I spent a lot of 2020 playing video games. In particular— Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. It’s not often you play a game where a famed, historical Saxon King appears. And that’s why I’d be lying to say that as an American I’d ever had much knowledge about 9th century English history, let alone had any real idea who the Alfred behind Wessex Distillery’s Alfred The Great Gin was.
So here’s a quick rundown:
Alfred the Great is credited with preserving England amidst a Danish invasion. He used the invasion as a way to promote education and learning among his people. That learning, included documenting Anglo-Saxon culture and knowledge.
The tie-in is that the distilling team leveraged an old Anglo-Saxon text called Herbarium to identify botanicals which grew in Wessex at the time. Those ingredients inspired the botanical bill for Alfred the Great Gin.
Nose: Classic with a strong juniper, coriander and angelica accord.
Flavor: Quintessentially classic in the best way. You might describe it as being almost a platonic London Dry Gin a la Tanqueray or Gordon’s.
Piquant green juniper throughout the palate. It takes on some slight angelica notes late. Coriander is present throughout as well, but takes on a nice gentle spice late. Citrus is present, but it only whispers.
Finish: A faint earthiness similar to licorice root adds color and depth to a long, moderately warm, juniper led finish.
Bartenders could confidently introduce Alfred the Great Gin into any bar program as a house pour. It’s an ideal house gin pour because it is flexible and recognizably “gin-like” in a wide array of cocktails.
It is fantastic in a Negroni where the juniper shines through. It’s smooth enough for a Martini.
But where I really like Alfred the Great Gin is in mixed drinks. It brings juniper and coriander no matter what you mix it with. It can be a great Gin and Juice mixer. It will combine nicely with any tonic (including floral ones like an Elderflower) or just soda.
Overall, Alfred the Great Gin
While it doesn’t push new boundaries, Alfred the Great Gin executes to near perfection the classic gin formula. Great juniper. Enough coriander, citrus and spice to round things out.
Highly recommended for fans of classic-style gin.