Larios Citrus

Larios Citrus: orange gin, big flavour, great value

We often get asked about our “go to” gins. The kind of gins that are well made, great value and perfect for every day drinking. We find ourselves going back time after time to a few favourites. Larios is one of those. Many of us will be familiar with Larios as a popular pour when we visit Spain on our holidays (remember those?).

How it all began

The Larios brand has a rich pedigree that goes all the way back to 1866, when French businessman Charles Lamothe and his Spanish friend Pedro Jimenez founded a small distillery in Malaga. Meanwhile, the third Marquis of Larios and his family had been involved in the business of sugar cane processing for generations before branching out into distillation in 1863. In 1934, the Marquis acquired the Larios business and it is the number one gin brand in Spain and one of the top 10 best selling gins globally. They must have been doing something right.

The Larios collection

The standard Larios Dry is a great gin for those who want a decent taste and character without breaking the bank. But recently, under their new owners (France’s Pernod-Ricard Group), they’ve launched a number of premium gins. These new gins deliver pots of flavour at a great price. The standard Larios Dry gin is a 37.5% ABV gin made with Mediterranean orange and lemon botanicals. Then there’s Larios 12 (a 40% ABV gin made with 12 botanicals including the essence of orange blossom). The third in their trilogy is Larios Rose (37.5% ABV and infused with strawberries).

Double-distilled and bursting with citrus flavour

And now, they’ve done it again with Larios Citrus a delicious premium Mediterranean Gin, bursting with flavour. This little beauty has been distilled (not once but twice) with Mediterranean oranges, wild juniper and citrus fruits. In a world of orange gins, Larios is following a well highlighted trail blazed by the outstanding Tanqueray Sevilla. But somehow, Larios manages to deliver a powerful blast of complex flavour at a fraction of the price of other premium orange gins. It has an intense orange colour and comes in an attractive retro bottle.

Easy on the eye, easy on the tastebuds, easy on the wallet!

It’s not only easy on the tastebuds but it’s easy on the eye as well. And even better, it’s easy on the wallet. Larios Citrus has fast become one of my standby drinks and works superbly on its own, in a Spanish style gin and tonic. But it’s equally at home in any cocktail recipe that could do with a little extra orangy zestiness. This gin will make you happy. It will make you think of Mediterranean beaches, sunshine and joy. And at around £12 a bottle, it’s a small price to pay for happiness.

Keep it simple

This gorgeous gin is so tasty that it works well as an aperitif. It also adds a little extra character to some of those citrus cocktails you’ve been thinking of making. But for us, the best way to drink this is in a Spanish style gin and tonic. Our recommendation is to keep it simple. A premium Indian Tonic water is the best option to make the most of the complex layers of flavour that lie within.

Larios Citrus perfect serve:

  • Find a tall glass, fill it with the biggest ice cubes you can find
  • pour your Larios Citrus
  • Squeeze in a little orange and wipe the rim with the squeezed fruit
  • Pour in your mixer (Fever Tree Mediterranean also works well for a more refreshing mix)
  • Garnish with a twist of orange and serve.

As those Mediterranean flavours dance on your tongue, imagine yourself on a sunny Spanish terrace watching the world go by.


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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A macaronesian gin bottle at the sea's shore

Macaronesian Gin: crafted from earth, wind and fire

If you haven’t tried it yet, give Macaronesian Gin a whirl. Gin is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Tenerife, but this unique and delicious spirit could rightly be called the essence of the Canary Islands.
Made with volcanic water, these guys have already won 3 International Wine and Spirits Council awards and one San Francisco World Spirits Competition award since they cracked open their first bottle of this special gin a few years ago.

For anybody who hasn’t been there, Tenerife is one of Spain’s most dramatic islands.
The island has a hot subtropical climate. It’s closest mainland land mass is the Sahara desert. But Tenerife’s island status, surrounded by sea and strong trade winds, mitigates the worst of the heat.
In addition, the dramatic, volcanic nature of the island means that fresh water sources have been filtered through the island’s volcanic rocks to give it a distinctive pure, natural taste.
Apparently, Tenerife also has subtropical forests within its interior which host as many as 20 different species of trees and flora – including juniper, which is the dominant botanical in this gin.

