As the summer months begin to peter out, with the days becoming shorter and the evenings becoming darker, the inevitable changing of the seasons is nigh.
For most people, Autumns arrival will conjure imagery of rust coloured tree tops, seemingly alive with the burning oranges and yellows of a blinding sunset, whilst simultaneously signalling the ironic demise of the preceding solstice. As the temperatures begin to drop, some will get an almost romanticised vision of winter coats buttoned up tight, woollen jumpers and cosy evenings in warming cold feet next to the fire. I have to admit, on paper even I think it sounds appealing.
But that’s not my first instinct. No. What do I feel when the safety of summer is banished in exchange for its chillier counterpart? Full blooded fear, that’s what.
I’ve always been absolutely rubbish in the cold weather. Though, to be fair, the same is true of me if I’m sat in a meeting room where the air conditioning has been set slightly too high! Those couple of degrees to the minus side of the Celsius, that provide others with comfort, are usually enough to provoke my Reynaud’s Syndrome, sending my fingers and feet in to the sheet white abyss of numbness (honestly; I’ve lost count of the number of ‘double takes’ I’ve had over the years from unsuspecting audiences to me frantically trying to re-establish the blood flow in my fingers!).
You know the guy who is always the butt of the ‘That friend who is always cold’ Memes on social media (where the hapless sap of a poster boy is wearing 20 sweatshirts and still looks cold)? That’s me. I’m that guy! I’m already waiting for my Facebook inbox to start lighting up…
Before long, I’ll be in my full winter coat (weeks before others have noticed the drop in temperature), and it will remain in use until early May 2023.
But this autumn feels…different. Like there’s something to feel a little chirpier about. Don’t get me wrong – the cold weather can still get in the bin! But a recent arrival on the door step, bringing a promise of some internal warmth to safeguard my extremities, had raised a smile (if not the temperatures).
My good friends at Rock Rose had sent me a bottle of their ‘Autumn Edition’ gin to sample, which felt very well timed. If I must succumb to the inevitable rolling of the months, then I’d at least be doing it in style…
Rock Rose Gin; The changing of the seasons
Rock Rose Gin is made by the family owned ‘Dunnet Bay Distillery’, co-founded by the husband and wife duo of Martin and Claire Murray and based in Caithness, on the edge of the most northerly Scottish coastline.
Since writing my review of the teams ‘Coastal Citrus Gin’ in 2021, for International Scottish Gin Day, the brand have gone from strength to strength, adding expressions to their repertoire and medals to their trophy cabinets.
Finding it’s way in to the core range, the Autumn Edition was launched in 2021, as one of four (obviously) seasonally specific expressions;
“Our Autumn Edition has been distilled using lots of locally grown botanicals as well as our traditional Rock Rose botanicals. It is bursting with blackberries and raspberries from Caithness Summer Fruits and blaeberries from the Dunnet area.”
And for anyone who wondered whether Master Distiller Martin Murray was still living up to his title of ‘Innovator of the Year’ (by the Institute of Directors Scotland no less)…yes. He is. Case and point is that the Autumn Edition gin also boasts Vietnamese coriander and nasturtium flowers that have been grown in the teams very own geodome. I’m not going to lie…that’s pretty freaking cool!
Autumn Colours; The bottle
The teams iconic Rock Rose porcelain bottle is undeniably beautiful, with its matte effect white bottle providing the canvas background for an eye catching autumnal effect.
Entwined branches, grasping on to what you could be forgiven for mistaking as individually hand painted leaves, provide a very effective framing for the Rock Rose emblem. It really is stunning.
And now would be the perfect time to remind you that Rock Rose options from across the range also come in refill pouch form.
And let’s be honest, with such beautiful porcelain bottles, and the ability to pick up refills for a cheaper retail price, why wouldn’t you want to do your bit for Mother Nature?!
Why not find out more about the Refill Rewards Club at the team’s website.
