As mentioned in previous articles of late, England is on a role in the gin category, with many a distillery popping up in the past few years to showcase there brand to the gin-loving public. One of these distilleries is the City of London Distillery (or COLD for short), and have done things a little differently than the rest.
How different though?
Well first of all, the site of the City of London Distillery is not where you’d expect it to be located. Amongst Bride Lane near Blackfriars is a basement. A basement that holds both a distillery AND a fully functioning bar. And separating the two? Windows. So you can have a drink whilst watching Master Distiller Jamie Baxter hard at work to create his citrus based gin. Impressive to think that behind you is the gin that you’re drinking being created. I’ve always said to people that if you ever get the chance to go to a distillery, take in everything you see. It puts everything into perspective of the spirits you enjoy, and it’s very rare to come across one that has a bar so close to the action.
Jamie got himself into the business of City of London Distillery after meeting venue owner Jonathan Clark back in April 2012, who had an idea of creating a venue in which the story of gin could be told from beginning to end. With Jamie’s expertise (he established Chase distillery) and Jonathan’s vision, they set to work over the next seven months to renovate the basement and fit the two stills inside, thus making it the first distillery in the City of London for more than 200 years. The two stills house and create two different spirits – vodka and gin. The neutral spirit is bought in from an outside source (as with most other producers), but Jamie is on hand to create a rectified vodka, and then using the vodka as a base, the now available City of London dry gin. 15th November of 2012 saw the first time that Jamie was able to start his distillation process, despite the bar being open to the public before-hand for a few hours a day.
Jamie and Jonathan recruited the London Bar Consultants to run the gin-heavy bar, with a range of tonics and garnishes it’s a great chance to explore the gin category. A cocktail menu of gin cocktails is available, alongside a couple of non-gin based creations to cater for all.
The City of London dry gin itself has seven botanicals – juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, liquorice root, fresh orange, fresh lemon and pink grapefruit. But how do they fare when housed within Jamie’s creation? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
City of London Dry – 40%
Lots of flavours on the nose, with citrus, dry herbs and liquorice most noticeable. The palate enjoys a spicy start, with a sharp, bold, rich flavour of liquorice and grapefruit zest. Develops a long, warm finish, that’s slightly dry. A cracking gin to enjoy on its own.
City of London dry gin is a great addition to any experience in your favourite bar. Expect to find this in not only the gin palaces, but in the more broader ranges of back-bars, or even in your own drinks cabinet. Jamie and Jonathan have done an excellent job in not only turning around a former comedy club in 7 months, virtually by hand, but creating and winning rave reviews for their small-batch brand. I can’t see this going away any time soon.
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