A unique taste, true to its island roots

This unique gin is packaged in a classic, traditional white clay bottle with a solid cork stopper, which will definitely stand right out on your gin shelf.
But with all this exotic geography and geology, what does the gin actually taste like?
Well, the first thing to say is that it weighs in at a decent 40% ABV, so it retains a bit of its alcohol taste up front. Once in your mouth, you’ll pick up notes of juniper alongside an exotic mix of botanicals that include cardamom, Angelica roots, licorice and lemon peel. This results in a rich, fresh tasting gin where the citrus notes come through like a blast of Canary Island sunshine. This really is sunshine in a glass.

Filtered through volcanic rocks

The water in this gin is filtered naturally through the volcanic slopes of the island. The result of this natural process is the purest natural water, that has never been exposed to light and whose natural properties remain completely unaltered. This water, alongside the unique locally sourced botanicals, results in a pure, clean, juniper forward gin that’s simply bursting with citrus notes.
The final part of the process is when the gin is decanted into its distinctive white clay bottles, whose opacity serves to protect the properties of the gin from excess temperature and sunlight.

The perfect pour:
We think this unique gin is best served tall, in a Tom Collins glass.
A decent slug of Macaronesian gin goes in first, followed by loads of ice.
Wipe the rim of your glass with a slice of fresh lemon then fill up to the top with a premium Indian Tonic Water such as Schweppes premium or Fever Tree.
Garnish with a generous slice of fresh lemon, give it a gentle stir and sip.
This winter, when the cold weather gets too much and you want to remind yourself of better weather and island sunsets, reach for the Macaronesian gin and dream…


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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Four apoteca gin bottles on green moss in a wood

Apoteca Festive Spiced gin: the spirit of Christmas

Everybody’s on the Christmas bandwagon now and with the holiday frenzy likely to be slightly muted this year, we though we’d share with you a unique craft gin that’s sure to add a little seasonal spice to this year’s gin bar. Apoteca Festive Spiced Gin might even become this year’s top tipple.

The folks at Honey Spirits Co. have taken their award winning Apoteca original gin and given it a festive twist, just in time for the holidays.

The result: a fun and flavourful gin blending the natural sweetness of honey with the seasonal tastes of cranberries, damsons, elderberry and winter spices.

If you’re looking for something a little different for the holidays, you might enjoy a glass or two of this seasonal spirit. It has a superb balance of rich Christmas flavours overlaying a rich, herbal juniper complexity. Apoteca Festive Spiced gin comes in a 50cl bottle and packs a decent alcoholic punch at 40% ABV.

Apoteca Festive Spiced Gin

Hello honey…

The award winning Honey Spirits Co. is a relative newcomer to the craft gin scene, but it’s been quickly building a strong reputation for itself. The story begins in a little village called Flagg, up in England’s stunning Peak District. That is where the honey magic happens.

This small family business was only launched in 2017, but it always had one clear objective in mind: create a selection of high quality products including spirits and meads without the use of artificial sweeteners, colours or additives. What makes this distillery stand out is that they only sweeten their spirits using honey or bee-based ingredients. They infuse these alongside a range of exotic botanicals that have been foraged in the UK and Lithuania.

Apoteca Festive Spiced Gin: 22 botanicals, bee-bread and a damson twist

Apoteca’s special edition gin is unusual in that it is built on a rye base. It is then lovingly distilled with a blend of 22 botanicals including the obligatory juniper plus unique ingredients such as bee-bread and propolis (to give a honey aroma without the sweetness). There are also herbal elements delivered by wormwood and St. John’s wort. There’s some sea buckthorn for a lemony citrus effect and even oak bark to help balance things out with a dry finish. Look out for other botanicals including hints of cinnamon, chamomile, mint and even blackcurrant leaves.

