Spring sipping is in the air and to mark the occasion, our Gin Curator Olivier Ward went on Channel Four's Sunday Brunch to talk all about it.
Brighter nights (and balmier weather hopefully not too far behind) make for the perfect opportunity to try lighter gins in your G&T. More so, due to their clever, often locally foraged botanicals there are gins whose connection to the budding flora that's now bursting to life all around us is clear to taste. Spring may be in the air, but it can be in your glass too.
Here are the three that he thought were worth adding to your basket...
Isle of Scilly Distillery is owned and run by husband and wife team Arthur and Hilary Miller, who fulfil every aspect of the making of their Island Gin, from the small batch distillation runs, to bottling and labelling, packing and dispatch. This tiny operation based off the Cornish coast delivers big flavours in brilliantly packaged bottles.
Their Island Gin has a lime-leaf and cardamom driven nose, with underlying orange peel. To taste, the juniper is bold the profile before black pepper, fennel and warming cassia finish the journey.
This may not sound particularly Spring-like, but it's spice-anchored nature suits a different kind of garnish other than citrus. Add a lime leaf and you've got that citronella scent ramped up, add lemongrass and it leans towards the zingy zesty nature of Thai Green curry or add in Samphire and you'll bring in a unique lemony seaside flair to the mix.
G&T aside, you need depth of flavour to work off if you are using a lot of lighter, fresher ingredients when making Spring cocktails. Island Gin provides that really well and brings contrasts that allows other ingredients to shine.
If you are looking for more direct Spring flavours in your glass, Lantic Gin should be on your list. It's inspired by the rugged Cornish coast and alongside more traditional botanicals, six hand-picked Cornish botanicals are used to make it, including rock samphire, gorse flowers, water mint and lemon thyme.
The apple mint, lemon thyme and gorse are really dialled up to the max. It's fresh, bright but what marks it out as a cut above though, is the way the flavours are layered. There is a real flavour journey that unfurls in each sip. It delivers exactly what distiller Alex Palmer-Samborne (the founder of Skylark Distillery) was aiming to do - to make seasonal spirits that reflect a sense of place using locally foraged botanicals.
The rock samphire and water mint bring a touch of the cost, the apple mint, gorse and heather capture the open fields and hedgerows. You get a sense of each of them respectively. It's Cornwall, it's wild and it's delicious in a G&T with a sliver of cucumber.
Dartmoor made Papillon Gin is another gin that seems to own the April - June months. It uses the likes of rowan, hawthorn berries, chamomile, nettle and Devon violets among its 17 botanicals and manages to imbue that sense of local nature right into each drop.
It's flavours reflect the flora of the national park the team who make it have conservation at their core.
Our gin curator Olivier says that Papillon Gin tastes "Like a walk through the hedgerows! Rowan and nettles are clear, while their clever use of Cubeb Berries allows the violet floral tones to have great structure both on the nose and a lasting impression on the finish."
Other than lovely flavours you get to enjoy, know that 1% from each bottle of Papillon Gin is donated to the Butterfly Conservation charity, towards a Dartmoor project protecting specific threatened species; Marsh, Heath, Pearl Bordered and High Brown Fritillaries, and the Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth.