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Review

Hoxton Gin

Distillery

Gerry Calabrese of Hoxton Gin, London, England, UK (made by an undisclosed London micro distillery).

Website

Hoxton Gin.

History

Gerry Calabrese (son of bartender Salvatore Calabrese) is an experienced high profile bartender and in 2008 opened his own Gin bar in the East End of London called the Hoxton Pony. It wasn’t long before he decided he wanted to create a fun and exciting Gin that was completely different from the usual Gins. Initially, working with fellow bartender Andy Pearson, they produced a similar Gin (they called C&P Gin) but this did not reach full release. However, following experimentation, with a little trial and error across a total of 3 years, Gerry settled on an unusual combination of botanicals. The most unique botanical (to our knowledge never used in Gin before) is coconut, making a truly different and really exotic Gin.

The release of this Gin in the late spring of 2011 caused a stir with many decrying it, questioning if it should even be called a Gin. Such notable comments include: Simon Difford at Diffords Guide and an Editorial from Imbibe Magazine. The Gin was created to break new boundaries and thus was always going to receive (perhaps unjust) comments of this nature and one could argue that it was a deliberate marketing ploy. Marketing ploy or not, Hoxton have done what they set out to do and made a different Gin. This is hard to do (and pull off successfully) and Hoxton, we believe have managed to do this and should be applauded accordingly. Their marketing slogan is after all: “The most distinctive gin in the world”.

Production

The base spirit is made from French summer wheat and ingredients used are natural and ethically sourced. The botanicals are steeped for 5 days (one of the longest Gin macerations we know of) before being distilled in a 150 year-old copper pot still. The final spirit is filtered and rested in stainless steel tanks for 2 months before being bottled.

The Gin is presented in a tall rectangular clear bottle and is screen-printed in black and yellow colors. There is a black circle towards the top of the bottle with Hoxton Gin written in white colored writing. It carries a clear message on the front: “Warning! Gapefruit and Coconut”.

Category

Flavored Gin – Coconut, made in the London Dry style.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

43% (86 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$ - $$$$$. Not available in the USA. Try Master of Malt in the UK but prepare to pay an additional 55% for shipping.

Botanicals

Uses 6 botanicals including: coconut, ginger, grapefruit, iris, juniper berries and tarragon. It has been suggested by some this Gin does not contain juniper berries or very few, however we can confirm they make up over 50% of the mix.

Name

Hoxton is a district in the East End of London, part of the Borough of Hackney (there are 32 London boroughs in total), to the North of the City of London. It used to be part of the parish of Shoreditch but became a separate parish in 1826. Since the 1900’s the area has been renowned for music hall, theaters and nightclubs plus its criminals classes, from a backdrop of poor working class residents. Since the 1980’s, the southern parts of Hoxton and Shoreditch have become fashionable: today there are numerous art galleries and it is a popular location for artists, music stars, and writers. Calling this trendy and very different Gin after such an area seems only fitting.

Connections of particular note, spanning the last 100 years with the area, include: Alfred Hitchcock who began his film industry career at Gainsborough Studios based in Hoxton; Notorious gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray were born in Hoxton; and chief Jamie Oliver opened his first Fifteen Restaurant here in 2002.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is clear sweet coconut with citrus (grapefruit). On the palate this semi sweet spirit has strong coconut with heavy citrus (grapefruit) plus a faint hit of juniper. On the close there is a little dry juniper coming through with a faint ginger herbal bite and decreasing coconut and grapefruit in the finish. A very tropical tasting Gin and in the right drinks can come across as creamy smooth.

This is made as a London Dry Gin but the juniper is hardly recognizable as the coconut dominates and for this reason we have categorized it as a flavored Gin. The controversy with Hoxton Gin comes from EU (European Union) regulations, which states a Gin must have juniper as it’s predominate flavor, and this is clearly not the case here. In the USA, EU regulations do not apply and we have seen Gins where juniper does not always dominate the flavor of the spirit, and thus has given rise to the category of New Western Dry Gin.

Whilst aficionados work out its categorization, we will continue to be led by our senses, and simply put: we find this to be a strongly flavored coconut Gin. This is fine to drink neat although some find the sweetness to be a little cloying and almost artificial in its taste (but less so than Malibu). In a Gin & Tonic the different taste of coconut is slightly subdued whilst the grapefruit comes out a bit more, along with the gingery spice. The same result was found with a Martini, the coconut is subdued and the citrus comes out more, with juniper in the background along with floral and herbal notes – surprisingly pleasant, providing you like coconut and grapefruit. Certainly traditional Gin drinkers will have a very difficult time with this one but if you enjoy coconut then you will find this Gin is ideally suited to your tastes.

In 1980 Bacardi launched their coconut flavored white rum, Malibu and it wouldn’t surprise us if people at that time decried this too. However, it has stood the test of time and is now a mainstay of many tropical styled cocktails. For us, this is where we found the use of Hoxton Gin to be at its best, using it in mixed drinks that can tame the coconut to a certain degree. We found the Gin works well with simple mixers such as cranberry juice, cola, ginger ale, lemonade and red bull; and in cocktails such as a Gimlet, Negroni and a Salty Dog (we also found this is a delight in sangria, simply replace the recipe’s spirit/liqueur(s) with the same amount of Hoxton Gin instead). Hoxton’s website has a few cocktail suggestions which we found to work well, alternatively experiment further by using it in any traditional rum based cocktail.

Overall, this is a good Gin; it is just different and thus hard for some traditionalists to come to terms with. Coconut lovers will enjoy it, meanwhile the debate as to if this is a Gin or not will continue especially as we will no doubt see more flavored Gins come to market.

Awards & Accolades

Unknown.



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