“Conkering since 2014”
Unlike gin, the Dutch have no claim over the emergence of conkers as a contest, but just as with the juniper-based spirit, battling away with horse chestnut seeds threaded on a piece of string has somehow found its way to countries around the world: including Canada and Puerto Rica.
It’s not totally clear why this Bournemouth based distiller adopted the knuckle-bruising pastime as its brand name, but we can confirm that their recipe – annotated on the label of our 70Cl bottle as “No 36” – definitely hits the spot. We ordered our bottle online from Majestic Wines, but the 40% spirit can also be purchased from Amazon or Waitrose for around £35.
Rather than adopting any of the schoolyard skulduggery like soaking in vinegar or baking in an oven, the Conker Spirit process is based on British grown wheat and the use of spring water from the New Forest; while key botanicals apparently include gorse flowers and elderberries as well as the samphire we’ve loved in a number of gins such as Lyme Regis and Mermaid, produced further along the south coast.
In addition to the requisite juniper, the 10 botanicals also include orris root, cassia bark, angelica and coriander, as well as bitter orange peel.
We would definitely echo the maker’s assessment that the Dorset Dry offers a complex and layered taste experience, while adding that this gin has the sturdiness of strength to take whichever tonic you choose to add. We in fact enjoyed ours with Fever Tree Mediterranean as well as Indian tonic and a slice of orange or lime.
“Oh, and there is one connection with the Netherlands, in that if you buy from the Conker Spirit Distillery direct, your 70Cl bottle of Dorset Dry will come with two free cans of Double Dutch Tonic.”