The Reformed Spirits Company Ltd., London (made by Langley Distillery, Birmingham), England, UK (and Borganes, Iceland). Imported into the USA by Kindred Spirits Inc., Miami, Florida.
Martin Miller is a true entrepreneur and
has numerous successful ventures to his name: Author, Photographer, Hotelier
and Concert Organiser; he is best known for his Miller’s Antique Price Guides.
With an estimated fortune of $60 million he has concentrated on activities that
interest him and it was perhaps only a matter of time before he made a foray
into the world of Gin.
The original Martin Miller’s Gin was devised in 1997 between three friends: Martin Miller, David Bromige and Andreas Versteegh. It was finally launched in the UK in 1999 and in the USA in 2003. The on-trade (bars, hotels etc.) were asking for a higher strength edition to use, so in 2003 they launched their Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength version.
To celebrate their 10th Anniversary of operating, an even higher strength limited run Anniversary edition was launched in Summer 2009. Similar to previous occasions a group of trade professionals were invited to Westbourne (Martin Miller's base in Notting Hill, London) and asked to blind taste 5 Gins, ranging from 50% to 60% ABV. These were tried neat and in a Gin & Tonic, which were whittled down to 3 to try in a Martini. The final choice, the 54% ABV was the one they launched. This was given to “Friends of Martin Miller’s Gin” i.e. those who have assisted in helping the company grow during its first 10 years.
This is made exactly the same way as the
original Martin Miller’s Gin: The base is the cleanest neutral grain spirit
possible, made from wheat grown in the counties of Essex and Norfolk, in
England. This Gin is small batch distilled in Still No.2 a 1903 John Dore &
Co. 3,000-liter copper pot still affectionately called Angela, after Langley’s
Managing Director’s mother. The Gin is made from 3 separate distillates, the
first consists of the “earthy” botanicals e.g. angelica, cassia, juniper etc.
(although does contain a little lime peel), which are steeped overnight, and
the second distillate consists of all the citrus peels. Note: all of the heads
and tails produced during distillation are discarded rather than being reused.
The two resultant “earthy and “citrus” distillates are blended together and
left to rest for a few days.
Initially this blend of distillates was shipped 1,500 miles from Immingham (between Grimsby and Hull) in North East England to Borgarnes in Iceland (a 10-day, sometimes dangerous, journey), blended with Icelandic water and bottled, then shipped back again. Today, as sales (and thus production levels) have increased a change has been implemented. If the Gin will be for sale in USA it follows the above-mentioned process but instead of shipping back to the UK, it is shipped from Iceland to the USA. If the Gin will be for sale in Europe and Asia, the water is shipped to the UK instead, where it is blended with the distillates and bottled in the UK, ready for sale. This may seem like a lot of trouble, cost and time to go to just for some Icelandic water. However, we have already heard (see “History” above) what impact this water had on the Polstar Vodka and thus (for us at least) worth investigating further:
All distillate produced is a high proof alcohol and has to be reduced down to a drinkable level by blending with water (most Gin is in fact 45 – 60% water). Many Gins use neutral or demineralised water and according to Icelanders this is “dead” water as it has lost it’s “life force”. Iceland, known as the land of “Fire and Ice”, has a glacial and volcanic geological landscape. Their rain fell millennia ago and has taken all that time to filter through the granite and lava, and in particular has created the unspoilt and soft Selyri spring water in the village of Borganes. This is situated at the head of a fjord on the West coast, about 30 miles North (as the crow flies) of the capital Rejkjavik. This 40,000 square mile sized island has just over 320,000 people, making it one of the most sparsely populated places in the world. Despite their remote, often dark and cold location it has an advanced culture with 95% of adults owning a computer and 100% literacy (in fact more books are written per capita than in any other country). However, they do believe in the “hidden people” (either elves or trolls) who live in rocks and water, giving life to the natural world – hence treated water is “dead”. What you choose to believe is up to you, we do know good water produces good Gin, and this Gin is very soft and smooth.
Anyway…back to the Gin’s production…and the third distillate! A small amount of a third distillate, made from cucumber, is added when the other two distillates are blended with the water. The use of the cucumber acts as a “drying agent” (not an intended flavoring) to the palate and whilst Reformed Spirits do not list this as a botanical it is noticeable (to us and others), so we include it as such. Not surprisingly, the idea of using cucumber came from using it in the creation of the Polstar Vodka. Interestingly, we believe this makes Martin Miller’s the first to use cucumber in a Gin and not Hendrick’s, as people tend to believe, who launched their Gin later in 1999 after Martin Miller’s.
The Gin is presented in a clear squat square bottle with a (usual) small grey and navy blue colored label at the top and a small 10th Anniversary label at the bottom. Each one is signed and numbered personally by Martin Miller. A limited run of 1,000 bottles were produced in 2009 and a further batch produced in 2010.
This Gin is gluten free.
Distilled Dry Gin.
54% (108 Proof).
This did not go on sale and so there is no
pricing to give. If anyone has a bottle to sell I suspect you’ll find it on ebay
(or similar site). In those circumstances the pricing would no doubt be high
and certainly not in the “spirit” (pun intended) the Gin was originally given.
Made using the same 10 botanicals as the
original Martin Miller’s Gin: angelica (France), cassia bark (China),
coriander, cucumber, juniper berries (Tuscany, Italy & India), lemon peel,
lime peel, liquorice root, orange peel (Seville, Spain) and orris root
Named after one of the creators of this Gin,
Martin Miller, and the celebration of the company’s 10th Anniversary.
Regret to say we never got to taste this
limited edition. From all accounts it was fairly similar to Martin Miller’s
Westbourne Strength Gin. Fortunately Aaron Knoll at the Gin Is In managed to
get a small sample to taste (and review) from David Smith at The Summer Fruit
Silver Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2011.
Best Gin & Gold Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2009.