I asked some other inane question, about how he customised the still, which he answered with such enthusiasm and pride that the previous seconds of frightening silence were forgotten.
This little lean-to suburban greenhouse is the production centre of the Capreolus Distillery. Quite the most unusual location to make gin and fruit spirits. Even the old family garage is now an officially HMRC licensed excise warehouse. As Barney mentioned “Most of the neighbours do not know there is a fully operational distillery here in our garden“.
It has been a few short months that the the Capreolus Distillery has been in operation. Pure, dazzlingly clear, eaux-de-vie have been the focus for that unnamed still so far. A magically scented Elderberry for example. Or one made form Comice Pears. The stories of how they selected the fruit, mostly from the local region, the number of experiments and the sheer hard graft of, for example, preparing tons of quinces would fill a book. But I travelled down to the Cotswolds for the gin. And I was so glad I did.
The Whisky Exchange has just announced the Capreolus Garden Tiger Gin as their Spirit of the Year 2016. A stupendous accolade seeing the distillery has been operating for a matter of weeks.
For me the complexity of the Capreolus Garden Tiger Gin was staggering. Naturally Barney wasn’t going to give me any specifics on the ingredients but did mention that Sicilian blood orange zest (cut on site, never dried) was a sizable component and a British native small leaved lime tree Tillia cordata provides a honey-flowered dimension. A mammoth testing period narrowed down the list of botanicals to 34, from “resonant earth notes through sweet, sour, spice and high floral”.
They are either macerated directly for 40 hours or suspended above (the unnamed still has some specific customisations) for a gentle liberation of aroma through the rising steam.
Picking up on the inclusion of blood orange, it was suggested that a slice of blood orange is used as a garnish in a Garden Tiger Gin and Tonic.
And what tonic to use? Something relatively neutral not to obscure the gins complexity. I raised an eye brow when Waitrose Value Tonic water appeared; but Fever Tree too is favoured.
Capreolus Garden Tiger Gin
Capreolus Garden Tiger Dry Gin is fresh, aromatic and fruity – a wake-up call for the senses. Made with an impressive 34 botanicals, including blood-orange zest and lime-tree flowers, Garden Tiger has a great depth of flavour that works equally well served neat as it does in a cocktail or with tonic.
Capreolus Garden Tiger Gin is available from The Whisky Exchange for £33.95 for a 50cl bottle. The eaux-de-vie with a similar level of painstaking attention to detail are listed at £28.95 for 37.5ml bottles.