Judging gin, as I’ve said before, is a curious thing. And much harder than you might imagine. But what I find particularly peculiar is that, because gin is judged blind, you wind up not knowing which you’ve tried or what you thought of them! And so it was, I found myself hosting a table at the final of the 2018 World Gin Awards and meeting Jane Cannon from Newton House Gin, knowing I’d probably tried her product but, at the same time, knowing nothing about it! Nothing except that it had just been awarded a Gold Medal in the UK London Dry Gin category.
Newton House Gin is named after the Jacobean manor house in south Somerset which Jane and Robin Cannon purchased in 2007. Completed in 1612, the house had been in the same family for an incredible 399 years and so, when the Cannons took it on, and its 60 acres of gardens and grounds, they also took on a massive ten-year restoration project. The stunning property, on the outskirts of Yeovil, is now available for private events and also hosts gin and jazz nights across their three bars.
The Cannons had been gin-lovers for many years before they decided to make their own spirit inspired by, and in some cases using, the botanicals grown in their beautiful gardens. Robin, with guidance from a very well respected and experienced distiller, developed the original recipe for Newton House Gin but has since passed the mantel to Tristan Jorgensen, who completed his General Certificate of Distillation at Laphroaig.
Produced in the old carpenter’s workshop, in batches of up to 210 bottles, the gin features twelve botanicals: juniper, almonds, liquorice, angelica root, coriander seeds, bergamot, peaches, mint, blueberries and grapefruit, lemon and orange peel. Post-distillation the gin is watered down to a bottling strength of 43.2% ABV using Newton House Estate’s own spring water.
This London Dry gin has a full but traditional nose with plenty of juniper and citrus. To taste it is very dry and very satisfying. The peaches and blueberries are subtle in the extreme – if you didn’t know they were there, you’d be forgiven for not spotting them – but overall it is citrussy and herbaceous with plenty of juniper and an earthy finish. It is an excellent example of a London Dry, as you would expect having been awarded a gold medal in its first year of production, but it does have a twist. It’s almost as though its flavour profile has been turned up at the corners, to give it a point of difference that doesn’t remotely detract from its classic qualities.
As you’d expect, this makes a cracking gin and tonic, garnished with mint and lime. It tastes just like gin should! Unlike so many of the new gins on the market, this is definitely one for the purists and it should make them very happy indeed.
In the interests of research, I also tried Newton House’s Britannia Paloma featuring fresh grapefruit and lime juice, sugar syrup and soda water. A British take on a Mexican tequila-based cocktail, this is refreshing and thirst-quenching and immensely sippable. Being a strong traditional gin, Newton House is certain to work well in a host of cocktails and I can’t wait to continue my experimentations!
Purchase from Master of Malt at £35.83 for 70cl (43.2% ABV).
With thanks to Tristan Jorgensen, Master Distiller at Newton House Gin, for the complimentary bottle.