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Gin Explosion - 2

Gin Explosion 2

When a friend politely asked if she could have some help shifting a bit of equipment for their new garage distillery I, with a natural interest in these kinds of shenanigans, jumped at the chance.

It was only later as I struggled under the weight of a 250 litre copper still, trying to move it inches closer to its desired location whilst some uncomfortable metallic fitting lodged itself firmly between my botanicals that couple of things occurred to me.

Firstly, that any small slip would probably lead to serious damage to both equipment and quite possibly friendship, but secondly how far Gin has come, even in a single year. It was only 2017 when I wrote about the Gin Explosion. Back then we boasted a selection of thirty-three Gins. It has since trippled.

Then, as now, it feels normal to relate the rise of the micro -distillery to the micro-brewery and in one sense there is a relationship. Both display a natural, if perhaps unconscious, reaction or distraction to the socio-political atmosphere of the present. The kind of reaction that harks back to other artistic movements and their beginnings. The Angry Young Men of the theatre of the 50's, Rock and Roll and of course Punk. It all sits happily in line with the current vogue of eating and drinking local seasonal produce. We are blessed by having access to great local food and drink, so that we may finally say a firm no to all the crap. But there comparison between the two movements finishes.

For even I, the least scientific of minds, was able to pick up a brewing manual and can now produce ale that is, for the most part, of drinkable quality. Beer also tends to look like beer no matter what you shove in it and even the fickle mistress that is wine can be tackled with reasonable success by the amateur and looks like the juice of the grape that it is produced from.

But, there is something so much more compelling and mystical about the art of distilling, almost akin to alchemy. Gin looks like water but its great secret lies in what lurks beneath this innocent façade, for its components are often some of the most expensive spices money can buy. I cannot pick up a manual and distill, it requires serious kit, a proper grown up license and rightly so as it can go explosively wrong. Being privy to the development of a new Gin (Sussex newcomer Generation 11 will be launching from it's garage in North Chailey this spring) I have also seen how complex it is to achieve the desired flavour and aroma from your chosen ingredients. Then, at the end of it all you have to finally bend over for the taxman.

Making Gin, like any art form, requires dedication, passion and a fair dollop of madness. A massive Thanks to all of you who suffer, so that the rest of us can enjoy.


A couple of stylistically and geographically very different Gins well worth trying:

Brighton Gin, Sussex, England £39.99 Made by a small team of fanatics in Brighton in tiny quantities with fresh juniper, orange peel, angelica, lime, milk thistle and other locally sourced organic spices. Nothing wild in here, proving that a classic Gin can still be a great Gin.

Nikka Coffey Gin, Japan £49.99 No, not coffee, but 'Coffey' named after a traditional continuous still which produces Nikka's signature grain whiskies, giving this Gin a silky texture and rich body. Complex aromas of Japanese citrus such as Yuzu, Kabosu and Amanatsu. A gentle spank of Japanese Sansho Pepper on the finish. Different.

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