I bought my bottle of SW4 Gin some months ago but have been a little too busy to write anything about it. This is the first of a series of “backlog” posts that work their way through the various gins I have been trying recently.
SW4 is a small-batch London Dry gin that is created in batches of about 500 litres in the smaller stills of Thames Distillers in Clapham. The main still used is call “Tom Thumb” which sits next to his sister “Thumbelina” – very cute.
SW4 named after the postcode of the distillery.
There are 12 botanicals which are macerated for 12 hours before being distilled in a single run; SW4’s botanicals are…
- Lemon peel
- Orange peel
- Coriander seed
- Cassia bark
- Angelical root
- Orris root
- Liquorice root
The water used is, in sharp contrast to Martin Miller’s Gin, common London water that has been deionised and filtered.
SW4’s bottle is square and topped with a pressed metal screw cap. The cap an labelling are matt charcoal (very dark grey, to you an me) with silver and metallic-blue accents. The label declares it as 40% ABV.
Uncorking (or unscrewing, as the case may be) and giving the neck of the bottle a sniff reveals not a lot in the juniper department. There is definitely a creamy quality to the aroma, but otherwise it is undistinguished. It is a similar story in the glass.
Sampled neat, SW4 carries the promise of the aroma into the mouth. The taste is lacking in Juniper and heavy on a smooth, sweet creaminess. There are hints of floral elements but they are hints. There is a spicy burn in the after-taste which is quite pleasing and the citrus is definitely there.
I was slightly disappointed with the levels of juniper in SW4 – everything I have previously read led me to believe this was a big hitter in the juniper department, but I just don’t see it. To me, this gin carries a middling payload at best.
In a G&T, SW4 is somewhat lost in the standard ratios. At 1:4, and even 1:3, the gin seems dominated by the tonic water and the experience is very lack-lustre. Taking it a few steps stronger (1:2.5 and 1:2) the gin really begins to shine. The sweet, floral complexity of the roots (angelica, orris and liquorice) really starts to come through and that distinct smooth creaminess of the neat spirit starts to make a reappearance. The juniper is still middling but it is supported nicely by the barest hints of nutmeg and a fair back-bone of citrus. However, I couldn’t find almond anywhere, no matter how hard I looked and the peppery taste of savoury was utterly lost to me.
I am always wary of gins that need mixing with tonic in in stronger ratios, as it tends to disappear fast – it becomes a more expensive bottle due to the fact you need to use more of it. However, as an occasional treat, SW4 Gin is certainly worth it – just remember to mix it strong in a G&T to avoid disappointment.
At £18 – £21 per bottle, this isn’t the most expensive gin, but I was expecting more. I occupies that odd middle-ground between the standard and the premium gins and it delivers in the same way. There is enough there to set it apart from Gordon’s and Beefeater, but doesn’t quite have enough to compete with Sipsmith or Tanqueray. I was hoping that it would be more like Brecon Gin, in that it was a cheaper gin but competed firmly with the more premium labels, but alas, it was not the case.