Gin making has been associated with London for hundreds of years and now, after a bit of a hiatus, it’s making a triumphant comeback. This time it’s not the cheap, ruinous tipple of the poor which caused such social distress it inspired Hogarth’s satirical ‘Gin Lane’, but high end, beautifully crafted, specialist gins.
I was surprised and delighted to read that one of the new breed of gin distillers, Ian Hart, has set up shop in his front room in Highgate where he has created an award winning, fresh and luscious spirit which he calls, Sacred Gin. Gin first came to the capital via Holland as a ‘medicine’, Genever, renowned for its calming effect on soldiers before a battle. This ‘Dutch Courage’ as it became known, really made it big here with the accession to the British throne of Dutch William of Orange and his wife Mary in 1668. It is a forgiving spirit in that it has a broad definition which has given rise to three main types of gin:
London Dry Gin is what most of us know as gin today. The name is legally defined in terms of what you can put into it, including just a tiny amount of sugar which makes it dry, but it doesn’t have to be made in London any more to count as a London gin. That’s a shame I reckon.
Plymouth Gin is slightly sweeter and curiously has to be made in Plymouth.
Old Tom is an 18th century recipe from England as is much sweeter than the other types.
Ian Hart’s Sacred Gin is a London Gin. I just love all the intriguing glass tubes and globes, like some kind of Frankenstein laboratory but, far from producing monsters, this reduced pressure distillation, blended with twelve originally sourced botanicals, was a double gold medal winner in San Francisco in 2013. Ian distils each of his twelve chosen botanicals, including, citrus, juniper, cardamom, nutmeg and a type of frankincense called Boswellia sacra, separately in glassware under vacuum. This is what gives the finished product a really fresh character and distinctively lush taste. It has won the approval of great chefs like Raymond Blanc and sells in reputable shops such as Fortnum and Mason. I think I might treat myself to a bottle from Prohibition Wines of Muswell Hill. http://sacredspiritscompany.com/