Love bite of the ‘Mermaid’s Kiss’
Having clambered all over the Isle of Wight’s varied outcrops during a geology field trip from Portsmouth Poly – a short ferry ride across the waters of the Solent – I can report the flavour of Mermaid Gin is as complex as the different rock and soil types to be found there.
The producers of this small batch spirit, at the Isle of Wight Distillery, rightly describe the overall result of their work as smooth, but over and above the initial taste of juniper nuanced with citrus and spice, there is a real bite from the Rock Samphire with its sea fresh zing and saltiness. This being a botanical which always impresses: as in the previously reviewed Lyme Regis and Spain’s Nordes brands, along with other gins we’ve enjoyed.
Hampshire’s coastal waters are a favourite with the yachting fraternity who flock there for Cowes week and the Round the Island Race, but the tides can be treacherous; which may be why we’re informed that Samphire is known locally as ‘Mermaid’s Kiss’ and its presence on the cliffs supposedly signifies that sailors are kept safe from the stormy seas.
“Our signature gin’s name was inspired by its lead botanical rock samphire, known locally as ‘mermaid’s kiss’”.
The marine environment and the IOW’s distinctive topography also gift some slopes offering very favourable growing conditions, which may explain why the island’s Ventnor Botanical Gardens supply Boadicea’s Hops, and the fact the gin also numbers English Coriander amongst its ten botanicals. Lemon zest, elderflower and Grains of Paradise are also present: while angelica, orris and liquorice roots complete the line-up.
Aside from the very pleasant taste of Mermaid Gin we should also include a mention of the properly classy bottle it comes in, with the tapering shape and delicately sculpted pattern of light blue scales, coquettishly concealing the clear contents. This is definitely Daryl Hannah reborn as a sundowner for a sunlit afterdeck rather than the humble garden decking where our favourite serve was with a piece of frozen lime and The London Essence Co tonic we’ve recently been sampling.
Mermaid London Dry Gin is available for around £35 from Amazon, Majestic and most major supermarkets.