This is day 12 of the 2016 Master of Malt Gin Advent Calendar. If you want to join us, we’ll be reviewing one gin, every day for the next 12 days leading up to Christmas 2016. Learn More or Buy One yourself. Conker Spirit’s Dorset Dry Gin was also featured in my book Gin: The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival, which makes a great Christmas gift. Now back to your regularly scheduled review.
Conker Spirit’s Dorset Dry Gin stands in stark concept to some of the other gins in this year’s gin advent celebration. Not just that it’s the from the first gin distillery in Dorset (it is). But while others look backwards digging up ancestral and heritage recipes that give it the weight of time, Conker Spirits looks forward. And outward. That is to the lands around Dorset where the sea vegetable Samphire and Ulex flowers (an evergreen shrub distantly related to peas) grow wild.
So a little bit of new, a little bit of local, all distilled on a base of British wheat spirit with Macedonian sourced juniper.
The nose is initially a bit foresty and green, with dark boreal pine and resiny juniper notes. Vegetal notes emerge a bit lower, with cucumber, celery and minty notes. A lovely nose that suggests an early winter dusk in a boreal pine forest. I suppose that’s more of a snooty sommeliers’ with a dash of savvy marketeer tasting note, if it even is one, but I trust you don’t mind pardoning this meta moment. That’s just what came to mind. Continuing…
The palate is vivid as well; however, a bit more traditional at points. Angelica, juniper and elderberry at first, tart cranberry-like notes come on mid-palate as well as a particularly pronounces citrus note. Lime zest and bitter orange, the finish is long with lime and cucumber notes, with a halo of coriander spice. Quite lovely.
I think this works well in a Martini and Gin and Tonic; however, I found that the overall flavor profile works quite well across floral drinks such as the Aviation, citrus drinks like the Gimlet (especially the Gimlet) and perhaps the only thing I found it wanting in was the Negroni where the nuance was lost and all that remained was a dull juniper note. Definitely go 2:1:1 with the gin if you’re using Dorset Dry in that drink.
Nicely balanced overall with a lovely green profile that suggests verdant fields and dark forests, while still highlighting a lot of traditional gin character through juniper, coriander and citrus primarily.
As for contemporary gins that step a bit outside the box but balance the new with the old, Dorset Dry Gin is a welcome new addition to the family. Overall, I think that the balance in this gin should make it a welcome addition to any home gin cabinet or any bartender’s craft gin arsenal.
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