Gonzalez-Byass UK Ltd.,
St. Albans, Herts. (made by Timbermill Distillery,
Thames Distillers Ltd., Clapham, London), England, UK.
(and Jerez, Spain). Imported into the USA by Vin Divino Ltd., Chicago,
Illinois - a subsidiary of
The company was established in 1835 by
Manuel Maria Gonzalez Angel when be bought a small winery in Jerez, Spain. By
1855 the business had grown and he associated with his Agent in England, Mr.
Robert Blake Byass, to create Gonzalez-Byass. Since this time the company has
expanded it’s wine/cellars business and produce Sherry and distilled spirits
including Brandy, Anisette, Vodka and Gin. The Byass family withdrew from the
business in 1998 and 4th & 5th generation Gonzalez descendents
still continue to run the business today. If in Spain, why not visit one of
their four wineries, they are among the most visited in Europe.
Thames Distillers is run by Charles Maxwell who is the 8th generation of the family (founders of the Finsbury Distillery) who have been producing Gin since 1700 – making them the oldest unbroken lineage in Gin distillation.
This Gin was first released in 2005/6 across the UK and Spain, with a slow but steady exposure in these markets. Following significant growth of 250% since 2011, it is now gaining a limited but developing distribution into other countries worldwide, including the US (New York & Florida) since spring 2014.
Corn grain from the English counties of
Suffolk and Norfolk are quadruple distilled in a small batch process, in a
traditional pot still. The resultant distillate is rested for 3 weeks before
being brought down to bottling strength using (we believe) natural spring water
from Clerkenwell, London.
This pale turquoise blue colored Gin (from the gardenia) is presented in a squat cylindrical clear glass bottle with rounded shoulders. There is a thin strip of black and light blue colored label just below the shoulders of the bottle.
Distilled Dry Gin.
47% (94 Proof).
$$$$ - $$$$$. Not quite yet available in
the USA but can be purchased online from Master of Malt in the UK, just be
prepared to add another 40% for shipping.
Uses 13 botanicals including: almond
(Greece), angelica root (France), bergamot (Italy), cassia bark (China), cinnamon
(Ceylon), coriander (Morocco), gardenia, juniper berries (Croatia), lemon peel
(Italy), liquorice (Turkey), orange peel (Italy), orris root (Italy) and savory
Although called “The London No.1 Gin” (and the fact that it is made in London)
it cannot call itself a London Dry Gin. This is because under European Law if
any elements are added following the final distillation (and in this case it is
coloured blue by maceration with gardenia flowers, plus some bergamot oil is added
afterwards) it may not be called a London Dry Gin – thus the play on the name
to emphasize it’s London roots. However, the reference may date back to Arthur
Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, renowned for defeating the French
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. In the 1770’s, Apsley House, the Duke’s London home
was built. Given its prime location on the South East corner of Hyde Park, in
the center of London, people began referring to it as No.1 London.
On the nose is smoky earl grey tea
(bergamot, probably the oil) and pine (juniper) with citric, spicy (coriander)
and floral (violet) notes. Many people have identified balsamic style aromas
but we must confess this was lost on us. On the palate this medium-bodied
creamy spirit is soft in showing gentle but prominent juniper with pleasing
amounts of citrus (lemon and orange peel), sweet spicy cinnamon and herbal
savory. On the long finish is a sweet (liquorice) peppery spice with a clear
acidic and strong astringent ending plus traces of a light herbal note to be
found. A brilliant example of a complex and sophisticated, well constructed and
expertly balanced Gin.
This is a wonderful standard of classic London Dry Gin (although technically it’s not), which has managed to expertly pull off modern updates by using the blue coloration (from the gardenia) and great balanced flavor using light amounts of bergamot. This is the man (or rather Gin) for all seasons due to being liked by many and its compatibility in a wide range of Gin based drinks. Although the blue color may not mix so well with other colored spirits and for some the color may take some getting used to, its worth it).
This silky Gin is certainly smooth enough for sipping neat, with a little too much flavor for some, which can be somewhat improved on the rocks with a slice of grapefruit! However a wet Martini or Gin & Tonic are better options - certainly both are above average - with the blue color providing an interesting conversation piece too. We tried this Gin in a variety of mixed drinks and it quickly made its mark, becoming the go to base for Gin cocktails. For us our favorite choice with this Gin is for a G&T as it is quite sublime, and found the choice of garnish significant in its impact. One option is to simply use lime zest, while another is to use a lemon slice with juniper berries and a bay leaf, the best was oddly enough chopped strawberries – with the fruitiness and acidity playing well together. Although not tried by us (yet) it has peaked our interest to think of using Nordic Mist Blue Tonic Water (if you can get some, e.g. if in Spain) to intensify the blue color!
Overall the extra expense for this Gin, compared with most, is worth it. The blue color is a novelty (although we believe it does impact upon the flavor of the Gin), but the real reason for seeking and finding this Gin is purely for its quality, taste and versatility – go get a bottle today!
Points, Beverage Testing Institute.
Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2014.
Bronze Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2014.
Gold Medal, Gin Masters, 2013.
Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2013.
Silver Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2013.
Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2012.
Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2008.