Took a trip into town today to visit Gerry’s Wines & Spirits – a landmark off licence if ever such a thing existed. Perched down one end of Old Compton Street in Soho, this is a shop I have walked past a hundred times or more but, until today, never entered. Their window displays are very alluring, no matter what your tipple.
There are plenty of rarities to pick from at Gerry’s and I was tempted to buy bottle of the fabulous Brighton Gin, as I’ve not seen it for sale anywhere but here and really want to get another bottle so I can do a review. On top of my not-yet-tasted gin list is Bluebottle, as it has twice been recommended to me and as yet I have never seen it for sale, so I entered Gerry’s in the hope that they had some inside.
No such luck, but the geezer (an appropriate word in this instance) inside, an amiable chap, was happy to chew the fat, and talked me into buying a bottle of Crossbill Gin. He enthused about the craft and small copper-pot operation the distiller has in the highlands of Scotland, he even went so far as to bring up the Crossbill web site on his phone to illustrate his enthusiasm. He had to go off downstairs to get another bottle as they had run out in the main shop, and I was left to ‘watch the shop’ while he went. I had to double check we hadn’t been transported to some village in the Cotswolds, we hadn’t, this was still Soho, and some of my faith in good old human nature was restored.
Crossbill is, according to the company web site, a celebration of juniper and rosehip. The packaging is simple and clean, and I do like a cork top. Both on the nose and on first sip you definitely get a good juniper punch, supplied by 100% Scottish Juniper berries. It was apparently Scottish juniper berries that were originally shipped to Holland where they were turned into Gin’s original ancestor Jenever.
The Crossbill micro distillery sits within five minutes of the forest in the Cairngorms where the wild juniper berries are harvested. There is no doubt that a great deal of care and attention is taken with this gin, and the result is very pleasing. It is stronger than average at 43.8%, and certainly more expensive at £38 a bottle (70cl)
My Gin and tonic was, as a result, not quite to my taste at a 1:2 ratio, it tasted a little too heavy on the pine and, what I suspect to be, the rosehip. But after I upped my ratio to 1:3 as your average Gin & Tonic drinker would, then the balance was far better and the Crossbill far more amiable. I like a little more sweetness and a little less earthiness to my gin, but I suspect that for those who like it the other way around, this would be a really big hit. I struggle to find anything outside of the provenance that would provoke me into recommending it with as much gusto as the wine merchant who sold it to me, but I certainly would not dissuade you from buying a bottle either, assuming the price tag didn’t put you off.
Update: A couple of weeks later and I’m actually upping my recommendation, I still say you need a fair amount of tonic to make it a truly lovely drink, but I’ve taken to adding a slice of pink grapefruit peel and now it is among my favourites.
Crossbill Small Batch Highland Dry Gin – £38 for 70cl
Gin & Tonic Rating 4/5