Gin peaks: some of our favourite South West spirits

The skinny jeans of the drink world, gin has been in fashion for as long as we can remember through the fog of our hangovers. And – stop the press! – it’s going nowhere. But we all knew that. Which is why we’ve decided to take a closer look at some of our tried and tested South West favourites…

6 O’clock Gin Brunel Edition, £43/70cl (Bristol)

This special edition spirit is one for the gin bus; its complex blend of botanicals, smooth texture and pokey ABV of 50% sees it pack a confident punch. The export strength London dry sip is made with warming spices like green cardamom, nutmeg, cumin and cubeb, as well as lemon and cassia bark, making it an ideal gin for the impending autumn, when cockles will need a-warmin’. Fever Tree’s Fergus Franks recommends giving two different tonics a go with this, to see which you prefer. “Our aromatic tonic perfectly supports the heavy juniper notes in a navy strength gin, or with the ginger ale would work well with an orange twist to garnish.”

Find it at Corks of Cotham and Grape and Grind, among others local independents.

Crumbs development editor Matt says: “This is a gin for short winter nights, when you’re tucked up somewhere cosy – in front of a fire at home, or in the most taxidermy-packed corner of your local prohibition bar – and want something with a masculine edge that’ll leave an afterglow.

Bristol Dry Gin, £26/70cl (Bristol)

Produced in the cellars of the historic Rummer Hotel in the Old City, this is a light and easy-drinking gin. Pop the top, give it a whi and you may well soon be thinking of old school confectionery shops, with the smell carrying a subtle suggestion of sweetness and aniseed – which we can probably attribute to the all spice and cassia bark. Fresh lemon peel, lime leaf, elderflower, coriander seeds and (obvs) juniper join the botanical party here, although they whisper graciously – as opposed to yell – at your tastebuds. This is a great one for gin novices, and will ease you into the world of juniper-infused spirits nicely. Pair it with Fever Tree’s classic Indian tonic water with a lemon twist to garnish, as per Fergus’ suggestion. Find it online at Farmdrop or at Harvey Nichols.

Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin, £36/70cl (Dorset)

This is Conker Spirit’s version of a London dry, and it makes great use of all the ingredients that are bountiful in the countryside surrounding the Bournemouth distillery. Elderberries, marsh samphire and gorse flowers infuse the liquid, which is distilled from English wheat and let down (no, we don’t mean disappointed by; that’s distilling terms for diluted) with New Forest spring water to achieve an ABV of 40%, and a wonderfully balanced, fresh and zesty flavour. “Pair this with our Mediterranean tonic water – which will complement the herbaceous notes – and a lime twist garnish,” recommends Fergus. Find it at independent Spirit of Bath and Harvey Nichols in Bristol.

Crumbs editor Jess says: “This is a fresh, sprightly gin that’ll put the icing on the cake of a summer’s day. It’s one to make sure you have in for barbecues, and look out for on the back bar when you want an after-work drink in the sun. Its fresh, bright flavours make me think of summer afternoons, lazing in the garden.”

Cotswold Distillery Cotswolds Dry Gin, £34.95/70cl (Warwickshire)

Complex but accessible, this distinctive gin shows a well-balanced and carefully judged blend of botanicals. Solid juniper notes were always the intention of the makers, who were also keen to give it a unique edge – not only to make it stand out, but also to link it to the Cotswold countryside where it’s made. They found their defining botanical thanks to a nearby lavender farm; with a careful lightness of touch, they added a bit of a floral kick and loved the result. (As do we.) Grapefruits and limes are all peeled by hand before that skin goes into the still fresh, their natural oils playing an important part in the resulting flavour and mouthfeel. Fergus recommends pairing this with Fever Tree’s light tonic water, with a slice of pink grapefruit garnish. Find it at Independent Spirit of Bath, Corks of Cotham, and Grape and Grind

Crumbs web editor Dan says, “This would make a great present (take note, friends). Bursting with botanicals it gives o spicy, peppery notes for me. It might clock in at 46% ABV, but it’s balanced so nicely you can barely tell. Deliciously dangerous.”

Psychopomp Woden Gin, £36/70cl (Bristol)

Psychopomp’s signature gin, Woden, is a classic London dry style, still made to the same recipe that the founders developed at home, when distilling was but a hobby. It’s distilled in small batches from British wheat, and flavoured with juniper, coriander, angelica, cassia, fresh pink grapefruit zest and fennel seed.

We’ve tried this all sorts of ways (it makes a mean Negroni), but if you’re after a classic G&T then Psychopomp’s own Danny Walker suggests serving it with Fever Tree’s Indian tonic water and a slice of red grapefruit. Find it at Weber and Trings in Bristol, The Tasting Room in Bath, and Brockley Stores.

Salcombe Distilling Co Salcombe Gin Start Point, £40/70cl (Devon)

This gin gets its name from the Start Point lighthouse, which was used by the 19th-century Salcombe Fruit Schooners that carried fruits and spices to shore. Those exotic botanicals also inspire the flavour of this classy gin; London dry in style, it’s zingy with citrus (fresh peels of grapefruit, lemon and lime are used), while also hinting of earthiness and warmth, courtesy of angelica root, cinnamon and coriander seed. See if you can notice the gentle floral character too –we’ve chamomile to thank for those. “Pair this with our aromatic tonic,” says Fergus, “which enhances the citric and floral notes with a subtle peppery finish, and garnish with red grapefruit.”

Find it at The Tasting Room and Independent Spirit, both in Bath.

Wicked Wolf Exmoor Gin £35/70cl (Devon)

There are 11 botanicals at work in this North Devon-made spirit, created by husband and wife team, Pat Patel and Julie Heap. You’ll likely notice citrusy notes first, along with some warming suggestions of pepper. The juniper makes sure it has its voice heard too, though, keeping a firm presence in the flavour profile of this grown-up, classic-style gin, made in a copper alembic still in 35-litre batches. Hibiscus and kaffir lime leaves also get in on the action here; each botanical, in fact, is infused separately, with the 11 resulting spirits being blended to give a carefully balanced and consistent result. These guys recommend serving their sip over a sprig of thyme to bring out all the flavours, along with a wedge of lime and plenty o’ ice.

Dartmoor Distillery Black Dog Gin, £40/70cl (Devon)

Black Dog Gin is all about making the best of Dartmoor’s native ingredients. That said, juniper berries take centre stage in terms of flavour, and get great quality support from dried orange and lemon peel. Open the bottle and fill your nose with the spirit’s scent, and you’re likely to pick out that orange flavour first. Such fruity, juicy character could easily kid us into thinking that the ABV here is far lower than its actual 46%. The makers suggest trying this number with Fever Tree’s Mediterranean tonic water, the herby notes doing great things for the orangey edge, or the Elderflower number, for a classic match of this floral ingredient with citrus. Find it at Independent Spirit of Bath.