Small Batch Highland Dry Gin
Having a well-stocked gin cabinet is like having lots of friends, all of them different and for different moods and occasions. Ok, so my gin cabinet already has a lot of ‘friends’. But let’s pretend that it’s empty and that I’m starting from scratch. I thought it would be fun over the next few months to build up my ideal gin cabinet.
As it is Burn’s Night I thought it would be apt to start with a review of Crossbill Gin, a truly Scottish gin. I love the flavour of juniper and wanted a juniper-forward gin as my anchor gin for the cabinet. Crossbill Gin, named after the bird also native to the Highlands, is a small batch dry gin distilled in the slightly less romantic Glasgow, uniquely distilled from Scottish juniper and rosehip.
Its founder, ginsmith Jonathan Engels, wanted to revive the age-old tradition of using Scottish juniper to make gin. In the 18th Century Scotland exported juniper to Holland for the production of Jenever. With help from the Forestry Commission and Plantlife.org Jonathan has turned this full circle and created a gin made from 100% Scottish juniper berries. He has also created Sumac gin and Pineapple gin liqueur but Crossbill Gin is the original.
I like the simplicity of the bottle. It’s chunky and good to hold and pour. The red of the crossbill bird really stands out on a gin shelf. And I like the wording:
Handcrafted dry gin with fresh Highland Juniper, Rosehip and crystal clear Speyside water
How tempting is that?! Quick where’s my glass?!
Stick your hooter in a Copa glass of Crossbill and you would expect, as there are only two botanicals (yes two!), a real punch of juniper. The pine notes of juniper are there but skillfully balanced by the earthy sweetness of rosehip. I must admit I was a tad disappointed. I was hoping for a Glasgow kiss of juniper. But on second thoughts thankfully the aroma is more subtle and intriguing than that.
This is a gentle, quiet gin: the deep thinking introvert among your friends. One for those thoughtful, mellow moods when you want to sit by a fireside and reminisce with a similarly minded friend. It is not a gin for large gatherings. You need to take your time with it.
The mouthfeel is soft, full-bodied, almost sensual. The taste is simple and uncomplicated without being flat: juniper and rosehip, rosehip and juniper. There is no noisy vying for your attention by a party of botanicals. This gin is proof that less is definitely more. A most satisfying drink.
As a juniper-forward anchor for my gin cabinet, it isn’t quite there. But as a ‘friend’ it is more than welcome and a great start to the cabinet.
Tricky. This is really a sipping gin. Tonic, for me, upsets the delicate balance between the juniper and rosehip. A splash of water perhaps?
Purists will hate this, but a dash of lemonade compliments the sweetness of the rosehip if you’re feeling in a sweet kind of mood. Of course, if you have a favourite mixer to go with this gin then do tell. No need on this occasion for a garnish.