Charter Brands Ltd., Totton, Hampshire (made by Langley Distillery, Birmigham), England, UK. Imported into the US by Terlato Wine Group, Lake Bluff, Illinois.
Mark Dawkins and Mark
Crump, both with decades of experience in the drinks industry,
Charter Brands Ltd in 2011. They approached Master Distiller Rob Dorsett
at Langley Distillery in the UK, to assist in the creation of a new
Gin and were amazed the distillery granted them use of their name for
brand. Langley’s have a strong history in distilling yet, it had only
since the new Millennium thoughts of producing a product named after the
distillery had arisen, but they hadn’t got around to it!
From late 2011, Charter Brands and Langley’s spent 10 months just identifying which botanicals to use, and went through 50 recipes before settling on the chosen 8 ingredients and their proportions. Then came the choice of base spirit and the volume of alcohol to use, which they managed to get down to a shortlist of 12 versions. Using a Gin tasting panel, they chose the 8th version from this choice of 12. From start to finish it took 18 months of development before the final product was ready to be launched in spring 2013. Since this time, in summer 2014, it has also had a limited launch within the USA to Chicago and New York Cities.
Charter Brands had a clear objective, namely to produce a Gin targeted for men and for it to be essentially English. Mark Dawkins explains: Gin taste tests indicate men generally prefer something slightly more substantial and women prefer something slightly more delicate. Thus, they felt there was an opportunity for a gin targeted, albeit in a subtle and understated way, at the discerning gentleman. Everything from the flavor profile of the gin through to the packaging has been developed to appeal to men who appreciate the finer things in life, including traditional old English Gin. The spirit is inherently English from the distillery and the base spirit, through to the copper pot it is distilled in.
There is a claim for this Gin, as the first to be specifically targeted to gentlemen, but we believe this first was achieved by G&J Greenall’s Berkeley Square launched in 2008. Having said this however, we think Langley’s No. 8 has achieved this in a more overt manner overall with both the taste profile and the packaging style.
The Gin is made in small hand crafted batches
with all the botanicals added to the still, with no steeping before the one and
only distillation. The 1960 copper pot still used is made by John Dore &
Co. (the oldest pot still makers in the world) and called “Constance” (or
"Connie"), in honor of the Master Distiller's late mother. The
resulting distillate is blended with the purest 100% English wheat grain
spirit. This is then bottled at the Burlington Drinks plant (owned by Hayman
Distilleries) in Witham, Essex.
The Gin is presented in a squat cylindrical clear bottle with conical shoulders. There is a large silver-grey number 8 screen-printed on the front, a black leather collar around the neck and a black label with silver-grey and white accents circumnavigating the top (just below the shoulders). Langley’s is clearly written on the label and there is a small circle at the bottom of the label with a number 8 in it.
London Dry Gin.
41.7% (83 Proof).
$$$$ - $$$$$. Very limited availability in the USA. In the meantime, if you can’t find it, try
Master of Malt in the UK but be prepared to pay an additional 50% for
8 botanicals are used including: cassia
bark (Indonesia), coriander seeds (Bulgaria), juniper berries (Macedonia), lemon
peel - sweet (Spain), nutmeg (Sri Lanka) and orange peel - sweet (Spain). The
remaining two botanicals are classic ones but are kept a closely guarded secret.
Named after the distillery where it is made,
plus the number of botanicals used and the final version chosen - the 8th from
a final shortlist of 12 - the one that was preferred for its balanced and
On the nose is strong pine (juniper) and
citrus (lemon & coriander). On the palate are dry juniper and zesty citrus
(lemon & orange) plus a slight sweetness (possibly liquorice or maybe from
the citrus). There are hints of spice (cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg –
or combinations there of) plus faint earthy herbal and floral (violet and
possibly rose) notes also. The close has a smoothly dry heavy juniper taste
with peppery spice and light sweetness in the long finish. A straightforward
and well-rounded Gin, with strong hints of underlying complexity coming through.
This is an overtly traditional (and beautifully crafted) London Dry style Gin, specifically designed to compliment the key classic mixed drinks: the Gin & Tonic and the Martini. It is quite possible to drink this neat but given what it was designed for, lets try them. In a Gin & Tonic the dry bitterness and zesty citrus are clear, they say it is designed to go with any Tonic Water and not be overpowered by quinine. So, we tried it with two different Tonics, at different ends of the spectrum, – Fever Tree and Schweppes (American). The Fever Tree was a real delight and surprisingly, the traditional sweetness of Schweppes wasn’t a distraction, making this a nice additional also. Whilst “two swallows do not make a summer” we would have to concur (so far) with the use of any Tonic in this Gin as good partners. The same story is true in a Martini and additionally found some more of the herbal and floral notes “pop” out, no doubt due to the Vermouth. An excellent Martini and one we could drink all night, or until we found ourselves horizontal on the floor, whichever came first. The signature drink on their website, a “Gentleman’s Martini”, is really a Dusty Martini and being partial to Dirty Martini’s this is certainly our overall drink of choice. We haven’t tried this in further cocktails but have no reason to doubt its versatility in other drinks.
This is an excellently devised and delivered Gin; if it had 2 legs, testicles and could talk we would describe him as: confidant, muscular, well dressed and an intelligent man’s man (speaking with an English accent)! At this price point and with this pedigree of taste and versatility it makes a superb choice of Gin and is highly recommended.
Three Gold Stars, Great Taste Awards, 2015.
Master Medal, Gin Masters, 2013.