Slingsby Artisan Gin
I hadn’t heard of Slingsby when I came across their stand at the Elite London show a couple of weeks ago, and as any self-professed Gin Fiend would, stepped up for a try. They were kind enough to send me a bottle, so it seemed the least I could do was tell you good people what I thought of it.
I’ll start with the bottle, as it’s quite unusual among the myriad anodyne bottlings out there. To be perfectly honest, some of the brands in the mainstream market today look so similar that it’s quite hard to tell one from the other.
Not so with Slingsby. Their bottle is inspired by Victorian pharmacy bottles, and is a deep blue. It’s extremely individual and instantly recognisable – certainly a must when trying to stand out on the back bar or supermarket shelf.
While I’m certainly not making light of the effort that I’m sure all brands go into with their packaging, the delivery of Slingsby is just that bit more refined. I particularly love the period filigreed design of the label.
Remove the foil around the top and you expose the relatively innocuous-looking cork. As they say, the devil is in the detail, and the hand-made Portuguese cork holds true to that axiom. Set against the cold glass of the bottle, the warmth and tactility of the closure serves to complete the picture.
But you didn’t come here for me to witter on about bottles and filigree did you? I started things off tasting the gin neat – apparently you can’t take the bartender out of the blogger – to really get a feel for the flavours.
Before I had even put the glass to my mouth, it was evident that this was going to be a sweet, oily gin. Swirling the clear liquid around, the gin clung to the walls of the wine glass, leaving long, slow-running tears as it descended back to the bottom of the glass.
I then began to smell, inhaling the bouquet of scents that make up Slingsby. Gin is always a hard spirit to taste and describe, simply because it’s made up of so many different and co-dependent botanicals. To each their own, as they say, and I can guarantee that each of you would have your own opinion as to how Slingsby smells.
On the nose for me, I got an initial window of rosemary and some lavender – woody, menthol-based herbs. Intermingled with this were notes of grapefruit peel and orange, giving a bitter citrus feel.
Adding a splash of water to free up some of the longer chain molecules and alcohols, I started to get a floral note too, akin to rosewater.
More importantly, the drinking off the stuff. As soon as it hit my tongue, my prediction of the oiliness of the gin was confirmed, but I wasn’t quite ready for just how oily it was. This is a delicious gin. It coats your mouth with a sweet oiliness, that then gives way to floral tones, juniper – predictable I know, but some distillers seem to overdo the juniper somewhat and it can overpower the other more subtle botanicals – and more lavender and liquorice too. There’s a long lingering finish of the sharpness and slight bitterness of grapefruit peel, before a lasting ‘shadow’ of rhubarb.
How to Drink It
I don’t expect any of you to actually drink Slingsby neat, so I mixed it into some of my favourite libations and tried them, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Gin and Tonic
Such a simple drink, the humble G&T, but surprisingly difficult to get just right. Here’s the proper way to do it.
Take a tall glass and fill it just shy of the brim with ice. Pour over 50ml of Slingsby. Cut a wedge of pink grapefruit and run it around the rim of the glass. Add 200ml of good quality tonic water (Fevertree is my preference). Drop in the wedge of grapefruit and cut a long thick strip of peel and add to the drink.
Sip and savour. Repeat until you fall over.
If you want to immediately win the respect of a bartender, order this classic. I talk about it in more depth in my What You Should Be Drinking article. It’s a wonderful drink that is so exceptionally simple to make – you pretty much can’t go wrong, provided you put good quality ingredients in. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say.
Rather than faff around with clean/dirty ice and mixing glass shenanigans, I’ll explain how to make the ‘builders brew’ Negroni. One that you can stir with your finger, as the great Gaz Regan put it.
Take a rocks glass and fill it with ice. To it, add equal parts Slingsby, sweet vermouth (I paired Antica Formula for this instance), and Campari. Around 35ml or 1 ¼ oz of each will do the trick. Cut a long, wide strip of orange peel and twist into a spiral. Drop into the glass. Stir 15 times clockwise and 15 times anti clockwise.
Drink and marvel at your work. Who ever said classic cocktails were difficult or pretentious.
What a great gin – another brilliant product on the block that is embracing the maturing trend for artisan gins. Certainly, I do think that gins of this sort are tending towards the more floral end of the spectrum – both Slingsby and Burleighs have a prevalent lavender tone to them – which I think lends them perfectly to drinks such as the Negroni above, where the robustness of the flavours can stand up to the strength of the vermouth and Campari.
I’d love to see an export strength bottling in the future – something around a 47-49% ABV. I think this would really make a Slingsby G&T ‘pop’.
Try it for yourself – available from www.ginfestival.com for the bargain price of £40.