Let the tasting beGIN

Our patch has some amazing gin producers and World Gin Day has prompted an idea. We’re going to run an ongoing review from the counties we cover. Hampshire, Dorset, West Sussex, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight. The South Sensation Ginspiration Collection!

We’ve ordered a taster sample box from Master or Malt which will arrive in a couple of days. Their’s is a brilliant idea – you select sampler sizes from their massive array, and they’re shipped out to you to ginjoy. If you love the taste you can invest in the entire bottle of course.

The only Isle of Wight offering we could find is Mermaid Gin which isn’t available from Master of Malt, so we’ve had to buy a whole bottle to be sure the island gets its place. But the sampler box has five gins, so we had to add another – oh dear. So – our number six is Mary Rose Gin from just the other side of the Solent a double up from Hampshire. If you know of any other Islands gins please do let us know.

We’ll taste these beauties and give you our views. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it!

These are just the first in our Ginspiration Collection – we’ll regularly update you on others. If there’s any you’d like us to add just let us know and we’ll get onto it straight away – all gin the name of research, you’ll understand.

At this stage we’re going with the tasting descriptions from the producers themselves to get us started. We’d love to hear your views, or guest reviews, as we go on our local gin journey. So – here goes – our first six South Sensation gins!

DORSET

Dorset has more than its fair share of excellent gins, but we’ve selected Pothecary as the first in our Dorset Collection.

“The initial burst of soothing lavender aroma gives way to refreshing citrus, supported by Juniper, leading to a hint of Black Mulberry sweetness in tandem with the black tea and honey scent from the Tilia flowers. 

“A smooth, Juniper led gin, with attractive layers of floral Lavender and honeyed Tilia, fresh notes of lemon, and a subtle richness from the Black Mulberries on the palate.”

Pothecary Gin. Dorset.

SUSSEX

The Blackdown distillery in West Sussex offers a selection of gins, we’re featuring their Sussex Gin, curated with a blend of eleven botanicals.

“Distilled seven times to ensure smoothness and refinement, Blackdown Sussex Dry Gin is charcoal filtered before being infused with silver birch sap, which is sourced from the 40 acres of woodlands. Finally, the distillate is brought to bottling strength, using pure Sussex water which runs beneath the distillery. Silver Birch sap; Juniper; Cassia bark; Bitter orange zest; Sweet orange zest; Lemon zest; Orris root; Angelica root; Nutmeg; Liquorice root; Coriander seeds”

Blackdown Sussex Dry Gin. West Sussex.

WILTSHIRE

Keepr’s Gins appear a little out of the norm, so they’ve made their way to our line-up, all inspired by nature and showcasing 100% raw British honey from their own bees.

Their strawberry and lavender gin is “carefully distilled with only the best botanicals to create a superb infusion with delicious British strawberries, a hint of English lavender and touch of our honey. Only the best, freshly picked strawberries are used to create this refreshingly fruity spirit which has a clear, red berry appearance and a light, clean palate of fresh strawberries with delicate notes of floral lavender.”

We’re looking forward to giving it a try and hoping it’s a Keepr in our collection.

Keeprs Strawberry & Lavender Gin. Wiltshire.

HAMPSHIRE

The Twisted Nose distillery in Hampshire’s historic capital of Winchester, features a Watercress Gin which seems especially appropriate as this leaf has become something of an icon of the county. They suggest their Watercress gin is served with a good tonic and a twist of pink grapefruit – we’ll definitely give that a go.

Their small batch craft gin combines ten botanicals including locally grown watercress to create a spirit that they describe as intense, fragrant and very refreshing.

“The watercress adds sweet herbaceous notes and a peppery sparkle to the finish that lifts a gin and tonic to new heights. We think it’s the most refreshing gin we’ve ever tasted, but perhaps we’re just a little biased.”

What’s with the strange name? Apparently, The Romans knew watercress as Nasturtium, meaning “twisted nose”. You learn something new every day!

Twisted Nose Watercress Gin. Hampshire

ISLE OF WIGHT

The beaches and hedgerows of the stunning Isle of Wight are the perfect foraging ground for rock samphire and elderflower. These are blended with eight other botanicals for this hand-made, small-batch gin with a “smooth, fresh and complex flavour profile. Fresh citrus zest comes from Sicilian lemons and Grains of Paradise complemented by Boadicea hops grown in the local botanical gardens at Ventnor, English coriander from Sussex, orris root, angelica root, liquorish root, and juniper.

“The gin is slow distilled, cut with Island chalk-fed spring water and then rested for 7 days before being bottled on the Island to give its signature smooth delivery and fresh, invigorating flavour.  The gin achieves classification as a London Dry Gin, a marque of quality, using 100% natural ingredients and no additives. Smooth and refreshing, it has a citrus zing, deep, rounded mouth feel, long finish and a hint of sea air.”

The gin, they claim is so smooth that its best when enjoyed straight up with a good tonic and plenty of ice and fruits, berries and even samphire in season. That should blow away the cobwebs!

Mermaid has just launched a new bottle which is really beautiful – you could add a bottle light for about a pound each from Amazon and you’ve got a stunning piece for a nautical barbecue table.

We bought our bottle from the amazing Fareham Wine Cellar, a lovely shop at the top of Fareham High Street literally crammed with all manner of spirits and wines, many with a local angle, and with the expert knowledge that makes indies often the best places to buy from. If you can’t make it over to the shop, they offer an online service so let’s support our independents and shop local if you can.

Mermaid Gin. The Isle of Wight.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SOLENT

We chose one gin from each county on our patch – and plan to try them all thanks to the tasters from Master of Malt, but our only Isle of Wight contender isn’t on their radar yet. So, armed with an entire bottle of that gin gem, we needed a fifth taster for our box.  We chose one from just this side of the Solent from the distillery of HMS Spirits Company.

 “100% organic British wheat grain spirit as the base for this well-balanced juniper led London Dry, adding pink grapefruit peel to liven the front of the palate and rosemary for a soft subtle finish.”

Mary Rose Gin. Hampshire.

YOUR MASTERS OF MALT TASTER

This selection of five gin tasters from Masters of Malt came in at just over £30 including delivery. That’s not cheap – but it’s a fun way of tasting new gins and working out the best of our local talent, which ones are your favourite before you invest in the best.

Let us know what you think and keep checking back.

Keeeeep tasting (responsibly of course)!

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