Local ginspiration… Hic!
It's World Gin Day, so what better reason to pick up a bottle (or two) of these delicious local tipples? Add tonic, ice and a slice, and relaaaax.
Our favourite holiday (sorry, Santa), it’s World Gin Day (Sat 12 Jun), which seems ample excuse to raid the Muddy drinks trolley pre-5pm. Join the festivities and chuck one of these local tipples in a glass, pronto. Gin stocks running low and not in the mood to brave the supermarket queue? Good news – all these brands deliver (*adds to basket*).
The sartorial standards of our woodland pals, is much higher than mine right now. Berkshire Botanical is the new kid on the Berkshire block. Created by Mr. Gin himself, Johnny Neill (of Marylebone Gin and Whitley Neill fame) installed his pot still ‘Harry’, named after his son, in the Royal Oak pub and created a Berkshire gin based on the flora and fauna found on the 9,000-acre Yattendon Estate. There are three gin in the collecton – the brand new raspberry and rhubarb, aa sloe gin and Berkshire dry.
Dragon Hill – West Berkshire Brewery’s house gin – comes from the small-batch Hawkridge Distillery in Compton. Although Dragon Hill’s not a real place but a homage to the long-gone Dragon pub in Frilsham (the Muddy manor). A premium London Dry, with floral notes of lavender, wild blackcurrant and rose, smoothed with a dash of local honey, it unsurprisingly has a hoppy infusion courtesy of the West Berkshire Brewery. £40 for 70cl.
From an outrageously cool distillery and tasting room in The Newbury Pub, 137 Gin has got industry pros sitting up like meerkats. Four varieties were created – Country Garden, Navy Strength, London Dry and Berkshire Dry – and the awards keep rolling in. The Muddy fave is Country Garden, a blooming marvellous blend of floral botanicals that tastes like summer without a hint of soapiness, thanks to the dry herbal finish. Serve it up with lots of ice, Elderflower tonic and garnish with juniper berries and a sprig of rosemary. £42 for 70cl
Gallop to East Berkshire – Windsor to be exact – and you’ll get your marching orders to try Horse Guards London Dry with its classic combo of juniper, coriander, angelica, orange peel, grapefruit peel and cardamom. Named after the Horse Guards, part of the Household Cavalry (King Charles II’s elite heavies), this award-winning gin is refined, elegant and quintessentially British, and has been crafted to perfection. It’s almost guaranteed to put hairs on your chest and gloss on your hooves. £35 for 70cl. Shop online here.
Highclere Castle Gin launched last summer and was even in the Baftas goody bag. Distilled above an ancient underground water source, Highclere Castle Gin is a traditional London Dry using a blend of botanicals grown on the Highclere Estate – juniper, obvs, with a hint of lavender, lime flower, and orange peel. It’s available online and in selected local Waitrose store – £37.95 for 70cl. Now Carson, be a love a top us up, We’re gasping.
If you know Pinkneys Green near Maidenhead, you’ll know cricket is a big deal around these parts. While we won’t be bowled over by the village’s sporting prowess any time soon, we can enjoy a round of cucumber sarnies and the local tipple, Cricketers Gin. Three of this London Dry gin’s botanicals can be found on its doorstep – Wild Marjoram, Milk Thistle and Blackberries – which are then balanced with orange, spicy coriander and a hint of liquorice. Hop over to the website and shop til you drop, £37 for 75cl.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m cheating a bit with this one. Marylebone Gin is actually distilled in London, but it is another premium gin from Berkshire gin leader Johny Neill’s drinks cabinet. And drumroll please, the Marylebone Orange and Geranium Gin’s just been crowned the World’s Best Flavoured Gin at the World Gin Awards 2020. Crossing county lines for the best of the best, I think we’ll allow it.
BREAK FOR THE BORDERS…
Go west, and slam the breaks on in Marlborough for Ramsbury Singel Estate Gin. Even you trying to reduce your booze miles, then you’ll love Ramsbury’s sustainable approach – they grow their own wheat for their gin (and can even tell you which field a batch was grown) and its defining Quince botanical is grown next to the estate lake. Then there’s all the other eco wizardry – copper stills heated by a biomass boiler fed by their own sustainable woodland, spent grains feed the farm animals and the waste water is cleaned by a wildlife-friendly reed bed system which then feeds into our lake. Leaving just a teeny tiny footprint.
Cross Stream Gin
Can we claim Marlow as on us? I think Muddy Bucks & Oxon would put up quite a fight, but that doesn’t mean we can’t tickle our tastebuds with a Marlow-produced gin. Cross Stream Distillery is owned by husband and wife team Charles and Chloe and they have created a London Dry Gin that packs a good punch of citrus and a subtle hint of spice. Best served with lots of ice, premium Indian Tonic Water and a slice of pink grapefruit – £45 for 70cl.
GOLD! The World Gin Awards 2020 has been handing out the gold medals and The River Test Distillery’s silky smoother Mayfly Gin claimed the top prize. Distilled on the banks of Hampshire’s River Test (famous for its fly fishing) this silky smooth, London Dry is made using pure chalk-filtered water that comes from the aquifer feeding into the river. It’s no wonder JR Hartley lost his copy of Fly Fishing, he was probably drinking this all day.
Bombay Sapphire, Laverstoke Mill
Stagger 14 miles into Hampshire and you’ll come across the beautiful Bombay Sapphire Distillery. Bombay Sapphire remains a family business despite its global fame and the iconic blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire, has been distilled in Laverstoke Mill, Whitchurch, since 2011. The gin’s look conjures up images of faraway lands and the flavour has hints of the 10 botanicals contained within. With 40% ABV and costing around £27.50 for a litre it’s a great value option.
Literally within staggering distance of the Berkshire border is Mr Hobb’s Gin… just the thorny issue of the river. Hobbs of Henley, better known for its boat business, jumped on the gin bandwagon in 2017. Taking a family recipe that dated back to 1870, created by the late, great Harry Hobbs (a bon viveur), Jonnie and Suzy Hobbs took five of the original botanicals and added Lime Flower and Lemon Peel to give it a citrus twist, the 7th is top secret. Beginning with fragrant floral notes and soft marshmallow, zesty citrus adds clarity and bite amongst savoury juniper and sharp Orris root. They’ve since added Raspberry & Elderflower and Rhubarb & Ginger to the line-up.