The makers of Fifty Pounds Gin have brought to life a gin recipe created and so-named as to mock the 50 £ levy that the crown sought to collect from the thousands of unlicensed distillers across England upon passage of the 1736 Gin Act. We all know how that went. And if you don’t, let’s just say “The Gin Craze” sure didn’t end in 1736 when as according to the story, only two distillers ever paid the preposterous tax. More reasonable prohibition would win out by the second half of the century; but the memory of the tax remains to this day.
The recipe behind this gin was created, and then locked away (so the legend says) was only recently brought back to life by John Dore & Co. Limited, who did so in trying to respect the original recipe’s intentions.
The nose of Fifty Pounds Gin is lemon, lime, juniper, and very classic in character. Just a tinge of sweetness and creamy lemon as well. The nose is markedly lighter and clearer then the palate.
Dry Juniper on the tip of the tongue, followed by lemon, coriander and angelica. The palate is clean and focused, with juniper and lime zest holding court until a long astringent finish with a slight hint of anise cookie in the background. Quite long finish.
Overall, it’s only mildly flavored, but clean and classic throughout. It’s quintessentially an easy going classic style gin; understated but refined throughout. Nice balance with no surprises.
I mixed up a few gin and tonics with Fifty Pounds Gin: very acidic with a lot of bite and tang. I really felt it needed the lime to add some sweetness to balance out the flavor, I really thought it was a touch too dry and almost plain without the lime. That touch of sweetness was needed. Citrus and juniper come out most intensely, although not as distinct individual components. Almost a general gin flavor. Brisk, but less refreshing.
I think its classic profile brings out some nice classic notes in other mixed drinks. A nice counterpoint to the sweetness of drinks like the Aviation or Tom Collins, but a bit brisker than I prefer for martinis. The dryness gives it the ability to balance sweeter cocktails, but also causes it to be a bit overwhelming. Probably not for everyone. Fans of juniper and traditional style gin will surely find something to like here, but those looking for something a bit easier drinking may look elsewhere.
Those who are looking for a clean, very dry and understated classic style gin will surely find a lot to like with Fifty Pounds Gin. I think it’s an easy step for those looking for something new, but something similarly old at the same time. Fans of Beefeater and Broker’s will likely find this a new favorite.
Others may find the particular dryness and subtlety a little underwhelming and unremarkable. I think it stands out for what it is and what it doesn’t try to do. Even if it treads on ground that’s been well trod, it’s a solid classic style gin worth a try.
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I had a martini made with this gin and it was the best martini I've ever had. It was neither brisk nor dry in the traditional sense. It was almost sweet but stoppped just short of that. The flavor was amazing, as if citrus and sugar were about to explode in your mouth but didn't. I don't know what else was in the martini, but there was absolutely no bitterness.