A toast to the coast
With a recent short break being our second stay in Appledore, it wouldn’t be surprising to those in the know that I couldn’t get quickly enough to see what was on offer at the fabulous deli there – the main reason being to check they were still making crab baguettes and … we needed gin, and knew they always carry locally crafted spirits.
So, into Johns of Appledore I went with indecent haste after parking the car, clocking the crab and the mouth-watering scotch eggs made with black pudding, as well as the deli’s homemade quiches, pasties and pies. Sitting prominently on the display case over these was the pleasing spectacle of Low Water Dick Gin. Intrigued by the name, I picked up the bottle to investigate before being approached by who I assume is Mr Johns from our ensuing conversation.
After chatting about GINblogger, he told me the story behind this gin: the family wanted to create a lasting legacy, to keep the local history alive by sharing the tales of his often colourful ancestors – plus, I felt, add a little romance … Richard ‘Dickie’ Johns lived and worked in the village around the early 20th Century, earning a living by ferrying people and goods between Appledore and Instow on the other side of the estuary.
His nickname ‘Low Water Dick’ arose because he could navigate the unpredictable waters between the two villages, never getting stuck in the mud whatever the tidal level – and if you watch how quickly the tide ebbs and flows here, along with the incredible tidal range, you really do begin to respect the infamous Dickie – there were no Nasa Clipper Depth Sounders back then …
On examining our bottle of Low Water Dick – I appreciated the artwork – if you look through the spirit, you see a subtle outline of the coastline, which is perhaps why it is sub-titled ‘Devon Coastal Gin.’ Handcrafted in North Devon with the help of Atlantic Spirit Distillery, this 42% gin – our actual bottle – was the 34th from the first ever batch created just over a week ago (mid June).
We enjoyed this bright and refreshing London Dry style tipple with lime and Indian tonic – botanicals include locally foraged Sea Purslane, hint of spice, a touch of warm cloves – we felt – and citrusy grapefruit. Very reminiscent of the sea thanks to the slight saltiness of the Purslane, the Johns family will surely make this lovely gin a firm favourite, far and wide.
Low Water Dick can be purchased for £44 from Johns of Appledore, and over the other side of the estuary at Johns of Instow. More outlets will surely follow.