The Urban Small-Batch Distillery
“We both felt so welcome and had a brilliant afternoon tasting, learning and laughing.”
Myself and good friend Andrew aka The Gin Den headed to Hove to meet the lovely couple who distil a handful of gins (plus some other interesting spirits!) Inger on the left is the Biologist and Ian is the Chemist. Hence the gin names!
They’ve acquired the perfect spot on Montgomery Street in Poets Corner, Hove, which is just the right size for their still, bottles, botanicals and of course… a bed for Juniper! They’ve also got a handy storage room out the back.
So with a very warm welcome from Ian and Inger we started out with a G&T, perfect! The biologist (my personal favourite as a citrus lover), which contains the following botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Orris root, Gorse flower, Chamomile, Grapefruit zest, Cinnamon and Sweet Orange peel, served with Folkingtons Tonic Water, which is local to the area and a citrus slice. As well as bold citrus, the biologist has floral notes and a spicy finish.
We then moved on to The Chemist, which contains the following botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Orris root, Angelica root, Gorse, Chamomile, Liquorice, Lemon and Sweet Orange. There is still a strong element of citrus in this gin, amongst earthy notes and liquorice sweetness. It makes a mean martini if you’re feeling bold!
The last of their core range to try was the Gin of Paradise which celebrates the well known gin botanical, grains of paradise, as well as Juniper, Coriander, Sweet Almonds (providing body and sweetness), Lemon peel and Orris root. The grains enhance all of the botanicals really well and add citrus and peppery notes. We tried this with Indian tonic water, but its also great with aromatic tonic.
Then we tried the Christmas Gin! I know what you’re thinking… its not December, but honestly this festive gin is one of a kind. First launched in 2018, it’s been quite the hit. The botanicals include plenty of sweet and bitter orange, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander and allspice. Think mulled wine, Christmas pudding/cake and bright orange. Just marvellous!
Other Spirits. What’s all this about? Isn’t this a gin blog? Well, many distilleries are now branching out into new spirits and I am LOVING it!
Cold-Brew Coffee Liqueur. Ian and Inger paired up with the local coffee experts at 44 Poets Speciality Coffee to find the perfect ethically sourced coffee, and identify the perfect extraction process for this smooth liqueur. The beans are roasted by Craft House Coffee (based locally in Sussex). The beans are ground and brewed for 20 hours. Finally, the beans are distilled in a British wheat spirit and Demerara sugar syrup. The result? An insanely smooth, delicate, luxurious rich liqueur, without the bitter coffee taste. I love this simply neat over ice or with vodka, egg whites and sugar syrup- yum!
Limoncello. The zest from hand-peeled organic lemons are slowly steeped in a British wheat spirit to release the delicious essential oils. Sugar and pure water is then added to meet with the perfect bittersweet balance. The last time I tried limoncello was on the Amalfi Coast and it really was dreadful (shocking first experience, especially so in Italy), but I was pleasantly surprised with Ian and Ingar’s take on it!
Then something amazing happened… Ian and Inger revealed their latest idea, oak-aged gin and we got to sample them! We did a blind tasting and revealed our favourites in order. Funny enough, we all landed on the same numbers for our top two. They were divine, rich and caramelised with vanilla notes. Gorgeous on ice or in the right cocktail.
What’s next? Well, Ian and Inger have got their 2020 sloe gin infusing away to add to their already diverse and exciting range. It’ll be ready for Christmas time this year and I’ll definitely be getting myself a bottle along with the oak-aged when it appears. Watch this space!
Above all, these two are some of the most friendly, down to earth and knowledgeable distillers I have met. We both felt so welcome and had a brilliant afternoon tasting, learning and laughing. They are certainly not afraid to experiment and I am excited to see what else is to come!