To name a brand, you think of something quirky, unique, a name that will stand out. Or how about a simple, every day words name that nods back to a pivotal time in the gin history? That’s what Fifty Pounds has done, and bring to light how important this time was in the production of not just Fifty Pounds, but all gin brands.
When William of Orange prohibited the importing of alcohol to England in the early Eighteenth Century, many gin lovers began the production and consumption of domestic English gin,the majority being of dubious quality. Its popularity was such, especially amongst the poor, that gin was distilled and sold in one fifth of all London homes. This excessive and uncontrolled consumption provoked a rapid degradation of society, a period given the name the Gin Craze. In trying to curb this so-called ‘social evil’, the 1736 Gin Act was introduced during the reign of George II, whereby an annual levy of £50 was imposed on those wishing to produce and sell gin. After six years, just two distilleries had agreed to pay this tax.
Shortly after the Gin Act 1736, a family of independent London Distillers came up with an original gin recipe, known ironically amongst themselves as ‘Fifty Pounds’ in honour of the Gin Act levy. The recipe remained hidden for generations, until the descendants of those pioneering master distillers rescued it from oblivion. The specialist traditional methods employed in the creation of the gin means that production is limited, obtaining approximately one thousand bottles from each batch.
Each bottle of Fifty Pounds Gin is presented in an exclusive bottle, with a design inspired by the first gin bottles, known as case gin. Each bottle bears the individual distillation batch number, together with the year that it was distilled.
So what makes Fifty Pounds different to others?
Fifty Pounds Gin is produced in a small distillery named Thames Distillery, located in the south-east of London. The method is carried out in a still manufactured by the legendary John Dore & Co Limited, in which a secret combination of botanicals including juniper berries, coriander seed, grains of paradise, savory, orange & lemon peel, liquorice and angelica root, together with grain spirit (a neutral alcohol, previously distilled four times) is distilled. The resulting distillate is left to settle for no less than three weeks, thus allowing the botanicals’ essentials oils to blend perfectly with the grain spirit. The distiller, Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, has made use of the process used centuries ago, known as Batch Process Distillation, which is the most efficient way of obtaining ‘the finest gin spirit’.
So how does Fifty Pounds fare then? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Fifty Pounds – 43.5%
Clean and fresh on the nose with hints of citrus and juniper. Rather smooth on the palate and develops into a herbal mixture of botanicals near the end. Slightly warming.
A delicate gin to sip straight, and one to go with the simplest of cocktails –
60 ml Fifty Pounds Gin
150 ml Fever Tree tonic
3 mashed raspberries
Combine all the ingredients with ice in a glass and stir.
A versatile gin with an interesting back story. One to watch out for in a bar, and don’t worry, it won’t break the bank if you want one for your own collection!
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.