Sacred Spirits Company Ltd., Highgate, London (found about 100 yards from the top of Highgate Hill, the highest point in London), England, UK.
Running up to 2008, with the financial and
economic down turn at that time, former Derivatives trader turned city
headhunter Ian Hart found himself at a loose at the end. He tried his hand at a
hand full of ideas before looking to improve wine from poor vintages using cold
distillation techniques with a vacuum still. Whilst this method of wine
improvement was successful he realized it wouldn’t unfortunately be viable as a
commercial project. So, armed with this new equipment to “play with”, and being
a keen Gin drinker, he turned to making this spirit. After much trial and
error, not to mention ample amounts of creative ingenuity and knowledge gained
from his Cambridge degree in Natural Sciences, in 2009 he started his own micro
Joined by his life partner and co-founder Hilary Whitney, this is not your usual distillery. Operated from their residential home there are no traditional copper pot stills, instead it looks like a small chemistry lab in a family room looking over the backyard. With the garage and children’s playhouse providing storage facilities, an informal tasting group helping them agree upon their 23rd recipe (loosely based on one from 1660), their original Sacred Gin was launched in May 2009.
Following a year of development this flavored Gin liqueur, a good alternative for a cordial like Campari, was launched in summer 2013.
This summer cup is made by cold infusing 15 botanicals in their original
vacuum distilled Sacred Gin (already using 12 botanicals) to create this 27
botanical Gin liqueur. One of the key botanicals is rosehip but this has the
effect of giving the spirit a somewhat washed out looking pinky-orange brown
color. To give the Gin it’s bright ruby coloration, Ian Hart has used red grape
skins, which reacts with the acid from the rhubarb (another key botanical) to
create this magnificent red hue. Please note if the acid is diluted with say,
Soda Water, it can turn the color to purple!
The Gin is presented in a tall clear cylindrical bottle with rounded shoulders and a medium length neck. The label has evolved through several changes and the most recent was implemented in November 2011 by brand design consultancy Elmwood. In general the labels are colored purple with Gold foil and the lettering “Sacred” and “Rosehip Cup” written on it, plus an image of a crown. The new design is dominated with individually styled iron gates based on the famous Highgate Cemetery gates. Key aspects of the design include: Hearts lining the top of the crown referring to co-founder Ian surname; Serpents abound as these are said to guard the Frankincense tree (one of the botanicals); Ink pen nibs form the hinges of the gates as a nod to the many literary greats buried at Highgate Cemetery and the journalistic career of co-founder Hilary; the subtle images of birds are discreetly placed representing the Nightingales found throughout the Highgate woodland; and we also like the use of the laboratory style glassware images scattered around too.
Flavored Gin – Rosehip.
18% (36 Proof).
27 all natural botanicals, many organic,
are used including: angelica root, cardamom,
cinnamon, coriander seed, cubeb, frankincense, gentian,
grape (red), juniper berries, lemon
(fresh cut), lime (fresh cut), liquorice, nutmeg, orange
(both fresh cut and zest), rhubarb and rosehip.
Named after the Boswellia sacra tree (also
known as Hougary Frankincense), one of the 12 botanicals used in the original
Sacred Gin, and the key flavoring for this Gin, Rosehip. We understand this was
originally going to be called Rhubarb Cup after another one of the key
botanicals but, and perhaps fortunately so, it didn’t end up tasting of
rhubarb. The term “Cup” today refers to a long drink used with a soft
(non-alcoholic) carbonated mixer.
On the nose is a red berry aroma with
spice, woody herbal (rosemary) and gentle floral notes. On the palate this
gently bittersweet and oily spirit has a red fruity taste (think cranberry,
raspberry, loganberry etc.) with citric rosehip, acidic rhubarb and woody
herbal complexities plus faint hints of juniper and orris (parma violets). On
the close the cherry-like fruit taste grows tart with a continuing bitter and dry
finish. A very nice offering with deep complexity and great balance.
This is a great alternative to Campari (a fruitier and less bitter version) but in truth makes a fine aperitif or summer drink without having to make this comparison. Serve 1 part of this liqueur with 3 parts of any of the following: sparkling wine (e.g. Champagne, Prosecco etc.); Soda Water; Lemonade (especially a Pink one); or Tonic Water (i.e. a fruity, low proof Gin & Tonic). This is not really for a Martini but is perfect for the classic Negroni (equal parts Gin, Vermouth and Campari – using this summer cup to replace the Campari). Indeed, Ian Hart designed this cup to go with their Spiced English Vermouth and original Sacred Gin (and is referred to as a “Sacred Negroni” when doing so) – Sacred Spirits even sell a Negroni Kit with all of these products together.
Overall this is perhaps the best product from Sacred Spirits – although there is a lot of debate because they have so many fine choices, it is a hard decision to make. We can almost feel the time and effort Ian Hart has put into its development and believe this is the Cup to contest the crown held by Pimm’s, we highly recommend tasting this as soon as you can find a bottle.