2017 was one hell of a year for gin with figures released today showing Britons bought 51 million bottles of our favourite spirit; an increase of 27% on 2016 figures! Sweeter spirits are proving increasingly popular, with fruit gins dominating sales in 2017 and growth only expected to continue well into 2018. Capitalising on this lucrative market, Aber Falls, North Wales’ first whisky distillery in over 100 years, has launched a range of gin and liqueurs while it waits on its whisky to mature.
Aber Falls Distillery is found at the foot of the waterfall of the same name in the village of Abergywngregyn, located between the Menai Strait and the foothills of Snowdonia in North Wales. Despite being one of a number of distilleries owned by Halewood International, one of the UK’s largest independent drinks’ manufacturers and distributors, Aber Falls appears committed to promoting Welsh products and culture.
Alongside their single-malt whisky, made using Welsh barley – which will be available from 2020 – Aber Falls have also released a number of fruit gins and liqueurs. I was lucky enough to receive a gift box of miniatures of the entire range alongside a stunning slate drinks coaster and attractive rocks glass. Embracing their Welsh identity (one which I share!) the brand’s stunning bottles feature a Triquetra, or trinity knot, inspired by Celtic symbology. Each bottle features the knot in a different colour, with the deeper colours of the Salted Toffee and Coffee and Dark Chocolate liqueurs illuminated against the white font (until you empty the bottle at least!). I also, personally, love that each and every bottle is proudly emblazoned with the Welsh dragon!
Aber Falls Rhubarb and Ginger Gin
Apparently inspired by “homely” rhubarb and ginger crumble, on the nose this gin carries a strong, sugary aroma like that of rhubarb and custard sweets or fruit salad chews. Underneath, the gin does retain a little tartness and the earthy nature of rhubarb but it is, nonetheless, predominantly sweet.
This carries through on the palate which undoubtedly tastes of rhubarb; sweet but also sharp and tart. There is, I think, a little juniper in the background but the rhubarb really dominates alongside a pleasing little ginger heat on the finish. The likeness to rhubarb crumble is actually surprisingly impressive; while on the cusp of being too sweet the ginger just manages to keep everything in balance.
I tried one of Aber Fall’s perfect serves – the Rhubartini – featuring strawberries, lemon juice and egg white. Arguably more of a rhubarb clover club than a martini this was, nonetheless, delicious! The ginger got slightly lost in this serve but the rhubarb and fruity sweetness was really nicely accentuated and balanced by the citrus. Smooth and slightly creamy, if you’re a fan of fruit salad chews this one is definitely for you! (Though I would recommend dry-shaking the egg white before adding the other ingredients to the shaker to ensure proper emulsification and the smoothest texture.)
41.3%, £24.67 for 70cl
Aber Falls Orange Marmalade Gin
Inspired by the Tropical Glasshouse at Treborth Botanic Gardens, Aber Falls’ Orange Marmalade Gin has a still sweet but considerably quieter and more traditional nose. Consequently the palate surprises a little; I can’t detect any juniper but this is full to bursting of sweet, jammy oranges – so much so, it brings to mind orange jelly snakes! Though this is technically a gin it almost tastes like a liqueur; like a sweeter, less boozy, version of Cointreau.
Although Aber Falls say this gin makes a refreshing G&T, I tried their Gin O’Clock with orange and lemon juice, sugar syrup and soda water. I’d liken this cocktail to a boozier and sweeter citron pressé. That said, it’s not that boozy and the gin is all but lost. But it is delicious and dangerously sippable; perfect for a summer’s afternoon, I’d be careful to keep this one away from the kids!
41.3%, £28.63 for 70cl
Aber Falls Violet Liqueur
Inspired by the distinctive purple blanket of violets found growing along the Menai Strait, this liqueur is sweet and perfumed and utterly reminiscent of parma violets. Not being a fan of those particular childhood sweets I’m afraid that, neat, I find this liqueur soapy and sickly sweet. However, in a Violet Spritz, with two parts traditional lemonade to liqueur, the violet is kicked back into submission and just adds a gentle, subtle perfumed note which I find considerably more enjoyable. I have no doubt though, that my parma-violet-loving colleague will adore this little bottle and so I’ve saved a little drop just for her, so it can be truly appreciated!
20.8%, £19 for 70cl
Aber Falls Salted Toffee Liqueur
Developed in collaboration with Halen Môn – a family-run business awarded Protected Designation of Origin status for their Anglesey Sea Salt – Aber Falls’ Salted Toffee Liqueur pays tribute to the history of sea salt production in North Wales.
This liqueur is, frankly, nothing short of delicious! Rich, indulgent, sweet, buttery and boozy with just a hint of salt, this is remarkably well-balanced and I could happily drink it neat. However, I also tried it in a Sweet and Sour cocktail – featuring grapefruit, lemon and apple juice with a little sugar syrup – which was simply outstanding! More complex and less sweet than the other cocktails from Aber Falls, this has a lovely sharpness from the citrus which also enhances the salty notes of the liqueur. This has got to be my pick of the bunch!
20.3%, £19 for 70cl
Aber Falls Coffee and Dark Chocolate Liqueur
Inspired by the chocolate orchid flower found at Treborth Botanic Gardens, this liqueur has a quiet nose but an exceptionally well-balanced palate with rich roasted coffee and bitter-sweet cocoa notes. Again, this is undoubtedly good enough to drink neat, but I couldn’t resist trying it in a cocktail. I found the Bailey’s-esque Mocha Twist underwhelming, but the Aber Frappé, with coffee and milk, was akin to a rich espresso martini and absolutely delicious! The perfect end to any meal in my opinion!
20.6%, £19 for 70cl
The Aber Falls range is probably not for the traditionalists among you. Nor are the gins the most ground-breaking you’ll come across. However, they play brilliantly to the current trend of drinking, and particularly cocktail-making at home, and they are undoubtedly well made and well-considered products. If you have a bit of a sweet tooth they will be right up your street! With the exception of the Violet Liqueur (which my colleague will happily guzzle) I’d certainly be delighted to add any of them to my collection!
With thanks to Harriet Williams at McCann Manchester Limited for the complimentary gift box.