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Adnams "Finest Cut"
First Rate Gin


Adnams PLC, Copper House Distillery, Southwold, Suffolk, East Anglia, England, UK.


Adnams Copper House Distillery.


Adnams is best known as a brewery (of very fine beer) and has been established since 1872. This was when two brothers George and Ernest Adnams bought the Sole Bay Brewery in Southwold, Suffolk. In 2006 Jonathan Adnams became Chairman, a fourth generation member of the family. Their business ethics are to be strongly admired and followed; establishing a charity for the local community and building a green policy (in action) to challenge even the most passionate eco-warrior.

Today the business, whilst still clearly dedicated to beer (producing 10’s of millions pints of beer per year), has branched out to owning (over 70) pubs and (5) hotels, plus a range of cellar and kitchen (over 10) retail stores. In late 2010 they opened their own distillery and started producing their own range of spirits.


Produced in small batches from local East Anglian malted barley (30%), wheat (60%) and oats (10%) cereal grains, they make their base spirit from a version of unhopped beer wash, using brewing yeast to ferment it. This wash is distilled three times in German-made Carl column stills (creating their Longshore Vodka) before being ready to carry out the final Gin production stage. The botanicals are left to steep in this Vodka grade spirit overnight before being redistilled a fourth time in a copper pot still, taking about 6 hours.

The Gin is presented in a clear squat round bottle with a 2-tone blue colored label, depicting a sailing mast (with “Copper House Distillery” written in copper plate).


Distilled Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

48% (96 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$ - $$$$$. Not available for sale in the USA and unlikely to ever be so, as the company highly values green issues, which negates transporting to far away places. However it can be purchased from Master of Malt in the UK, just be prepared to pay around 80% extra for shipping.


While the recipe originally begun with 17 botanicals, it was finally settled upon the use of 13 botanicals, including: angelica root, caraway seed, cardamom pod, cassia bark, coriander seed, fennel seed, juniper berries, lemon peel, liquorice root, (sweet) orange peel, orris root, thyme and vanilla pod.


Adnams come from the founding family name. “Finest cut” is used to describe the purest “heart” taken from the distillation process to create a “First Rate” Gin.

The term “First Rate” originates from the heyday of the British Royal Navy during the 1700 and 1800’s. The warships were categorized into 6 divisions according to the strength and power of the vessel. Thus a “warship of the first rate” was one of the finest warships afloat and belonged in the 1st division. This navy term was shortened and came into general usage as “first rate”, being used to refer to something or someone “of the best quality”. We’re sure the nautical picture on the label is a nod in the direction to this term.

Tasting Notes

On the nose are pine (juniper) and vanilla with some aniseed, orange and thyme. On the palate this full bodied and oily spirit has strong juniper with vanilla, spice and herb notes (including a little maltiness). The close is heavy aniseed and sweet citrus (lemon) with peppery spice notes that linger and tingle in the finish. All in all a well balanced complex taste.

This has an unusual flavor profile compared with most Gins and is no doubt due to the spicy combination of caraway, cardamom, and fennel - taken neat there is a pleasantly (but different) strong aniseed and liquorice taste. This is somewhat diminished in a Gin & Tonic where more traditional Gin notes appear and thus has a lighter and breezier feel (Adnams recommend garnishing a G&T with a chunk of cucumber). This all changes in a Martini where it shines, the juniper and spices “kick” to produce a nicely memorable drink, this was also true in a Dirty Martini.

This is a good product but due to its spicy aniseed character may not suit every Gin based mixed drink. Overall it’s strong, different, pleasing and of worthy note for Gin lovers, just not as versatile as many of today’s softer classic Gins. Thank you John McCarthy (Creator & Head Distiller) and all the team at Adnams for producing this delight.

Awards & Accolades

Silver Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2013.

Silver Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2012.

Silver Medal, International Wine & Spirits Awards, 2012.

Silver Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2011.

Bronze Medal, International Wine & Spirits Awards, 2011.


Get in the nautical spirit by taking your favorite Adnams First Rate Gin cocktail and listening to these classic sea shanties:


Get yourself a drink using this Gin and sit back to enjoy this book "First Rate: The Greatest Warship of the Age of Sail" by Rif Winfield.

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