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Review

Blackwood's Vintage Gin

Distillery

Blackwood Distillery (Blavod Wines & Spirits Plc), Lerwick, Shetland Isles, Scotland, UK.

Website

Blackwood and Blavod.

History

The Shetland Isles have a rich history and their viking heritage is reflected in the company and drinks branding. The company was originally founded as Blackwood Distillers Holdings Plc in 2002 and this Gin was launched in 2003. Unfortunately they went into financial administration in 2008 and Blavod, bought the white spirits side, including the Blackwood brand name.

Production

The recipe is a local Nordic one and some of the ingredients are from the Island (being sustainably hand picked by Islanders) and this local approach is strongly reflected in the ethics of the company. Up until at least 2008, Blackwood’s only used the botanicals gathered in a specific year and quoted the year on the bottle (hence the title usage of the word “Vintage”). This seems to have changed, with the year no longer quoted; in the USA the term “Vintage” has been dropped in favor of the term “Small Batch Gin”.

The Gin is made on mainland Scotland, at an unknown location, from a barley grain base. It is triple distilled using a small copper pot still where the botanicals are vapor infused. It is presented in clear cylindrical squat bottles, with a green and silver label depicting a viking longship. The Gin originally had a very faint sea green coloration from the botanicals used but is now produced as a clear liquid.

Category

New Western Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

40% (80 Proof). For the USA market this has been changed to 47.5% (95 Proof).

Price Range

$$$ - $$$$. Available online, try: K&L Wines, Liquorama, The Party Source, The Wine House or Vendome Wine & Spirits.

Botanicals

13 botanicals are used (5 from the Shetlands*) and include: angelica root*, cinnamon bark, juniper berries*, lemon peel, liqourice root, meadowsweet*, nutmeg (ground), orange peel, orris root, sea pink flowers*, turmeric, violet flowers and wild water mint*.

Name

Unknown.

Tasting Notes

Initially the nose and palate varied from year to year, as the climatic conditions vary quite considerably in this exposed remote northerly location. However, we believe the approach of only using botanicals from any given year has been replaced with amalgamating botanicals year on year.

On the nose are a very light aroma of juniper, citrus (lemon) and a hint of aromatic herbal notes. On the palate this slightly sweet and light bodied dry spirit displays strong citrus and a mild astringent juniper flavor with floral, herbal and spice notes. The close has a lingering sweet citrus (lemon) and herbal and faint peppery finish. There is complexity here but it is hard to easily pick out the delicate flavors.

This is such a light, soft and subtle spirit it easy to sip neat and over ice. In a Gin & Tonic one would expect the delicate subtitles of the Gin to be lost however, if anything, it lifts the Gin; we could identify fresh elements of the salty seaside! This makes a soft and easy Martini with subtle complexities. Care must be taken when using this in other Gin based mixed drinks, so as not to over power the flavors.

We have yet to try the “Small Batch Gin” version of this available in the USA at 95 Proof. Let us know if this differs at all from the description given here for the “Vintage” version.

Awards & Accolades

85-89 Points, Wine Enthusiast.

Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2013.

Gold Medal, World Spirits Festival, 2013.

Bronze Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2013.

Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2009.

Gold Medal, World Spirits Festival, 2006.

Double Gold Medal, World Spirits Festival, 2005.

Gold Medal, International Spirits Awards, 2004.

Gold Medal, World Spirits Festival, 2004.

Silver Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2004.



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