Looking at our bottle of Scilly Island Gin reminds me of the many times, over the years, of setting sail with family and friends from Poole, Dartmouth or Plymouth; our destination being the beautiful Scilly Isles. Always arriving into St Mary’s at dusk or dawn, it’s easy to miss the archipelago in daylight as the islands are low lying and treacherous. You could easily end up either on the craggy rocks, or in America!
So it’s wise to be guided by the leading lights, and the bottle containing our latest gin has very much been styled like a lighthouse – indeed, our roving Gin Scouts Bill and Lesley, who found us this brand, also purchased us a wee LED light that fits in top of the bottle. It now lives in our utility room, which has a sea-faring theme.
Back to sailing: one’s first port of call is The Mermaid for the thirsty sailor, where you pile your oilskins onto the damp and untidy heap already begun by similarly minded souls.
My father always said that the good thing about sailing is when it stops – perhaps what he really meant was the relief at arriving to a cosy pub …
While a G&T was always welcome, Scilly Island Gin was conceived by husband and wife team Arthur and Hilary Miller in 2017. Their ‘ginspiration’ came from way back on 18th January 1665, when a spice trade ship was wrecked off Bishop Rock; it had been carrying peppercorns from Java, which is one of the key botanicals in their delicious Island Gin. And it was St Mary’s gigs that saved the stricken survivors from drowning – hence a gig’s wooden oar depicted down each side of the bottle’s neck, as an anti-tamper strip.
The gin is distilled using a closed cooling system – the botanicals, once spent, are composted and the result is sold with donations going to Cornwall Air Ambulance and the RNLI.
On the nose, juniper, cardamom, and a hint of orange, lime leaf and warming cassia prevail; I particularly liked the rounded peppery taste and subtle spiciness of the cardamom. As the Millers say, the finish is “balanced with spice notes from pepper and cardamom with warm sweet notes from the cassia; (reminding your blogger a little of Opihr). Kaffir lime delivers the subtle citrus notes on the finish, encouraging another sip” – I couldn’t agree more!
The ideal serve is apparently a large measure of Island Gin over ice, garnished with a fresh and a dried orange slice, with two measures of tonic. Having no kaffir lime leaves hanging about, we enjoyed our 44% spirit with Indian tonic and orange – although it really is good enough to drink neat; another excellent gin for the hip flask to be sure.
In May 2019, the distillery won The Drinks Business Award for Design and Packaging in the Spirits Category for the stunning Scilly Island Gin bottle’s design – ours, as already mentioned, will not be going into the recycling box.
Scilly Island Gin can be purchased for £40.80 plus P&P from Juniper Spirit