For the Apoteca Festive Spice Gin, they’ve pumped up this wonderful mixture with a selection of festive fruits such as damsons, elderberries and winter spices. The result: a superb Christmas drink to add some seasonal spice to your holiday sipping.

The perfect pour: This drink can be sipped on its own or poured into a highball glass filled with ice and topped up with some high quality ginger ale. Garnish with a slice or fresh orange.


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.

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Fill your stocking: the 5 gins of Christmas

Well, it’s almost here. The festive lights have been strung out across the streets of Barcelona. London is bedecked in all its Christmas splendour. Cities, towns and villages across the world are about to celebrate Christmas in what are the strangest of circumstances.
Who would have thought this time last year, that an unknown virus would turn our world upside down. Hopefully, most of us will find a way of spending these precious days with the ones we love the most. But many of us won’t be able to.
The thing about Christmas is that it goes on, whatever the circumstances and wherever you are. The festive spirit cannot be beaten and (in one way or another), I’m sure we’ll all be raising a glass of Christmas cheer. Whether it’s toasting the ones closest to us, or raising a glass to absent friends, nothing will stop us from celebrating the best festival of the year.
If you’re a gin lover, you’ll probably be looking for something a bit out of the ordinary. Something different. Something seasonal. So, we thought we’d make it easy for you by sharing some of the festive gins that we think might add a little Christmas sparkle to your celebrations. Check our 5 gins of Christmas out and let us know what you think.

M&S Snow Globe: 20% ABV

The M&S Snow Globe is fast becoming a Christmas classic. This gorgeous bottle contains a blizzard of 23 karat gold leaf flakes which fall gently through the gin to give the effect of falling snow. But this year, they’ve given their globe an upgrade – it’s now illuminated. Yes, that’s correct. The team at M&S have added an LED light which brings the scene to life in the most delightful way.

So, we know the packaging is going to knock you out, but what does it taste like? Well there are two types available this year. We’ve tried the clementine version, which comes in at a modest 20% ABV, (typical for a gin liqueur) and it’s pretty good. Sweet, thick and syrupy, it has a subtle warmth from the alcohol and a lovely, sweet orange flavour. It’s not just fancy packaging – this liqueur is surprisingly nice. It could be the perfect tipple for the Christmas season.

The perfect pour:

  1. Serve neat in a liqueur glass or pour straight over ice in a brandy snifter.
  2. Alternatively, try it long with ice and premium tonic and a slice of orange or cinnamon.
  3. For the full festive treatment, pour just a little into a champagne flute and top up with some delicious Christmas cava.
5 gins of Christmas

Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger: 43% ABV

This gorgeous, winter gin will give you a glow that’s warmer than a log fire. The sweetness of the rhubarb combines with the pepperiness of the ginger to create a gorgeous drink which will make you smile on even the coldest winter day. When those logs are crackling in the grate and it’s dark outside, this is the perfect way to beat those winter blues. Comforting, warm, sweet, fruity and spicy all in one go, Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger (paid link) gin is definitely one you want safely stored in your gin bar to be taken out and enjoyed when the time is right. Some people find this a bit sweet for their tastes, but I love it – especially with lashings of ginger beer to top it up. The guys at Whitley Neil don’t usually get it wrong. This is truly the spirit of Christmas.

The perfect pour:

  1. Fill a large copa glass with large ice cubes.
  2. Pour in a decent measure of gin and fill it to the top with Fever Tree Ginger Beer.
  3. Garnish it with a slice of lemon or a sprig of rosemary.
  4. Throw another log on the fire, sit back and sip.
5 gins of Christmas

Sacred Christmas Pudding gin: 40% ABV

We know everyone has their own tastes and preferences and that’s good – each to their own. We certainly aren’t here to judge. But we’ll go on the record by saying that we’re not big fans of confectionery based gins. That’s why you won’t see many reviews of Candy Cane gin, Chocolate Orange gin, Kola Kubes gin or other crazy, sweet gin-based concoctions.

