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Review:

Mombasa Club Gin

Distillery

Made by Thames Distillers, Clapham, London, England, UK for Unesdi Distribuciones S.A., El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz, Spain. Imported into the USA by Double Eagle Imports Ltd., Alpharetta, Atlanta, Georgia.

Website

Mombasa Gin (in Spanish) and Unesdi Distribuciones (in Spanish).

History

Mombasa (technically an Island) is found in South East Kenya and is the country’s second largest city. It is a naturally deep seaport on the Indian Ocean creating important trade links for the East coast of Africa. From the 1600’s to the late 1800’s it faced a turbulent tug of war for ownership between the Arabic State of Oman and Portugal, predominately for the possession of the port, and subsequent control of trade. In 1885 it was agreed the British Empire would help protect Kenya to maintain peace and stability, creating the British East Africa Protectorate of Kenya. This lasted until 1920 when the Colony of Kenya was established and finally, in 1963 it gained full independence, becoming the Republic of Kenya.

It was with the establishment of the East African Protectorate, with Mombasa as it’s capital, that the Army Officers, engineers (building a railway to Uganda), Civil Servants, Royal Naval Officers etc. needed a social gathering place. Thus in 1885 the members only “Mombasa Club” was born. Now, where the British went Gin was sure to follow, due to making it with Tonic Water to combat Malaria. So the Club had their own Gin made in England, bottled and shipped to Mombasa for the consumption and enjoyment of its members. We have no information as to when the Mombasa Club ceased having it’s own Gin made. However, we can elicit from Unesdi they use the same original 1888 recipe and we believe they launched this in or around 2010.

The Mombasa Club is still thriving, although it exists among a different environment today. Mombasa is a thriving tourist hub with sandy beaches and resort hotels to the North and South. There are also popular tourist destinations 50 miles to the south: a Marine National Park and a small group of Islands (including Zanzibar, just off the coast of Tanzania) often referred to as the Spice Islands.

Thames Distillers is run by Charles Maxwell who is the 8th generation of the family (founders of the Finsbury Distillery) who have been producing Gin since 1700 – making them the oldest unbroken lineage in Gin distillation.

Production

The gin is produced in small batches using neutral grain spirit, which has been distilled three times. It is unknown how the botanicals are imparted but there is a fourth and final distillation. The resultant distillate is shipped to Spain in bulk, blended with local water and bottled.

The Gin is presented in a rounded dark brown “jug” bottle (with the requisite finger hook). It has a large light brown colored label with a lot of nice black colored text and sketches. This has been created by Luis Vázquez from Typesense Graphic Design.

Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

41.5% (83 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$. Predominantly made for the Spanish market, we haven’t found it in the USA yet, but it should be here somewhere! We’ve haven’t been able to find a suitable retailer to ship to the USA although in the meantime Enter Wine is able to ship this Gin, but only within Europe.

Botanicals

11 Botanicals are used including: angelica root, cassia bark, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin, juniper berries, lemon, liquorice, nutmeg and orange.

Name

Named after the Mombasa Club in Kenya, Africa.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is clear juniper, plus citrus and woody spice notes (including cumin) with a faint hint of cloves. On the palate this slightly sweet smooth spirit has juniper and light citrus with liquorice and grassy herbal notes in the background. On the close are peppery herbal spice notes with a long dry bitter finish. There is a balanced roundness to this Gin with reasonable degrees of complexity and spicy freshness.

This is a classic London Dry Gin with exotic, almost African, notes one might say. While this can be drunk neat it has versatility for a wide range of Gin based mixed drinks. None more so than in the classic Gin & Tonic where the drying bitter juniper, spice and refreshing herbal notes shine through, we think this is best with Fentimans Tonic water (with Fever Tree a close second). With this G&T profile it’s difficult to find the best garnish as there are so many options: as an alternative (or in addition to) the usual lemon or lime, try sliced ginger, a cinnamon stick, star anise or even a dash or two of orange bitters. This makes a nice interesting Martini and suggest garnishing with a twist of lemon rather than olives. We like this best of all in a Pink Gin but it is suitable for many other drinks e.g. Negroni, Tom Collins etc.

Certainly this can be drunk as an everyday Gin, but we like to use this for specific moods e.g. when wanting something a little spicy but not too much, when eating African Cuisine or fruit, when seeking meditative moments etc. Obviously, as always, this is down to your own personal palate but seek out and find this Gin and make your own mind up…we recommend it.

Awards & Accolades

Silver Medal, Concurs Mondial de Bruxelles, 2012.

Gold Medal, Concurs Mondial de Bruxelles, 2011.

Music

Listen to Roger Whittaker sing "My Land is Kenya" while enjoying a drink made with Mombasa Club Gin.

Read or Watch


"Out of Africa" by Isak Dinesen is an undeniable classic book. Set in Kenya, what else could you but read while sipping this Gin? OK, how about the film starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep!



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