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Review

Professor Cornelius Ampleforth's
Bathtub

Navy Strength Gin

Distillery

Master of Malt, (ATOM Supplies Ltd.) Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, UK.

Website

Master of Malt

History

ATOM Supplies Ltd. trading as Master of Malt, is one of the UK’s leading online liquor retailers. Established in 1985 they originally concentrated on Whisky but this soon grew to encompass a full range of spirits. Since the 2010’s they have undertaken joint projects to produce individual spirits, supported primarily by Ben Ellefsen, their Sales Director. Under his guidance, the success of Master of Malt’s own offerings have expanded to include a range of “Origin” Gins and the “Professor Cornelius Ampleforth” range of spirits.

Professor Cornelius Ampleforth, A.K.A Ben Ellefsen, launched their Bathtub Gin in the fall of 2011. In the fall of 2012, their Bathtub Gin was released at a higher level of alcohol, and suitably under the revised title of “Navy Strength” Gin.

Production

The base spirit is made from a high quality copper pot distillation to which the broken up “bashed” botanicals are added and left to infuse for about 1 hour (rather than using intact botanicals left to infuse for 24 hours as in their original Bathtub Gin). Normally, most Gins would be distilled a further time following the infusion period, however this Gin is simply filtered and bottled straight from this cold compounding method, and is produced in small batches of 30 to 60 bottles at a time.

This pale yellow colored Gin, has very small botanical particles suspended in the spirit creating a very artisanal image. The apothecary styled bottling, being wrapped in crinkled brown paper (covered with hand-drawn artwork including an image of a British Royal Navy “Ensign” flag), further enhances this Victoriana presentation. Flax twine is wound around the neck, securing the paper to the bottle, and dipped in black wax to seal it completely.

Category

Compound Gin & Navy Strength Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

57% (114 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$$$$. Not available in the USA. Try online direct from Master of Malt in the UK but be prepared to pay an additional 50% for shipping.

Botanicals

Made from 6 botanicals including: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, juniper berries and orange peel.

Name

Professor Cornelius Ampleforth is a fictional character, played by Ben Ellefsen. The “Bathtub” reference is used to refer back to a time when Gin would be made in one. In theory, the production methodology could use a bathtub to make the Gin but, we are pleased to say, it doesn’t! “Navy Strength” refers to the strength of the alcohol required by the Navy for carrying on their ships, because at this strength if the spirit inadvertently spilt on the gunpowder it will still ignite.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is pine (juniper) and citrus (sweet) with hints of earthy spice (cardamom, coriander, clove & cinnamon) giving an impression of “Christmas” in a glass – some find floral hints plus nutmeg and vanilla but this wasn’t noted by us. The nose is somewhat constrained, considering it is “Navy Strength”, but this all changes with the tasting. On the palate this smooth and full-bodied oily spirit has strong juniper and citrus (lemon & orange) with a sweet earthy taste and spice (cardamom, coriander, cinnamon & cloves) creating a hint of liquorice. Again, some find vanilla with butter and floral hints plus red meat but we didn’t manage to detect these ourselves. On the very long and nicely bitter close, the spice overtakes the juniper to give a very warm, sweet orange and peppery spice finish (with a nice amount of cloves). This is a strongly robust Gin and is not for the faint of heart. The complexity abounds, a characteristic of quality cold compound Gins, despite the relatively low number of botanicals.

Whilst this is not a London Dry Gin, it has all the hallmarks of classic one, with oodles of character and flavor. This is very good Gin to drink neat, although some may find the pervading alcohol notes too strong, we found adding water (e.g. ice) detrimentally mutes its unique flavor. This works well in a Gin and Tonic and we think a “Evans” style garnish of a slice of lemon and a slice of lime works best for this spirits flavor profile. However, we understand cocktail maestro Manuel Wouters adds an orange twist, 2-3 cloves and a cinnamon stick, which nicely parallel the Gin’s flavor profile. For ardent Gin drinkers this makes a great Martini, and is a very strong offering for a Dry Martini – we suggest using good Vermouth and an olive garnish – but is perhaps unsurpassed in a Martinez. It has reasonable usage in mixed drinks but may be too overpowering for more delicate cocktail choices such as the Aviation. The juniper and citrus is stronger and the spice flavors more pungent than the original Bathtub Gin and this limits its overall versatility in mixed drinks.

This is a truly wonderful example of a rarely found cold compound Navy Strength Gin, capable of making firm friends with Gin lovers, but also likely to turn off occasional or light Gin drinkers with its strong presence. For us, as ardent Gin lovers, we prefer this higher proof version to their lower proof original. We tip our hats to Professor Cornelius Ampleforth, for yet another excellent drink.

Awards & Accolades

Gold Medal, Gin Masters, 2015.

Gold Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2013.

Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2013.



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