Autumn has arrived; Halloween is upon us; leaves are rusting and rustling; and, it is darker, quicker, colder outside; the now-burning fire in the lounge is accompanied by crackles and bangs of fireworks on the heath and in the parks. Balmy summer evenings of garden-dwelling gin-drinking are passed, and I am about to take a 35ml shot of gin from a bottle of Bertha’s Revenge that I bought in the height of summer. This will be my third gin from this particular bottle, my fifth slug of Bertha’s altogether.
Why then, has this bottle of gin lasted me from a balmy summer afternoon all the way through to the last knockings of October? Do I dislike it that much? Do I not care about it and pass it over for other gins? No. Bertha’s Revenge is about to break the blog, if I were Paul Hollywood I would be giving it a hand-shake, if I were Len Goodman I’d be furiously scrubbing the number 11 on a blank piece of paper and holding that up instead, but I’m not a judge from a BBC light entertainment show, I’m a contented gin blogger who has guarded his bottle of Bertha’s Revenge from others, and even from himself, waiting for just the right moment to pour himself a glass of some of the finest gin it has ever been his pleasure to taste, over four large ice cubes, with the merest hint of Fever Tree Indian Tonic water.
Bertha’s Revenge is a gem; it is easy to sip neat, with a velvety texture on the tongue and a smooth balance of juniper and coriander, distilled on a base of whey alcohol. Among the other ingredients listed on the bottle: spring water, bitter orange, grapefruit, cumin, love, and childish enthusiasm – I can’t really taste the grapefruit, but the others come through clearly enough.
Bertha was a cow, a famous one at that, having lived into the record books – 48 summers and autumns to her name, as well as 39 calves. She appears on the front of the bottle along with the words ‘Small Batch – Irish Milk Gin’ and a healthy 42%. I was lucky enough to meet one of the proprietors of the brand earlier in the year and he was waxing lyrical about both Bertha and the gin and he was the first person to give a me a sip of this most wonderful drink. Ten minutes later I had bought a bottle, and I’ve somehow managed to restrain myself from finishing it within the week.
The coriander and cumin are there, but with sublime subtlety. It really is the smoothness of the thing that makes it so wonderful, so rich and almost creamy in its texture. I really do recommend the slightest splash of tonic is all that you need, please do not waste it by adding more than that. For a garnish, if you really feel you need one, then a simple twist of lemon peel will do the job.
The story of an ancient cow, brought back from the dead by Irish farmers and turned, quite literally into a spirit, might sound like a Halloween tale in the making, but there is nothing scary in this drink, except for the fact that it is now a couple of shots closer to the bottom of the bottle, and the thought of being without it sends shivers down my spine for sure.
For Bertha’s Revenge, my first ‘five star plus’ rating, best of breed.
Bertha’s Revenge Small Batch Irish Milk Gin – £35 for 70cl
Gin & Tonic Rating – 5+