Adnams Copper House Gin

I recently had the pleasure of visiting a branch of Waitrose in the sprawling metropolis that some call London. Presented with a near-bewildering array of gins that I have yet to try I picked Adnams Copperhouse Gin. This was originally brought to my attention by @BlackPlastic who raved about it, and came very close to buying me a bottle on more than one occasion.

Adnams, once famous for beers such as Broadside and SSB, seem to have branched-out significantly in recent years. With the opening of their Copper House Distillery in November 2010, both Vodka and Gin have recently joined the Adnams portfolio.

Adnams Copper House Gin is a distilled gin, and unlike many gin producers, they make it from scratch. East Anglian malted barley is brewed into a “beer wash” before being stripped into a “low wine” and then rectified into pure spirit and re-distilled with the botanicals into gin, all under the mastery of Head Distiller, John McCarthy.

Adnams Copperhouse Gin
Adnams Copperhouse Gin

Speaking of botanicals, Adnams Copper House claims six; these are…

  • Juniper berries
  • Coriander
  • Lemon peel
  • Orange peel
  • Orris root
  • Hibiscus flowers

The bottle is stoppered with a cork and is stamped from an increasingly popular mould, with a round footprint and thick glass bottom. The (pseudo) copper-foil wrapping at the top of the bottle is a nice touch and the simple label is elegant and understated.

Uncorking was about as pleasing as it gets (squeak-pop) and the scent from the bottle-top is that of juniper and sweet creamy notes.

Sampled neat, this is a savoury, herbacious, oily gin with a good juniper pay-load. It has a great depth of complexity to it that reminds me strongly of Tanqueray 10. In fact, so convinced was I that the herbaceous resinous notes were chamomile, I refused to believe the first source of information I found which listed the botanicals (sorry Summerfruitcup, I should have known better than to doubt you).

Mixing Copper House with Fever-Tree tonic (3:1 ratio) produces a tremendously aromatic G&T. The phantom chamomile shines through and this G&T furnishes you with a fresh attack and a long lingering roller-coaster after-taste that seems to cycle through half of the herb-garden. There is an underlying earthy sweetness that holds back the astringency slightly, but is far from being enough to make this a sweet G&T.

I have no idea what hibiscus tastes like (I did work my way through a box of hibiscus and rosehip tea several years ago, but that doesn’t seem to have helped), so there is a strong possibility that the slightly frankincensey-chamomile tang is wholly from this flower.

My only criticism of Adnams Copper House Gin would be that every time I have drank more than one G&T in an evening, I have experienced very disturbed sleep. At first I though it just a bad night, as sometimes happens, but as I worked my way through the bottle, a pattern emerged. Doing a little digging revealed that in some, hibiscus tea can have a mild hallucinogenic and intoxicating effect; to be honest, I was drinking gin, so was damn-well expecting to become intoxicated, and I didn’t notice any hallucinations , so maybe this is a complete dead-end. Still, the correlation between poor sleep and Copperhouse consumption is a strong one.

Still, who needs sleep every night? Adnams Copper House Gin is a fine product and I will certainly be buying more. I need to get my hands on some Adnams First Rate Gin (update: which, you can probably tell from the review, I subsequently did) – by all accounts, the classier, more expensive sister of Copper House.


5 thoughts on “Adnams Copper House Gin”

  1. I would suspect that any of the chemicals that may cause Hibiscus’s rumored psychotropic qualities would be removed during the distillation process, right? Unless it’s Hibiscus infused…

    I do agree with you also in that I do sometimes read exotic florals in gin as more domestic herbss.

    1. It might be hibiscus-infused; it is a distilled gin and not a London Dry, so something is bringing it down a notch (that sounds a bit dismissive of distilled gin – I didn’t mean it that way).

      However, the group of chemicals that most psychoactive compounds belong to, the alkaloids, have a wide range of boiling points. Terpenoids are a subcategory of alkaloid and are commonly found in plants as significant contributors toward their scent (Eucalyptus, Clove, Mint and Cinnamon, to name a few) and the more aromatic they are, the lower their boiling point tends to be. Also, boiling point isn’t the best measure of how something will come over in a distillation column; the vapour pressure of aromatic compounds is generally very high (meaning that you get a lot of evaporation well below the boiling point). A little digging around reveals that, of the main contributing chemicals in the scent (and therefore nose-flavour) of juniper in gin, none have a boiling point below that of ethanol…

      β-pinene: 167°C
      terpene-4-ol: 89°C
      borneol: 213°C
      geraniol: 230°C

      When you have mixes of liquids with differing boiling points, the temperature doesn’t stabilise at the lowest boiling point until that ingredient has boiled-off. This is why you take the hearts of the distillation process and re-distil for purity; you get decreasing amounts of methanol with each pass. Re-distilling pure spirit with botanicals to make gin is probably less of a fine art than stripping your wash to get pure spirit out (although I am getting slightly outside of the comfort zones of my knowledge here); once your spirit is pure, I imagine there is less messing around with cuts and carefully controlled temperatures and a lot more “just blast it through the still with the botanicals in” – I am happy to be corrected on this.

  2. I recently bought a bottle of gun from the adnams brewery shop in Norwich the gin has a good flavour but even a small amount with tonic gave my husband and myself raging headaches ,disturbed sleep neck and pain in joints like our hands . We have NEVER had a reaction to an alcohol before so would suggest that this product has other undesirable ingredients.
    Drinker beware

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