When I was at university, the word “sloane” was a derogatory term for students from a privileged upbringing; where many of us were struggling to survive after drinking our student grants, a sloane would be driving around in their brand-new VW Polo and pondering which cocktail bar to paint red that night.
Anyway, irrelevant distractions about the prejudices of my student years aside, last week, I was contacted by people representing Sloane’s Gin. After a short and exciting conversation (well, exciting for me at least) a bottle of this curiously-named spirit was on its way in the post. As usual, the fact this is a gift will not influence my notes in any way.
Sloane’s gin had popped-up on my radar fairly recently; in March, it won the Best in Show Unaged White Spirit and Best Gin awards at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It also recently appeared on the shelves on Sainsbury’s supermarkets across the UK – not bad for a new-to-market gin.
The gin is named after Sir Hans Sloane, a physician, scientist and avid collector who died in the 18th century; in his lifetime, he amassed a truly astounding collection, including plants, animals, antiquities and coins. Upon his death, he bequeathed this collection to the British nation and this formed the basis of the founding collection of the Bristish Museum. Large parts of the collection now reside at the Natural History Museum. Sloane is also credited with the invention of chocolate milk or drinking chocolate, adapting the Jamaican water-based recipe in order to make is less “nauseating”.
Anyway, enough of dead 18th Century scientists, back to the gin.
Sloane’s gin is produced by Dutch distillery Toorank, producer of a wealth of award-winning spirits and liqueurs. The individual botanicals are steeped in spirit for 24 hours before being distilled separately and then blended to make the finished product. This blend is the left to “rest” for at least a month to facilitate marrying of the flavours. Those botanicals are listed on the bottle in a little band around the bottom of the label; these are…
- Orris Root
- Coriander Seeds
- Vanilla Pod
- Cardamom Pods
- Liquorice Root
The citrus used is fresh whole fruit rather than dried peel and seems to be a slowly increasing trend in the world of quality new gins. Sacred and Leopold’s both use fresh fruit and Oxley uses fresh peel rather than dried.
The bottle is a curious shape; from the top, the bottle shoulders are round, but the sides both narrow and flare in different axes to an oval base. The result is a good fit in the hand.
The bottle-cap is metal foil, which is a bit of a let-down for a premium gin if I am honest, but while presentation counts for something, what counts is in the bottle.
The scent from the bottle-top is unmistakably gin, with a soft, sweet creaminess to it. The alcohol harshness is kept to a minimum.
Tasted neat, Sloane’s Gin is faithful to the smell with a creamy sweetness backing a good solid London Dry taste, so much so, that there are slight hints of cream soda lurking. It’s juniper-load is fairly middle-weight, with less pine notes than something like Sipsmith or Brecon Gin. It is a very well-balanced gin with the citrus and spice being quite subtle and light; if anything, it is the sweet, earthy roots that dominate. Sloane’s is very smooth though and stands well alone; rounded and gentle.
In a G&T (with Fever-Tree tonic and a wedge of lime) it is very serviceable, but a lot of the delicate notes are lost to the tonic. Trying it at a higher ratio of gin to tonic than my usual 1:4 works very well, with the gin taking a more dominant position in the finished drink. Fever-Tree Naturally Light Tonic Water works quite well too, being less overpowering than its full-fat cousin.
I think on the balance of things, Sloane’s Gin will make a great starting point for people looking to move away from vodka-gins like Bombay Sapphire and experiment with premium gins. It is a far-cry from the monsters of juniper like No. 3, but is it still a very high-quality unintimidating gin.
Sipsmith is still the G&T king in my book, but with Sloane’s being available in Sainsbury’s and at £23 a bottle, it is a few quid cheaper and easier to get hold of. This is certainly not going to be the last bottle of Sloane’s Gin I will drink.