The Gin To My Tonic Club April 2021
Meet-the-Makers Virtually on Saturday 24th April 6.00pm-8.30pm
The Gin To My Tonic are back with our 4th Virtual Gin Festival of 2021, and we are delighted to be joined by the creators, makers & champions of 1881 Gin, Ditchling Gin, HMS Spirits, Holy Island Gin & Ramsbury Single Estate Gin.
This month we are celebrating the traditional, whilst giving you a nod to Summer with a couple of fabulous coastal inspired creations, all guaranteed to excite your palate. Whether this is your first time joining us, or you are a ‘Gin To My Tonic’ returnee, we can’t wait to share a drink with you virtually and take on you another epic gin-venture. Make sure you tag us on Facebook and Instagram, so we can re-share your posts along the way.
What we love about these events is the passion that these distillers bring to the table, their determination to succeed, and how each take the ingredients and the influences around them to create something truly unique. Each may have started out with a passion for gin and distilling, but all five featured gins have taken completely different routes to become the gins in our tasting kits this month. We can’t wait to hear what you think after tasting all five…
Love, Em & Paul – Co-Founders, Best Friends & Fellow Gin Enthusiasts
ON THE NIGHT - MIX WITH THE BEST
1881 HYDRO LONDON DRY GIN – Fever-Tree Indian Tonic & Pink Grapefruit
RAMSBURY SINGLE ESTATE GIN– Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic & Green Apple or Pear
DITCHLING GIN –Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic & Orange
HMS MARY ROSE GIN – Fever-Tree Light Tonic & Pink Grapefruit and Rosemary
HOLY ISLAND GIN– Fever-Tree Indian Tonic & Orange
PLEASE NOTE, you may wish to purchase an additional Fever-Tree Indian Tonic to pair with Ramsbury Single Estate Gin as an alternative to The Gin To My Tonic suggestion of Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic. Same garnishes apply.
6.00PM - 6.30PM: From Spring to Spirit with 1881 Gin Distillery
After three years in construction, the grand Peebles Hydropathic Establishment opened in 1881 in the Scottish Borders town of Peebles, Set high above the town the hotel offered a vast range of therapeutic water treatments bringing guests from all over Scotland and further afield to avail themselves with these revolutionary treatments. They’d book in, relax, and ‘take the waters’, as part of the hydropathic craze which swept the country during the time.
The source of these water treatments? Peebles Hydro’s private water source, the Shieldgreen spring. Its purity became legendary for ‘alleviating’ a wide range of ailments. These days they are a bit more dubious about the extent of these claims, but they still believe in the fresh, mineral-rich spring water that’s been supplying the Hydro for almost 140 years. The Shieldgreen spring inspired the creation of the base for their 1881 Hydro Gin, which we are fortunate to be trying as part of this month’s tasting.
Today, 1881 Distillery pays homage to the Peebles Hydro Hotel’s rich history, with the gin made onsite at the Hotel. The gins are produced in their stunning 150L Arnold Holstein copper pot named Felicity, with Head Distiller Dean at the helm. And if you look closely, each 1881 Gin label is also a thing of beauty reflecting the rich history of Peebles Hydro and the beautiful surroundings in which it is distilled and bottled.
And as for the gin itself? Hydro Gin London Dry is described as “echoes of a fresh walk” with piney juniper layered with notes of hawthorn, birch and fir. There are 12 botanicals in their signature London Dry Gin, many of which are grown in the hotels own gardens. Once the liquid is created it is then blended with natural spring water straight from their source. Hydro Gin is a good solid London Dry. Juniper forward, yet smooth on the palate. Citrus notes make for a lasting, complex flavour.
What do you love about distilling?
“I love that distilling is where science and art come together – what goes into the still is altered during the distillation process and can come out with a completely different flavour than a person might expect!”
Where would you like to see the gin industry in 5 years-time?
“My hope is to see continued expansion and technique development. Vacuum distillation is almost definitely on the rise, as is the question of provenance “what makes a Scottish gin?”
Tell us something we might not know…
“With water and spa treatments being at the heart of our business, it seems appropriate that our distillery and school is built on top of the original swimming pool for the hotel. The pool is still in place to this day”
6.30PM - 7.00PM: Field to Bottle with Ramsbury Single Estate Gin
Sustainable, British and Handcrafted are three words that perfectly describe Ramsbury Single Estate Distillery.
