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Review

Tarquin's Gin

Distillery

SouthWestern Distillery, St Ervan, Wadebridge, Cornwall, England, UK.

Website

SouthWestern Distillery

History

Conceived in 2011 and established in May 2012 by founder, owner and Head Distiller Tarquin Leadbetter, this was the first distillery in this area for over 20 years. Working with support from members of his family (mother Joanna & sister Athene) they produce small batch handcrafted spirits, not far from the rugged North East coast of Cornwall. We understand a second still is due to be set up in 2014 to help meet demand for export orders!

This Gin was launched in early 2013, following a grueling but wonderful journey across 18 months of personal experimentation by Tarquin. It is also the first Gin produced in Cornwall for over a century.

Production

Made from a wheat based neutral grain spirit in which the botanicals are steeped overnight prior to distillation. This takes place in a wood fired 250-liter copper pot still named Tamara, goddess of rivers & streams, and with the River Tamar not far from the distillery it seems very apt. The distillation runs across a period of around 8 hours, with each one-shot batch only producing around 220 bottles. Once distillation has been completed the spirit is left to rest for up to 7 days in steel drums before being diluted to bottling strength using Cornish spring water.

This spring water comes from a source in nearby Boscastle, a naturally sweet liquid created by rainfall reaching the coast having traveled 2,000-miles across the Atlantic. The water is in fact bottled in it’s own right under the brand name “Meadowsweet Natural Springwater”. Each bottle of Tarquin’s Gin is filled, corked, sealed, labeled, numbered and wax sealed by hand.

The Gin is presented in a clear champagne wine style bottle with labeling created by design agency Kingdom & Sparrow. The black label wraps around the whole body of the bottle and is accented with silver colored text with graphic design elements and light blue accent coloring (matching the color of the wax seal). Above the Gin’s name is an image of a flying puffin, a bird in dwindling numbers, found to breed off of the NE coast of Coast of Cornwall between Padstow and Boscastle.

Category

New Western Dry/London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

42% (84 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$$$. Not available in the USA but it can be purchased online from Master of Malt in the UK (expect to pay about 40% extra for shipping).

Botanicals

Uses 12 botanicals including: bitter almond (Morocco), angelica root (Poland), green cardamom (Guatemala), cinnamon (Madagascar), coriander seeds (Bulgaria), grapefruit (fresh), juniper berries (Kosovo), lemon (fresh), liquorice root (Uzbekistan), orange (sweet & fresh), orris root (Morocco) and violet leaves (Devon, UK – from Tarquin’s parent’s garden).

Name

Named after the first name of the founder and Head Distiller, Tarquin Leadbetter.

Tasting Notes

On the nose are piney juniper, spice (cardamom) and floral citrus (orange and violet leaf) with a faint nuttiness (almond). On the palate this soft-bodied and lightly sweet tasting spirit has good earthy juniper and fresh lemon (coriander) with warming spicy citrus (orange), fresh herbaceous and green floral (violet leaf) notes. On the close this continues, with a little more spice and sweetness, and with a light drying finish. This is a quietly strong Gin, with some complexity, that purposefully creeps up on all your senses.

While billed as a London Dry it has more of a contemporary feel to it and is not unlike the subtleness found in Plymouth Gin, from nearby Black Friars Distillery. Some ardent Gin lovers will find this lack of juniper bite not to their liking. However, we found it easy to drink neat due to its smoothness, soft mellowness and slightly sweet taste – be careful the glass is not empty before you know it! It also makes a nice Gin and Tonic, where Thomas Henry tonic water and a lime slice seem to be the better options. We liked it best in a Martini as it works well with the herbal qualities of the Vermouth, especially when supported by a lemon twist garnish. Although not tried by us, we suspect this will make a good Negroni too. Some longer drinks may overpower this Gin, so it may not be the best choice for all cocktails, but it’s ability to stand proud in the stable classics makes up for this. An interesting thought: Gin is usually recognized as a pre-dinner drink but this particular Gin would be at home as an elegant post-dinner drink.

Overall this is a surprising Gin, particularly given the limited knowledge and experience Tarquin Leadbetter had before embarking on this adventure. He has managed to produce a well balanced, softly spoken but intelligent Gin of depth – something even experienced people in the industry struggle to make. Well done Tarquin, we look forward to your continuing success.

Awards & Accolades

Silver Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2014.

Silver Medal, Taste of the West Awards, 2013.



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