As a gin lover the one question everybody asks me is ‘what is your favourite gin’, to which my answer has remained consistent ever since I took my first sip of this incredible drink at the The Ferry Inn on the Isle of Skye almost two years ago. The answer, Isle of Harris.
Isle of Harris gin is produced on the Hebridean Island by the Isle of Harris Distillery which opened September 2015. The distillery is the first commercial distillery on the island and is the brainchild of Anderson Bakewell. Anderson has had an connection with the island since the 1960s and wanted to create a social distillery to bolster the economy and create jobs for local people encouraging them to stay on the island which was suffering from population decline. The distillery aims to produce 300,000 bottles of single malt whisky a year alongside the gin, the first of which will be ready sometime during 2019.
So, what does the gin taste like? Well, it tastes like no other gin you have tried before! On the nose the juniper comes to the fore and at first it smells like a very classic gin but the party really starts after a little of water is added. Here a gentle hint of liquorice comes out and the scent of the sea comes alive. To taste the gin is extremely well balanced with a long off dry finish, there’s a hint of spice from the cubebs, pineyness from the juniper, a tart citrus from the orange peel, a hint of sweetness from the liquorice and finally the sugar kelp brings a herbal note that transports you immediately to the coast.
For me, Isle of Harris makes a killer martini but go easy on the vermouth as the gin has a hint of sweetness from the sugar kelp & liquorice but how does it stack up in a G&T? Initially my perfect serve was Franklin & Sons Naturally Light with a slice of pink grapefruit, but alas my local Sainsbury’s decided to stop selling it so the hunt was on to find my new signature serve. So which tonic is the perfect match? Having previously tested Fever Tree Indian (2/5), Double Dutch Indian Tonic (3/5) and Tailored Tonic Citrus (3.5/5) I thought I’d add some flavoured tonics into the mix, so today’s line up includes London Essence Rosemary and Grapefruit, BTW, Fever Tree Mediterranean, Fentimans Grapefruit and Tailored Tonic Classic.
First up, London Essence Rosemary and Grapefruit. This is a tonic I have a lot of time for but for once it was too much for the gin, the rosemary overpowered the botanicals and the gin was hard to find over the oiliness of the tonic. Taste: 1/5
Next we have BTW. This tonic is very different to many others on the market, the quinine is very bitter and it has a very unique taste which usually enhances the natutal botanicals but for me this also overpowered the most important notes of the gin resulting in a very ordinary drink. Taste: 2/5
So, onwards to Fever Tree Mediterranean. This tonic is a great match for slightly herbal/citrus gins and has a lower quinine content than other tonics. On the nose the gin was present above the tonic and it didn’t overwhelm the taste at all. I was immediately transported to the coast and the gentle citrus of the tonic balanced the flavours nicely. Taste: 4/5
Next up we have Fentimans Pink Grapefruit. This tonic is very fresh and the grapefruit held onto the botanicals well but for me the combination was far too sweet. Taste: 2.5/5
And finally Tailored Tonic Classic. New to the market this tonic has quickly become a firm favourite in my fridge, it has very clean flavour with a very low sugar content and here it really does allow the gin shine. This tonic lengthens the spirit without diluting it enhancing the complex botanicals, the gentle sweetness and fresh pine notes rush to the fore and the citrus is also present before you detect a little spice on the finish. Taste: 5/5