Price: $40 / 700 mL
Distiller: East London Liquor Company
Availability: UK, or worldwide through Master of Malt.
Rating: Herb forward and contemporary styled, it’s going to appeal to those in search of a more savory gin. These qualities are most evident in high end cocktails with other ingredients which accentuate natural and herbal flavors. Though it probably might be too herbal for the most ardent classic gin lover, others will find a spirit that is well presented and nicely crafted that will be a worthy tipple in its own right, or in the right cocktail. [Rating:4/5]
As if a pioneer organism, the East London Liquor Company has brought distilling back to London’s East End for the first time in over a hundred years. The re-purposed glue factory that they call home is where they distill their rum, vodka and line of gins, which number three at the moment. They have their entry level gin and two premium gins. One features tea and the other (the subject of this review) takes a more herbal forward approach featuring bay, sage, fennel and the unusual winter savory. Closely related to the summer savory, it played yin to summer’s yang. While summer savory was reputed to be an aphrodisiac, winter savory was watched with a more careful eye; an abstinencian dream, it stymied sexual desire.
Well ignore that this may be the first gin that could claim to brand itself as a spirit for quite platonic evenings, the winter savory is here for the distinctive spicy flavor which has made it a popular part of the culinarian’s arsenal since at least Renaissance Europe and likely even before.
Nose is strong with sage at first. Pine and herbaceous juniper, a dash of coriander citrus and sweetness, as well as punchy hints of oregano and minty thyme. Lovely with a lot of bright garden color. Winter savory? Forget it. This smells fresh and summery, with the timbre of grandma’s garden on an overcast afternoon, with still damp leaves from a morning rain… Okay, the flowery prose may be getting a little out of hand. TL;DR, it’s herbal and evocative.
The palate is a bit unusual as far as herbal gins go, and the flavor evolution is long and multi-faceted. Quiet warmth at first unfolds into notes of lemon, with lavender and thyme coming on next. Thyme still, but with now darker, sagey notes and a perceptible herbaceous, luxuriously coating the tongue. The finish brings with it juniper and a good punch of coriander, almost veering too sweet, angelica adding color around the seams. Celery and lavender notes part way, leaving hints of creamy home grown complexity.
I think it mixes better than you might expect it, adding herbal high notes to the Aviation, and it seems brilliantly accompanied by a bitter dry Vermouth (Martini all the way). I thought it was less successful when paired with tonic water in a Gin and Tonic, in fact it was a bit more of a stand out in a simple Gin Fizz or paired with lemonade. Overall, it’s quite nice with a strong perspective and well considered execution.
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