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Review

Kensington Gin

Distillery

Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd., Broxburn, West Lothian, Scotland, UK.

Website

Ian Macleod Distillery.

History

Leonard J Russell established a business in 1933 and in 1963 the Russell family acquired the Ian Macloed distillery. Today it is in its third generation of family leadership and is best known for their whiskies, which include Glengoyne Highland single malt.

This Gin was launched in 2001, and was one of the first Cask Aged style Gins.

Production

Handcrafted and distilled in copper alembic pot stills with Scottish mineral water. Aged for 6 months plus in new oak barrels from Kentucky, and treated much like a single malt Whisky, giving it an amber hue and a classic smokiness.

Category

Barrel Aged Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

47.2% (94 Proof) in the USA, also available in 37.5% (75 Proof) across Europe and other markets.

Price Range

$$$. Limited availability everywhere, but can be found in the USA. Try online at Mission Liquor.

Botanicals

Made with 15 botanicals: almonds (Spain), angelica root (Portugal), cardamom seed (France), cassia bark (Asia), cinnamon (Sri Lanka), coriander seeds (France), cubeb berries (Pacific Rim), fennel seeds (Germany), grains of paradise (Pacific Rim), juniper berries (Tuscany), lemon peel (Spain), liquorice root (Mediterranean), nutmeg (West Indies), orange peel (Spain) and orris root (Italy).

By removing the almond, cardamom seed, cinnamon, cubeb berries and fennel seed (all of which seem ideal in complementing the wood cask aging) and adding some ginger (to retain some warm spiciness) we have the same botanical ingredients as London Hill Gin - also produced by Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd.

Name

We assume this is named after the London Borough of Kensington, probably because this area could be considered the London birthplace of Gin. Queen Mary of England and her new husband, William of Orange from Holland were seeking a new residence in London. In 1689 they bought Nottingham House just to the West of Westminster, had renovations and additions made by Christopher Wren, and renamed it Kensington Palace. William of Orange is responsible for boosting the popularity of locally produced grain spirits (including imports from Holland) by making them free from levies of any kind (as opposed to the heavy taxation upon wine and spirits from Catholic states e.g. France, Spain etc.). Thus, the “Gin Craze” was born in London. Kensington palace is now a shared residence for members of the Royal family, rather than the Monarchs, prompting King Edward VIII to call it the “Aunt heap”.

In 1965 Kensington was renamed The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and is an exclusive area, being one of the most expensive places to live in the world. It is famed for its museums, embassies, high-class hotels, the Royal Colleges of Art and Music plus Olympia Exhibition Centre and the Royal Albert Hall. For some it is best known for its upmarket shopping, including shops such as Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Perhaps an ideal setting for buying some of the most exclusive (and expensive) Gins!

Tasting Notes

On the nose is a sweet citrus (lemon) and perfumed aroma with hints of pine (juniper), spice and smokiness. On the palate this medium bodied spirit with a little oiliness has a fruity faintly sweet citrus lemon taste, which develops into a juniper drying warming spice flavor. The close has a silky dry finish with only a light oaky smokiness. Not surprisingly it has a similar light taste profile as London Hill Gin, perhaps just a little more spicy and nutty.

For the average Gin drinker, a Cask Aged Gin is different and may take a little getting used to. Kensington’s marketing refers to this as a “Scotch Style” Gin and for us we found it more like a Gin with light notes resembling some of the qualities found in a Whisky (i.e. it did not overpower the Gin’s qualities). With this is mind, we found the oaky smokiness a little overwhelmed in a Gin & Tonic but it wasn’t unpleasant. It was much better sipped neat but the best usage we found was in a Martini, smoothly citrus sweet, with the oaky wood smokiness gently permeating through.

It is as usual, left as a matter of personal taste if you like this style of Gin or not. However, we hope you find the Gin is complimented by the light flavor of the barrel aging and a delight to drink. This is even more so now because since 2001 there have been many more Cask Aged Gins coming to market and thus more to try and enjoy further.

Awards & Accolades

Bronze Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2005.



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