Gin-gle bells, gin-gle bells
Gin-gle all the way ~ to York Gin
Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat and all that. And Christmas ginny gifts are proliferating in the shops and online, proving this year is going to be the battle of the gin gift packs.
I was recently sent one such from the York Gin Company, a triple pack of their gins in cute little sturdy square bottles. An early Christmas present.
If ever a gin distillery was steeped in history, it is the York Gin Company. Indeed they describe their gins as “history in the tasting.”
York was founded in 71AD by the Romans who called the provincial capital Eboracum, meaning yew tree place. While Roman York flourished for three centuries, its remains now lie under the Minster, York is also known for its Viking heritage, the Shambles, its ancient walls and gates, the birthplace of Guy Fawkes, the resting place of Dick Turpin, railways and chocolate and quite a lot of other stuff besides. York oozes history and this historic legacy lives on in spirit in one of the city’s burgeoning enterprises.
Hatching a Plan
How the York Gin Company came about has a Chaucerian feel to it. Four friends ‘hatched’ the idea for a gin in a pub, at least two of them were landlords, another had a taste for fine food and drink. By coincidence, unbeknown to them, a fifth friend was also hatching a plot to produce a York gin.
When they discovered each others’ plans they joined forces and from a standing start in February 2016 (it is entirely self-funded), York Gin Company has produced three excellent quality gins in a very short space of time.
Sadly one of the friends, Jon Farrow, passed away in 2017 before the project was fully realised. York Gin Company now operates with a team of four and is the city’s first gin distillery.
York Gin, a London Dry gin, was launched on the 1st March 2018, earlier this year. Their second expression York Gin Cocoa was launched on 1st August and soon after York Gin Roman Fruit on the 27th August. Four months post-launch of the classic dry York Gin it won a silver medal in Spirits Business masters 2018 and was shortlisted for three awards at the Gin Awards 2018. Phew!
Handmade in York
Recipes are developed in a dinky little copper 2L alembic column still but the gin proper is made in a copper still called Ebor, after the Roman Eboracum. All the gin is hand-made, hand bottled and labelled.
They have nailed the branding and bottle. The label design is a respectful nod to Yorks history with a drawing of the ancient city walls and a black cat called Rutterkin, cats being a symbol of York. Even the font was chosen for its historic credentials being a 17th century ‘Fell’ font. The bottle is a solid no-nonsense square brick.
“After months of experimenting, honing, tasting, discussing and more tasting we perfected our classic recipe that is both smooth and balanced.”
The aroma is definitely juniper and pleasantly so with a citrus and floral edge. The taste is lemon citrus up front with a traditional but not heavy juniper to follow. Cardamom is there but held back and not allowed to dominate, as it so easily could. A faint spiciness adds complexity.
It really is a very good gin served with plain tonic and a twist of lemon zest, nothing more. I enjoyed this gin immensely. It’s flavourful while remaining sophisticated and not getting carried away with the botanicals.
“You can’t compromise on your ingredients if you’re serious about making a beautiful finished product.”
York Gin Cocoa
The York Gin Company collaborated with York Cocoa Works to create a gin distilled with cocoa nibs. And if you are wondering what a cocoa nib is, as I did and had to look it up, it is the heart of the bean with the finest flavour. The gin recipe is the same as the York Dry but with the addition of Peruvian cocoa nibs, distilled not infused.
York Gin Cocoa was a surprise. I was expecting it to be quite nasty. I couldn’t see how chocolate and juniper would happily share a glass together. But I was wrong. The aroma was of chocolate but rich and dry, not cloyingly sweet. The difference was like instant coffee is to barista coffee.
The taste was junipery enough to still taste like gin but combined with a dry cocoa flavour. I served the Cocoa with a light tonic, an orange slice and a cinnamon stick. Well, you need something to poke the orange slice with. It is different and will suit contemporary ginthusiasts more than the juniper brigade but I liked it a lot.
York Gin Roman Fruit
Veni! Vidi! Bibi! I came! I saw! I drank!
Inspired by its Roman heritage, York Gin is the base in which hibiscus, apples, strawberries and berries are all infused to create a rather lovely rich red colour.
The aroma is fruity and floral with a sweet fruity taste to match. This is another contemporary gin that will please those who like their gin juniper-lite. I served it with a Mediterranean tonic, lemon zest twist and fresh raspberry.
It was my least favourite of the gins but that’s no reflection on the quality of the gin and more my personal preference. It was a well-made gin and I liked it overall.
In reading about the history of York and how these gins take reference from such a rich heritage set me wondering what next from the York Gin Company? Are we to expect a Viking inspired gin? Something tells me it won’t be long before a new expression is galloping out of the York Gates.
Many thanks to the York Gin Company for sending me a delightful trio of their gins. This article represents my honest views. And would I buy a bottle? You bet. I’m off to buy the York Gin original, my favourite of the three.
This trio would make a lovely Christmas present, both for a ginthusiast and for someone new to the wonderful world of gin. If you want to find out more click here. It costs £18 plus p&p.
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