But we are big fans of truly creative combinations that stand on their own two feet without being diminished with Tizer top-ups or cans of cream soda. We put Sacred Christmas gin (paid link) firmly into that category. Over the years, the guys at Sacred have built a solid reputation for unusual, well priced creative gin styles and we can highly recommend them at any time of year. So, this Christmas, why not treat yourself to a bottle of Sacred Christmas Pudding gin.

Made from distilling real Christmas Puddings steamed for 8 hours according to Great Aunt Nellie’s Victorian recipe (yes, really!) this gin is brimming with familiar Christmas smells. Think raisins, candied peel and a cake-like feel that will take you right back to Christmas lunch, whenever you drink it. This rich and unusual drink works best on its own but also combines well with a G&T, Martini or a Negroni.

The perfect pour:

  1. Best served in a small glass, straight out of the freezer after a meal. Seemples!
5 gins of Christmas

Two Birds Winter Fruits: 37.5% ABV

Sweet, fruity and built around the aromas of winter, this is a beautifully unusual Christmas gin, made with style and panache by the guys at Two Birds. In addition to those lovely Christmas notes on the nose, there’s also plenty of juniper to be found here, reminding you that this is a real gin, not simply a sweet gin liqueur. With its natural sweetness balanced by the warming spices, this is most definitely one for pouring in front of a warm fire, while settling back in your favourite chair.

The perfect pour:

  1. Pour 50ml of Two Birds Winter Fruits gin into a highball glass.
  2. Fill the glass up with large ice cubes, an orange slice and a cinnamon stick to bring out those winter aromas.
  3. Top it up with ginger ale for an extra blast of warmth and you’ve got the perfect fireplace drink.
5 gins of Christmas

Haysmith’s Spiced Plum and Clementine: 37.5% ABV

Haysmith’s Spiced Plum and Clementine gin is one of my personal favourites and the gin buyers at Aldi rarely let us down.

This full strength gin is packed with winter flavours such as plum and clementine.

The result, a gorgeous mixing gin, clean, refreshing and with a warm, rich fruitiness. The ripe plum flavour shines right through this intriguing blend of warm winter spice before succumbing to a seasonal blast of fresh clementine. This gin is delicious at any time of year, but fits the winter season nicely. A full strength gin, in a really pretty bottle, this clocks in at 37.5% ABV. But the good news is that you can check out with one from Aldi for less than £15.

Definitely stick one of these of your Santa’s list this year – it goes perfectly with his favourite mince pies. Don’t give any to Rudolph though – he’s driving!

The perfect pour:

  1. Serve in a copa glass, filled with large ice cubes
  2. Fill to the rim with Fevertree Indian Tonic Water
  3. Or if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, pair it with ginger beer or Fevertree Clementine tonic water
  4. Garnish with a slice of orange or a cinnamon stick and you’re all set to get into the Christmas spirit.
5 gins of Christmas

Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.

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Gin Xoriguer

Xoriguer and 100 years of gin making in Menorca: Spanish gin, the old-fashioned way.

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin reviews | 0

Most gin lovers have already heard of Gin Mare (paid link) – probably the best known of the Spanish brands. But Spain, having changed the way the world thinks of gin, is now starting to discover a range of new gin brands to add to its traditional gin distilleries. This new attention is also helping to revive the fortunes of some older Spanish gin brands that have been around for a long time.
One of these is Gin Xoriguer, made by Destilerias Xoriguer on the tiny and beautiful island of Menorca, set like a glittering jewel in the beautiful Balearics – it’s the perfect setting for a gin and tonic.

Gin and Menorca

Not something you would always connect, but there is a reason why this little distillery exists.
In the mid-18th century, Menorca was briefly under Dutch and British rule and the locals were encouraged to make gin to keep the naval forces happy. At one stage, there were 5 distilleries on the island, producing a diverse range of gins, but now there’s just one.
In 1910, master distiller Miguel Gusto established a little distillery on the harbour front of Mahon and the Xoriguer distillery is still making 60,000 litres of Mahon gin every year along with a couple of budget gins and almost a dozen local island liqueurs.

