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Testbed 1 Gin


Darren Rook and Nick Taylor of The London Distillery Company Ltd., Battersea, London, England, UK.


The London Distillery Company.


Realized in 2010 and established by Nick Taylor and Darren Rook in 2011; the company finally opened their distillery in 2013, operated by Darren Rook and master distiller Andrew MacLeod Smith.

It is the first whisky distillery to be set up in London since 1903, over a hundred years ago. The distillery has been built in an old Victorian dairy warehouse in Battersea, now a creative area known as the Testbed 1 arts space. This is their first trial Gin, released in 2012, before the distillery formally opened.

Distillery Tours are available for a fee by prior booking, see their website for details.


The company we are pleased to say has a green eco-friendly approach. They are trying to ensure all energy used on site is hydrocarbon free by 2015; and currently they recover heat from the stills and reutilise it elsewhere. All ingredients used are organic and sourced as close to the distillery as possible.

Andrew MacLeod Smith devised this Gin as part of his Masters degree course in Brewing and Distilling, gained from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. As part of his studies he spent time in Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery, New York, USA. The Gin is made at Warwick Valley before being developed and bottled in the UK, at The London Distillery Company.

The spirit is presented as a boxed set of four 10cl bottles numbered 1.1 through to 1.4, devised to demonstrate the development of Gin. It is billed as a new category of Gin (Anglo-American Gin) building from a traditional London Dry Gin and progressing to New Western Dry Gins, by varying the quantities of the botanicals used. The graphic design for the package is produced by London based artist Jasmin Ford.

This is a limited edition of only 2,000 packs, so once gone there will be no more!


New Western Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

47% (94 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$$$$$ - $$$$$$$$$. Not available in the USA, try Master of Malt in the UK but prepare to pay an additional 50% for shipping.


1.1 contains 6 botanicals: angelica root, bilberries, coriander seeds, grapefruit peel (pink), juniper berries and tea (Earl Grey). 

1.2 contains 7 botanicals: bergamot oil, bilberries, coriander seeds, grapefruit peel (pink), juniper berries, liquorice root and lovage root.

1.3 contains 9 botanicals: angelica root, bergamot oil, bilberries, coriander seeds, grapefruit peel (pink), juniper berries, lavender, liquorice root and lovage root.

1.4 contains the same 9 botanicals as 1.3 but in different quantities.


Named after the distilleries location in Battersea, a creative arts center called Testbed 1.

Tasting Notes


On the nose is a general earthiness (angelica) with juniper notes and some smokey aspects. On the palate this sweet spirit has coriander and juniper, followed by jam like fruit (bilberry) and continues with earthy angelica plus dry tannin from the tea. In the close is pine (juniper) and citrus (grapefruit) with a long dry finish. This is the most London Dry style of the Gins.


On the nose is freshness with herbal notes and citrus. On the palate is citrus and very warm spice, followed by the bergamot. The bilberry brings a slight fruity sweetness and the close is dry, warm and spicy in the finish. This is the most spicy of the Gins.


On the nose is floral lavender. On the palate the floral lavender continues with a clear sweet fruit (bilberry) and faint “Gin” flavors in the background (juniper and citrus). In the close is a sweet dryness with hints of nutty earthy spice in the finish. This is the most floral of the Gins.


On the nose is juniper and citrus with faint spice notes. On the palate there is juniper with a complexity making it hard to identify individual aspects, but we could find lavender and bilberry with citrus. The close has juniper, citrus and spice in the finish. This is the most complex, subtle and balanced traditional of the Gins.

The four Gins all have their own characteristics and whilst there is limited variation in the botanicals, you can see how modifying the quantities can create quite different Gins. With a limited amount of refinement to the recipes, each has the ability to become a very nice Gin. Over all this is an interesting journey idea and will be of most use to Gin drinkers wishing to understand more about the spirit, we certainly found it so.

There is a disappointment though: these are not available as finally produced products and we believe they would make good Gins to release properly onto the market. This has increased poignancy since their first Gin, the superb Ralph Dodd’s, has been released (2013) and bears little resemblance to these Testbed Gins (1.3 has some faint spice traits). It seems a shame to have to say goodbye to the Testbed Gins, we hope we may see one of two come back as fully-fledged (if slightly modified) Gins in their own right.

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