Family revives historic gin once favoured by cocktail bartenders

Nicholson gin

An historic gin used by cocktail bartenders in the 1920s and 1930s has been revived by the descendants of its founders.

Nicholson Gin has been launched by Nicholas Browne and Tim Walker, first cousins and direct descendants of John Nicholson who built up the gin business with his brother William in the 1830s.

The company was originally established in 1736 and had two London distilleries in Clerkenwell and Three Mills in Bow but it was the brothers who pioneered the London dry gin style in the 1830s. Their gin ceased production in the 1980s.

The newly launched Nicholson Original, produced at Thames Distillers in London, combines 10 classic botanicals: juniper berries, coriander, angelica root, citrus peels from oranges and lemons, cinnamon, orris root, cassia bark, nutmeg and liquorice.

They deliver a substantial, complex and classic dry gin profile. The palate is juniper-led with citrus notes and a touch of spice, culminating in a long, dry and balanced finish. It has ABV of 40.3%.

Nicholson Gin was used in cocktail bars in the 1920s and 1930s and features in The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book, Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails by Harry MacElhone and the original Savoy Cocktail Book – where bartender Harry Craddock uses the gin in a recipe for a Martini with French vermouth and absinthe.

The new bottle and label have been developed based on research in the company archives. The label has been updated and refashioned to reflect the importance of the Nicholson family in the history of gin as well as their links to cricket and Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in the 19th century.

John Nicholson’s son, William Nicholson, was not only a distiller but well-known as a cricketer, appearing in first-class matches in the mid 19th century, as well as being a prominent member and president of the MCC, helping to develop Lord’s cricket ground in London. Also a Liberal MP, he is the great-great-grandfather of Nicholas and Tim who are now relaunching their family’s gin.

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