With Scotland and England so well represented in the gin market it’s great to see some amazing Welsh distilleries emerge onto the scene. To celebrate this, I recently held a masterclass at the London Welsh Centre in Kings Cross to showcase distilleries from all corners of Wales. Each distillery has its own very unique style and there are some incredible gins being produced so next time you’re looking for something a little different don’t be afraid to look to Wales for the answer.
We started the journey in the Vale of Glamorgan with the Eccentric Gin Company (http://www.eccentricgin.com/), in total they produce 5 gins and we were lucky to sample 3 of them, (Dewi Sant, Cardiff Dry and Limbeck). The Limbeck disappointed a little, for me it was very unbalanced and it was hard to profile the flavour. The Dewi Sant proved to be very popular with its big citrus kick but for me it was the Cardiff Dry that stood out, heavy on liquorice and fennel this gin pairs well with either a ginger ale or a premium Indian Tonic, match both with a thick slice of orange and a sprig of rosemary and you have a great gin that can be drunk throughout the seasons.
We then travelled west to Brecon to sample Brecon Botanicals gin by Penderyn Distillery (http://penderyn.wales/brecon-gin/). This is Wales’ oldest distillery and their experience shows in the quality of the spirit, for a price tag of £18 you won’t find many better gins. This was paired with Schweppes 1783 cucumber tonic & a slice of cucumber for a very refreshing drink, perfect for balmy summer evenings.
From the oldest distillery to the newest, next on the list was a newcomer to the market, The Gower Gin Company (https://www.thegowergincompany.wales/). Andrew and Sian Brooks have created an incredible gin using black and gold fennel foraged from the coastline around Port Eynon and the striking navy and white striped bottle with embossed copper (a nod to the copper industry that once flourished in Swansea) ensures it stands out on the shelf as much as it does in the glass. Andrew recommends blood orange as a perfect garnish so next year I’ll be sure too dehydrate a few when they’re in season but for now I’m pairing with a slice of pink grapefruit to bring out the fresh citrus tones or even better drinking it in a very dry martini. This gin is my favourite discovery of 2018; get your hands on a bottle, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Further west we headed back inland to Llandysul and the remote (after a visit I can attest to this) distillery of Da Mhile (http://www.damhile.co.uk/). Based on a working farm the owner had already diversified into making cheese before deciding he wanted to make his own whisky, after commissioning a Scottish distillery to make a few barrels he decided to apply for his own licence. Da Mhile now distil 4 gins alongside whisky and liqueurs of which we tried the Seaweed, Botanical and Oak Aged versions. The seaweed gin is fantastic and is a great example of how unusual flavours can be used in gin, a perfect aperitif! The Botanical gin has an undertone of peppermint, I garnish with rose petals & mix with Fever Tree Mediterranean to bring out some of the more floral notes but alternatively you could garnish with elderflower tonic and mint. The Oak aged is certainly interesting and is best sipped over ice as a digestif.
To complete the journey we headed North to Snowdonia, here Aber Falls (https://www.aberfallsdistillery.com/en/) are creating some very lovely flavoured gin. As someone who doesn’t have a very sweet tooth I was a little apprehensive when opening the Rhubarb & Ginger and Orange Marmalade bottles, but I was pleasantly surprised. The Rhubarb and Ginger was tart with a little heat from the ginger and there was a still a hint of juniper present which I loved, having tried quite a few different Rhubarb and Ginger gins over the last few months this is definitely my favourite but it was the Orange Marmalade that really stole the show. Sweet, but not sickly it’s a perfect match for Tailored Tonic ‘Citrus Sweet’ or as a digestif over ice. The Welsh Dry made a perfectly drinkable G&T and I’m certainly excited to see what else they can produce in the near future.
I head back to the Welsh Centre on the 15th August where I’ll be showcasing more Welsh gin and I for one can’t wait to discover what else is out there! To join me, book your tickets here http://www.londonwelsh.org/tickets/