London is in the grips of a second Gin Craze. But, unlike during the 18th-century original, we are not swilling unregulated ‘mother’s ruin’ as depicted by Hogarth. Instead, new craft producers and big distillers alike are releasing boutique gins where much thought has gone into subtle varieties in botanical balance. What’s more, the world is catching up – and William III’s ban on imported spirits no longer applies! Which makes our choice wonderfully wide…
In 2009, this Hammersmith operation fired up London’s first new copper still in 150 years and lit a flame under the craft-gin craze. Properly dry and juniper-laden, it is also deliciously spicy and creamy.
The name goes back to the 1736 Gin Act, imposing a £50 tax on distiller, and the recipe has purportedly been ‘rediscovered’. Nebulous heritage, but defined flavour: smooth; not too citrus- or juniper-heavy.
Produced in London by Gonzalez Byass (Spain is a major gin market), the botanicals in this spirit include bergamot, the extract that gives Earl Grey tea its smoky citrus flavour. After distillation, macerated gardenia provides its blue hue.
The next big gin comes from Barcelona (that’s mare as in sea, not horses) and is redolent of the Mediterranean, with botanicals including olive, basil and thyme. Serve G&Ts with a sprig of rosemary.
The US West Coast produces some excellent gins – tending towards the citrus (though 209 adds wonderful spiciness, too). This distillery moved from Napa Valley to a site on a pier in San Francisco, entirely over water.
Before you tut, ‘Gin from grape spirit? Typical French,’ bear in mind that genever, gin’s forefather, is grape-based too. After parallel distillations – one with botanicals, one an infusion of grape flowers – there is a final distillation of the blend.