Emily Says . . . . ‘Forest’

Forest

In her fourteenth feature under ‘Emily Says . . .’, the voice to the Manchester bar scene in Emily Puckering heads to Cheshire and into the Forest;

The gin hype certainly isn’t over (I doubt it ever will), and I’m here this time with a local delight that is Forest Gin.

The story of this little number indeed begun in a Macclesfield forest, founded by husband and wife Karl and Lindsay Bond. The couple shared a passion for their fine alcoholic beverages, and whilst enduring the dull days of the nine to five life, they would spend their evenings away from computer screens and instead with a pint sized pot still and a radio.

With Lindsay being a coeliac, drinking beer was simply out of the question for her (sadly!), so the couple turned to the next best thing: gin! The pair assembled a rather impressive gin collection, which ignited the spark of inspiration. From buying supermarket-branded vodka and distilling it with juniper that was bought online, Karl slowly but surely began to understand the process of making gin – and I mean making gin properly.

What makes a gin truly unique are the botanicals that go into it, and Karl and Lindsay made sure to find ingredients that were one of a kind, and would be difficult to find anywhere else. Living nearby a local Macclesfield forest, the couple put on their walking boots and embarked on a foraging adventure, discovering a whole range of fantastic botanicals to put in their gin.

With the traditional additions of juniper, angelica, cassia and coriander, Forest gin also includes botanicals such as wild grown bilberries, raspberries, blackberries, moss, ferns, pine, tree bark and wild flowers. As one can imagine, the addition of these unusual botanicals give the gin a taste that is truly unique.

On the nose, Forest gin literally smells as it is expected to smell: like a forest in the rain. The fresh and earthy smells from the foraged ingredients are very much apparent, particularly the herbaceous notes from the tree bark and wild flowers. Sweet notes follow from the berries, but are somewhat underwhelmed from the strong dewy forest-like notes.

When it comes to the taste, Forest gin delivers what the title suggests: a fresh and strongly herbaceous gin with hints of sweetness and a bold character. Fresh spring water from the Peak District is used in the distillation, giving the gin a fantastically smooth drinking experience. Subtle hints of spices are present, perhaps from the cassia and even from the addition of cinnamon…? The beauty of drinking a gin such as Forest is the guessing game of what has indeed gone into it to create its unique taste, and as cliché as this may sound, it literally tastes like a forest; the only way in which I can perfectly describe it! Forest gin is paired perfectly with ice, an Indian tonic water with a garnish of a couple of blackberries and a sprig of rosemary.

And for any of my fellow tea lovers, the Forest Earl Grey edition is not one to be missed. The earthy and fruity notes of the original recipe are still apparent, but the fragrant and dry touches of Earl Grey tea beautifully overwhelm the palate. Paired with ice and an Indian tonic water, the drinking experience reminds one strongly of a refreshing and fruity iced tea: perfect.

Photo Credit: Forest Distillery

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Forest

Forest

As some of you may know, I love supporting local produce. I exhibit at local festivals, experience local produce, and feature local brands who have entered the market. One such name that I have come across lately is Forest gin. A Macclesfield born spirit by Karl and Lindsay Bond, who undertook this as more a hobby than anything else, has now turned heads with the likes of Harvey Nichols and a variety of Manchester bars, potentially seeing the full-time jobs switching to ‘gin producers’.

But why the hype? Lets take a look.

A 30 litre pot still is all it takes to create one batch of Forest gin, using botanicals from Macclesfield Forest. Sounds easy doesn’t it, but to Karl and Lindsay, trial and error with smaller versions of the pot stills were needed, all whilst their daughter, 7-year-old Harriet, combs the forest for fresh botanicals. The likes of wild bilberries, wild gorse flowers, wild raspberries and local moss are blended with several other fragrant botanicals, within an organic grain spirit that has already been steeped with juniper berries and coriander seeds, both of which are organically certified too.

The hand-craft feel comes into play with the botanicals, as a pestle and mortar are used to break up the various ingredients. Once all combined though, the spirit is distilled through the copper condenser, then brought down to 42% abv using pure local spring water. Bottled in a stoneware vessel, with a printed forest stencil upon (created by Papercut artist Suzy Taylor), Forest gin offers, like Blackwood’s, different batches depending on the seasons in Macclesfield Forest. Currently, batch three is on sale, with batch four on its way. That doesn’t mean the consistency will change too much, but really backs up the sourcing of the botanicals within the forest.

Question is though, how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Forest – 42%

Incredible amount of bold, floral aromas on the nose including raspberry, gooseberry, slight citrus and soft grass and oak notes. A good kick of forest floor with a warming spice developing on the palate. Aromatic, fresh hints of wild berries, nettle and lavender come through too. Long, slightly dry, with a soft and subtle green berry finish.

A cracking spirit to enjoy on its own or over ice. Currently there are no signature serves, but I can imagine a Dry Martini would work wonders with the flavours. As mentioned above, Forest gin has turned heads at one of the UK’s premium department stores in Harvey Nichols, the exclusive stockist to Forest gin for the time being. Grab yourself a bottle though, this is a brand that’s offering the gin world something a little bit different.

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