The South West gin guide
12 August 2017
Forgive Beth Andrews , for she has ginned…
The definitive South-West Gin Guide Take a look at the very best the South West gin scene has to offer.
When Bath Gin describe themselves as a ‘gin of a different persuasion’, they sure ain’t kiddin’. Modern, fresh and oh so moreish, Bath Gin is made using 100 percent British grain spirit. It is pot-distilled using 10 botanicals including bitter orange, kaffir leaf and English coriander in Bath’s first distillery in over 250 years. Floral, tangy citrus and deep spice notes are followed by a mild sweetness, creating a light, aromatic and balanced gin which they describe as “warm, intelligent, soft and sophisticated… much like Jane Austen herself, who winks mischievously from the label”! A recent, and utterly delicious, addition to the range is Hopped Rhubarb, made through an infusion of locally sourced rhubarb and whole hop flower. Bath Gin can be found online, as well as in The Canary Gin Bar deep in the heart of Bath. Spanning across five different floors, you are able to enjoy delicious cocktails in a fantastic setting – you can even bring along an empty bottle to fill up with a gin of your choosing from the Bath Gin range!
Bramley & Gage
In the mid-1980s on a fruit farm in South Devon, Bramley & Gage was born. Since then, the family-run business has bagged tons of local, national and international awards, and deservedly so! Now based in Thornbury, 30 years on the drinks are still being produced in exactly the same way, with lessons learnt in growing fruit still guiding their production in Gloucestershire today. Focusing solely on creating great tasting small batch gin of the highest quality, Bramley & Gage still hand make all of the products themselves using real, locally sourced whole fruit to achieve the freshest flavours possible. Working in perfect harmony, a botanical assortment of juniper, coriander, orange peel and elderflower make up their premium 6 O’clock Gin. Herbal, strong and a bitter bite on the finish, pair this London dry gin with its matching 6 O’clock tonic water for maximum impact. Sit back, relax, and enjoy its smooth, clean taste that will no doubt have you coming back for more.
Brennen & Brown Ltd
Whilst installing a tablet in a London distillery, ex-IT-guy-turned-pro-distiller Rich Bamber stumbled upon his light bulb moment when he asked whether a gin with ginger as the predominant flavour was in existence. As it turned out, no such gin had existed in over 100 years, so Rich and his partner Jo took it upon themselves to bring this rarity back to life. Making use of natural botanical ingredients often taken from their own garden or that of family and friends, the Cheltenham based team has created a vibrant London dry gin. Lively with fresh juniper sparks and a delicious hint of ginger, it delivers an explosion of tastes on your palate. Now with an extensive range of quirky, artisan gins including a delectable cucumber and dill edition, all we can say is thank goodness Rich went to install that tablet!
Bristol Dry Gin
Bristol Dry Gin hit the scene in 2016 after a few bartenders decided to give the world of distillery a go… and boy we’re glad they did! Blossoming from a passion for distillery and a love of fine spirits, the small group set up Bristol Dry Gin in the hope of embodying their core belief that local gin should be a drink for everybody. With that in mind, Bristol Dry Gin has been designed as “a gin for the people” – their aim being to fix the monetary problems and elitism that they feel exists within the industry. Still pretty early on in its lifetime, the company already has a range of different gins, all centred on their classic Bristol Dry Gin. A classic dry profile with beautifully balanced botanicals including juniper, citrus, coriander seeds and angelica root, it really is just downright delish. Also in the range is their ‘Docker’s Strength’ edition; a slightly stronger gin that was intentionally named after a Bristol docker who, ahem, “kicked [their] asses”, knowing that this gin will “kick your arse too”!
Just a stone’s throw from the scenic Malvern Hills, Chase Distillery produces Britain’s first single-estate gin. Absolutely everything is grown, produced and bottled on the family farm in Herefordshire, and it’s this single-estate approach that makes them so unique (and what makes their gin so darn tasty). Their ability to keep a watchful eye from field to bottle allows them to carefully sculpt their gin every step of the way, so it is hardly surprising that they have harvested up heaps of awards over the years. To make their one-of-a-kind GB Gin, juniper buds and berries are infused with an array of different botanicals such as cloves, coriander, almond and lemon to create a very floral, dry finish with great length and depth. Also in the range is their Elegant 48 Gin; containing secret wild botanicals from the farm’s meadows and fresh water from their very own well, this gin really has leapt straight out of a fairy-tale. You can kick back and enjoy your bev with a clear-conscience in the knowledge that everything you’re drinking has been sustainably farmed. Wherever possible, the fresh ingredients used are sourced from the family farm, and absolutely nothing goes to waste. With all of their waste going on to feed their herd of pedigree Hereford cattle, happy customers equal happy cows!
At a beautiful distillery in the heart of the Cotswolds, you will be able to find Dan Szor and his team hard at work at Cotswolds Distillery. With quality at the core of everything they produce, the whole caboodle is done by hand – from peeling the grapefruits to running the stills. A self-confessed eco-conscientious individual, Dan ensures that all stages take place locally in the Cotswolds – something he titles “traditional distilling with a modern attitude”. The Cotswolds Dry Gin is their most popular product – hardly surprising when it has been voted ‘The Best London Dry Gin’ in the WORLD Gin Awards… No biggie. A delectable blend of nine carefully selected botanicals including Cotswolds lavender and bay leaf, grapefruit, lime, coriander and black pepper, the result is a fresh, well-balanced juniper-led gin with crisp citrus and spice.
