We Brits have a long history of flavouring our gins with aromatics in addition to the more usual juniper; sloe gin might be the most famous but there are many others, as anyone who has perused the shelves in their local pub or supermarket will have discovered.
Part of this growth is due to the proliferation of new distilleries. While whisky, in Scotland at least, cannot be sold as such until it has matured for at least three years, gin production is subject to no such delay, so producing gin too gives the producer some much-needed income while they wait for their whisky to develop and age.
And, while this helps explains at least some of the surge in traditional gin production, producers are always looking for ways to maximise profit and expand their customer base; flavoured gin liqueurs, like those from Eden Mill, have become very popular as a result.
A trip to Aberaeron gave us the ideal opportunity to try the full range of Eden Mill’s Love Gin Liqueurs, all of which we tried both neat over ice and mixed with the recommended Fentimans’ mixers, while kicking back on the beach.
First up is Raspberry, Vanilla and Meringue. Creamy and sweet when nosed, it gives a huge tart raspberry burst in the mouth when taken neat. The sweet vanilla fades into a fresh citrus taste as the goji berries and hibiscus make their presence felt, finally fading into a delicate rose petal taste which is so subtle as to be almost not there. Mixed with Elderflower Tonic Water, the bitterness of the quinine undercuts the sweetness, which does verge on cloying (the tasting notes talked of “a Drumstick lollipop character”). It’s nice, but our least favourite of the three.
Mango and Pineapple, with hints of papaya, is fruity and bold and wonderfully complex served neat. Caribbean in nature (like a grown-up Lilt with a thicker mouth feel) it’s summery and seemingly innocuous, the sweetness hiding the alcohol very successfully. Served with Valencian Tonic Water, it metamorphoses into a refreshing long drink that, as just 20% alcohol for the base gin liqueur, could have been drunk for hours with few ill effects.
Which is exactly what happened with the final iteration. Spiced Rhubarb Crumble might not be an obvious choice for a flavoured gin but it works brilliantly. The initial nose is creamy vanilla underscored by the tangy fruitiness of fresh rhubarb. The sugar and vanilla gives a wonderfully full mouth feel which leads to a sweet-yet-tart kick as the rhubarb comes into play. Spices are there too, and a hint of ginger.
Diluted with Fentimans’ Ginger Ale, it gained a complexity that elevated it to our new favourite long summer drink; while Pimm’s will always have its place, we sat in the late summer sun sipping one after the other, marvelling at how it could be possible that rhubarb gin had escaped us for so long…
Bottles cost £18 for 50cl, and they are available online by clicking the links.
Carlton Boyce @motoringjourno