When I think back to time spent in Devon, nothing comes to my mind more than the sounds and the smells of the ocean.
Having spent a number of years living on the south coast as a child, you never forget those aromas, not just of the salty air, but of seaweed and other vegetation that you find growing around the coast.
Having a gin that highlights the area from which it is made is what makes the spirit so fascinating. If they all tasted the same, then there wouldn’t be the huge number of gins creating success in the market.
Atlantic Spirit is the creation of Quint and Sadie from Bideford, North Devon who decided to venture into the world of gin distilling after Quint received a small still for his birthday 5 years ago. After having tried a gin that he just didn’t enjoy he had started to wonder what made a gin good or bad.
After having been a gin drinker for around 15 years, it was nearer 6 years ago that he started to experiment more with craft gins. These experimented with different botanicals and it really did start to create an ever expanding difference in varying gins.
Just like their gins that follow in this piece, the bottle also captures the region where it’s made beautifully, with each one featuring a mermaid design from local artist Mau Mau along with a design from a wood cutting from designer Merlyn Chesterman
Quint refused to tell me the identity of the disliked gin that sparked his interest in botanicals however, he did go on to tell me that it was from this tasting that he started to look more carefully at the botanicals in the gins that he did enjoy.
One of these gins contained hibiscus so when it came to experimenting with the new still, it was one of the botanicals that they tried out first. Although not the ingredient that created the flavour he was trying to identify, it did have great properties and made its way into their first gin.
When I think of Hibiscus, it transports me back to my days in travel and specifically to the West African country of The Gambia, where we used to greet new arrivals with a drink of the local Wonjo Juice. A rich hibiscus tea made sweet and served chilled and of a very deep red colour. It’s this rich colour that sees hibiscus used in most red fruit tea mixes around the world and in the UK, however the gin is clear.
This is because colour is not carried over through the distillation process, however what it does bring is an earthy dried flower on the nose and palette, more subtle and more complex than the use of rose petals.
Another botanical used that stands out on both the nose and palette is liquorice root, giving a flavour that lingers on the palette and lending a welcome sweetness.
As the juniper gives way you are also left with a hint of cardamom.
For their first gin, they had really discovered a great combination of botanicals.
Not content with their first launched gin, the couple decided to try and produce another gin that reflected them and their tastes.
Since delving into the world of gin botanicals, Quint and Sadie now found themselves out on walks and picking and smelling a variety of botanicals that could work as a gin and one of the places they loved to visit was the local RHS Rosemoor.
It was here that they decided on the use of lemon balm and two different thymes selected from the gardens.
This gin is very different and when trying all the gins neat my notes read – Delicate- Citrus – Lemon Sherbet!!!
On the palette the thyme comes through a little more creating a herbaceous finish which is incredibly pleasing
Mixing with a light tonic, the citrus opens out more, blending beautifully with the juniper to create a truly refreshing gin.
The couple carried on trying to find botanicals locally and a walk along the river near Appledore, just a few miles from their home led to their next gin
Picking the samphire in small amounts when in season means that this is a micro batch distilled gin produced in limited numbers.
On the nose it takes you to the river banks with the sea close by bringing in a clean and crisp sea air.
On the palette you are met with a soft vegetal note which is surprisingly dry. Quint explains that along with colour, salt is also not carried over from a botanical in the distillation process.
I was a little unsure to start with, but this one really grew on me when drunk with a plain tonic.
Continuing their journey of discovery and finding local botanicals that told the story of the area, they wanted to make a gin for Lundy, a small island in the Bristol Channel which is a haven for wildlife and a destination for hikers.
One of the botanicals found here in abundance is Gorse, however as the island is a conservation area, nothing is allowed to be picked and removed even something that is classed as a weed. So in homage to the island, they decided to collect Gorse from the cliffs of Abbotsham that overlook the island of Lundy.
The gorse is added to the other botanicals used in the Lemon and Thyme Gin with this being a citrus like gin, with the Gorse adding a more floral element on the nose and a subtle sweetness on the palette.
I’m four gins down and I still have another two left to try – and I’m starting to struggle with where they will go next.
Wait a minute – this isn’t locally foraged.
Quint goes on and tells me how this one came about because as well as walking, they love to travel and are big lovers of Thai Cuisine. As such they wanted to produce another gin that told a story of them as individuals.
This gin is Juniper rich but has a hit of aniseed with is long and satisfying.
Having been sent PR samples of each of the 6 gins I have just enough to try a small amount neat followed by just one G&T – well let me tell you – one is definitely not enough!!
I love a big bold flavour be it in food or drink. My favorite wines are of the bold variety and I can say the same for my gins, being a big lover of those botanicals that linger on the tastebuds creating a mouthfeel that makes you want to chew. If you like to enjoy these types of gins, then this one is definitely for you.
I didn’t dare try any more gins at this point, but instead saved the last one until I was writing this up.
Laver is a seaweed usually used in the welsh product ‘Laverbread’ and could also be dried to produce Nori.
The Laver used is locally foraged in the same area where they collect their Gorse. As it is seasonal this is also a micro-distilled gin and has become a real gem in their house.
This gin punches you in the face with the sea and transports you to sitting on a shingle beach and low tide with seaweed scattered and the ocean spray hitting you in the face.
On the palette it is again savoury and makes you start to think of a seafood platter – like many of their gins, this takes you on a journey and again is very moreish.
Each of the gins has its own story to tell and Quint is excited to tell me that they have even more to look forward to in 2021 and I for one can not wait to see what’s next on their journey of adventure, which I feel like I have been on with them through the gins.
Name: Atlantic Spirit Gin
Proof: 42% ABV
Buy From: Drinkfinder
Disclaimer:- The article contains PR samples that were gifted for the purpose of an honest review by Manchester Food Tourist.