6 O’Clock gin came to my attention when I was looking for premium tonic waters other than Fever-Tree; it was the first time I had come across a gin with a companion tonic water. That was many months ago now and I have come close to buying 6 O’Clock on two separate occasions.
The second occasion was only a couple of weeks ago; I’ve been accumulating tonics for a tonic water tasting and actually ordered some 6 o’clock tonic water. I came pretty close to ordering the gin, but the postage on different tonics was racking-up, so I decided against it.
Then, a mere two weeks later, I noticed that Waitrose had added 6 o’clock to their range of gins and it took me about three seconds to cave-in and add it to my basket.
6 o’clock gin is the brain-child of Michael Kain, Director of Bramley & Gage (more renowned for their liqueurs than their gin). It was inspired by his Great Grandfather, Edward Kain, a Victorian engineer, inventor and gentleman. Edward’s motto was “balance, poise and precision” and he not only created many refinements of existing technologies but created blueprints for boilers and stills. Apparently, after retiring from the Merchant Navy, every day Edward would retire at 6 o’clock to his old armchair, with a G&T, to allow his mind to wander for an hour to mull-over inventions and innovations.
The first thing that struck me about the the bottle was the colour; it reminds me of blue ink cartridges I used to have at school for my fountain pen. It was like a giant ink cartridge sitting on the shelf.
The bottle is a tall, slim, heavy-bottomed affair. The label, for all its text, has pretty scant detail about the gin itself. It’s bottled at 43% and the bottle states that there are six botanicals as well as juniper (making seven); the bottle lists only three but, using the power of
Grayskull Google, I managed to unearth the following six…
- Orange peel
This leaves one unidentified mystery botanical.
It’s won a small suite of awards, including a Gold (best in class) at the 2011 IWSC and a silver in 2012.
The bottle is corked but, disappointingly, didn’t squeak. Uncorking and sniffing revealed a moderately juniper-forward aroma with a faint underlying sweet floral hint. The alcohol is pretty dominant though. The juniper is very fresh and green.
Tasting neat, 6 O’Clock starts with a soft, sweet juniper which evolves into a stinging bite of citrus and the harsher, turpentine qualities of juniper. There’s hints of spice and there’s the faintest hint of angelica (although I could be projecting that).
G&T (Fever-Tree, 3:1)
Next-up was mixing a G&T (Fever-Tree, 3:1). This was a clean, breezy G&T with plenty of fresh, green, vegetative juniper. The juniper is surprisingly forthright but not as dominating as something like Tanqueray or No.3; although there is a freshness to the juniper that is similar to that of No.3 gin. There is an orange citrus bite that has hints of marmalade about it and I’m not sure there isn’t lime in there too (in spite of the lack of garnish). Is there a hint of floral sweetness or am I imagining it because I am expecting elderflower?
There’s something missing in the middle-palate. It only lasts for a fraction of a second between the attack and the finish but for a brief flash, the G&T just tastes watery. This doesn’t really detract from the experience as the rest if very flavoursome; I just find it curious.
Overall, this is a very balanced G&T with juniper firmly to the fore but I’m a little disappointed that the elderflower isn’t more in evidence. It’s a proper summer’s-day G&T with plenty of flavour and character; very nice indeed.
Update: Mixing at slightly stronger ratios brings some angelica into greater prominence.
G&T (6 O’Clock Tonic Water, 3:1)
Lastly, I mixed-up a G&T with 6 O’Clock tonic water (3:1).
This was a vastly different beast; the tonic is a lot milder than Fever-Tree and the resultant G&T is gentler, clearer and breezier with a definite lemon and lime hit. 6 O’Clock tonic somehow manages to tame that clear, fresh juniper and bring it down to a much softer level. There’s the faintest suggestion of post-mix lemon & lime in there which stops me being completely at-ease with this G&T. I think this combo is a little too citrus and not enough quinine for my liking; the tonic seems to over-ride the gin somewhat but that could be because I am so conditioned to drinking Fever-Tree.
6 O’Clock Gin is priced anywhere between £20 and £26; at the cheaper-end of this bracket, this is a sterling gin and well worth the money. At the higher-end, it’s still pretty good and you’re unlikely to be disappointed.