It’s rare to come across a local gin that makes enough noise to be heard on the other side of the country, but it seems to be the case with Cornwall, led the way by Southwestern Distillers, and now continued by Curio Spirits Company. Heading to the North of England can be a daunting task for any brand who lack, for example, the personnel to consistently appear at the numerous gin festivals that pop up, who themselves are looking further afield to stand out with their brand offerings. It’s down to the power of the liquid then, the image of the brand, and the consistent approach to their values that can really win a crowd over.

With this, lets see what the hype about Curio is all about.

Originating from Mullion in West Cornwall, William and Rubina Tyler-Street have set out to train and work with two master distillers since 2012 to perfect what they believe embodies Cornwall and the natural botanicals that surround them, including the likes of rock samphire and cardamom, creating an air of wonder and curiosity.

December 2014 saw the release of Curio after the investment of two small stills, a rotary evaporator and plenty of experiments. The Rock Samphire gin expression was first to hit the shelves, followed by their Peruvian Cocoa Nib vodka, and lately their Cardamom vodka, all using natural spring water from the Cornish Spring Water Company.


My first taste of Curio see’s the Peruvian Cocoa Nib, a triple distilled vodka that is gently infused with Peruvian Cocoa Nibs and produced in small batches. But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes;

Curio Peruvian Cocoa Nib – 40%

Soft, subtle fresh cocoa with blends of vanilla and fudge on the nose. Slight roasted cocoa nib once upon the palate, with notes of creamy toffee, sweet fudge and a lasting flavour of warm cream.

Although recommended to be served neat, I did come across this;

Curio Chocolate Orange Martini
Curio Chocolate Orange Martini

Glass – 


Ingredients –

25 ml Curio Cocoa Nib Vodka
25 ml Cointreau
2 dashes Fee Brothers Chocolate bitters
2 dashes Fee Brothers Orange bitters

Method –

Pour all ingredients into mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well. Strain in chilled martini cocktail glass. Squeeze oil from orange peel onto the drink.

An impressive flavoured vodka, and it’s grabbed my curiosity to experience the rest of the range. Start your collection today for the drinks cabinet as they’re already looking to expand with plans for a larger distillery in Mullion on the Lizard Peninsular.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.


Twitter Campaign Sees English Craft Spirit Producers Triumph Over Scottish Distillers


· 20,388 votes counted in UK’s first consumer powered craft spirits leaderboard
· 80% of top ten producers based in England
· Vodka producer beats 166 gin brands to the top spot

English distillers have triumphed over Scotland in a recent Twitter campaign.

Over 20,000 votes were cast to create the #HotCraftSpirits Twitter leaderboard where consumers were asked to vote for their favourite small producers. The top ten was dominated by English or Northern Irish producers with Scotland and Wales lagging behind.

The overall winner was a Northamptonshire distiller, Jelley’s Vodka gaining 5,012 votes.
Cornwall is emerging as a hot craft county with six of the top 20 producers generating 5,124 consumer votes. Hicks & Healey whiskey was Cornish winner finishing 3rd with 3,176 votes.

Northern Ireland based Ruby Blue Vodka and Jawbox Gin also performed strongly finishing in 5th and 7th place respectively.

The campaign tracked over 200 brand of which 80% were gin however half of the top ten winners comprised of whiskey (10%), rum (20%) or vodka (20%).

Launched in March #HotCraftSpirits encouraged consumers to support their favourite spirits brand by voting for them on Twitter. By using the campaign hashtag and the brands Twitter handle Tweets were turned into votes which powered the leaderboard which ran from March through to May. 20,388 votes have been counted.

All brands finishing in the top ten have won listings with, #HotCraftSpirits online retail sponsor.

Jason Navon, co-founder of social media agency Clarity Comms who created the campaign said; “We expected gins to dominate given the amount of brands out there. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see half the top ten taken by vodkas, rums and whisky.
Jelley’s vodka and Muttuga rum show there is an appetite for interesting premium spirits and that gin isn’t the only player in town. We’re looking forward to seeing how this develops next year.

It was also interesting to see English distillers are challenging Scotland’s crown, this is likely to increase as many of these producers will be introducing whiskies over the coming years.

Thanks to all the brands that got involved. The results exceeded our expectations and it’s been fantastic help drive consumer awareness for the UK’s small batch distillers.”

