Twelve keys is a gin made by the fantastic chaps at Sartorial Spirits that takes alchemy as its inspiration, and in particular the work of Basil Valentine who published his Twelve Keys text in 1599.
The origins of distilling are closely associated with alchemy. Early distillers believed that distilling captured the quinta – the quintessential essence – of a substance (‘Quintessential’ became’ essential’, which is why plant distillates are called essential oils). Early distillers / alchemists distilled everything from plants to precious stones in a search for the elixir of life and therein lie the origins of gin, juniper distillates (or strong waters as they were known in England) being thought to be good for everything from protection against venomous beasts to helping the memory and fortifying the sight.
Twelve Keys have done their research on alchemy and taken four moments in its history as inspiration to select twelve botanicals for their dry gin which make an intriguing mix: juniper, basil, angelica, gentian, caraway, cinnamon, frankincense, honey, apricot, fig, quince and orris.
And so how does this alchemic gin taste?
The nose is full and robust with fresh green notes with an underlying warm earthy spice.
Tasted neat, bright juniper with fresh green notes lead. There is a big peppery bite and a flood of warming spice followed by a sweet succulent fresh fruitiness in the linger. This is a well balanced complex gin that is easy and rewarding to sip neat.
With tonic (Fever Tree regular) a good fresh green nose remains. On the palette fresh green and pine notes lead followed by a warming spice balanced by a full sweet fruity linger, the gin rounding out with a luxurious silky mouth feel.
Twelve Keys is an extremely drinkable, well balanced dry gin that uses an interesting and innovative mix of botanicals that balances juniper with sweet fruit notes. It makes a very moreish gin and tonic which we garnish with fresh basil. I am sure Basil Valentine would approve!