With countless new releases, more gin judging and my debut in Gin Magazine it’s been a pretty good month for me. So here’s a little recap on what I’ve been up to, and some booze news and new gin alerts you may have missed, as we hurtle head first into the festive season!
As some of us exit lockdown, others (in Wales) re-enter it and yet more remain stuck in tier 3 (which is surely just lockdown by another name), the hospitality sector continues to suffer. With the industry expected to lose around £717 million this year due to the cancellation of festive functions we’re all going to have to do our bit to help, but it’s also great to see Campari Group urging big businesses to donate 5% of their unused party budgets to on-trade workers via their Shaken not Broken campaign, administered by The Drinks Trust.
There has been some positive news to be found too though. Having been plastic-free for one year, The Isle of Wight Distillery has also been certified as Net Zero by sustainability firm Good Business, which they have achieved by supporting two carbon-positive projects – a seagrass-growing initiative with Ocean Foundation in Puerto Rico and With One Seed’s forest replanting scheme in East Timor – to off-set their own emissions.
Huge congratulations also to all the winners announced at the #IWSCATHOME Awards Ceremony 2020 (which I enjoyed with a glass of Gold Outstanding winner Withers Gin) but especially to Four Pillars who won International Gin Producer of the Year for the second year running, and my local 58 Gin who claimed UK Gin Producer of the Year! What the tiny team at 58 have achieved this year is truly incredible and their win is so very well deserved.
New Gin Alerts
I’ve been lucky enough to receive a lot of this month’s new gin releases (see below) but a few of the others that stood out for various reasons include Defiance Distillery’s Suck It Up Gin (surely no explanation needed!), Sky Wave’s Limited Edition Cask Aged Gin (one of several cask aged gins released this autumn), and Otterbeck’s Captain Sir Tom’s London Dry Gin which supports The Captain Tom Foundation. Then there’s Marabelle Gin; a collaboration between Salcombe Distilling Co and P&O Cruises which claims to be the first gin made at sea (on board P&O’s new ship Iona). And, last but not least, Portobello Road’s Sloeberry and Blackcurrant Gin looks just perfect for the festive season doesn’t it?
My Month in Gin
I was delighted to attend a pre-launch introduction to 137 Gin Distillery’s latest release which, better yet, was accompanied by the most generous goody bag including two delicious pre-mix cocktails and a stunning glass. Lumber’s Bartholomew Navy Royal Gin is the first in the distillery’s new superior range, differentiated from the original by its labour-intensive production method including 24-hour maceration and multi-distillation. A bold but smooth gin, despite its 58% ABV, piney juniper is pleasingly prominent with warming spices and a little white pepper tingle towards the long earthy finish. Cracking in a classic negroni, their suggestion of a small measure of Heering Cherry Liqueur definitely elevates it to something even more special.
I was also honoured to join the World Gin Awards judging panel for the fourth time. Although the first rounds are usually undertaken at home anyway, this year saw us join virtual judging tables via zoom, giving us the opportunity to taste and score the gins privately but then discuss our thoughts with our fellow judges; an experience that is initially slightly terrifying but quickly becomes very informative and rather good fun. And, despite the pretty-but-intimidating kaleidoscope of flavoured gins I was confronted with, I was delighted to find some treasures in the rainbow!
Not that I want to be a big boasty-pants or anything, but the highlight of the month for me has to be seeing my first piece of freelance writing published in Gin Magazine! Looking at distilleries that use a species of juniper other than common in the production of their spirit (such as Texas’ WildGin and Kenya’s Procera Gin), the article required an awful lot of research but I really enjoyed it and definitely learnt a lot in the process. If you want to read my debut you can order a print or digital copy of the magazine here.
Welcome to My Collection
I have been gifted a frankly ludicrous amount of gin this month, so all I can say is a very heartfelt thank you. New releases include Anno’s Extreme 95, aka the “World’s Strongest Gin” (the jury is still out on the rhyme or reason behind this one but it does taste good); Lumber’s Bartholomew Navy Royal Gin; Papillon’s limited edition Carabus (a delicious gin featuring woodland botanicals and which supports a local Buglife project); One Port Barrel Rested Gin (10% of profits from which continue to fund life-changing water projects in the world’s poorest communities) and Poetic License’s Moscatel Cask Aged Gin (one of three cask aged gins created to celebrate their 5th Anniversary).
But I have been equally delighted to receive Mallorca Distillery’s delicious Palma Spiced Gin, Yorkshire’s Hooting Owl Signature Gin, a second bottle of Highclere Castle Gin (accompanied by a beautiful Christmas tree decoration), St. Giles’ signature gin (which I’ve been keen to revisit since I first tried it at Gin Foundry a few years ago), Colonsay’s incredible navy strength Tonn Mor, a bottle from the first batch of Barra Atlantic Gin to be created in their new copper still Ada, and a simply sumptuous Sipsmith stocking filled with ginny goodies, including a mini bottle of Sugar Plum Gin Liqueur.
And, just in case that wasn’t quite enough (!), I also treated myself to Tappers Brightside, which I can’t wait to taste alongside its Darkside sibling, and Procera’s new Red Dot Gin, designed for cocktails which demand a bolder profile.
Catching Up and Looking Forward
Despite best intentions, I haven’t written anything for the blog this month but I am working on a little collection of Christmas cocktails which I hope will raise your spirits and put a smile on your face this (undoubtedly unusual) festive season, so do keep an eye out for that. And, if you’re missing your Ginvent Calendar this year do check out #GinItBack on Twitter and Instagram; a festive initiative to promote distilleries that support charities close to their heart throughout the year.🍸🛎🛎