Food & drink

The Taste of a Place

Is it Gin O Clock yet? Here’s six regional Great British gins that will make you wish it was…
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Originally a Dutch import, gin hit the taverns of London in the seventeenth-century like a tidal wave. Conditioned to enjoy milder drinks like good, old-fashioned ale, the Brits fell hard for the clear stuff and before long the streets were strewn with intoxicated revellers. Vice-Chamberlain Lord Hervey paints a pretty vivid picture of the capital in the 1700s: “Drunkenness of the common people was universal. The whole town of London swarmed with drunken people from morning ’til night.”

But despite a reputation that earned it the nickname “mother’s ruin”, gin never went away. Fast-forward several centuries and a gin and tonic is now as quintessentially British as cricket, fish and chips and knotted hankies on your head at the seaside. For years that’s all it was: the comforting and familiar after work tipple; a safe pair of hands in the increasingly artisan world of fancy cocktails and craft beers. Then something changed and it’s back  in a big way. In 2010 there were 116 gin distilleries in  the UK. In the past two years alone over 100 have opened, and gin has become a £1bn industry. Traditional brands have had a hand in this but most attribute this renaissance to dedicated small producers popping up all over the place. 

Here are six of the best new small distilleries leading the charge in Britain and a recipe that really showcases their qualities:

East london Liquor company ginEast London Liquor Company
East London Liquor Company has carved out an impressive niche in a crowded city with its stunning premises and three delicious gins. Their London Dry mixes 100% British wheat, a balance of grapefruit and lemon for the citrus and exotic spice like cardamon and cubeb berries.

 

Lakes Distillery ginThe Lakes Distillery
The rugged and beautiful fells of the Lake District have the perfect champion in The Lakes Distillery. An impressive set up that also includes a single malt whisky distillery and restaurant, the gin uses wild Lakeland juniper, meadowsweet and heather.

 

Caorunn ginCaorrun
Foraging is at the heart of the Caorrun ethos. Blackberry, sloe, rowan and elderberry are just some of the wild fruits harvested in the Scottish Highlands to create this gin. Combine these with water long-famed for producing the best whiskies on the planet and you have something perfect for cocktails, but equally delicious mixed simply with tonic.

 

whittakers ginWhittaker’s Gin
An award-winning newcomer from beautiful Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, Whittaker’s draws its water from the distiller’s own spring and uses local botanicals like sharp bilberry, sweet hawthorn and spicy bog myrtle. It captures the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales in liquid form.

 

Dyfi Pollination ginDyfi
Dyfi is situated in a UNESCO-protected biosphere in Wales. In this pristine landscape the team harvests 20 of the gin’s 29 botanicals. Combine that with Pete Cameron’s scientific approach to distilling on custom equipment and you have something really quite special sold in very limited quantities.

 

Blackdown GinBlackdown
Something superb from Sussex. Blackdown is crafted from a long list of botanicals, but things get really interesting after distillation when silver birch sap is added from the woodlands surrounding the distillery - a rare ingredient that adds a touch of sweetness to this bright and fresh summer gin.



Gimlet

 A classic gin cocktail that crime writer Raymond Chandler described as “both sweet and sharp at the same time” in The Long Goodbye, this version of the gimlet features fresh lime juice for a classic and clean flavour. Using local Whittaker’s Gin from Harrogate, the mixologist at the Best Western Plus Monkbar Hotel, York, has created the perfect version for gin lovers to try.

Ingredients

50ml Whittaker’s Original Gin  |  50ml Fresh lime juice  |  2tsp Granulated sugar

A twist of lemon peel, or sprig of mint, to serve  |  Cubed ice

The Method

1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.
2. Pour the gin, lime juice and sugar into the glass.
3. Stir until combined and sugar dissolved.
4. Using a strainer, serve in a short glass over ice.
5. Garnish with mint or lemon peel.

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