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Review

"Q" Quintessential Gin

Distillery

G & J Greenall International (Quintessential Brands), Risley, Warrington, England, UK.

Website

G & J Greenall International and Quintessential Drinks.

History

Established back in 1761, Greenall’s are the oldest continuously producing London Dry Gin distillery in the world. Thomas Dakin built the distillery initially, Edward Greenall started using it and in 1870 it was purchased completely (The G&J comes from Edward’s younger brothers – Gilbert & John). The previous chairman, Lord Daresbury, was a direct descendent of Edward Greenall. The family motto “Alto Peto” translates as "I Strive Higher". This once cottage based industry is now the second largest gin distillery in Britain, producing over 50% of the UK’s Gin and almost 15% of the world’s Gin. In 2011 the business was bought by Quintessential Brands.

This Gin was launched in 2003 and is made from the recipe Gilbert Greenall used for his own private reserve of Gin, notable for it’s extra smooth taste. Initially marketed in the USA and Canada only, it has since been released in Europe but with limited success. In the USA, White Rock Distilleries was responsible for importing this Gin and had good success, with reasonably fair availability across the country.

Unfortunately White Rock was sold at the beginning of 2013 to Beam Inc. and White Rock’s bottling plant in Maine was closed down at the start of 2014 when this function was transferred to Kentucky. We are not sure if this Gin brand has been transferred to Jim Bean but, the availability of “Q” Gin in the USA during this period has dwindled and now supplies are very limited. Couple this with “Q” Gin being unlisted on the “G&J Greenall” website (it is not even mentioned on the “Quintessential Brands” website either) and it would seem the future for this brand looks bleak. We can only hope “Q” Gin is revitalized at some point soon.

Production

The base alcohol is made from 3 times distilled neutral grain spirit which is pot distilled for a fourth time with most of the botanicals. The resultant distillate undergoes a fifth and final distillation with the remaining botanicals. It is unclear what botanicals are used at which stage however we believe the 4th distillation uses angelica, coriander, juniper berries, lavender and lotus flower, whilst the 5th distillation uses cubeb berries, extra juniper berries and lime oil. It is possible the botanicals used were revised in 2009.

In 2009 the packaging was changed (from a tall rectangular opaque bottle with triangular shoulders and a long neck) to a tall rectangular bottle with rounded corners and tapering down towards the bottom, flatter shoulders and a tall neck plus graded dark blue coloring, screen-printed at the top and bottle. A large “Q” is embossed on the bottle, found towards the top just below the neck.

Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

40% (80 Proof), and 45% (90 Proof) in some markets.

Price Range

$$$. Used to be fairly widespread availability across the USA but this has significantly declined, making it hard to find and with large variances in pricing e.g. from $20 - $50. Try online at: Black Tie Wine & Spirits, Bills Liquor, Mission Wine & Spirits, DC Wine Guy or Wine Globe.

Botanicals

It is unclear how many are used, with most sources quoting 5 but with a varying choice of botanicals. We believe this uses up to 7 botanicals including: angelica, coriander seeds, cubeb berries, juniper berries, lavender, lime oil and lotus leaves.

Name

When launched in 2003 it was under the name of “Daresbury’s Q Quintessential Gin” after the previous chairman, Lord Daresbury. “Daresbury’s” was dropped from the name at some point, probably when repackaged in 2009 but certainly by 2011 under the new ownership of the company.

Gin is commonly referred to as the quintessential English spirit, and given it is distilled 5 times (and may contain 5 botanicals) and playing on the word “quintet”, it seems apt to call this Gin “Quintessential” or “Q” for short.

Tasting Notes

On the nose are fresh floral (lavender & lotus flowers) aromas with faint hints of metallic, herbal pine and spicy citrus notes. On the palate this smooth slightly sweet spirit has dry juniper and citrus (lime & lemon from the coriander seeds) with floral (lavender) and green herbal (grass-like) notes. On the smooth flowery close is a hint of minerals and light warm peppery notes. This is a pleasingly soft floral Gin and has aptly been referred to as “the high quality Vodka of Gins”.

Whilst a London Dry style of Gin, it has a modern contemporary feel to it, more in keeping with a New Western Dry style of Gin. This may appeal most to Vodka and budding Gin drinkers as a good entry level Gin to try (moving on from the likes of Bafferts, Vedrich, London Hill & Iceberg Gins) although please note its floral qualities compared with the other aforementioned Gins. For those who enjoy this Gin it is incredibly “Moorish” and may prove all too easy in finding an empty bottle in one’s hand. This is a pleasant Gin to drink neat and is easy in a Gin and Tonic (although these methods of drinking this Gin are not the greatest highlight). Where this shines best is in a Martini, or for ardent Gin lovers a Dry Martini, and we recommend an olive garnish or maybe better still a Gibson. If you can find the 45% ABV version of this Gin you will be in for an even greater treat with better G&T’s and Martini’s.

In 2003 this would have been considered a very unusual “off beat” Gin and this could have resulted in a low level of “take up” at that time. Today, this is easily a good quality Gin with a pleasing novelty palate, capable of making its way onto numerous bar shelves across many countries. We believe the 2009 repackaging should have been supported with a much harder marketing push, to establish a greater footing in the industry. Whilst this brand currently languishes, awaiting its possible demise, someone with vision needs to breathe new life into it (we believe this has the strongest potential in the Spanish and German markets). Also, the 40% ABV version of this Gin is certainly a “watered down” offering in every sense of the words, whilst the 45% ABV version is the better sibling with the greater versatility in mixed drinks.

Awards & Accolades

90 Points, Beverage Testing Institute (who voted this the Smoothest Gin of 2005).

85 - 89 Points, Wine Enthusiast.



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