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Review

Fifty Pounds Gin

Distillery

Timbermill Distillery, Thames Distillers Ltd., Clapham, London, England, UK. Imported to the USA by Shaw Ross International, Miramar, Florida.

Website

Fifty Pounds Gin and Shaw Ross International.

History

Thames Distillers is run by Charles Maxwell who is the 8th generation of the family (founders of the Finsbury Distillery) who have been producing Gin since 1700 – making them the oldest unbroken lineage in Gin distillation.

This Gin was launched in 2009 and late 2010 in the USA.

Production

This is produced according to a 200-year old family recipe. The base spirit is distilled four times from grain. The botanicals are steeped in this base spirit for a minimum of two days. The final distillation is in small batches, using a 100-year old pot still made by John Dore & Co. It is filtered three times and then left to rest for a minimum of three weeks.

An unfamiliar design to us today the Gin is presented in a very dark green plastic covered clear bottle, which tapers upwards (larger at the top than the base), mimicking a design from the 1700’s called a “Case Gin” bottle. Each batch of around 1,000 bottles has the batch number and year provided on the label. This has been created by Luis Vázquez from Typesense Graphic Design.

Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

43.5% (87 Proof).

Price Range

$$$. Available online, try: Drink Up NY, More Wines, Binny’s Beverage Depot and Shoppers Vineyard.

Botanicals

11 botanicals are used, including: angelica root (Western Europe), coriander seed (Middle East), grains of paradise (East Africa), juniper berries (Croatia), lemon peel (Spain), liquorice, (Italy), orange peel (Spain) and savory (France). The other three botanicals are kept a closely guarded secret.

Name

With Gin production in the UK exempt from any tax during the late 1600’s and early 1700’s, there was widespread consumption of this spirit. It reached a stage where Gin was the cheapest drink around where people in London could become inebriated for pennies, and often were - this period in time became referred to as the “Gin Craze”. The British Government had to do something to combat this rising anti-social epidemic and so introduced the Gin Act of 1736. This law prohibited the production of Gin except under licence. The cost of this licence was the princely sum of fifty pounds, equivalent to $130,000 US dollars today - no wonder only 2 distilleries ever paid this levy!

The Maxwell family concocted a Gin recipe at this time, it being ironically called “fifty pounds” after this tax. Although not used since, this recipe has been given a new leaf of life by Thames Distillery.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is juniper (pine) and citrus (lemon) with a slight spicy (coriander) perfume. On the palate this soft and subtle medium bodied spirit, gives a balanced taste of juniper, citrus and spice with earthy sweet notes, we also found some mint here too. The smooth oily dry and long warming finish has herbal and faint floral notes, with citrus (orange) belaying its complexity. All in all this is a very nicely balanced Gin.

This is a good sipping Gin, which works well in the more simple Gin based mixed drinks e.g. Gimlet, Martini, Pink Gin etc. There wasn’t a consensus on a Gin & Tonic but the majority believe it is perfectly fine. This is because the tonic can begin to drown the subtleties of the Gin, as it does in more complex Gin based mixed drinks. Overall this is a very smooth Gin, with some complexities, which has something for everyone.

Awards & Accolades

92 Points, Beverage Testing Institute.

Double Gold, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2013.

Silver Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2012.

Silver Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2011.

Bronze Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2011.

Silver Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2010.

Silver Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2010.

Bronze Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2010.



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