If you’re anything like me, the activity of recycling comes hand in hand with the daily debate of ‘…wait. Is this thing even recyclable?!’…
It’s a moment of blind panic that quickly subsides as I remind myself that, yes, of course glass bottles are recyclable! (empties being somewhat a hazard of the trade I’m afraid). There’s a definite feeling of satisfaction as the reassuring ‘clinck’ of my environmentally friendly actions ring from the recycling box.
However, if that’s not enough to establish me as an ‘eco-warrior’ (and let’s face it, it’s not) and with the Coronavirus lockdown set to continue for some time, it’s nice to know that the experts are still on hand…
On Wednesday night (29th April 2020 to be exact) the A-Team at ‘Boutique Bar Brands’ smashed it out of the park once again with another socially distanced distillery virtual tour and tasting extravaganza! This time we visited Kent based Greensand Ridge Distillery, and their founder & Master Distiller Will Edge.
Sample bottles, along with a natty pin badge, arrived in record time for another taste along via Zoom.
And with 70+ other gin swilling enthusiasts and industry folk glued to their screens from around the country, it was stacking up to be a lively evening! Though I’m not sure why my Zoom picture always makes me look like I’m in witness protection or appearing in an episode of ‘Crime Watch’?! (see top row, second from the left).
Greensand Ridge; the overview
When self proclaimed ‘serial booze maker’ Will decided to give up the desk job and turn a passion for booze making in to a career, he wasn’t cutting corners!
He went and got a Masters degree in distilling, got some dosh together, and found himself an old Victorian coachhouse to remodel as gin distillery. As you do!
Greensand Ridge put sustainability and ethical practice at the heart of what they do – indeed, a key USP for the brand is their carbon neutrality! Bothered by the wastefulness of the distilling process (the energy to heat & cool the liquid, the wasted produce post distilling and the land space lost for food production to name but a few of his gripes) Will & team set about doing things…a little differently.
Greensand Ridge only use ingredients that would have otherwise been wasted at ‘the farm gate’. They don’t use chemicals. They are zero plastic. They only use renewable energy that doesn’t harm the environment. And they produce about one bin bag full of rubbish every 4-6 weeks! And it’s these kind of ethical credentials that won the team ‘The Spirit of Gin’ award in this years ‘The Gin Guide Awards’, which founder Paul was more than happy to wax lyrical about on the night!
Provenance is also key to the gin, using only local ingredients found on the doorstep, to represent the surrounding hills of their Kent homestead. You’re not going to find pink peppercorns or Madagascan citrus here. And while the distillery may see the creation of rum, fruit brandy and whiskey, it was the gin that I’d come to see (and taste!).
Greensand Ridge gin to taste
The gin took around 4 months to create and is comprised of 15 botanicals that include juniper, cardamom, coriander seeds, grains of paradise, orange peel, lemon peel, cobnuts, gorse, oak moss, honey, rosehips, hawthorn berries, bay laurel, poppy seeds. And it is all packaged in a beautiful, painstakingly, hand labelled bottle!
On the nose there is a balance of delicate warming spice that plays off a savoury herbaceous greenery. The oak moss brings with it notes of fresh cut grass, with a vibrancy of a cooling spring morning.
There’s a slight tartness on the bite of the scent, courtesy of the rosehips and hawthorn berries, which work wonders alongside the citrus twang of those orange and lemon peels. A background sweetness lingers, against a hearty and ultra smooth juniper core that invites you in to the glass.
On tasting the first thing of note is that there is no alcohol burn. Zero. Zilch! The neat gin has a velvet smooth butteriness on the mouthfeel, with the use of poppyseeds, bay laurel and cobnuts (the latter two being new ones on me!) paying dividends. That savoury feel from the aroma carries across on to the palate, with a bouquet of greenery being the order of the day. But the inclusion of honey does deliver a subtle rounded sweetness to the finish. The oily pine of the juniper stands tall, with the classic juniper crunch delivering as many feel good vibes as the gins eco credentials!
With tonic and an orange slice garnish, venturing away from the classic serve of a bay leaf with juniper berries, the gin opens up a lighter and more playful profile. The citrus starts to pop a little more, with brighter notes of lemon and orange zest stepping forwards. Resinous juniper continues to deliver in force, with a vibrant floral finish.
With Josh Linfitt, cocktail extraordinaire of ‘Propping up the Bar’, on hand to demonstrate how best to make use of the gin in all its glory, the options seemed endless.
And whilst the ‘Earth Calling’ and ‘Jam Collins’ (see closing notes for details) both demand my attention for future serves, my classic sensibilities could look no further than the Martini. Served ice cold, dry and with a lemon twist, Greensand Ridge gin is more than at home in the short serve with its complex character allowed to shine.
Greensand Ridge; The grand tour
To finish proceedings, we were treated to an almost ‘one on one’ (though more like one on seventy, given the number of virtual attendees!) distillery tour with Will Edge. And whilst, on paper, the idea of navigating a gin distillery with a tablet and doing the surroundings justice carries all kinds of potential challenges, it was an experience delivered with aplomb!
The whirlwind walk-around was as close to being within the four walls in person as the Covid-situation could possibly allow, with the feel of the oak aged barrels and aromas rising from the vat of ready to bottle rum being almost palpable. Delivered through a perfect balance of information and humour, it served to be an incentive to pay a visit in first person terms as soon as the climate allows.
In the meantime, if you would like to pick up your own bottle of Greensand Ridge gin, make sure that you head over to http://www.ginkiosk.com and use the code ‘GREENSANDLIVE’ to snag yourself 10% off whilst the offer is valid!
Make sure to follow Will and the team at Greensand Ridge to keep track of their ever evolving and exciting story. Better yet, why not pay them a visit yourself (when the climate allows) and take part in their ‘make your own gin’ experience!;
And if you fancy getting involved in a future virtual tasting/tour evening, check out the latest events from the ‘Boutique Bar Brands’ team across their social media pages!
If you’d like to give any of the cocktails that we saw on the night a go, all of the recipes are detailed below! And be sure to give Josh a follow over at ‘Propping up the Bar’ across social media.
- 50ml Greensand Ridge London Dry gin
- 25ml Fino Sherry (Teo pepe or similar) – optional plum infused
- 20ml lemon juice from a squeezed lemon or two
- 10ml Monin Honeycomb syrup – honey water can be used as substitute
- 2 dashes of Homemade Lemon saline solution (which is this with the zest of the lemon used for juice from above)
- Garnished with foraged (or regular) berries and served with a side portion of Honey roasted Cashew nuts… yup… Banging!
- 50ml Greensand Ridge London Dry Gin (or similar)
- 25ml Lime juice
- 2 tbsp Strawberry jam
- Ginger beer/ale
- Cheeky mint sprig garnish
Classic Gin Martini
- 50ml Greensand Ridge London Dry Gin (or similar)
- 15ml Dry vermouth (Noilly prat, Dolin dry are Josh’s go to vermouths)
- An olive or citrus twist (usually lemon)
And don’t forget to stop by @theginshelf across all social media platforms for more blogs & event updates. Stop by, say ‘Hi’ & chat gin!