Today I was surprised by the selection of gin available in Sainsbury’s. There were a few good candidates on offer that I hadn’t tried before, including Juniper Green Organic Gin and Tanqueray No 10.
However, after much label reading and muttering to myself, I selected Blackwood’s Gin, or to give it its full name, Blackwood’s 2007 Vintage Dry Gin. Reasonably priced and bottled in something reminiscent of Oxley, it is an attractive package.
I also bought some Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water, but that is another post.
Blackwood’s gin is called a vintage gin for a reason. It is distilled in Shetland and it is from these northern isles that the botanicals are harvested from the wild. Including wild water mint, sea pinks and meadowsweet, the botanicals are sustainably harvested and the summer dictates the quality of certain botanicals. 2005 was a “filthy summer” and so the herby botanicals flourished while the floral ones suffered.
Blackwood’s make no effort to maintain a homogenous taste year-on-year. Instead they allow the weather to guide the flavours of their gin for the year. Hence the “vintage”.
After arriving home, I opened the bottle (which opened with the satisfying tuneful pop that a good whiskey does) and poured a small shot. I also poured a small shot of Plymouth Gin for comparison. The Blackwood’s gin had a much more subtle nose than the Plymouth with less intense juniper aromas and more citrus and complexity.
The flavours backed this up; the Blackwwod’s is far less heavy on the juniper front and has strong, fresh citrus undercurrent. There is also has a vast, aromatic complexity both in the initial attack and the aftertaste. It is also very smooth.
Mixing up a gin and tonic was also rewarding, bringing an incredible freshness to my glass.
Apparently, Blackwood’s are trying to set enough of each year’s product aside to allow them to sell box-sets of mixed vintages. I would love to try this and compare each year to savour the subtle differences dictated by the weather. Blackwood’s gin won a host of awards between 2004 and 2006, so I guess the vintages prior to this were pretty damn good.
All-in-all, I would really recommend Blackwood’s Vintage Gin. It is smooth and complex, with delightful citrus and floral subtlety. It is great on its own and makes a fantastic G&T.