An “invigorating” new gin has been launched by a team including bartender Nick Strangeway, chef Valentine Warner and drinks specialist Cairbry Hill.
They have adapted old techniques and pioneered new ones to create Hepple Gin, named after the village in Northumberland where the distillery has been built. It features juniper and other botanicals sourced from the hills surrounding Hepple.
Nick and Valentine of The Moorland Spirit Company teamed up with Cairbry to develop the production methods which include not only a copper pot still but two advanced systems: a glass still using vacuum distillation to capture the fresh, zesty notes of botanicals including young green juniper and a high-pressure extraction system to release the intricacies of the ripe juniper. These heighten flavour notes that are lost in the traditional process.
Cairbry explained: “To capture the full flavour spectrum of each botanical we have to go beyond the conventional. Our method is very time consuming but does reveal each botanical with unusual fidelity.”
Nick said: “Our unique gin-making method allows botanicals to ring through with great clarity individually and in exceptional harmony together. But we find something else, that when we mix Hepple Gin with tonic or in a cocktail its flavours remain undiminished and true to their original form.”
Master distiller Chris Garden, who was previously head distiller at London-based Sipsmith for five years, added: “By using three different processes for juniper, we can layer what we could describe as the bass, the tenor and the soprano parts of what is gin’s traditional leading act.”
With Cairbry as sales director and Chris as head of operations, the team is completed by managing director Walter Riddell, who owns the Hepple junipers.
Walter said: “Hepple Gin carries the motto ‘I hope to share’, and its making has epitomised this spirit. Only by pooling their rather unconventional expertise could the founders have created this gin.
“We also want to mark the broader collaboration: the barmen, botanists, fellow distillers and bon viveurs from all points of the compass who have shared their knowledge with us. Thank you for your generosity, which has helped to make this spirit pulse with the essence of Hepple.”
Valentine added: “The notion of what makes a great gin lies at the heart of every decision we have made at Hepple. We felt that juniper must lead and that only by combining both its ripe and young green stages can we reveal the full range of its life and flavours.
“Woven into this is an array of botanicals that are as lively in the bottle as they are side by side in the northerly wind. Through our odyssey of research and experiment it was imperative that we remain faithful to the extraordinary brightness of each ingredient to make the most flavourful of gins.”
It is available in 70cl bottles 45% ABV, with a recommended price in retail of £38.
Tasting notes from The Moorland Spirit Company
Aroma: On the nose there is an immediate fresh scent of green apple, bright grapefruit and a spicy juniper. This then opens up to reveal underlying notes of Douglas fir, raspberry and rich blackcurrant.
Taste: On sipping, the initial fresh zesty citrus flavours evolve into unexpected ripe melon, the spicy fragrant juniper continues to coat the palate. There is a very luscious sweet mouthfeel, which is both juicy and quenching.
Finish: The finish is extremely long and this is where the juniper reveals itself further with flavours alternating between sandalwood and cedar that complement the sweet blackcurrant and liquorice. The sweet juiciness is maintained throughout the finish.