It was love at first sight with Duck and Crutch, who can resist such a handsome and beautifully designed bottle. We were further seduced when we learned more about the gin, made lovingly by hand in a 6 x 4ft shed in Kensington by a fabulous couple, George and Hollie. What really made us fall for this gin however was the taste. Made with juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, cassia, nutmeg, cardamom, citrus, fresh thyme, walnut, Darjeeling tea and bourbon vanilla pod. This is a deft balance of classic and modern gin botanicals.

On the nose there are wisps of citrus pine then a flood of vanilla and tea with underlying earth and spice notes. The aroma literally draws your mouth to the glass, it’s very hard to resist.

Tasted neat the lead is fresh pine and citrus, this yields to hints of warm spice followed by a satisfying dry gin kick that grabs the mouth. Tea and vanilla notes round out in a long, long, smooth and subtly sweet linger that builds as you sip.

With tonic (fever tree regular) the gin rounds out, the dilution also brings out an almost creamy, full, mouth feel. On teh palette citrus and pine notes lead into a pleasing dry middle with layers of warming spice that yield to a long subtle sweet linger. All the way through this gin is fresh yet creamy, moreish and seductive. Go Kensington!

What can we say, Duck and Crutch shows what can be done by two people with care, attention and love. More please!

Not that you need a reason to drink gin, but let’s say you did, saving mankind is a pretty good one.

It’s said that “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.”  If bees go we go. Keepr’s is a company that is working hard to make bee keeping in the UK a viable proposition, supporting beekeepers and in turn the British honey bee to ensure their future in our environment.

Keepr’s Honey gin is a London Dry Gin infused with small batch Cotswold honey. Each batch, and so each bottle of gin is traceable to the hive and the queen bee the honey came from. Our particular bottle came from a hive with Queen bee Alice! The gin is made by taking a classic London Dry and adding an infusion of their raw honey.

And so how does honey gin taste?

On the nose honey dominates with hints of juniper camphor and meadowy floral top notes.

Tasted neat on ice, immediately on the palette there is silky sweetness. A fleeting hit of fragrant juniper pine quickly yields to a wave of caramel only to be consumed by a flood of warming almost peppery heat. We are talking a comforting, life affirming, peppery gingery, lip smacking zing. The linger is a soothing, mild, honey sweetness.  This is a very pleasant sipping gin, a Cordial Gin would be the best description to convey the silky mouthfeel – delicious and warming.

We were curious how this gin would stand up to tonic. Good news, with a one to one ratio (fever tree regular) and a lemon peel & rosemary garnish this makes a very good, easy drinking gin and tonic that fits well with the current vogue of sweeter gins. The tonic lifts it and gives it longer legs with clear notes of fragrant almost floral pine, ginger and honey. It is sippable, moreish and very drinkable.

Excellent in a gin buck and delicious in a bees knees we are very pleased and proud to have Keepr’s on our shelves. Not only an excellent gin but supporting our vital and busy british bees. Look out for it on our autumn menu, and of course in a special bee-keepers knees cocktail!

As we brace ourselves for the final ever episode of The Bridge this week we thought it would be appropriate to console ourselves with some Scandinavian gin. Nordic noir has transformed our appreciation of drama here in the UK over the past few years, do Scandinavian spirits do the same for gin? The bottle we reached for is Bareksten, a Norwegian gin taking it’s inspiration from the dramatic surroundings and folklore of Norway and made with local herbs and berries.

The nose is vibrant and inviting. Fresh pine notes married with enticing spice notes and hints of blueberry fruit.

Tasted neat there is fresh pine and a wonderful burst of caraway spice. This yields to subtle sweet fruit undertones with a tingly pepper bite in the linger and a round silky mouthfeel. Bareksten is an extremely tasty, well balanced gin that can easily be sipped on the rocks and makes a superb Martini.

With tonic (Fever Tree regular) the nose is still present, enticing one to sip. The profile opens out and lightens but most pleasingly the sweet spice body remains full and voluptuous. Pine citrus notes lead into a spicy middle. There is a moreish, almost savoury bitter dryness with a subtle fruit sweetness in the linger. A seductive silkiness to the mouthfeel that has one reaching for the glass.

Is this gin Thor or Gretta Garbo? It is both! Muscular and bold in its flavours but at the same time enticing and seductive. Our conclusion? That this gin is as gripping and satisfying as the best Noridic noir, we raise our glass to Bareksten!

An open letter – A nail in the coffin of Soho enabled by Westminster council

About us – We are a small, independent business in Soho with roots back to 1933 who are now so dismayed with Westminster council that we feel we have to make our views known. We don’t usually moan, and we are not one for consipriacy theories but honestly it’s just getting too much!

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Things change, it’s a fact of life. Things change for better, things change for the worse and how things change in Soho is largely dictated by Westminster council. So let’s take a look at the message being sent by Westminster council by the recent decision to grant planning permission for the conversion of Film House on Wardour Street (round the corner from us) from 11,000 sq meters of office space used by the creative industries to a 174 room upmarket hotel.

