I knew it was a mistake from the very first second I did it. And in the clarity of the moment, when the self realisation kicked in, what I had done chilled me to the bone…literally.
Ahhh British summertime. You really can’t beat it can you? With Coronavirus in full swing this year, our little family unit opted to pack up and head south for a ‘staycation’ on the Cornish coast – a long time ambition we’d harboured and were now able to take advantage of given the international travel restrictions. And of course, in the typical tradition known as ‘sods law’, the weather was bloody awful…
Fun fact; whilst in Cornwall I visited my friends Tarquin’s gin for a tour and tasting experience to remember at their Wadebridge home! You can check out my full review of my time at Tarquin’s Southwestern Distillery here:
After days spent as a spectator on the beach, with my jeans rolled up and waterproof coat firmly zipped, we were approaching the end of the holiday with the prospect of not having entered the sea. But as a ‘30-something year old Man-Child’, who has been obsessed with going in the ocean ever since I was old enough to throw myself in to the water, it wasn’t a fate I was willing to resign myself to.
After nervously giving my wife and son a peck on the check, I strolled to the waters edge wearing nothing but a pair of swimming shorts and an anxious smile. As the tips of my toes were greeted by the lapping tide, I’m not going to lie to you…it was ice cold. A fact that became painstakingly confirmed as I strode forwards and launched myself headfirst to become fully submerged!
Resembling a woodland creature who had fallen through thin ice, I grasped for air as I quickly scuttled my way back towards my nearest and dearest, as my wife wrestled to pass me my towel against the blowing wind. I sat shell shocked, looking around the other bathers and acknowledging that the wetsuits they were wearing now made a lot of sense… It had just started to spit a little as my wife passed me a small tub of ice cream and a little plastic spoon, which ironically went someway towards warming me up. Well, we were on holiday after all.
On my return home to the Midlands, still a little jaded from the experience, I was greeted at the front door by a little piece of the English coastline that I felt confident I could really get on board with. Arriving courtesy of my good friends at Bullards gin, was a bottle that promised the offer of taking a dip in to the waters whilst remaining on dry land. No silver foil rescue blanket required you say? Then sign me up!
It was time to dip my toe in to Bullards Coastal Gin (not literally. That would be weird).
Bullards; ‘Seas the day’!
Now what can I tell you about Bullards gin that you’ve not heard before? Well, in truth, very little, as I already raved about them earlier this year!
Having tried and loved their Old Tom expression back in Spring, which I described as potentially being “the one that makes me reconsider my stance on Old Toms and want to delve a little deeper” (with Old Tom gins being an area of the category that I’m generally less knowledgeable on or inclined to frequent), I had been eager to explore the Bullards wider range.
I was also lucky enough to have been invited to review the teams ‘Eco Project’, a programme that’s has essentially introduced ‘bottles for life’, which can be replenished via fully recyclable, postbox friendly, gin pouches available on the Bullards website.
It is a scheme that blew me away, tugging at my heartstrings, and something that really underlines the ethos of Bullards as being “a company that considers and cares about our planet before profit”.
You can read my full write up on the ‘Bullards Eco Project’, and full tasting notes of the teams Old Tom Gin, here:
So naturally, I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to sample the newest addition to the Norfolk heroes juniper armoury (which also includes a London Dry and Strawberry & Black Pepper, alongside the aforementioned Old Tom).
And with a growing appreciation for gins that use ingredients from their local coastline, it was an exciting and intriguing prospect.
Inspired by the Norfolk coastline, the gin promises a delicate salty influence and citrus zing, with a botanical lineup that includes juniper, coriander seeds, citrus peels, marsh samphire, douglas fir, sea aster, sea purslane and wild fennel. As with the teams wider range, the botanicals are hand foraged where possible, aiming to deliver ‘a taste of Norfolk’ and visions of the beach, through the locality of the freshly sourced ingredients.
The team have remained true to their branding in using the same sleek and elegant bottles as seen across their fuller portfolio. The rose gold anchor continues to provide that naval feel, whilst the sapphire blue glass of the Coastal bottle amps up the nautical vibes to a whole new proportion.
