Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we sample an English gin.
In the 11th Century Italian monks are said to have been the first to distill spirits using juniper berries, gin’s base flavoring agent. A German-born physician and scientist who spent most of his life in the Netherlands, Franciscus Sylvius, is given credit for developing the first modern day gin during the 1600s. During the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) British troops fighting in Holland against the Spanish nicknamed gin “Dutch Courage” because it could calm the nerves before battle. William of Orange helped make gin popular in England, but it was heavy taxes imposed on imported spirits and the permitting of unregulated distilling – much of it taking place in private homes -- in the U.K. that caused an explosion in gin production. Thousands of “Gin Mills” popped up. When Parliament tried to get things under control in 1736 by passing the Gin Act there were riots in the streets.
But gin also has a classy side best articulated by James Bond, the British 007 secret agent created by novelist Ian Fleming. In “Casino Royale,” Bond orders a Vesper Martini and is quite specific in the recipes, telling a barkeeper: “Three measures of Gordon’s (gin), one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large slice of lemon-peel.” When it comes to gin, most of us don't think of Italy or Holland. We think of England.
Martin Miller, a publisher, concert promoter and hotelier, got in the gin business in 1999 with two friends after being served a lackluster gin and tonic in a pint beer glass at a London pub.
“I was looking at it and thinking, ‘This is our national drink? What’s happened to gin? Where’s our pride?’” Miller recalls. “We talked a bit and decided we should make a great gin for ourselves. The worse thing that could happen is we’d have a lifetime supply of gin.”
Martin Miller’s Gin is made using a pot still and macerated the botanicals to release the oils. The process took two years to find the right combination of ingredients. “We actually do two separate distillations, one that is earthy and the other that has a citrus character. Then we marry them,” Miller says. “It gives you clarity of flavor. There is a distinctive citrus note without being overpowering.”
The distillate for Martin Miller’s Gin is made in England and then shipped to Iceland where pure water is used to finish the product. There is a nice lively nose to the gin and the orange zest peaks through in a balanced flavor profile. This is a nice cocktail gin with plenty of body.