HotCraftSpirits 2016 Results

1. Jelley’s Vodka, Northamptonshire 5,012 votes
2. Masons Yorkshire Gin 3,200 votes
3. Hick & Healey Whiskey, Cornwall 3,170 votes
4. Wight Mermaids Gin, Isle of Wight 1,460 votes
5. Ruby Blue Vodka, Belfast 1,091 votes
6. Matugga Rum, 995 votes
7. Jawbox Gin, Belfast 865 votes
8. Revolver Rum, Cornwall 740 votes
9. Trevethan Gin, Cornwall 495 votes
10. Twisted Nose Gin, Winchester 449 votes

Southwestern Distillery Tasting Notes

Southwestern Distillery

It’s great watching a company start out and grow. You feel like you’ve followed them on a journey, gone through hard times with them, but ultimately enjoyed the ending as much as the producers do too. One such brand started as I began to follow them on social media. Always a great tool to utilise to have your brand reach certain clientèle, Southwestern Distillery did just that, and teased the fact that this small Cornish distillery were in the market to bring forth a gin, not one that had a quirky gimmick or uniqueness from the far corners of the globe, but in their words – “using traditional techniques, quality ingredients and old-fashioned equipment”.

Does it work?

Well before we go onto the tasting notes, lets see how Master Distiller Tarquin Leadbetter came into his journey.

Tarquin had an aim. An aim to go to the good old days when gin was made properly. Wanting to make great-tasting spirits with integrity, yet to be hands on in every way possible, Tarquin decided to create the first gin in Cornwall in over a century. Of course, you have to start out small when you’re new, and when Tarquin means small, we’re talking 300 bottles in each batch. Compare that to the thousands of bottles that an established brand could make and it really does put it into perspective. Even the copper pot still is small, and is even fired by flame which really does hark back to the traditional gin producing days of the Victorian era. Also, Tarquin utilises a one-shot distillation method, which means that exactly the right blend of his chosen twelve botanicals is used in every run.

Speaking of the botanicals, a botanical expert going by the name of David, has helped Tarquin with his extensive knowledge of travelling the globe in search of the weird and wonderful. With this, Tarquin has gone for twelve botanicals, including one home-grown ingredient – juniper from Kosovo, coriander seeds from Bulgaria, zests of sweet orange, lemon and grapefruit. Also angelica root from Poland, orris root from Morocco, green cardamom seeds from Guatemala, bitter almond from Morocco, cinnamon from Madagascar, liquorice root from Uzbekistan and Devon violets from their own garden.

Once distilled, the local naturally sweetened Cornish water sourced near to Boscastle on the coast of north Cornwall, is used to blend the spirits down to bottling strength.

But gin isn’t enough. Southwestern Distillery is also the home of something that has never been done before in the UK – pastis.

Cornish Pastis in a modern take on the French anise classic, and uses green aniseed and sweet fennel seeds from Turkey, star anise from China and liquorice root from Uzbekistan, Also, zests of sweet orange, lemon and grapefruit, angelica root from Poland, orris root from Morocco, green cardamom seeds from Guatemala, juniper berries from Kosovo and cinnamon from Madagascar and foraged gorse flowers from the nearby clifftops of Cornwall. Distilled the same way as the gin, but finished off with liquorice root for colour.

So, how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on each –

Southwestern DistilleryTarquin’s Handcrafted Dry Gin – 42%

Soft citrus on the nose, with orange aromas and the subtle violets coming through. Reminds me of an Aviation cocktail. Sharp on the palate, but soon mellows before bursting with grapefruit, cardamom and angelica. A spice tingle develops, but an incredibly long finish ensues. A very small hint of dryness.

Tarquin’s Handcrafted Cornish Pastis – 42%

Very aromatic, with the aniseed and fennel blending well with the cinnamon and citrus scents. Bursts of fresh cardamom and juniper on the palate, smooths out to a liquorice offering and a soft, sweet finish of fennel. A long finish, with no signs of any dryness, instead, a lingering fresh sweetness.

Two fantastic tipples by themselves, but what about introducing it to one of these?

Quin and Tonic

Glass –


Ingredients – 

25 ml Tarquin’s Gin
1724 Tonic

Method –

Build the tonic over gin in an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

or how about,

Cornish Martini

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

50 ml Tarquin’s Gin,
10 ml Dry Vermouth
Drop of Cornish Pastis

Method – 

Pour all ingredients into an ice filled cocktail glass and stir. Pour through a strainer into a chilled Martini glass. Serve with a lemon twist. 

Some great twists on two classic drinks! Tarquin has done superbly, with care and attention delivered, even down to the bottles that are hand-filled, sealed, labelled and personally signed before shipped to the rest of the UK for your own personal consumption. Look out for these two on bars, it will add something very different to your regular gin favourites.

© 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.