At Junipalooza this year there were plenty of stands with distillers that stood out – you can’t help but remember the gin that changed colour, the pink gin, the gin that came in a faux leather bottle. But I can not recall what any of these gins tasted like.
The Pothecary Stand came with no whistles or bells, just some very large containers filled with botanicals and some very friendly and helpful representatives. By the time we visited Pothecary we had consumed a fair few drinks, some sublime, some so-so, and we were getting desperate for something a little different that was not a gimmick. Thankfully Pothecary provided us with just that.
When I think about Lavender I think about my maiden aunt, or bushes full of bees that grew out from unkempt gardens on my way to school. Scented soaps for grandmothers seemed, to my mind, to be the correct remit for lavender, and certainly not something to infuse gin with. But the Pothecary stand beckoned us, and like sailors answering the call of the Siren we went dangerously close to the lavender. I’m not sure exactly what happened next, but I do remember tasting the mix and being amazed that although I could certainly get a note of lavender, it was extremely subtle, and very pleasant.
Some months passed between this initial taste and a bottle landing upon my desk – a short stubby 50cl bottle with a cork lid and pale blue label embossed in gold and black lettering – and I didn’t waste much time clearing my workload and racing home to see if the memory could be matched.
As well as the dreaded lavender, my main memory from those giant jars of botanicals was that of black mulberries – and I was glad to see that they get a mention on the label as well. ‘Organic Black Mulberries’ the label reads, along with ‘Wild Foraged Tilia Flowers’ and ‘Organic Lemon Peel’ as well as the standard juniper and the aforementioned lavender. A whopping 44.8% strength pushes the value up somewhat (and you’ll note I say value and not price – the latter is also true at £40 for a 50cl bottle, but at least you can see why).
There is no doubt that this is a distinct gin, you certainly get the juniper that should dominate a gin, but you also get a really unique and complex floral array to tantalise those taste-buds. Charlotte mixed us a couple of gin and tonics with Fever-Tree Indian, orange peel and rosemary, then I had a cheeky second that omitted the rosemary sprig.
Rarely do Charlotte and I quarrel over the gin – we have similar tastes and although she has occasion to frown at my final scoring of a gin, we never come to an actual stand-off. Until now that is. You see I think this gin is excellent, Charlotte however, thinks it exceptional. I wanted to score it 4/5 – she wasn’t going to be happy unless I went all Spinal Tap and turned the dial up to 11 – or 6 at any rate. So for the sake of household harmony we are settling in the middle. Having won a couple of gongs at the 2016 IWSC and a very impressive double-gold at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, I feel sure they do not need any further endorsement this year from Charlotte or me. And anyway, an argument over the degree of fabulousness seems like hard work, and who wants to work when there is Pothecary to be drunk? If you like your gins on the floral side of the spectrum, (and you have £40 burning a hole in your pocket) then I can find nothing better to recommend than this memorable-for-all-the-right-reasons gin.
Pothecary Gin – £39 for 50cl
Gin & Tonic Rating – 4.5/5