Gin is booming in the capital and we’ve come a long way since Hogarth’s Gin Lane. Gin tours are the new pub crawl, independent distilleries are popping up all over the city, and it’s now possible for gin lovers to perfect their own blend.
Here’s my pick of the best places to make your own gin in London:
City of London Distillery – this super cool gin joint, just off Fleet Street, is already famed for its own brand gin and bar (resplendent with copper still on display), but it also features a Gin Lab. For £125, the Distillery Team will talk you through botanicals and help you create your very own special gin. Visitors take home a 70cl bottle and the experience includes a distillery tour and G&T.
Bump Caves – Part of the Draft House chain, this dive bar boasts a rotary evaporator which creates a vacuum, meaning the gin-making process can be done at a lower temperature, opening up a wider range of flavours for your tipple. Master Distiller Max Chater will guide you through the process and help you create a 70cl bottle of your very own gin to take away. The £95 ticket price also includes three cocktails, a 70cl bottle of Bump Cave’s own ‘Victory Gin’, and a meat and cheese board. Events run regularly.
Ginstitute at The Portobello Star – ‘Ginterns’ will learn about the history of London Dry Gin before creating their own. The Ginstitute will keep your recipe on file, so you can re-order at any time. Tickets cost £100 and include a cocktail reception, the history bit, a 70cl bottle of Portobello Road No. 171 gin, your own 70cl bottle of gin, and a Martini for good measure.
I was absolutely thrilled to receive my copy of Gin Foundry‘s Gin Annual in the post last month. Packed with information on various brands, cocktail recipes and a list of predictions for the Next Big Thing, the 42 page hardback book has taken some time to digest.
More than just a collection of articles and reviews from their website, the chaps at Gin Foundry have clearly put a lot of love into this first ever Gin Annual; the passion for the spirit is clear in every page of this beautifully designed book. 2014 was a huge year for the gin revival, and according to this, 2015 is set to be bigger.
I was pleased that the predictions for 2015 were more than just the brands with the biggest marketing budgets. I’ll be testing all of the ’10 gins to watch in 2015′ over the coming weeks. Watch this space!
‘Where can I get one?!’ I hear you cry! Well, you can’t, they’re out of stock. Buy me a G&T, and I might let you borrow mine. Sign up now at ginfoundry.com and make sure you get the 2015/16 edition at the end of the year.
Berkeley Square Gin (40% ABV) is posh. Posh namesake, posh brand-positioning, posh bottle. Heck, even the miniatures are posh.
Berkeley Square calls itself a ‘timeless’ gin; “the single malt of the gin world”, with roots in the 1700s. It’s hand-crafted at the oldest distillery in England, and is a triple distilled spirit, infused with eight botanicals including sage, basil and Kaffir lime leaves.
The result is a well-balanced, herbaceous spirit with sweet notes and a peppery kick. The Berkeley Square signature serve is a Martini, garnished with a Kaffir lime leaf. While it does make a wonderful Martini – with enough flavour coming through even when the spirit is chilled on ice – I prefer a twist of lemon as a garnish. The zesty citrus peel cuts through the sweetness of the gin. It’s personal preference, of course, but the sweetness for me is almost too heady. I like my Martinis clean, pure and strong, and this ticks all the boxes.
Gin Foundry are at it again. The home of ace infographics, hosts of Junipalooza and all round gin geniuses have come up trumps with a nifty little bit of kit called the Martini Forecaster.
Can’t decide what kind of Martini to order? Well worry no more, folks!
It’s silly, sure, but charming all the same. Download yours here.
Produced by the Southwestern Distillery, Tarquin’s Gin (42% ABV) is made in Cornwall with hand-picked Devon violets and fresh orange zest. The grain spirit is diluted to bottling strength with Cornish spring water.
I first tried this at a hotel in Bath, and then had the pleasure of meeting Tarquin himself at this year’s Junipalooza. It’s clear that he’s passionate about this stuff; he hand-fills, signs, corks and seals every single bottle.
You’ll be hard pushed to find this small batch gin (at just 300 bottles per batch) on the shelves unless you live in the West Country, but the good news is, you can buy it online – and it’s well worth seeking out.
Made in Hackney Wick, I first discovered Butler’s Gin (40% ABV) a year ago, when I received a bottle as a Christmas present. Produced on a boat by Ross William Butler (aka The Butler), Butler’s Gin is made with cardamom and lemongrass for a light, crisp flavour.
The spirit is infused with nine botanicals for 18 hours, before being hand bottled and signed by The Butler himself. The cardamom and lemongrass give it a yellow-y, greenish tint (similar to the colour of the glass bottle in which it’s stored).
The best bit? Butlers Gin is currently offering £6 off the bottle price. Snap it up, quick!