catch, then I’d suggest you just go ahead and sign yourself up for that Magnum package! I received October’s Full Size relaunch box which contained one 700ml bottle of Red Leaf Gin, four (200ml) bottles of Double Dutch mixers (two of their Indian Tonic Water and two of their new Limited Edition Spices and Oakwood mixer), two (50ml) bottles of spiced blackberry liqueur and The Gin-ner Circle, OTG’s club magazine (pleasingly printed on 100% re-cycled paper). And it all came rather nicely presented too; perfect for treating yourself or a loved one.
As explained in The Gin-ner Circle, Red Leaf Gin was produced by OTG with a little help from Langley Distillery. Intent on creating an autumnal gin, OTG experimented by vacuum-distilling a variety of seasonal botanicals including chestnuts, cooking apples and pumpkin seeds. Once the successful botanicals had been selected, OTG tried blending the distillates with a couple of different gin bases from Langley. After further experimentation they settled on the final product; a traditional juniper base with Seville orange, hazelnut and, finally, blackberry leaf to balance, and marry together, the other two flavours.
Red Leaf Gin is certainly a distinctive gin but that doesn’t mean it’s incredibly unusual. The folk at OTG seem to have cleverly navigated that thin line between creating a gin that is definitely different but also one that is likely to be a crowd pleaser. After, all you don’t want to risk alienating half your membership with a love-it-or-hate-it spirit (although traditionalists will probably call for more juniper)!
Served with Double Dutch Indian Tonic Water, Red Leaf Gin makes a good G&T with the hazelnut notes coming through nicely. The recommended orange garnish brings out the Seville oranges in the gin but I found that star anise added a wonderful spicy note and an extra layer of complexity that I loved. The new Limited Edition Spices and Oakwood mixer offers an interesting alternative to tonic water with hints of woody, cask-aged spirits (but without the booze, of course). It is absolutely autumnal in spirit – however, I did feel it lacked a bit of bite, perhaps due to the absence of quinine. Also, I suspect some cloves or ginger might bulk out the flavours a bit more, and it would be very interesting to try it with brown spirits, rather than gin.
In keeping with the seasonal theme, October’s OTG cocktail is The Fireside Bramble; a hot-toddy-meets-mulled-wine concoction featuring Red Leaf Gin, spiced blackberry liqueur (included in the box) and orange and lemon juice. Warming, well-balanced and ridiculously simple to make, it’s the perfect winter warmer for a nippy November night. And better still, OTG even include the recipe for the blackberry liqueur in The Gin-ner Circle, should you want to make more.
There’s not much on the market similar to the Dinky and Magnum packages (priced at £35 and £89 respectively), whereas the Full Size package remains similar to other subscription services’ offerings. At £48 OTG are now top of the price range in that category (which are generally closer to £40 per delivery) but I’d argue that it nonetheless offers good value for money with its additional mixers and cocktail ingredients (most similar packages only include one or two bottle of mixers and/or some snacks).
And, in addition to that, you are getting a limited-edition gin, something truly unique that you’re unlikely to be able to buy elsewhere. Note I say unlikely, rather than unable, as OTG will be offering their bottles to a select number of shops to avoid problems with reaching distilleries’ minimum orders or leftover stock. The majority of the releases will only be available to members, but any stock held after the cut-off date will be sold to retailers on a very limited basis.
While there are lots of gin subscription services on the market these days, there isn’t really anything out there similar to One Time Gin. In fact, I’d say OTG are most similar to That Boutique-y Gin Company – independent bottlers who take creations from some of the world’s best distilleries, brands and minds and present them alongside stunning artwork from Grace J Ward – but on a subscription basis and with the added bonus of mixers and cocktail ingredients to bring out the best in the gin. Frankly, it’s pretty darned clever. And with the December box promising a Christmassy Lebkuchen Old Tom Gin (lebkuchen are festive German honey and spice biscuits similar to gingerbread) from Union Distillers (the makers of Two Birds Gin), it’s well worth giving One Time Gin a shot; it could well be your perfect match!
Sign up here during November and claim 10% off your first package using code DECEMBER10.
With thanks to James Grant at One Time Gin for the complimentary Full Size subscription box.