The embossed elements that detail the brands history and heritage remain in place to leave you in no doubt that you’re holding ‘the Spirit of Norwich’. In fact, it’s so easy on the eye that you’ll be glad to know that, as with all of the Bullards gins, you’ll be able to refill it over and over again via the available eco pouches.
Sink or swim; Bullards Costal Gin to taste
Having already drank the gin with my eyes…again, not literally…it was time to don the metaphorical arms bands and ‘sea’ what this gin was all about. I was going in…
On the nose, this is going to sound cheesy and a little like the name of the gin has ‘led the horse to water’ (excuse the pun). But there is a definite gentle sea breeze rising from the glass. The juniper is bold and purposeful, supported by the confidence of a freshly squeezed lemon backbone. This is exactly my cup of tea…well…gin!
There’s a big whack of coastal vegetation to the neat gin – a heady bouquet of sea purslane, marsh samphire and sea aster bring with them a lush hue of greenery, with a dusting of floral sea salt sprayed across the nostrils. The douglas fir on the other hand switches the juniper pine volume up to 11, bringing forest floor delights of smile inducing proportions!
I always have a lot of respect for teams who are able to bring a sense of place and provenance to their spirits. And Bullards Coastal Gin doesn’t disappoint; the gin has a magical ability to transport you from the edge of your seat to the Norfolk coastline, as if you’re stood on a cliff top looking out to sea. And let’s be honest, in the current climate (with COVID-19 being at its height at the time of writing) who wouldn’t want a bit of that?!
To taste neat, the fennel feels absolutely massive! There is a big blast of aniseed and liquorice that I wasn’t expecting. We’re not taking ‘Fisherman’s Friend’ levels, but it’s a welcome addition to the profile that I hadn’t anticipated from the nosing. That said, on returning to the glass the fennel is unmistakably present on the vapours. It’s delicious, and somehow seems to add to the nautical theme, complementing the sea salt notes.
The gin feels alive, posing with a sense of poise and balance. The foraged botanicals bring a freshness and a vibrancy that add excitement to the drinking experience.
There’s a dry, spiced finish to the gin, akin to the crack of black pepper, with a satisfying longevity across the palate. The citrus becomes a little more subdued on the taste, whilst still playing an important role in the balancing of the spirits herbal and savoury character. Pleasingly, the juniper remains prominent throughout, delivering woody and crisp notes of oily pine.
Whilst cry’s of ‘try it in a Martini!’ should be heeded, to which I duly obliged, I’m telling you now; this gin is what G&T’s were made for!
When served ice cold with light tonic, and a slice of fresh lime, you can fully appreciate why they call this a perfect serve – it is just that! (Note: the Bullards recommendation is to use blackberries and lime peel, but a fresh slice of lime works just as well). The tonic helps to calm the lively warmth of that fennel, instead moving the profile to a softer shade of delicate aniseed, with a green and vegetative finish on the back of the throat. The fresh lime helps to cut through the coastal garden botanicals and hefty herbaceousness of the coastline influences, teasing out more of those citrus foundations on which the gin is built. As the carbonation of the tonic leaves bubbles to pop as you sip, it’s as if the sea breeze is being released from your glass on each approach. Awesome.
So there you have it. The brand that places ‘planet before profit’’ have done it again! Bullards Coastal Gin has been delivered with aplomb, taking the very best of the local coastline and managing to deliver a drinking experience that transports the palate and the mind.
Whilst I found the Martini serve to be a little too herbal and savoury for my personal taste, as a longer serve G&T it is utterly, ridiculously, good. And very, very moreish. You’ll approach intending to dip your toe. Before you know it, you’ll be eyeball deep and swimming in welcoming waters.
Bullards Coastal Gin – come on in…the waters warm.
Thanks so much to Bullards Gin for my complementary ‘Bottle for Life’ of their Coastal gin!
If you’d like to keep on top of all things Bullards, be sure to follow them across social media @bullardsgin – and then why not head to their website to order your very own Eco-Pouch at http://www.bullardsspirits.co.uk
And don’t forget to stop by @theginshelf across all social media platforms for more blogs & event updates. Stop by, say ‘Hi’ & chat gin!