Union Distillers Ltd., Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England, UK.
Established in early 2012 by co-owners Mark
Gamble and Lyn Taylor. Mark is an electrical engineer by trade, with a
background in commercial catering equipment design, so it is no surprise to
discover he designed and hand built their 25-liter copper and brass still. The
still is nicknamed “Gerald’s No.1”, or simply “Gerald”, and is the first ever
owner hand built commercial still in the UK. This although is far from a
one-man show, having hired his son to design the branding and his daughter to
co-ordinate the PR. What started out as a small operation, run from a room in
their house, has since summer 2014 been run from a 3,000 sq ft distillery
(producing up to 1,500 bottles per month).
This, their second Gin, was launched in late 2013 and is only available to commercial (on-trade) enterprises. Following the launch of their first Gin they gained feedback and discovered a need in the commercial market for a stronger juniper led Gin, yet not over proof (like many are), and this is the result. Hailed as the world’s first cocktail Gin (and we thought Gin was a cocktail drink!) it is designed for complex drinks with mixers to avoid becoming diluted, while maintaining a suitable level of alcohol (i.e. not overly alcoholic).
Small batches of 100 bottles are produced
from their own hand built copper pot still, known as “Gerald”. Each batch takes
nearly 4 hours to run, using complex electrical controls to determine the
amount of heat at various stages of reflux and resting throughout the process.
The resultant distillate is diluted to bottling strength using natural spring
water from Charnwood Hills (found to the north of Leicester), an area of old
volcanic rock dating back some 600 million years.
The Gin is presented in clear squat cylindrical bottles with curved shoulders. The company logo consists of two birds sitting in a tree and this is used to good effect on their bottles: the tree using organic ink is hand painted on the back while the name “Two Birds” and the image of two birds (one sitting on the middle apex of the “W” and the other standing on the bottom curl of the “S”) are hand painted on the front. The net result is when looking through the bottle the birds appear to be in the tree! The color used for the tree is grey; “Two Birds” is white; and the birds are purple (the color of the birds vary according to the product) – an excellent job by Simon Gamble.
London Dry Gin.
40% (80 Proof).
$$$$ - $$$$$. Not available in the USA, although
for the on-trade you can try online at Master of Malt in the UK (but it is only
available occasionally), but be prepared to add another 50% for shipping.
It is also available direct from Two Birds for shipping within the UK only,
either as a single bottle or in cases of six.
Uses 5 botanicals including juniper berries,
the same as their original Two Birds London Dry Gin, only in different
proportions. The remaining 4 botanicals are unconfirmed but are strongly
believed to be: coriander, citrus peel (probably lemon), orris root with the
remaining one possibly elderflower (although this is not found on the nose or
Two Birds use a tagline of the “Countryside
Spirit” as the botanicals used are natural and seek to capture the “flavors and
character of the great outdoors”. The ancient town of Market Harborough,
established in the early 1200’s, is nestled in an area of beautiful verdant
countryside and this no doubt has provided the inspiration for the product
Two Birds Speciality Cocktail Gin (made by Union Distillers in the UK) should not to be confused with Two Birds Artisian Spirits (in Michigan, USA) who produce Greyling Modern Dry Gin.
Unfortunately we have not had the
opportunity to sample this Gin. However, according to those who have, it is
very similar to the original Two Birds London Dry Gin but with juniper very
much to the fore providing a “heavy juniper punch”. Also, the smoothness is
still there but it seems as if it lacks some of the subtle complexity of its
elder sibling. Saying this tends to infer it is a lesser Gin but by all
accounts this is far from the reality, it does what the creators intended and
makes for a good undiminished Gin in cocktails that would lose other Gins. All
in all, we can’t wait to try this, as it should be a true Gin lover’s drink of
Double Gold Medal, China Wine & Spirits
Double Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2014.