Tasting notes

This local gin doesn’t get much airplay outside of the island and is heavily juniper dominant. In fact, that’s the only botanical they use in their domestic version. The berries, hand picked from the Pyrenees, are stored in hampers for a couple of years to concentrate the oils before being macerated and added to the neutral grape based spirit.

While the ingredients and the process are simple and the product perhaps lacks some of the complexity of a Monkey 47 or a Silent Pool, it packs a big juniper punch with a hint of pine sap and a soft, oily palate. Peppery and with a hint of tobacco, it’s a great drink to sip on while watching the sun set over the Mediterranean, nibbling on local cheese and sucking on plump, juicy giant olives.

Drink it with tonic, by all means.

But to drink it like a local, have a “Pomada”, traditionally made by mixing the gin with freshly squeezed local lemon juice. And at only 38% ABV, you can afford to have a couple of them!

 


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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types of gin

5 types of gin: do you know the difference?

Gin is gin. But is it?
We all love gin – that’s why we’re here. But do we know what gin really is? Can we spot the difference between London Dry and Old Tom? How many types of gin are there? Do we know why you don’t add tonic to a Genever? Probably not.
So here’s a simple guide to the 5 most important types of gin.
Try them all, figure out your own personal gin style – and stock your cupboard accordingly. After all, where gin is concerned, variety is the spice of life…

Gin

The humble gin starts its journey as a neutral spirit, distilled from anything you like: grain, potatoes, milk, apples…
But to be classified as a gin, the resulting liquid has to have a juniper flavour and juniper must be the predominant taste. It must also have a minimum ABV of 37.5% (40% in the US). So, in theory, you could simply pop down to your local shop, pull a bottle of vodka from the shelf, add a handful of juniper berries and “Hey Presto!”
Within a few hours, you’ll have turned it into gin.
Once you have the base in place, you can have some fun – add some flavourings, infuse it with berries, add some spice – and start sipping. Or you could stay “old school” and simply pour it over some ice add some tonic and drink away. Your call…

Distilled gin

This starts off as above, but with one important difference  – it has to be made using distilled botanicals.
The juniper-based gin needs to be “re-distilled” with those carefully chosen botanicals to become a neutral spirit of at least 96% ABV (and water).
Distilled gin is increasingly popular around the world, especially in the boutique distillery movement and includes well known brands such as Martin Miller’s and Hendricks (paid links) who include more  flavours once the distillation process is done.

London Dry gin

London Dry gin can be made anywhere in the world – it’s a style, not a geographical location.
London Dry follows the same basic rules as a distilled gin (see above) but it must only be flavoured with distilled natural botanicals.
Once the distillation process is over, that’s it. No further flavourings can be added after the distillation process except for neutral spirit, water and a maximum of 0.1g of sugar per litre. Popular brands include Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire (paid links).

Old Tom gin

The precursor to London Dry gin, it’s the oldest style of English gin still produced today: Old Tom.
Old Tom has no rules imposed on it by the EU or any other regulatory body, so it can vary widely in its tastes and flavours, but it is sweeter than some of its more well known rivals and makes itself very amenable to cocktails.
It is still the favourite of bartenders around the world, who like its infinite variations and who respect its pedigree as one of the oldest forms of gin still being made. Old Tom is the staple ingredient of some amazing cocktails that go back as far as 100 years. It was out of fashion for a while, but it’s on a comeback as part of the gin revival and is now being made by small batch producers and big brands alike.
Always good to keep a bottle of this in your cocktail cabinet. Some of the more successful brands of Old Tom include: Hayman’s Old Tom (40% ABV) and Jensen’s Old Tom (43% ABV) (paid links).
For more information about the fascinating history of Old Tom gin, read our blog post here.

Genever gin

Genever gin: the grandaddy of them all.
Way before gin became associated with England, the Dutch created the original juniper based spirit.
Also known as Jenever gin, Ginebra gin or Dutch gin, it must be produced in the Netherlands, Belgium or certain parts of France and Germany.
There are two main types: Jonge Genever and Oude Genever.
Jonge Genever is closest to London Dry and is made from neutral spirit and juniper with additional flavourings as desired. It can contain up to 10g of sugar and up to 15% of malt wine.
Oude Genever should be made with malt wine, juniper and other botanical flavourings as well as neutral spirits. Sometimes it is matured in casks to provide colour and flavour.
Flagship brands include Bols and Genevieve Genever Gin.

