Portobello Road Gin has an impressive set of credentials. The brand was created by the founders of The Ginstitute. Once just a museum, now one of the world’s premier gin educational attractions— naturally, they needed to have a gin.
While they now operate out of their own building at 186 Portobello Road, Portobello Road No. 171 Gin is an homage to the Portobello Star (address 171 Portobello Road) where The Ginstitute first operated out of in the early 2010’s.
The gin itself is designed in the London Dry Style. It features nine botanicals distilled on a base of wheat. The brand launched in 2011.
Aroma: Herbaceous, green juniper. Very subtle, hints of meadow and grass underneath.
Flavor: Portobello Road No. 171 Gin is deceptively more spice-forward once sipped. Warming to the palate, nutmeg is surprisingly loud in the mix. Coriander, cassia and juniper on the mid palate lead into a rooty, earthy back half.
Licorice root adds a creamy unctuousness while bitter oranges adds length towards the end.
Finish: Creamy and rich with bitter orange, eggy custard facets and a moderate amount of warmth.
Portobello Road No. 171 Gin is a solid mixing gin behind the bar. I tend to be less a fan of spice-forward gins in a gin and tonic or gin and soda. Paired with a citrus seltzer or citrus tonic water, it becomes brighter and lets the juniper shine.
The spices nicely complement an equally warming vermouth in a Martini. I also like how the spice notes complement herbal spirits. So it’s easy to see how Portobello Road Gin could work well in a Alaska Cocktail or Last Word.
Overall, Portobello Road No. 171 Gin
It’s fascinating to see how trends manifest in gin. Especially when reviewing a gin form the early Gin Renaissance that we’ve not had in for review until now.
Portobello Road No. 171 Gin reads like a photograph of craft gin distilling around the time it was released. Heavy handed with spice, it’s your quintessential spice forward gin.
That being said, consumer tastes have changed— dramatically. Floral and herbal facets are popular and widely sought after. While Portobello Road Gin does some nice things with its nutmeg, cassia, coriander and licorice botanicals— I can’t help but feel that it tastes a bit dated.
Fashions aside, it’s a decent spice-forward contemporary gin. Fans of this style hopefully have already discovered this gin. If you haven’t, it’s worth a try. Others may find it a bit lighter on juniper than they might hope given its Ginstitute credentials. And others may find it a bit hot and somewhat unbalanced— especially when compared with other gins on the market in the 2020’s.