A brilliant trip to the States and some exciting new releases means there’s plenty to catch up on in April’s Gin Monthly.
Perhaps the most significant development is that Scotland’s controversial Deposit Return Scheme has, quite rightly, been delayed until March 2024. Hopefully that will be prove to be enough time to tackle all the problems and pitfalls…
New Gin Alerts
It might be the friendly little GINome that caught everyone’s eye recently but I’ve got to admit there are other releases that have got me much more excited this month. One, or should I say two, of those is the Warner’s x Four Pillars collaboration that has resulted in Warner’s distilling their Harrington Dry Gin with Australia’s finest Shiraz grape juice, and Four Pillars using Northamptonshire’s pure rhubarb juice to create their Green Apple and Rhubarb Gin.
I also can’t wait to crack open Thunderflower‘s English Orchard Spiced Apple Gin, and I’m keen to try both Fishers River Alde Editions Spring Gin – featuring gorse flowers and blackthorn blossom from the banks of the river – and Renais; a certified carbon-neutral gin released by Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) and her younger brother Alex and flavoured using discarded grand cru grape skins.
My Month in Gin
I was super excited to board my first international flight in three years to fly out to the States at the end of March, but the excitement wore off pretty quickly after spending over 9 hours sat on the tarmac at Heathrow during what turned out to be a 26 hour flight delay! Thankfully it was all worth enduring once I made it to San Francisco with one of the undoubted highlights being my visit to St George Spirits.
Based in Alameda, St George Spirits’ Distillery enjoys incredible views across the bay towards San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge but it’s inside where the real magic takes place. Describing themselves as eau de vie distillers at heart, they create everything from absinthe to shochu and we got to try a lot of it, including NOLA Coffee Liqueur, Green Chile Vodka and Baller American Single Malt Whiskey.
What really blew me away, other than the incredibly inspiring way Head Distiller Dave Smith talks about his approach to distilling, was the truly distinct noses and character of every single spirit. With the gins in particular I found myself wanting to chew the piney Terroir Gin, suck the super citrusy Atlas Bar Orange Gin, and simply let the elegant Botanivore Gin sit on my tongue. And then there are the Dark Rye Gins created using a base of 100% pot-distilled rye which Dave describes as painting on black velvet as opposed to the white canvas of vodka!
With an incredible sense of identity, a determination to create distiller- and process- (rather than market-) driven products and a desire to contribute something to the industry, St George Spirits has soared to the top of my favourite international distilleries. Their commitment to excellence and being “better tomorrow than yesterday” means their tasting room is yet to reopen following the pandemic, but when it does, do yourself a favour and book yourself in. You won’t regret it.
I was also lucky enough to visit some of San Francisco’s finest bars but of course I was really in the States to judge for the American Distilling Institute International Spirits Competition which was truly a pleasure, a privilege and an honour.
Held in the lovely location of Tiburon, some of the very best talents and palates in the business gathered to judge every spirit you can imagine over the course of three days. I was mostly on gin but also judged everything from aquavit to flavoured whiskey (via bourbon, cream liqueurs, limoncello, mastika and vodka!) and learnt a huge amount from my anchor judges Aaron Knoll and Lauren Patz, as well as from my fellow panelists. The awards will be announced on May 17th so keep your eyes peeled to find out who won what!
Welcome to My Collection
I’m absolutely delighted to welcome both of Katherine Jenkins’ new Cygnet Gins to my collection this month alongside Warner’s x Four Pillars Harrington Shiraz Gin, Thunderflower’s new English Orchard Spiced Apple Gin, and this super cute little Wrecking Coast Clotted Cream Gin pin!
Catching Up and Looking Forward
Next month is, obviously, all about #GinADayMay! I hope lots of you are planning to get involved and I’ll see you again here on the other side. 🍸🛎🛎