With the world’s attention turning to the little beach town of Carbis Bay as the G7 leaders gather together to discuss great issues of state, we thought we’d have our own G7 in Cornwall. Welcome to our “Cornish G7”, where the “G” stands for gin. We’ve rounded up 7 of Cornwalls’ finest bottles of juniper juice to celebrate this great occasion. Plus, it’s a lovely little reminder of just how beautiful this remote and wild part of the UK really is.
Rugged and rough – a land of unique traditions
Lush, green landscapes and deep valleys typify this dramatic region. Rugged cliffs tower dramatically over often turbulent seas. Golden sands and beaches are fed by the warm, wet, westerly winds of the Atlantic which, when the sun shines, becomes a surfer’s paradise (wetsuit on, of course!) Old pubs still exist that resound with locals singing sea shanties eating Cornish pasties and drinking local ale. From Lizard Point at the furthest tip of Southern England you can look out to sea and feel like you are at the end of the earth. In fact, there’s a little town there that’s literally called Land’s End. Then there’s, the fabulously romantic St. Michael’s Mount, a castle on a rock separated from the mainland when the tide is in (the little brother of Mont St. Michel in France).
There are cream teas all around Cornwall (with jam first, clotted cream second please) and plenty of freshly caught local seafood including amazing crab and lobster. There’s Tintagel Castle, legendary home of King Arthur’s Camelot. There’s pints of beer and local cider waiting for you at the bar of a Cornish pub. And more sunshine than anywhere else in Britain. These all sound like cliches, but anyone who has been to Cornwall will recognise the ring of truth that lies behind these words.
Cornwall is a beautiful place and a perfect location to host a gathering of world leaders.
Cornish gin comes of age
But one thing that probably won’t be on the summit agenda this week is Cornish gin. And that’s a shame because it’s gathering quite a reputation now. So, we thought we’d celebrate this great county with a little tour of some of Cornwall’s best gins. This is our own Cornish G7 and we suggest you try to get your hands on them as soon as possible.
So, in no particular order, here we go:
Tarquin’s Gin (Tarquin’s Distillery)
With its distinctive rounded bottle and wax-dipped top, this is a gin that is just chock-full of character on the outside as well as on the inside. The iconic frosted bottles now contain an ever widening selection of gins, handmade by Tarquin in his Higher Trevibban Farm (their little distillery high up on a cliff on the North Coast of Cornwall). They offer distillery tours (which need to be booked in advance). They’ve also got a little shop in Padstow and you can find them on the menu at Rick Stein’s famous restaurant in the same town. In addition to his original Cornish Dry Gin, Tarquin now has The Seadog (a navy strength gin).
They have an increasing range of Cornish fruit gins (such as rhubarb, raspberry and blackberry) and a constantly changing selection of limited edition gins. They even have their own Pastis (but that’s for another website! )
Their original Cornish Dry gin is delicious and highlights Devon violets and fresh orange zest alongside more exotic ingredients such as Guatemalan cardamom, Madagascan cinammon and Moroccan Orris root. The result is a lively gin with orange blossom on the nose and a crisp, dry finish.
Perfect for a refreshing gin and tonic with a slice of grapefruit.
Rock Samphire Gin (Curio Spirits Company)
This one comes in a pretty bottle that highlights the hand foraged rock samphire that is gathered regularly from Cornwall’s dramatic and inaccessible clifftops.
The guys at Curio have quadruple-distilled this gin at their distillery on the Lizard Peninsula at the furthest extremes of Cornwall itself. As well as a beautifully designed bottle that will stand proudly on any gin shelf, this gin has managed to capture the taste of the wild waves that pound the coast and the salt air that hovers in a mist above the lush green fields. Inside is a gin that is full of complex flavours with just the right amount of saltiness to appeal to the seadog in you. With a long finish and a full flavour this captures the essence of Cornwall and works really well in a cocktail such as a White Lady.
Clotted Cream Gin (Wrecking Coast Distillery)
When in the land of cows and clotted cream, even the gin echoes the landscape. If your mouth is watering at the thought of a delicious scone with home made jam and lashings of clotted cream, fret no more. That beautiful and unique taste is now available in a bottle of Cornish gin.
