The nights are drawing in, the temperature is plummeting and your finger is hovering over the switch to put the central heating on. So how about a nice gin to pick you up?
Those looking for something a little different in their gin might very well have come across Opihr (or OPIHR, as they rather shoutily refer to it), a spiced gin that contains ‘hand-picked botanicals from along the ancient Spice Route.’ This phrase is, of course, a masterpiece of marketing, since despite what The Jetsons told us decades ago, pretty much all botanicals are hand-picked, and the spice routes cover pretty much anywhere between Paris and Beijing. Still, it makes the gin sound suitably exotic, and that’s half-way to making it taste exotic too.
There is now a ‘European Edition’, which comes in a gloriously pretty bottle which works brilliantly to magnifiy the back of the label to make it seem that a map of Europe is floating inside the liquid itself. The European version is ideal for a Negroni, seemingly 2020’s cocktail du jour, but it’s also remarkably good simply served neat over ice.
When is a gin not a gin? The London-based distillery 58 Gin has come up with a pair of new gins, English Berry and Apple & Hibiscus. Both of them push at the edges of what you’d expect — partly because the juniper notes take a back seat, partly because the distiller avoids sugar or sweeteners to create more of a fruity feel. The berry edition is best suited for cocktails and coolers, but the apple and hibiscus makes a fine, and rather different, G&T.
One of the most remarkable things about the gin revolution of the last few years is how so many far flung distilleries have turned their hand to creating interesting gin. The Isle of Harris Distillery is a case in point: theirs is infused with ‘sugar kelp’, which we won’t pretend to have heard of before seeing it on the label of what are perhaps the prettiest gin bottles on the market.
They’ve now pushed the beauty of their bottles a step further by asking a ceramicist called Rupert Blamire to create these limited edition earthenware versions, the ‘Cèilidh bottle’. In terms of the gin itself it’s not cheap at £45 for 35cl, but the bottle makes this a very handsome present indeed — so much so that they’re struggling to keep up with demand.
If this gin were in the army, it would be one of those near-retirement types with endless medal ribbons on its chest
If the 58 Gin duo above veer away from traditional gin, Thomas Dakin steers us right back: this is a classic London dry gin, named in honour of the young distiller from Warrington who founded a distillery that evolved in various directions to produce gins including Bombay Sapphire and Greenall’s.
Beyond the usual juniper and orange peel there are slight peppery notes too — rather surprisingly, a tiny dash of horseradish (referred to as ‘red cole’ on the label) is among the ingredients. It’s won dozens of medals in various gin competitions around the world — and we’re not a bit surprised.
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