Westminster council claim they are committed to maintaining the character of Soho, which is generally considered to benefit from the varied, mixed use of premises. A vibrant mix of residential, creative, office, retail and hospitality use ensures that the area cannot be monopolised and overrun by any one type of industry. Supporting the provision of small office and workshop spaces supports independent, creative businesses that add so much to the vibrancy and character of the area – which is Soho’s magnetic north.

Westminster council’s planning committee have decided that turning over a large amount of space dedicated to independent creative business is fine as “the proposals are considered to be in line with [a policy to] encourage an increase in visitor accommodation throughout the city.” This was no doubt facilitated by a £15,000 payment to Westminster councils PPA scheme that subsidises the planning department.

There’s the rub. From a council perspective visitors are cheap. Tourists come in, spend money and leave. Visitors and the large corporations providing the theme park cookie cutter experiences tailored to them don’t heavily use council services. They don’t complain about noise, dumped rubbish, drug dealing, vagrants or the disruption caused by over-development – because they don’t live and breathe Soho. They don’t need social care and they don’t use community services. They come in and leave, it’s a transient occupation. Soho is a source of work, income and profit and nothing more. The manager of Starbucks on the corner doesn’t give a shit that the rubbish bin on the street has been overflowing for three days. We do, so we report it to make sure it’s emptied. The manager of Chipotle, King, Starbucks, Brgr or Cards Galore don’t care that junkies use the street as a toilet and it gets piled up with human waste. We do, and we have to request a “flush” of the area to get the shit cleaned off. That’s how glamorous Soho life is. It’s the residents and small business owners that deal with this for the benefit of everyone.

Westminster council have no interest in supporting the independent character of Soho and the individuals that have created and maintain it. Small businesses complain and protest about sustainability. Large multi-national or venture capital backed hospitality and retail interests are happy to pay inflated rates and rents.

Westminster council had the opportunity to draw a line in the sand with this planning application and demonstrate their genuine commitment to the diversity of Soho. Westminster council granted permission despite overwhelming objections, including The Soho Society which opposed the unwelcome change of use and impact on businesses in the existing building and 51 objections (out of 52 responses) from other representations received, mostly from occupiers of buildings in and around the site.

So here are the facts – when lamenting the fate of Soho it is Westminster Council you should be looking to and lobbying. No end of ideas, hopes and wishful thinking will enable small independent business to operate here – economics and vested interests are what shape and dictate events which is plainly evident on the ground. The small, truly independent operators and landlords that still remain in this area are exiting stage left. The community that created and sustained Soho and it’s village atmosphere (of which my family is a part) is disintegrating to be replaced by a disparate set of generic, venture capital backed enterprises run to maximise profit.

In 5 – 10 years Soho will become Covent Garden. A generic area dominated by global retail and hospitably enterprises whose sole purpose is to suck in tourist dollars.

My family has run a business here since 1933. I was brought up here and have lived here for over 25 years and for the first time in that period Soho doesn’t feel like home. Soho is vanishing. What it is being replaced by is souless and generic and Westminster council are colluding with big money business interests to crush the soul and character of the area. On face value it would be easy to conclude that Westminster council are actively trying to get rid of small independent businesses. So come on Westminster – what do you want? You cannot rely on the diversity of Soho to pull in visitors whilst at the same time decimating it.

What is to be done? I do not know, but come here while you can. In a few years time this will be the place where Soho used to be.

We are privileged to have on our shelves another fine Yorkshire gin – York gin. Emma, one of the masterminds behind York Gin visited the London Gin Club a while back and we spent a pleasant evening chatting about gin. Fast forward a year or so and we have the fruits of the labours of the fantastic team behind York Gin in our hands. A London Dry made with 9 botanicals including juniper, cardamom, orris, lemon peel and black pepper, the aim was to create a smooth sipping gin, so how did they fare?

The nose is bold, fresh and vibrant. Floral lavender top notes and fresh camphory juniper predominate. Subtle, sweet, underlying green bass notes entice you into sipping.

Tasted neat this is a smooth gin with a round silky mouth feel. Lavender top notes yield to the cooling fresh camphor of juniper, there is a bite of pepper bitterness with pepper heat persisting into a long smooth linger with an underlying sweetness. This gin has a most satisfying balance of cooling juniper pine and warm pepper heat. Let the ice melt in the glass a touch and this is a most satisfying sipping gin indeed; round, well-balanced with an underlying silky sweetness.

With tonic (Fever Tree regular) the same nose is present but is a touch greener. The profile remains the same but is more open: fresh lavender floral top notes, cooling juniper with a pepper bite and underlying sweetness with a touch af warming spice seeping through.

This is a most satisfying dry gin – an excellent sipping gin, easy drinking on ice it also makes a great gin and tonic which we garnish with a rhubarb slice.

So raise your glass to Rutterkin, the black cat and swaggering gallant who adorns the bottles of York Gin. We most wholeheartedly welcome him onto our shelves and onto our lastest tasting menus at the London Gin Club.

 

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