This show stopper from South Devon – on the Kingsbridge Estuary east of Plymouth – is actually a London gin with a tantalisingly layered taste, founded on a very sturdy ABV of 44%, which the makers describe as a “contemporary spirit inspired by history.”
My personal ‘Start Point’ with this fine concoction started when it appeared amongst half a dozen Westcountry distillations served up at a gin-tasting in the main function room of The Dartmoor Lodge Hotel, Ashburton.
That evening in 2017 I eventually opted for Tarquin as my favourite for a final double measure, but the decision was actually very much an either-or with the Salcombe, and probably reflects more on the organiser’s recommendation of mixer and accompaniments. Since then we have actually bought two more bottles of the sea trading inspired Salcombe, and will not doubt enjoy more of it in the future.
Just to underline the maritime heritage, the Salcombe Distillery Company is based at ‘The Boathouse’ on the town’s Island Street. The label explains how copper clad ‘fruiters’ sped home from foreign shores carrying cargoes of fresh spices as well as exotic fruits during the mid-19thcentury.
Unlike the famous tea clipper, Cutty Sark, the hatches remained open in most weathers to help maintain the cargo in prime condition, while the makers of this superior gin nowadays make use of juniper from Macedonia and English coriander to contrast with the fresh citrus flavours.
From my perspective the jolt of the juniper is very much to the fore when you try Salcombe, with the spice following on as a delightfully smooth aftertaste, which if you sip it neat has an almost oily texture. The strength of the smell and the overall crispness to the blend enables the spirit to support a variety of mixers, though Fever Tree advocates its Elderflower Tonic, garnished with a slice of blood orange.
Undoubtedly this smoothly layered and bracing gin was a worthy winner of a Double Gold award at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It will likely scoop more prizes in the future.