There’s a lot of stock these days placed in so-called ‘Artisan’ gins. Gins that pride themselves on taking the most esoteric botanicals, and combining them into a heady, floral mix. It’s definitely a trend. In fact, my good friend who works for one of these distilleries confirmed it. You get a new starting brand who want a ‘craft’ gin, who want something unusual, and invariably what they mean is something with a butt-load of flowers in it.
Which is all well and good, if you like that sort of thing (and I do). But there comes a point where you just want a good old fashioned gin and tonic, and don’t want to feel like you’re eating distilled potpourri. Enter NB Gin.
I was pleasantly surprised when I first tried NB Gin. If I’m honest, I opened it fully expecting more of the same – more petals, more aroma, more potpourri. So much so, that I was a bit freaked out that I couldn’t actually taste a meadow, or a flower, or pollen. It worried me. I thought I was broken.
But I wasn’t broken. No, this is just a good ol’ fashioned gin. Which is not to make light of it. It’s extremely good, but it just takes a bit of time to realise that there’s beauty in its simplistic execution. Like great design, it’s not fussy, or filigreed, but just ‘right’. It’s like clean lines and white space. Perfectly empty.
Don’t think NB doesn’t have a flavour, though. It does. It starts with a window of juniper on the nose. That blends into citrus, then some peppery notes and a long, earthy juniper finish. It’s an oily gin too, so I suspect there are some woody botanicals in there to boot. It just doesn’t get bogged down in all these myriad flavours that overwhelm your senses.
So what actually goes into NB? Just 8 botanicals, since you ask. Juniper (obvs), coriander seed, angelica root, grains of paradise, cassia bark, cardamom, lemon peel and orris root.
There, in that short list, is what makes this gin so fantastically simplistic. Citrus and spice from the coriander and lemon peel, oiliness and pepper from the cassia, more citrus and pepper from the grains of paradise.
They’ve taken a select few flavours – citrus, pepper, juniper and woodiness, and just build upon them. Nothing fussy, not overthinking, just well executed in perfect proportions. That is, I’m sure, why it was voted Best London Dry Gin in the 2015 World Drinks Awards.