James Gin Review

James Gin Review

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James Gin – is it just the apostrophe that’s missing?

I’ve been a fan of James May (AKA Captain Slow) ever since he joined the Top Gear team 20 years ago and revere some of their output such as ‘The Interceptors’.  I also generally agree with his taste in classic cars as well as his opinions on planes and other forms of transport.  In this case, however, I should possibly be reflecting on the two series of ‘Wine Adventures” he undertook with Oz Clarke: touring vineyards and elegant chateaus in search of the best vintages.

Suffice to say, no longer circling the globe with Clarkson and The Hamster, Mr May has found time to launch his own brand of gin, which Gin Lover One spotted on Twitter while she was updating our social media, and duly secured us a bottle for £39 from his website.

For a chap with a music degree and an often-colourful taste in shirts, I was surprised to find such a plain label on our 70cl purchase, where the only interesting detail – other than it being from batch 002 – is the maker’s choice of Asian Parsnip – which I think is something Jeremy dabbled with growing down on his Diddly Squat Cotswold farm.

And although our first taste mixed with Fever Tree Indian Tonic and a slice of lime confirmed this is a quality distillation with the right bite for a 41.3% ABV, we both felt there was something slightly lacking to the experience.  We also mixed it with a sage infused tonic which was hanging around in the fridge from our last Craft Gin Club parcel, but the flavour still didn’t quite reflect the list of botanicals noted on the back of the bottle.

The foundation for James Gin is in many ways a classic London dry with orris root, liquorice root, sweet orange and angelica all superimposed on the juniper, along with coriander seeds, cardamom cubeb peppers and Grains of Paradise giving further support.  They’ve also added ginger and some fenugreek, which I discovered is a powdered herb often included in curry powder; but I felt the primary taste was an earthy one with the subtlety of a spicy finish missing in action.

Remembering the next day we’ve had the taste of other gins like Wicked Wolf impaired by the mixer or the melting ice, I poured a measure into my favourite whisky glass and put in a few of the granite cubes we keep in the freezer for an undiluted experience.  This I have to say allows you to enjoy the full and delicious flavour of James Gin, with the strong root and branch layers of the botanicals unfurling over your tongue and warming your throat.

‘Aromatic with focused aromas of cardamom and pepper. Hot and spicy with a powerful, flavoursome finish. An accomplished, well-defined example.’

International Wines and Spirits Competition Judges

Interestingly, as I was writing this review, Juliet received an alert from James Gin, informing us of the spirit having earned the above accolade from the judges of a ranking industry awards; as well as a notification that they are selling a limited-edition Navy Strength gin which uses the same botanical mix.   This got me wondering whether the 57% spirit would win the battle with the ice and mixer and – given the fact James May is already diversifying his range – maybe this autumn we can look forward to a “Captain Sloe”.

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