Anyone who has even half an eye on the gin industry at the moment will know that small-batch limited edition gins are big news. As are gin subscription services. One Time Gin and Sipsmith’s Sipping Society have lead the way and now Batch Brew, Lancashire’s first gin distillery, are getting in on the act too with their monthly Batch Innovations subscription service.
Batch – based in Burnley, Lancashire – started business making and selling bottled craft beer and received their first HMRC Distiller’s License way back in November 2012 before the gin boom had really taken hold. However, it wasn’t until February 2015 when they began regular production of their eponymous premium gin distilled with lemongrass, nutmeg, star anise, frankincense and myrrh.
Since then: Batch Gin has been awarded a silver medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition; the company has moved into larger premises at the renovated Habergham Mill; and commissioned a bigger (though still not huge by any standards) 165-litre column still – Adrian – allowing them to increase capacity and produce more spirits including Whinberry Gin and a vodka.
And now in 2018, they have launched their 12-month project Batch Innovations; a monthly release of experimental limited edition craft spirits inspired by the team’s travels. The majority of the Innovations will be gins, some of which will be cask-aged, though the team will also be developing rum and vapour-infused vodkas. Each batch will be produced in a maximum run of 200 bottles, with every bottle labelled and numbered by hand and also featuring the work of talented Burnley born-and-bred artist Brodie Cameron.
I was lucky enough to receive February’s Industrial Strength Gin which arrived beautifully wrapped in a red-and-white polka-dot fabric with an accompanying bottle of Fever-Tree Indian Tonic water and information leaflet. The stunning bottle is in keeping with their mainline products – reinforcing and strengthening their brand image – but on this occasion the bottle is a dark petrol-blue colour and, alongside Batch’s mandela-like flower logo, features Brodie Cameron’s incredible illustration inspired by the comic character Tank Girl and World War II icon, Rosie the Riveter – who represented the women working in factories and shipyards – wearing a red-and-white headscarf much like the one the bottle is adorned with.
Technically, at 55% ABV, Batch’s latest release couldn’t be termed a Navy Strength Gin (which must be at least 57%), but nor would they want it to be. In recognition of Burnley’s industrial heritage as one of the world’s largest producers of cotton cloth, and conscious of its lack of a port, this gin is instead fittingly described as Industrial Strength. Using the signature Premium Gin recipe as the starting point, this higher-proof gin features more juniper, less spice and the addition of lemon balm and apricot kernel.
The nose is very inviting indeed; something about it makes me want to jump straight in there! Even at 55% there is very little alcohol on the nose (to my mind at least) but plenty of juniper and a delicate, fragranced citrus, presumably from that lemon balm. Neat, this gin almost tingles on the tongue! There’s citrus and spice in there and the juniper is more subtle than I expected but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing (and I think there’s still enough to keep purists happy).
This gin packs a punch but again, it’s remarkably balanced and refined for its ABV. I’ve not tried Batch’s Premium Gin but if this is anything to go by, it must be amazing too! I love the balance of spice, citrus and juniper and the sensation on the palate is quite remarkable too. With a good, lengthy finish as well I am impressed. Very, very impressed. And I haven’t even added a drop of water, never mind tonic water, to the glass yet.
With that drop of water, the gin opens up and reveals a soft, almost creamy mouthfeel with delicate citrus notes; I definitely think I can detect the lemon balm now. And as a gin and tonic, served with the included Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water and grapefruit peel and circle, this is outstanding! The higher ABV keeps the gin upfront and central but it also gains a sweetness with the tonic accentuating that soft and creamy, delicate mouthfeel. It may only be February but I’m pretty sure this is a shoo-in for my top 10 gins of 2018. I simply love it!
And I’m not finished yet. Batch suggest this gin would fare well in a number of gin cocktails such as a Clover Club or White Lady but their recommended serve is the intriguingly titled Industri-oil Martini featuring vermouth, triple sec and olive oil. So, naturally, I have to give that a whirl. Now, I will admit I’m not really a huge fan of martinis. And I accidentally went a little heavy on the vermouth. And I substituted the suggested Cointreau for Grand Marnier. And olive oil? Seriously?! But, wow! This is my kind of martini! Simply sensational. What else can I say? Except pass me another one please!
With a gin this good – and it is bloody, bloody good – and future releases expected to include Absinthe Gin (April), Jasmine Tea Gin (July) and Pear and Sweet Cinnamon Gin (December) I reckon you should all be signing yourselves up to Batch Innovations immediately. I might even do so myself. And, trust me, that says it all.
Purchase Industrial Strength Gin from Batch at £42.00 for 70cl (55% ABV). To receive all future 2018 releases subscribe to Batch Innovations here for approximately £30-33 per month (depending on what point in the year you join).
With thanks to Johdi Dinsdale at Batch for sending me a complimentary bottle of Industrial Strength Gin.