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Review

Gilpin's Westmorland Gin

Distillery

Westmorland Spirits Ltd., (made by Thames Distillers, Clapham), London, England, UK.

Website

Gilpin’s Gin.

History

The modern day county of Cumbria in England was originally, following the Norman conquest of England in 1066 divided between the two baronies of Kendal and Westmorland (or Westmereland). Alexander De Gylpin (Gylpin being named after a place in Normandy) was the first Gilpin to live in this area, as a knight serving these barons. In the early 1200’s the two baronies became one (Westmoreland) and an ancestor Richard De Gylpin, also known as “Richard the Rider”, was responsible for killing a notorious wild boar. The boar had been terrorising pilgrims on route through the Westmorland area and as a consequence of this brave action was granted 4,000 acres of land in Westmoreland known as Kentmere. The boar had been killed near the banks of a stream and even today it is the site of the Wild Boar Inn, the stream is called River Gilpin and the family are permitted to use a boar on a golden background as part of their crest.

The Gilpin family blossomed in Westmoreland and in the later half of the 1500’s Queen Elizabeth I had use of one George Gilpin. He was commissioned as Ambassador to Holland to form on behalf of England an alliance with the Dutch against the Spanish. This he duly arranged and it is no doubt he would have been one of the first Englishmen to bring Dutch Genever back to the UK.

Unfortunately the Gilpin family had one major setback in their ancestry, they supported the Royalty during the English Civil war and they entrusted the deeds of the lands to a friend. This in itself was a good idea, because whilst the Roundheads destroyed the family seat buildings (including Kentmere Hall), it did protect the lands from falling into their hands. However by the end of the war the deeds had been lost and they were unable to prove their ownship, losing the Kentmere lands after all.

Many of the Gilpin family still live in the Cumbria area today, including the little village of Cartmel. With such a heritage it is wonderful to find Matthew Gilpin as the founder and a director of Westmorland Spirits Ltd, making Gin – we’re sure George Gilpin would be proud. The family moto “Dictis Factisque Simplex”, translates as “Simple (honest & pure) in Word and Deed", seems apt with regard to this Gin also.

Born of a desire to make the ultimate martini, Matthew Gilpin set about using the expect services of Master Distiller Charles Maxwell.  Charles runs Thames Distillers and is the 8th generation of the family (founders of the Finsbury Distillery) and been producing Gin since 1700 – making them the oldest unbroken lineage in Gin distillation. Together they spent 2 years trying recipes and variations of those recipes before settling on this version of the Gin. It was finally launched in the early spring of 2012.

Production

Made from English wheat grain the base spirit is distilled four times. The botanicals are steeped for up to 48 hours before being distilled for a 5th and final time in a traditional pot still. Water filtered through willow peat and limestone from the Holy Well Spring, in the village of Cartmel, Cumbria, England is used in the process.

The Gin is presented in a clear rectangular bottle with a square monochromatic label with red highlights, and includes the year, batch and bottle number. A hand drawn sketch of a wild boar part of the Gilpin family crest is used as their logo, see History above.

Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

47% (94 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$$$. Not available in the USA. However, try Master of Malt in the UK but prepare to pay an additional 50% for shipping.

Botanicals

Uses 8 Botanicals including: angelica root, borage, coriander seeds, juniper berries, lemon peel, lime peel, orange peel and sage.

Name

Named after the founder Matthew Gilpin and possibly his ancestor George Gilpin who may have been one of the first people to bring Gin to the UK, see History above.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is pine (juniper) and citrus (lemon). On the palate this oily bittersweet dry spirit has strong juniper, citrus, herbs (especially sage), spice (coriander), pepper and earthy (angelica) notes with the alcohol clearly stating its presence. The close continues with the juniper and light citrus with a fresh crisp bitter dry finish.

This is a traditional London Dry Gin but has a greater dryness than many others in this category. As a consequence this works exceedingly well in the typical Gin mixed drinks e.g. Gin & Tonic and Martini (including a Dirty Martini and a Gibson), where this dryness is simply masterful. We also like this in Aviation, Negroni and Sweet Martini cocktails, where the nuances of the Gin can be found more readily. Unfortunately, in citrus based drinks e.g. Tom Collins, the Gin’s more subtle aspects can be lost.

There are many who call their products “Premium Gins” and yet are only really middle of the road offerings: better than the basics but often missing the vital something to make them spectacular. We do not believe Westmorland refer to their Gin as Premium, however this is one Gin that certainly warrants the term. It easily makes our Top 20 and thus we highly recommend it. Well done to Matthew and his team, we’re pleased to see the Gilpin heritage continue with this masterpiece (especially in the form of a Very Dry Martini).

Awards & Accolades

Gold Medal, Gin Masters, 2015.

Bronze Medal, Spirits International Prestige Awards, 2015.

Gold Medal, International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2012.

Silver Medal, International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2011.

Silver Medal, Gin Masters, 2011.

Bronze Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2011.

Music

Music to listen to while sipping this Gin: "Wild Boar's Inn", a Medieval piece by Brandon Fietcher.



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