Sidmouth Gin Review


Biggles Flies Inverted –

Biggles’ early escapades were in the Sopwith Camel used by the Royal Flying Corps.

You might imagine that “Looping the Loop” would pull the wings off one of the early bi-planes, such as the Sopwith Camel flown by Biggles in WE Johns’ adventure novels, but the manoeuvre was actually first performed in 1913, a milestone moment celebrated a century later with a banquet that began with the ‘Loyal Toast’ to the Queen, and ended with soup and an aperitif.

The big question here then, is would a Sidmouth Gin, with the inverted bi-wing plane, and the “Fly responsibly” message on the various labels, be an appropriate spirit to serve aerobatics enthusiasts on such an occasion?

Well thanks to our loyal gin scouts, Bill and Lesley bringing us back a set of the small batch distillery’s miniatures from a trip to the Devon resort, we were able to sample all three products in rapid, but responsible succession.

First up (or down) was Seashore which, appropriately, samples sugar kelp along with the juniper, lemon and pepper, to achieve a hint of playful saltiness in a zingy taste sensation which lingers well on the palate.  Interestingly, it reminded me a little of the Macaronesian gin the Fergusons discovered during their Canary Island holiday back at the beginning of the year: with a similar effervescent texture.

For our second ‘sortie’ – this time sampling Sidmouth’s Sea Truffle – I’m going to hand over the controls to the makers of Sidmouth Gin who reveal that: “It offers a unique taste of our seaside town.  Sea Truffle is hand harvested from the beautiful Sidmouth coast using a licence from the Crown Estates.  Sea Truffle or “Osmundea Pinnatifia” has a highly prized taste, with a unique intense truffle umami flavour with a peppery kick.

“Paired with Saffron, the Sea Truffle gives this hand crafted gin a truly sensational flavour.  We love finding and experimenting with new botanicals to lovingly make gin.”  And I can report that we loved it too, though less so Seashore’s other wingman, Pink Gooseberry.

Despite this fruit’s reputation for sharpness, the first taste of the neat spirit was somewhat reminiscent of those ‘Refreshers’ sweets which used to come in a roll like Polos, and is probably intended to appeal to a younger audience.  “Biggles and the Red Menace” perhaps?  Though a robust 40ABV like its two other crew members, Pink Gooseberry may well sample Angelica along with the hairy bush fruit, for one of its botanicals.

Remembering Captain Johns’ main characters then, you’d have to put Ginger down as the Pink Gooseberry, while the stalwart James Bigglesworth is probably best represented by the Seashore; leaving Sea Truffle to fill  Algernon Montgomery Lacey’s well polished flying boots.  To answer the original question then, about which one should lead the memorial fly past at a grand dinner, I would say that due to its distinctively aristocratic lineage, that honour has to go ‘Algy’.

“Chocks away!”