Winchester’s Twisted Nose steams into my gin top ten!
“Having had my nose rearranged on a number of occasions – playing rugby and trying to stop a fight in an East End nightclub – I can report that Twisted Nose is an altogether far more civilized experience, both for the nasal passages and in the mouth.”
It’s more than a decade since my old college mate, Dave, treated Juliet and myself to an evening outing on The Watercress Line in Hampshire; but sampling a Twisted Nose gin and tonic at home on Friday night recaptured that feeling of relaxed indulgence as the flavours steamed back and forth across my tongue.
For those who haven’t travelled on the heritage railway, The Watercress Line’s volunteers run steam trips to Alton from its base in Alresford; just a short shunt from where the Winchester Distillery has its traditional pot still set up in the Manor Factory, Old Alresford.
Although this small batch 40% dry gin is produced from a blend of ten botanicals, the key ingredient is actually watercress: the aquatic plant being grown locally in large quantities.
According to the distillers, the watercress “adds fresh herbaceous notes and a light peppery sparkle, for a wonderfully bright and refreshing gin.” However it is the salad favorite’s Latin name – ‘Nasturtium’ – which provides the spirit with its brand name: literally translating as Twisted Nose.
I would comment at this point that the smell of the gin, produced using pure grain spirit, is actually very pleasant and dominated by the juniper rather than watercress. Taste it neat, what’s more and you would be inclined to believe the strength is some way north of 40%. What I also find both intriguing and enjoyable is a strong hint of aniseed: like a version of the aquavit which keeps the Scandinavians laid back and sees them through their prolonged winter nights.
While I can’t pretend to possess the best beak or palate, I detected as wide a variety of stimuli from this gin as any I have tried. In fact, having had my nose rearranged on a number of occasions – playing rugby and trying to stop a fight in an East End nightclub – I can report that Twisted Nose is an altogether far more civilized experience, both for the nasal passages and over the taste buds.
I will leave you with the maker’s summary of this excellent concoction: “Intense but smooth, Twisted Nose is not a gin to be sniffed at”. Enjoy.