This Tintagel distillery sits in the shadows of the legendary castle and is destined to become an equally legendary gin. For two long weeks, a dozen botanicals are macerated in grain spirit before being run through a still that is controlled by a computer. Yes, really! While this process is underway, Cornish clotted cream is cold distilled in a separate still before the two are united in a marriage that is made in heaven. Think creamy softness, earthy juniper and floral notes with a honey edge. There’s a little peppercorn in there somewhere as well. This is a fab gin, different, but delicious.
One worth seeking out when your mind turns to cream teas
Tincture Cornish Rose Gin (Tincture Gin)
This is an interesting new arrival on the Cornish gin scene.
This classic London Dry style gin is presented in a gorgeous bottle that will assume a front row position on your bar shelf Tincture’s Cornish Rose Gin is made on the Cornish coast using fresh, organic ingredients distilled by hand in copper pot stills.
The good news for those who are eco-conscious, is that they join a growing number of distillers who are making their gins available in reusable bottles with eco-friendly refill pouches. If you like your gin light and elegant with a little lemony sweetness, then this could be the one for you. It’s also got complex notes of juniper and coriander to give it a blast of warmth that will come in handy by the fireplace of one of those Cornish pubs, as the sea shanties start.
There’s another neat reason to try this gin. Not only does it look, taste and smell lovely, but when you add tonic water, the natural golden colour of the gin changes to a pretty pink colour. What’s not to like!
Trevethan Gin (Trevethan Gin Distillery)
This smooth London Dry gin was inspired by a recipe created by Norman Trevethan, way back in the early part of the last century. A regular visitor to the buzzing nightlife of roaring 20s London, Norman partied in town, but put his inspiration into practice back in rural Cornwall. He foraged for ingredients in the local hedgerows and scoured old family recipes for new ideas and perfected his recipe more than 100 years ago.
The gin is now made by hand at the distillery’s Cornwall base. Each batch is made in small quantities and has its own unique signature character. This is a complex gin with floral notes and a subtle citrus edge and many of the botanicals are still sourced from the local hedgerows. Amongst the exotic flavours in this gin, look out for local Elderflower and Gorse flower, handpicked from the Trewonnard Dairy Farm in Cornwall’s Treneglos. You’ll also pick up more exotic botanicals such as orange and lemon peel and vanilla, which leaves a soft, oily texture on the palette. We think you’ll love this oiliness alongside the citrus and floral notes.
St. Ives Gin (St. Ives Liquor Company)
This local Cornish gin from the St. Ives Liquor Company begins with the gathering of 13 local botanicals sourced from the cottage gardens and clifftops of the Cornish coastline.
With a beautiful bottle with a label that is pure Cornwall, this gin has vanilla and orange peel alongside basil and cardamom. On the palette, you’ll discover minty thyme and smoky seaweed with pink peppercorns delivering some extra spice to keep you warm.
This gin is a family affair and the brothers behind the brand pride themselves on their sustainability. They use a cold compound gin process that infuses neutral spirit with its carefully sourced botanicals to deliver a naturally flavoured gin that is bottled and labelled by hand . This gin is proud to have no preservatives, flavours or additives so you know that everything you taste comes straight from the botanicals within.
A lovely tasting gin that you can drink with confidence.
Caspyn Cornish Gin (The Pocket Full of Stones distillery) – ABV 40%
This local gin, born in the shadow’s of St. Michael’s Mount, is named after a stone circle near Penzance and it’s a classic dry gin.
The brainchild of a bunch of friends who worked together in London bars, they brought their knowledge down to Cornwall with them and set up the Pocket Full of Stones distillery. In addition to local gin, these guys also produce whisky, absinthe, cideer brandy and a variety of classic and unusual gins. We’ll stick with the classic Cornish Dry gin that made their name.
There’s loads of floral notes from (hibiscus flowers) and citrus (from the lemon and orange peel and lemongrass). You’ll also detect the subtle notes of Japanese tea and a long finish delivered by the unusual gorse that is used in the recipe. This delicious, fresh gin works really well in a plain gin and tonic (with a twist of orange to let the flavours of the gin shine through). Take a sip and be inspired by the tastes of the sea air and the Atlantic ocean for a crisp and refreshing gin.
Yeghes da, everybody!
So, this weekend, we’ll leave the politics to the politicians and concentrate our efforts on the Cornwall Gin 7. Cheers, everyone. Or as the Cornish say: yeghes da!
Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)
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