Jawbox – the spirit of Belfast (Sinks).
As one of our 100+ reviews confirms, we Brits were once very partial to a drop of Bathtub Gin, but until we spent a weekend in Oxford recently, it hadn’t occurred to me that Belfast Sinks ever had any connection to the juniper juice. Step forward then, the 43% classic London style Jawbox Gin.
Our first taste of this distinguished distillation came thanks to the range of gins offered by Tim Martin’s ubiquitous Wetherspoons chain – in this case called The Four Candles – which of course meant we weren’t charged the earth for our early evening sharpener.
The cheery barmaid let me take a photo of the bottle after serving up our two doubles with lots of ice and a bottle of Indian tonic, which I bore back to the table Juliet had secured by the stairs to the upper floor. Having walked a few miles around the streets of arguably the country’s most famous university city – and backdrop for beer loving Inspector Morse – I was more than ready to interrogate a complex spirit; and Jawbox didn’t disappoint.
The first taste was full of zing and spice as well as an intriguing earthiness we both liked. But it wasn’t until we returned home to Devon that a visit to the maker’s website revealed how the name comes from the habit of families and friends to congregate in their kitchens – around the box shaped kitchen sink – for a good jaw.
However, for a nation regarded as having the gift of the gab, I was surprised to find the website was so mean with information on its gins; though I did discover they make a 47% Export Strength spirit; and some fruit infused ones such as pineapple, which we probably won’t get round to trying.
Thankfully, Masters of Malt got straight to the point with a list of the 11 botanicals which include cubeb, angelica, coriander, cassia, orris root and Grains of Paradise. I would guess the liquorice might be sourced locally – along with the grain for the base spirit – but there’s no doubt about the “Black Mountain heather” which is hand-picked somewhere on the mount which rises 1,275 feet just beyond Belfast.
Considering some Irish whiskeys can be a little harsh, I don’t think we’ve tasted a gin from either side of the border which we didn’t enjoy: Cork Gin, Drumshanbo Gunpowder, and Micil Spiced Orange have all been well rated here. Jawbox is definitely another one worth talking about – unlike some gins we’ve reviewed.
Jawbox Gin can be purchased from most supermarkets or online for around £30.