Sidmouth raises the stakes with an uncut 85% small batch gin
Just a week after I’d been intrigued by a declaration of intent from Gin Kitchen’s Kate Gregory that she and business partner Helen wanted to produce an 80% spirit, our Gin Scouts Bill and Lesley came back from pottering around Sidmouth with a sample of an even stronger offering from the seaside town’s craft distillery.
The 85% Night Flyer is by some distance the strongest spirit we’ve ever sampled: eloquently underlining the airborne service’s belief that they outgun their maritime mates, brandishing the comparatively pedestrian 57% Navy Strength – though we’ve enjoyed several of these such as Beast and ELG.
The intense aroma of citrus and coastal climes when you uncork this premium spirit puts you in no doubt that you’re in for something special, but despite the warning on the label to “Please dilute responsibly”, I couldn’t resist taking a tiny sip of it neat. The taste was actually very smooth – like the oiliness of a good malt whisky – stratified by Sidmouth Distillery’s favoured seaweed and other botanicals.
For a fuller experience we paired Night Flyer with a slice of lime and a not too generous splash of Indian tonic, as well as lots of ice, which made for an extremely pleasant early evening drink on the decking; which started me pondering on the significance of the number 85.
“Please dilute responsibly”
While I was expecting an avalanche of sporting statistics, surfing the internet revealed that 1985 was the year that Coca Cola launched its ill-fated replacement recipe, before rapidly reverting to selling America’s original soft drink. And staying stateside, ‘85’ apparently also alludes to what the average dude there considers are the optimum proportions for a broad’s boobs. This might explain why, despite the concerted efforts of the #MeToo movement to counter sexist attitudes, one of America’s most popular restaurant chains is known by the less than sophisticated term, ‘HOOTERS.’
When the Fergusons first brought us Sidmouth’s Seashore, Sea Truffle and slightly sweet Pink Grapefruit – all displaying an inverted biplane on the label – we compared the trio to the main characters in the Biggles books. So while the quirky Boulton Paul Defiant (a Spitfire lookalike with a gun turret squeezed in behind the pilot) epitomised the RAF’s night-fighter squadrons, Night Flyer’s capacity to deliver ‘Shock and Awe’ actually deserves to see it ranked alongside something that really does rule the skies, like a modern stealth bomber.
Remember; “Fly Responsibly”
The Boulton Paul Defiant was used as a night-fighter in WW2