Re: Crossbill Gin: when I think “Place”-ish gin, I don’t simply think of the physical location of the distillery. Plenty of gins, right or wrong can claim to be “Scottish” based on this alone. As if simply placing your building there allows you to claim something of the land.
But I reject this notion. When I talk about a Scottish gin, I don’t want to just be technical: sure the distillery is there… but it’s not really Scottish, now is it?*
Crossbill Gin is of this new ilk. Crossbill takes provenance seriously. If you’re going to call yourself Scotland, there better be something from the place in your bottle.
Whereas some people saw the litany of articles bemoaning the imminent demise of UK’s juniper industry at the hands of unjust environmental forces and wrote apoplectic click-bait pieces heralding the end times** others found opportunity. Enter Jonathan Engels. Engels worked closely with the Forestry Commission and Plantlife [one of the groups who was sounding the alarm about the aforementioned junipocalypse] to cultivate the juniper for Crossbill gin in Scotland. This means that Crossbill Gin can claim 100% Scotland-sourced botanicals. And in doing it part to restore juniper cultivation, this gin comes with a bit of a “feel good” story as well.
The nose is nicely vegetal, with celery and parsley notes dominating early. Later, citrus, lemon, then banana and a touch of fennel, complex and disarming, it unfolds even further, mild and pine like, more spruce than juniper.
The palate is smooth and bright. Underneath the veil is a slightly more traditional palate: juniper, lemon, grapefruit. The juniper stays on the palate, turning sharper and more resiny with hints of spruce and pine. The finish has a hint of linalool. Bright, crisp and quite smooth.
As this was a mini, we were only able to put it to test in a couple of cocktails. We started with the Gin and Tonic. Spruce, slightly, a bit more restrained I felt, but taking on a more juniper like character, more crisp than resiny. Bright and crisp, this was supremely refreshing, and highly recommended. I would recommend this for a summer afternoon without a shadow of a doubt. Nice with a touch of lime, but not needed.
I went Tom Collins as the second drink with Crossbill. A little more brisk, with the citrus primarily coming from the fresh lemon. Piney again, but crisp and bright. Nice sharpness to it. The vegetal notes seemed mostly muted and only faintly hinted at until the finish where celery comes through bright and warm. The finish is characteristic for a Tom Collins, long and a bit sour.
Overall, Crossbill Gin
Nice and fresh. The character of the juniper really dominates this gin: fresh and almost a touch exotic.This gin has a lot going for it, and I think the end product justifies all the work and effort that went into sourcing and harvesting the juniper.
* It’s nothing personal Tanqueray, but you’re not a Scottish gin.
** The end times for the gin industry in the UK. Not quite biblical in scope, but for gin drinkers it feels too close.