“Bold” is the operative word where Turncoat Gin is concerned. Terry Langton, their founder and head distiller, refuses to cut corners in pursuit of each new recipe (he blames his years working in beer!), and each finished product is always striking in its originality. I was blown away by their Cascade Gin when I first met Terry at Catford Gin Festival in 2017 and when I saw him again at the same festival (albeit in a rather grander venue) last year, Terry returned with not one, not two, but three new gins; the citrusy Our Man in Sicily; the delicate and floral Dragon Tears (featuring the top buds of the jasmine tea plant); and my personal favourite, the spicy Bold St. Chai.
This Chai Gin, however, came about almost by accident. The Turncoat team were messing about (as Terry puts it!) using chai tea in their 2 litre glass still, creating a one-off gin for an event in a small bistro, when they discovered the ratios and the gin base really worked. Spotting an opportunity, Terry approached Liverpool tea merchant, restaurant and bar, LEAF on Bold Street, proposing a collaborative project to perfect the gin using LEAF’s own chai mix. LEAF were understandably excited and, when it transpired that their black chai was very different to the tea Terry had used before, they got the whole team down to the distllery and, together, went back to the drawing board.
LEAF’s tea knowledge proved invaluable when it came to perfecting the profile of the gin; spotting that the balance was off, the cubeb berry content was lowered and, as their chai mix already had a high ginger content, the ginger in the original recipe was removed completely.
Alongside the tea, Bold St Chai Gin features juniper, coriander, angelica, black pepper, orris root and cubeb berry. Due to the natural inconsistencies in the chai mix, and to ensure the perfect balance for each new batch, Turncoat distill the tea separately to the gin and then blend the two together. As I said before, Terry isn’t one to cut corners.
Terry and LEAF recommend serving this with Indian tonic (although I also enjoyed it with Fever-Tree’s Aromatic Tonic water), star anise and a burnt orange peel and it certainly makes a delightfully balanced and wonderfully spiced gin and tonic. If you’re a fan of spicy, complex, contemporary gins you’ll want to try this one out pronto. If not, try something else in the Turncoat range; they are all made with the same passion and attention to detail.
Purchase Bold St. Chai Gin from Turncoat Distillery at £42.00 for 70cl or £31.50 for 50cl (40% ABV).
With thanks to Terry Langton, Founding Directory of Turncoat Distillery, for the complimentary bottle of Bold St. Chai Gin.