The word on the street is that Hepple Gin will be big this year. We put Hepple on our shelves last year, and we were more than pleased when some of the members of the lovely Hepple team paid us a visit earlier this month.
Hepple Gin has much to engage a gin geek and also has much to commend being part of ‘The Juniper Project’; a project running with the Hepple estate in Northumberland to restore and reinvigorate Juniper growth in the UK.
So where to start? First let’s get into the botanicals, Hepple uses 13: Juniper, Green Juniper, Douglas Fir, Bog Myrtle, Lovage, Blackcurrant leaf, Blackcurrants, Amalfi lemons, Coriander seed, Fennel seeds, Liquorice, Angelica and Orris.
One in particular we have not seen used before: Green Juniper. Juniper berries (excepting they are not berries but pine cones) take up to 3 years to ripen and are normally used in their purple ripe state, however the Hepple team use green juniper, also unusual is the use of Douglas fir. The Hepple team brought the single distillates of green juniper and douglas fir for us to sample and we were really blown away. The Green Juniper distillate was a revelation, it is Juniper amplified with reverb – full on juniper action, a cheeky upstart that snaps at your palate. The Douglas Fir – wow, a total surprise! Who knew Douglas fir tastes like strawberries!
Hepple also uses some traditional British herbal ingredients – Bog Myrtle and Lovage, which personally we really like; some earthy english herbs with some passionate Italian Amalfi lemons – surely it’s a recipe for success?
Also of interest are the processes used to create Hepple Gin. A combination of copper pot distillation, single distillates created using glass vacuum rotary evaporation and CO2 high pressure extraction for the ripe juniper.
So less geek talk more action, how does this Hepple Gin actually taste?
On the nose it is bright, inviting and most pleasant, full juniper with citrus coriander notes.
Tasted neat it has a long and engaging profile. It starts with tingly, vibrant, citrus-floral notes. It is hard to describe, however the tingle is almost peppery but has a lavender floral element, however pepper would not usually be present at the start of a profile so we guess this is the lovage or blackcurrant leaf or maybe the green juniper? A juniper spine kicks in and it opens into a sweet citrus middle, becoming round and silky that yields to a rooty dryness. It is a most interesting and satisfying sipping gin.
With tonic, the floral angels sing out! Fruity sweet floral notes flood the senses, a juniper bite kicks into the tongue and gives way to a mellow rounded rooty sweet linger. Almost creamily sweet with a youthful sappy note. Wow gin nectar, bring it on! Contemporary gin continues to surprise and delight and bring new dimensions to an historic but completely modern spirit!
Good time ahead gin lovers!