Craft Gin Club offering passes its Test
Your bloggers are pleased to report that our first offering from joining the Craft Gin Club has been a very positive one with the bottle of Chalkstream Gold, produced on the banks of the River Test in Hampshire proving to be a flavoursome London Dry, with the strength to support a variety of serves.
The club was recommended to us by gin fan Julie Roberts at the Kestor Inn on Dartmoor and our pack for March – the first to arrive – also contained a selection of nibbles and complementary mixers, and though the apple and honey soft drink in cans was far too sweet for us, we will be looking forward to future consignments.
The husband and wife team behind Chalkstream Gold, both teaching professionals, went on a distilling course in Sunderland in 2017, before enrolling with the Dutch iStill University to enhance their knowledge. Intriguingly they credit iStill’s robotic processes for offering them consistency in producing their hand-crafted gins.
The botanical mix mainly follows the recipe for other London gins with orris, angelica, lemon and Grains of Paradise, as well as the obligatory juniper; while bay and rosemary introduce the herby notes.
But the Test Distillery begins its process with a spirit based on locally grown, Ancient English Maris Otter barley. Then as with Blackwoods which comes from the far chillier Shetlands, Chalkstream Gold is also infused with meadowsweet flowers, handpicked in proximity to the distillery. Finally it is cut with water drawn from an aquafer, ensuring the chalk-filtered clarity enhances the spirit’s smoothness.
‘Gin Clear’ is of course a term often used by trout anglers; so knowing that he grew up around Reading I contacted Kev Rose – founder of Framed Flies and a past winner of a GINblogger draw – to ask his opinion of the Test.
Kev revealed that he had fished there from a very early age, starting in the Sixties when one of his friends persuaded him to make a clandestine visit to a private stretch where they had to evade the landowner’s keepers. Like so many fly fishermen, they didn’t catch any fish, but the experience probably helped hone those skills of concealment for Kev’s later career in the Royal Marines.
There is a Royal Marine sniper in this image – can you spot him?