What’s your favourite type of gin and why?


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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Gin made from milk: Bertha's Revenge

A gin made of milk: Bertha’s Revenge

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin reviews | 1

In our relentless quest to find the most unusual and interesting gins from around the world, let us introduce you to Bertha, her revenge, and a gin made from milk.

Bertha was a lovely cow from the beautiful green fields of Co. Kerry in Ireland. She lived a happy life, chomping her way through the famous green grass of her homeland. She was so well looked after that she lived to the ripe old age of 48. By the time she passed on to chomp on the Elysian fields, she had become the world’s oldest cow. She gave birth to a staggering 39 calves over her lifetime.

She became a living legend in Ireland and her memory now lives on in Bertha’s Revenge (paid link), a fantastic, flavour packed small batch gin made by the Ballyvolane House Spirits Company. They have honoured her existence by creating a unique Irish gin made from (wait for it…) milk.

A gin made from milk?

Using whey alcohol from Irish dairy farmers, this is a delicious drink full of complex flavours. It incorporates a formidable mix of locally foraged and grown botanicals including many of the usual suspects (and some unusual ones such as sweet woodruff, elderflower, almond). Plus it lists ingredients such as “love”, “laughter” and “childish enthusiasm”. But don’t try pouring it on your cornflakes, since it packs a decent punch at 42% ABV.

But all the clever marketing in the world can’t disguise a bad gin, so what’s this gin made from milk like?

We had a little gathering to find out and in a blind test of four of our favourite small batch gins, this was our runaway favourite with an unanimous four out of four tasters making it their top choice. Why don’t you try it too and let us know what you think?

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Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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silent pool

Silent Pool Gin

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin reviews | 0

Silent Pool Gin – April’s Legendary Gin of the Month

Hand made in small batches in the beautiful Surrey Hills, south of London, Silent Pool Gin (paid link) is not only one of the tastiest gins we’ve tried recently, but it comes in one of the prettiest bottles we’ve ever seen.
It even has a 600 year old legend attached.

The legend

Named after a local beauty spot near Guildford known as the Silent Pool, legend has it that some time in the 14th century, wicked King John of England was passing by the pool on his horse when he spotted the local woodcutter’s daughter, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, bathing in the crystal clear water.

He wanted his wicked way with her and she refused to yield her honour to the evil monarch and waded backwards into the water to escape him, when she stumbled and drowned.

Even now, her ghost is said to be seen at midnight in the reflections of the dark water of The Silent Pool.

And now for the legendary gin itself – the bottle is stunning, with an unusual glass stopper and a beautifully intricate design of autumn colours set against an aqua tinted bottle reminiscent of the pool itself.

The bottle features scenes illustrating the legend (including tiny figures of the King and the Maiden hidden among the leaves).

The gin is made on site by Master Distiller Cory Mason who uses a copper pot still heated by steam from local wood, burned in its wood fired burner.

The result is a delicious full-bodied, fresh gin full of complex flavours derived from its blend of 24 specially chosen botanicals including local lavender and honey. These well chosen ingredients enliven the senses and play tricks on the mind, but the result is a taste sensation that is sure to get people talking. Its dominant botanicals include locally sourced chamomile, kaffir lime, elderflower, coriander, lavender, orange and pear (amongst others).

It tastes of the English countryside and is fed from the same spring that feeds the legendary pool itself. Mix it with a decent tonic water such as Fever Tree (paid link) and garnish it with a thin orange wheel or a wedge of lime (to bring out the citrus notes). You could even add a mint sprig (or two) to give it a fresh twist and wait for the honey and lavender to come through on your tongue. You’ll love it.

ABV 43%

Gin tours available by arrangement

Other products available (including seasonal gins)

 

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Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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