There’s something interesting happening in Northumberland. Something high-tech, and juniper flavoured.
It’s here that Nick Strangeway and chef Valentine Warner have been making a gin, joined by Cairbry Hill. And not just any gin. For one thing, it uses a process involving ‘supercritical CO2’, a highly efficient way of extracting flavour, for its juniper berries from Macedonia. But the estate where the gin’s being made has its own supply of juniper too, so the team is incorporating a distillate of local green juniper berries, made in a rotovap. That same rotovap gets used again to make distillates from Douglas fir, bog myrtle, Amalfi lemon peel, lovage and blackcurrant leaf. These are blended together with a traditional gin base made in a pot-still.
The result is Hepple Gin, named after the local village. According to the label, it’s a ‘gin in high fidelity’, and we’re inclined to agree. All of those many components are distinct, resulting in a harmonious yet powerful whole. Juniper, appearing in its two forms, makes its presence felt throughout the nose and palate, accompanied by fresh pine and deeper woody, spicy notes. But the most distinctive element here is the almost-sweet, full, rounded mouthfeel. That freshness gives it plenty of presence in a G&T, but the mouthfeel comes into its own in a Martini, with a savoury note emerging on the palate.
Expect to see some bottles by mid-September, bottled at 45% and going for about £35/70cl RRP.