There may be a touch of ‘Carry on up the Khyber’ about the branding to this gin, but there’s nothing faux about the flavour of a distillation which would surely have done the trick for our intrepid forbears who relied on a G&T to help protect themselves against malaria.
Rather than the stifling heat of the Indian sub-continent, we came across this gin during an early autumn expedition to Topsham on the Exe estuary, where the well-stocked but bijou Topsham Wine Shop not only carried such local distillations as Papillon and The Beast, but a darkly intriguing spirit which blends the juniper with Kalahari Truffles.
As we suspect the latter might be too sweet for our taste, it was the Old Raj which made it home with us for what proved to be a very stiff drink which the distributors – WM Cadenhead of Argyll – say should either be drunk neat or served with Indian tonic “after the hunt”.
We’ve tried both and fully agree they work, but were left wondering why, at 55% ABV, they stopped short of making Old Raj a full navy strength spirit.
Alternatively available at 46%, the mainly traditional list of botanicals parades coriander, cinnamon and cassia quills as well as nutmeg, liquorice, orris and angelica root; along with the juniper. Then as a colourful – and pricey – twist saffron is added after distillation, introducing a faint yellow tinge. However, we reckon that rather than leaving you looking jaundiced, Old Raj will put colour in your cheeks and hopefully help keep you out of the sick bay.
“Ooooh nurse, you are naughty!”