Hepple Gin is about process— an unusual one— or should I say, three.
The three methods used to maximize the flavor of the botanicals are (in no particular order).
1) A pot still. Many distillers use copper pot stills, there’s nothing unusual here.
2) A Vacuum Still. Low temperature distillation is used by Sacred, Greenhook and the Origin Juniper series. By reducing the heat, more aromatic integrity is preserved. More aroma molecules = more flavor.
3) A CO2 Extraction System. More often used by organic chemists conducting research into aromatic molecules and perfumers, “Most of the volatile components, which tend to be lost in hydrodistillation, are present in the supercritical extracts” [source] More aroma molecules in this case = truer to reality flavor.
Botanically, Hepple Gin is also doing something interesting. They are using locally picked green juniper [which is not ripe, and tends to have a wildly different aroma profile than ripe juniper. For more on their approach, they do quite a writeup on the Hepple Gin website]
However, that’s not the only juniper they work from. They use Macedonian juniper and Italian Juniper, both distilled both by Pot Still and their CO2 Extraction method, in combination with their vacuum distilled green juniper.
Hepple Gin deserves to be commended for having what I believe is the best “ingredients” section of any gin website I’ve ever seen. The transparency is exciting, especially for gin drinkers who don’t get to see the inside of a distillery. Hepple Gin puts it all on display.
The nose is delicately spicy with lots of juniper. Green, piney-juniper, fir branch, with a bit of citrus tinged herbal notes beneath it. Absolutely and powerfully classic with a stunning aromatic profile.
Sipped, Hepple Gin begins with white pine needle, melon, lemon zest and lovage. Mid-palate this is a very classic and clean tasting gin. Hints of fennel seed and celery lead into a finish where subtle licorice backs a crisp juniper-forward finish. A hint of lemon comes through on the end as well.
Medium length finish that is elegant and classic. Hepple Gin is one of the best classic gins I’ve tried this year.
..and it’s one of the best Martinis I’ve tasted in some time as well. I did a 5:1 ratio, garnished with a twist. And I love the way the juniper is the star; while the twist adds just enough lightness to bring it out of the gin. Fans of Dirty Martinis and Gibsons will like Hepple Gin as well. The juniper complements olive as well as it does onion. The hint of onion brings out hints of lovage and celery out of the gin. If you like the gin neat, you could also just call it a Churchhill Martini and stare at a bottle of Vermouth, glowering. But I’m sure there’s better things on the internet to do.
Bartenders who take Hepple Gin under their wing will find it an apt juniper-forward substitute for any classic gin that they might already be using. It works as well in a Gin and Tonic (juniper forward, crisp, and pleasantly dry) to the Gin and Juice (juniper comes through cleanly, brisk and slightly pine-forward). It makes good Martinis and good cocktails like the Aviation.
Though Hepple Gin does pull a few punches— it is certainly its own gin and not some Gordon’s Gin clone. It works well in a variety of applications and is worth a closer look.
Home gin fans: if you’re in search of a new classic gin, Hepple Gin is it. It’s well designed, with an exquisite flavor. It hearkens back to the “classic style” with decidedly “contemporary technology.”
The Highest Recommendation. Absolutely stunning.