It's not long until St David's Day so we thought we'd celebrate a few magnificent gins from the valleys. They know what they're doing in Wales, with local botanicals and experimental flavours, take the plunge into the delicious, occasionally eccentric world of Welsh gin, mmmmm...
Wales knows how to distil great spirits. Since the middle ages Chwisgi (whisky in old welsh) was made in homes and businesses across the country! Welsh distilling had a bit of a dip in the 20th century following the economic slump and a temperance movement. But you can’t keep quality down, in 1990 the first new distillery opened the floodgates and this time gin led the way.
Dà Mhìle (pronounced da-vee-lay) got its start in Scotland in 1992, when John Savage-Onstwedder, commissioned a distillery there to create a brand new whisky that celebrated the new millennium. The name - Dà Mhìle, is gaelic for two thousand and the whisky became the first organic one made in the UK.
Dà Mhìle whisky picked up a cult following and John applied for his own distiller’s license. The new Dà Mhìle distillery in Wales took until 2013 to finally clear the legal hoopla and immediately set about creating amazing organic whiskies. However, whisky takes 8-10 years to mature...
Enter Dà Mhìle Botanical Gin, one of the only certified organic gins produced in the UK. Made from 20 botanicals ranging from juniper and coriander to the more exotic rose petals and star anise. John even added a few botanicals from his own farm, including chamomile and elderflower, to give gorgeous floral notes.
Dà Mhìle Botanical has a sweet and spicy nose with strong cardamom and sage plus, more subtly, the rose petals. Following the nose is a big burst of refreshing citrus then herbal and piney flavours on the finish. Botanical truly has all the flavours of the Welsh forests and countryside.
Next up is Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin. Seaweed you say?! Yes and it works! Inspired by that traditional Welsh favourite, laverbread, Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin is certainly not your typical London Dry but it is a must try for gin lovers. Floral on the nose followed by a lemon, thyme, fennel and pepper. The seaweed adds a herbal aroma, plus a slight saltiness. These flavours all blend beautifully with prominent juniper.
Really rich, in terms of depth of flavour, but surprisingly light on the finish Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin has more than succeeded in becoming the perfect gin to pair with fish. If you prefer your gins on the savoury side, this is the G&T for you.
Oh, and it launched on St David’s Day in 2014, so happy 4th birthday!
The next gin producer to come out of Wales is also the strangest, and considering Dà Mhìle makes gin from seaweed that’s saying something. Eccentric Gins more than live up to their name with a range of really distinct gins that embrace the new styles, flavours and huge potential of what a gin can be.
Hailing from Llantrisant (and featuring one of the famous Freemen of Llantrisant on the team) Eccentric Gins are based in the cellar of a 200 year old building and use a natural spring that runs within the stone walls of the wash room to help distil their gin. They claim William Price, an infamous 19th century doctor, druid and eccentric as their inspiration.
Madam Geneva is Eccentric’s most classic gin, a well balanced London Dry, juniper forward with citrus and just a touch of liquorice. There are also subtle floral and sweet characters created by the duo of meadowsweet and wild sunflower.
In contrast New Western Limbeck is definitely a gin in the new style. Juniper takes a firm backseat to the heady mix of blue ginger and citrus. Seville orange, tarragon and orris make for a gently aromatic and warming drink. Limbeck is also rested in recycled, French burgundy oak casks which lend a peach colour and a smooth mouthfeel.
Young Tom is Eccentric’s modern twist on an ‘Old Tom’ - an older gin style with a sweeter, spicier flavour than classic gins. Young Tom is a startlingly fresh, malty gin with a soft, sherbert-like sweetness. Made using a base of IPA, refined to a clean aromatic distillate and then rested for 6 weeks to truly develop its flavours. Enjoy a sweet, floral flavour, beautifully lifted by fennel and star anise for a strong aniseed presence.
A Gin Festival exclusive, Eccentric Gin's Operation Citrus Overload is as powerfully citrusy as its name suggests! Distilled with a fabulous range of citrus (coriander seeds, lemon, orange and grapefruit) as well as meadowsweet and sunflower root. Citrus Overload is a bright and bold gin with sherbert undertones and a soft, sweet finish.
These are the just a few of the gins hailing from hills and valleys of Cymru and we know there are many more Welsh gins to come. Until then, Dà Mhìle and Eccentric have given us fabulous spirits with a strong focus on quality ingredients and representing Welsh history in a glass.
Hapus Dydd Gŵyl Dewi (Happy St David’s Day), lloniannau!
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