This article was first published in the Financial Times Magazine and FT.com on 13 November 2010.
strange is happening in the leafy boroughs of London. The whiff of juniper can
be detected in the air in Highgate, Hammersmith and Wandsworth.
Gin, made famous in London by the
ruinous amounts drunk by the 18th-century poor and depicted by
William Hogarth, is once again being made in micro-distilleries around the
New, aromatic gins are
appearing in the freezers of the cognoscenti, while quinine-rich tonics, such
as Fever Tree and Fentimans, chill in their fridges.
the new gins to catch the headlines are Sacred gin, SW4 London dry gin, and
Sipsmith London dry gin.
being made in the capital,, they cannot be called London Dry Gin unless they
conform to the method of production as defined by complex EU regulations.
The term doesn’t refer to place of
gin is the creation of Ian Hart, an ex-City headhunter. As a lover of gin, Hart
wanted something fresh-tasting and set about experimenting with vacuum
distillation at his home in Highgate. This allowed him to extract individual
botanical flavours at a lower temperature than normal, imbuing the gin he
launched last year with a light, sweet taste. Most gins contain around seven or
eight botanicals, of which normally 40 per cent is juniper, 40 per cent
coriander and 10 per cent angelica. Hart’s contains 12 botanicals - some of the
other new gins have even more.
London dry gin, also launched in 2009, evolved from Martin Price’s love of gin
“I wanted to make a
traditional style of gin in small batches, and London dry gin is the most
puritanical and demanding way to make it” he says.
Working in collaboration with Charles Maxwell, Master Distiller
at Thames Distillers Ltd in Wandsworth (hence the postcode in the gin’s name),
Price finally settled upon a blend of barley and wheat spirit to produce a
creamy, fragrant gin that is good enough to drink on its own.
London dry gin, meanwhile, is made in a newly built distillery in Hammersmith
with water taken from Lydwell Spring, one of sources of the Thames.
It packs a punch with its barley grain
spirit and resinous, juniper notes.
Interestingly, Jared Brown, who created the gin for owners Sam
Galsworthy and Fairfax Hall, did so by going back to the early 18th-century
many other new small-batch, premium gins to taste, among the most notable is
the delectable Fifty Pounds London dry gin and Beefeater’s London dry gin Limited
Winter Edition with its warming cinnamon, Seville orange and pine notes.
Even Bacardi has joined the bandwagon
and launched an experimental small-batch premium gin called Oxley, which is
produced under very low temperatures to create fresh juniper and citrus notes.
to choose which gin to drink at home?
Desmond Payne, Master Distiller to Beefeater Gin, says that the best way
to try a new gin is to compare it with two others.
Add a little still (not tap) water to release the aromas.
Those keen to refine their gin-tasting palate further could order Sacred’s Open
Sauce botanicals and sensitise their palate to individual botanical
distillates, such as juniper, pink grapefruit or violet scented orris.
They could even create their own gin
with these, or add a botanical flourish to their gin and tonic by putting in a
few drops before serving.
the perfect G&T use cold (to minimize the ice melting) gin and cold tonic
poured over pure water ice cubes. Traditionally, you add double the tonic to
gin, but keep it strong.
add a slice of lemon.
reinstate the civilizing influence of the gin and tonic hour.