Making the best G&T in the whole of Cheltenham is a pretty big mission when you consider all the ace bars in the town. But the team at Ellenborough Park is aiming to do just that with their brand new eponymous gin. The swanky country house hotel has teamed up with the award winning Cotswolds Distillery to create a unique botanical blend of dry gin. The main botanicals include cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon and black pepper; the blend of spices acting as a nod to the first Earle of Ellenborough Park, Edward Law, the former Governor of India. What makes this gin special is that while the exotic based blend has been inspired by its heritage, Ellenborough Park have struck a perfect balance by staying true to the area through collaboration with local producers. With the General Manager of the hotel, Oliver Williams, labeling it “the holy grail for any hotel bar”, how could you not swing by and give it a shot? The gin is available in the hotel’s bar and restaurant, and is also available to buy on site for visiting guests.
The first in the range for psychopomp, Woden is a classic London dry gin with juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, cassia bark, fresh grapefruit zest and fennel seed. It is perfect in a G&T with a large wedge of grapefruit or in any classic gin cocktail. The perfect location to sip a Woden is in the Psychopomp distillery itself on St Michaels Hill in Bristol. A wall of empty bottles, gleaming copper stills and all manner of distillation equipment. It’s the Breaking Bad of gin and we love it. Other gins in the range include a light floral number Charun and other creations including green fairy itself, absinthe. You can also find limited edition Psychopomp gins around town, our favourite being the exclusive that Playground Coffee uses for their cocktails. Swings and gin, what could possibly go wrong.
When Liam Steevenson, a member of the Masters of Wine, declares that you have created “one of the most attractive gins I have tasted”, you just know it’s gotta be good. Inspired by the history of the Salcombe ‘Fruiters’ (who imported citrus fruits and spices to England in the 19th Century, FYI), Salcombe Gin uses a precise blend of grapefruit, lemons and limes to give the gin a refreshing citrus edge. Its “unique and elegant citrus forward flavour” is complimented by a further ten botanicals which have been sourced from all over the world. Mix these all together with local Dartmoor water, their unforgiving attention to detail and a sprinkling of love and care, and you are left with a refreshing, super smooth hand-distilled gin. They distil their gin according to the ‘London Dry’ standard, although they like to think of it as a ‘Devon Dry’ – very similar to London Dry, only with the addition of sunshine!
Sibling Distillery truly does what it says on the tin – a brand that started just three years ago by four brothers and sisters, producing gin from a makeshift distillery at their family farm in Cheltenham. With parents already in the microbrewery industry, the siblings felt that the process of making alcohol was something they were simply born to do. The family has a very hands-on approach; from creating their own base spirit through to bottling the gin, they do it all themselves. They even take it in turns to mash the cane sugar using a canoe paddle (’cause that is obvs the best way to do it...)! Although the siblings are all about old-fashioned values and tradition, they insist their gin could not be more opposite. Fresh, modern and silky smooth, Sibling Gin combines botanicals from all over the world such as Madagascan vanilla, fresh blueberries, and fresh orange and lemon zests. The brand also produces limited edition gins including Spring, Summer and Winter editions, making the most of celebrated seasonal produce.
The Wild Beer Co
Despite their name potentially throwing you off scent, earlier this year The Wild Beer Co did in fact collaborate with the local Psychopomp Micro Distillery to release their own small-batch gin that is totally worth raving about. Set against the backdrop of the Somerset countryside, The Wild Beer Co truly is a farmhouse brewery and often makes use of this by foraging for seasonal wild ingredients to use in their produce. Directly inspired by their Sleeping Lemons Beer and the flavour of the preserved lemons that are added to it, their Sleeping Lemons Gin has a beautifully salty limoncello aroma on a gentle, clean spirit. Botanicals such as coriander seeds, angelica and liquorice roots, lemongrass, lemon zest and lemon verbena, caper berries and preserved lemons are all distilled to produce something really rather magical.
Wicked Wolf Exmoor Gin
Produced on the banks of the picturesque River Lyn in North Devon, Wicked Wolf Exmoor Gin is a wickedly different kind of gin that will leave you howling for more. The small batch artisan gin is made from a perfect combination of eleven individually distilled exotic botanicals, resulting in a velvety-smooth, full-bodied and all round mega-classy gin. Complex layers of citrus and pepper notes are finely balanced with the distinct flavours of juniper and coriander, creating what they call “a familiar and traditional flavour with a contemporary, yet restrained character”. Lovingly blended, filtered, and bottled by hand, this time consuming and labour intensive process means that they really do pour love into each and every bottle. Forget top dog, the wicked wolf is in town!
Espensen Spirit have a range of naturally infused gins and vodkas made in Redfield, Bristol, by Sam Espensen. Sam and her business partner Phil Gillies have very much put the South West at the heart of what they do, and also co-own an ace bar called Bristol Spirit, which serves a variety of Espensen Spirit cocktails as well as a selection of local beers and ciders.
Their two gin varieties on sale are Gin Genie Blueberry Gin and Pump up the Jam Raspberry Gin. The base gin has well balanced juniper with high citrus and spice, finishing with a sweetness from liquorice. The fruit is sourced from Bristol Fruit Market, and the drinks contain no artificial colours or flavours. There is also a limited edition Rhubarb Gin called Pretty in Pink which can only be drunk at Bristol Spirit itself.
Exeter Gin Exeter's own premium gin in small batches and produced in a traditional copper still. This robust yet smooth gin celebrates Exeter's Roman heritage and occupation between circa AD55 and AD380, "ISCA Dumnoniorum' describing flowing water in reference to the the River Exe. Using ancient botanicals favoured by the Romans such as tarragon basil, cardamom & marigold combined with 11 other botanicals.