Rock Rose Autumn Edition Gin to taste
And so now to the liquid itself. Would this be the metaphorical ‘antifreeze’ to my trepidation towards the impending colder weather? Or would it just taste like antifreeze? We were about to find out…
On the nose, it smells like the changing of the seasons – like the turning of the leaves and the nip in the air of a freshly frosted morning. There’s an autumnal warming reassurance, offering the comforting embrace of a duffel coat against the chill. There’s a mulled sense of spicing to the aroma, conjuring thoughts of wine mulling on the stove & more decorative bags of potpourri. I get a sticky sweetness of toffee apples and cinder toffee, sat alongside a herbaceous heat that brings depth and complexity to the earthier winter notes. There’s a fruit forward profile to the neat gin, with pangs of raspberry and hedgerow fruits – it brings a jammy character to the nose, complemented by zesty orange peels.
On the tasting, my first observation is that there is a much heavier hitting smack of heat to the neat spirit. There’s an assault of fiery spicing, with my palate sensing coriander, cardomom and sensations that remind me of grains of paradise, cassia and ginger. It combines to deliver a pleasing longevity and amped up flavour evolution on the tastebuds long after each sip. The crack of black pepper on the finish is perfectly weighted to draw you back in to explore further.
However, one point of note is that I did feel that the mouthfeel of the neat gin was tipping the scale in the direction of aggressiveness more than I would have liked – the power of the alcohol far exceeds expectations of the 41.5% ABV, at the expense of some of the smoothness I would have liked to have seen more of on the mouthfeel.
That said, I really enjoy the suggestions of red hedgerow fruits, with bright notes of raspberry and cooked strawberries leaving their mark. There’s an elevated sense of citrus that cuts through the fruited profile, with zippy lemon and the aforementioned orange peel working wonders in unison.
As with all of the Rock Rose gins, the juniper is dense and confident, undulating throughout the complex wash of citrus and spice. It’s ensures a recognisable ethos within the Autumnal USP.
I have to say that I enjoyed drinking this as a G&T far more than I had expected. Whilst there is no denying the spirits credentials, that I admired on the neat tasting, I had reservations over how the flavour profile would marry with the quinine of the tonic.
The answer; very well indeed! The raw power of the gin is tamed in the mixer, providing the smoothness I was craving on the mouthfeel. Despite this being a longer drink, the core characteristics at the heart of the spirit aren’t lost, with a very evident spiced underbelly never lost from sight. The addition of a wedge of orange is enough to grab hold of the citrus players and drag them to centre stage. Delicious.
That said, the fact that this would end up in a Negroni was almost as inevitable as the changing of the seasons. It’s citrus and spice backstory make it a great candidate for the short serve classic, and one to savour on a cool Autumn evening.
Rock Rose Gin; Central heating for grownups…
My overall impression of the Rock Rose Autumn Edition is one of genuine admiration. Previous visits to other expressions had given me reason for optimism, but the proof was in the drinking.
I can’t promise you that I am looking forward to Autumn (and beyond) any more than I was at the beginning of this blog. But with this gin on my shelf, something tells me that it may just be a little more bearable…
If ‘Readybrek’ is known as ‘central heating for kids’, then I’d like to introduce you to Rock Rose Autumn Edition Gin. It’s central heating for grownups! (and this blogger in particular).
With huge thanks to Dunnet Bay Distillery and Axiom Communications for my complementary bottle of the Rock Rose Autumn Edition gin.
For all of the latest happenings, do like the cool kids do and head for the t’interweb where you can keep up on the next steps in the exciting Rock Rose journey;
Facebook: Rock Rose Gin
This blog is also brought to you in recognition and celebration of International Scottish Gin Day 2022! Hitting your calendars on 1st October this year, the team at ‘The Gin Cooperative’ are doing an incredible job of setting up the events annual outing! Make sure you’re following the team to keep up with all of the latest in the build up to the big day:
And don’t forget to stop by @theginshelf across all social media platforms for more blogs & event updates. Stop by, say ‘Hi’ & chat gin!