First and foremost, Ramsbury are Farmers and use their deep-rooted understanding to care for the landscape around them. They know that the more care given to the land, the more the land will give back in return, and this has never been more-evident than with their flagship Single Estate Gin, which we are delighted to be sampling as part of this month’s tasting.
The distillery itself is located amongst 19,000 acres of land, with their milling shed located right next door. Behind this, sits their very own orchard, a lake, and then fields of Horatio wheat, all of which play vital roles in the production of their gin. The phrase ‘Single Estate’ is vitally important here, as it means that the complete process from field to bottle takes place on their estate in Wiltshire. They sow, grow and distil the primary ingredients themselves, monitoring each step from planting and growing, to harvesting and distilling. Ramsbury are also a great example of environmental conscious farming, as once the distilling is complete, the spent grains are fed to the animals on the farm and the wastewater is cleaned by a wildlife-friendly reed bed system, which then feeds into the lake.
Focusing in on Ramsbury Single Estate Gin, it’s a modern twist on a classic London Dry. The spirit is distilled in a copper still using the Horatio wheat, before the spirit is distilled again with nine botanicals including locally picked quince grown on the Ramsbury Estate. A crisp, full bodied gin in which floral notes combined with the defining botanical, quince, gives it a moreish and sweet palate.
For those looking to embark on an exciting gin adventure in person, then Ramsbury have created a fabulous destination for gin lovers, with the opportunity of staying overnight at their very own public house, The Bell. Tours are also available around the Distillery & Brewery.
7.00pm - 7.30pm: A Spirit To Lift The Spirits with Ditchling Gin
The Ditchling Gin story started a generation ago, when as kids (with their grandmothers) they used to make Sloe Gin from locally foraged sloes , blackberries and redcurants… some base gins worked, some didn’t… and working out the best blends gave them an invaluable introduction to the magical art of botanical matching.
Roll forward thirty years, and in the summer of 2019, a group of friends and family in the picturesque Sussex village of Ditchling decided to create a craft gin for the local village summer ball. After several weeks of late-night alchemy sessions, taking time to work out what botanical tastes they preferred in other gins, and what possible combinations they should try next, the first batch of Ditchling Gin was poured that fateful summer night. By the end of the evening, every last drop had gone! At that point they knew that they had created something special, and the excitement took hold… which led to one question, where would they go from here?
The creation of Ditchling Gin starts with the highest quality UK sourced neutral grain spirit, the botanicals are then added which include Juniper, Coriander and Angelica – they chose to scale back on the Angelica to reduce the bitter, earthy taste- and then blend with Cassia bark, Bitter almond, Orris root, and various citrus fruits. Once the distillation process is completed the liquid is then blended with South Downs spring water and denatured water (to minimise haze) to bring it to the bottling strength of 40%. The result is an incredible classic, smooth and flavourful gin created in the London Dry style.
Ditchling Gin has been awarded some impressive accolades both for the liquid and the label design. With an IWSC Silver award amongst others being a standout moment. They also have some exciting projects in the pipeline including the creation of a premium Toffee Vodka as well as lots of other innovative products in the pipeline. Ditchling Gin are only just getting started…
7.30PM- 8.00PM: Set Sail with HMS Spirits
HMS Spirits was founded by Ben Maguire in 2017. Based on the South Coast in the New Forest, the range is inspired by the sea and Britain’s brave and fearless seafaring history.
Ben was, and still is, a keen gin drinker and started enjoying the spirit we all love around the time Sipsmith successfully petitioned HMRC for a change to the law regarding small batch distilleries being allowed to open in London. This momentous moment saw the end of a 200 year draconian law that prevented small batch distilleries from opening in the city, and ever since that moment Ben continued to follow the renaissance of gin closely. He had always had an interest in creating homemade alcohol, which included beer, cider and some awful wine (Bens words!)
It was on a trip to Hungary that Ben passed a shop selling stills and his gin journey truly begun. What was only ever meant to be a hobby became so much more, and thus HMS Spirits was born. His quest to perfect the blend began, many botanicals and combinations were tried out of a period of four years with friends being roped in to taste test. It was in 2016 that the blend was perfected and the maiden spirit HMS Mary Rose made its way out into the world.
Mary Rose Gin is a classic juniper led London Dry made in a copper pot still. Pink grapefruit peel is added to liven the front of the palate and rosemary to create a soft finish. They also use black pepper, cardamom, oris root, angelica root & coriander seeds.
