From beer to genever to gin. Kent may not be the first name to discuss when on the topic of English gin, but taking a look back, it’s had a rather interesting development, culminating in Anno, Kent’s first gin in over 200 years. How did we get to this point though, and what made Kent become a rather focal point within the drinks trade?
Let’s take a look.
Kent itself is more commonly known as the home to the oldest brewery in England, Shepherd Neame. The breweries success was helped by the abundance of hop farming within Kent, with the first hop garden said to have been planted near Canterbury in 1520, and rising to cover 77,000 acres by 1878. Back in 1789 though, a gentleman named George Bishop opened a distillery on Bank Street, Maidstone for the production of Hollands Gin. Despite numerous other distilleries in operation at that time, they produced inferior and low-quality spirits which were of no interest to the buying public. George though had gained the knowledge of creating a high quality gin through working several years in a Dutch genever distillery.
Bringing his insight over to the UK, he took to capitalise on the demand for genever. Parliament had other ideas though, with Excise rules at the time prohibiting the manufacture of genever in the UK. George petitioned against them, claiming that if he were to produce, it would in turn reduce the smuggling of genever as they could instead turn to local produce. Despite heavy opposition, he won and opened his distillery, manufacturing until just after his death in 1819.
Fast forward to 2011 and the founding of micro-distillery Anno by two gentleman Andy and Norman in the small village of Marden. Both coming from a background of being PhD research and development chemists, they now utilise their knowledge to blend what they say is “the science of distillation with the art of spirit production”. Named by merging the Christian names of the co-founders (ANdy and NOrman), and the logo that adorns each bottle tipping a hat to the symbol of distillation within the ancient German Alchemical text.
The still itself, created by the family run company Christian Carl in Germany, is named Patience (so-called due to the fact it took a lot longer than anticipated to craft their first drop of gin), a 300 litre copper pot still. It’s here that Anno is brought to life.
Using neutral grain spirit, a blend of hops, lavenders and flowers alongside Kentish samphire from Romney Marsh (including juniper, coriander, angelica, liquorice, orris root, cubeb, lemon, bitter orange, kaffir lime leaves and cassia) are blended in the still together with Kentish water. The mixture is heated for several hours, with the vapours passing through a botanical basket. In here are handpicked local Kentish botanicals (including camomile, hops, lavender, elderflower, rose hips) which the vapours ultimately capture. Once passed through the rectifier and cooled, it is bottled and transported to your favourite bar.
So a distinctively Kentish feel to Anno then. But the big question, how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Anno – 43%
A good blend of herbs, citrus and a slight juniper on the nose. Fresh aromas dominate. A developing boost of sweet and spice, with citrus and juniper dominating on the palate, before the spice notes of coriander give a kick for a finish. Long, with hints of herbs on the end.
A fantastic unique gin, perfect for gin enthusiasts! Works superb in this classic too –
Kentish Gin and Tonic
50 ml Anno
Top with Premium Tonic Water
Combine over ice the Anno and tonic water. Garnish with a sprig of Kentish samphire.
I can’t personally compare Anno to anything I’ve tried before. It’s unique, you can tell it’s handcrafted and the marriage of the botanicals are evident, yet individual. It’s hard to put into words, but perhaps you and your friends can, it’s definitely worth a try!
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