The passion that Ben has radiates through the range of spirits he has created and there are lots of exciting plans afoot, including a launch of a Rum which will join the fleet shortly, alongside HMS Mary Elizabeth (Elderflower) Gin and HMS Dreadnought (Navy Strength) Gin.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
“That’s a tough question as it totally depends how you interpret it, for me I still get really excited every time someone tags us on social media and says something nice. I still can’t get over seeing the bottles on shelves of shops or on the back bar.”
Do you have any exciting plans for the future?
“Our spiced rum is ready for release now and will be on the market shortly.”
Where would you like to see the gin industry in 5 years-time?
“I think it needs a bit more regulation in terms of what spirits are called gin. There are some beautiful, flavored spirits on the market that whilst lovely certainly aren’t gin which I think is misleading for the consumer and harmful to the industry.”
8.00PM - 8.30PM: The Spirit of High Tide with Holy Island Gin
“Listen to the breaking wave of water
Let life still your soul
Take a sip of Holy Island Gin at high tide
Journey to Tranquility and Calm
Make time to find your spirit”
Holy Island Gin is the creation of Head Distiller, Andy Cowan.
Andy had always been passionate about the rich, romantic history of gin, alongside it’s origins and how it had evolved over the years. After trading hectic city life for the beauty and tranquility of Holy Island, he began to dream of creating his very own Holy Island Gin.
In 2016 he purchased his first traditional copper pot still ‘Rose’, and after experimenting with dozens of botanicals and distilling methods he finally created the gin in this month’s tasting box. The goal was to create a gin which captured the essence of Island life, and was as fresh as the Northumberland coast which surrounds the idyllic island. With eleven carefully selected botanicals including juniper, nutmeg, elderberries, sweet orange peel, rose petal and hibiscus, the gin is sweet and floral but with an undeniable juniper kick.
Holy Island Gin is distilled in batches of 250L using reflux distillation. They allow the robust botanicals, like juniper and coriander, to macerate at a constant temperature for 24 hours before distillation, before adding the lighter botanicals such as rose and hibiscus into a vapour infusion column. This combination creates a juniper forward dry gin, with an orange citrus kick, and sweet floral finish. Today, they continue to distill each small batch of gin on one of two stills, 100L ‘Mona’ and newest 250L still ‘Aila-Rose’.
Based on their original Holy Island Gin recipe, they’ve also added ‘Sea Pink’ to the family, which is further infused with rose, orange blossom and mixed berries to give it a more floral and fruity twist. At 41% ABV, Sea Pink is still very much a full strength gin, and uses only hibiscus and elderberries for it’s natural pink colour.
What inspired you to begin making gin?
“I’ve always loved gin, I was laughed at in my friends group because it was always seen as an ‘older womans’ tipple. I was just interested in trying to make it myself, I bought a little 1L still ‘Rose’ and just experimented with different botanicals and flavours. Living on a tidal island, I wanted to reflect that in my gin, without making it gimmicky. So, I chose botanicals that created a fresh and smooth finish”
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
“If you’re passionate about it, stick at it and dont think too much about what everyone else is doing. Do what you want to do.”
Tell us something we might not know…
“We do weekly beach cleans and are passionate about keeping our shorelines plastic free.”
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH FEVER-TREE
Fever-Tree began in 2003 with a meeting of minds and one simple premise: if three quarters of your G&T is the tonic, wouldn’t you want it to be the best?
It became apparent that Charles and Tim had both come to the same conclusion – namely that the growing prevalence and popularity of premium spirits had not been matched by what was on offer in the tonic category.
From the very beginning, Charles and Tim approached their business in a different way – there would be no compromise at Fever-Tree. Flavour and quality were of the utmost importance. This mindset led them on an 18-month adventure from the archives of the British Library to facing the wrong end of a Kalashnikov in the Democratic Republic of Congo and concluded with the launch of our Premium Indian Tonic Water in 2005, with the belief we still operate by today.. If 3/4 of your drink is a mixer, mix with the best. As well as quality, Charles and Tim wanted to put the choice back into the category.
The whole company has been built on innovation. Constantly developing new mixers, new flavours, new ideas, thus creating, an array of flavours to pair with the myriad of premium Gins, Vodkas, Whisky’s and Vermouths.
SAVE THE DATE
We are back on Saturday 29th May 6pm-8.30pm where we’ll be enjoying FIVE new gin creations from Downton Distillery, Penrhos Spirits, Slingsby and Three Wrens Distillery.