Hepple Gin and Artisan Tonic

on Nov 27 in Editorial, Gin, Spirits by dan

Not ones to jump on bang wagons at Whiskytimes, we’ve not talked much about all the cool stuff going on in the drinks world with the resurgence of Gin as the new trendy spirit of choice. However; a few things have changed recently that have changed our minds.

  1. We met the owner and of, and have tried Hepple Gin‘s Pine needle vodka
  2. We’ve met the owner of and have tried some amazing tonic from Artisan Drinks Co

hepple gin bottle

Up until we tried these two things we didn’t really ‘GET’ the big deal with Gin. It’s just cooper still ethanol with some flowers shoved in, and tonic water is pretty much all the same right? Who cares?

It turns out we couldn’t be more wrong – we just hadn’t tried the right products yet. Here is the story of how we discovered just how good a ‘proper’ G&T could be when made with innovative ingredients, and when you just give a shit about what you drink.

A little personal history

I (dan) believe my experience with Gin is probably a very common, and probably not too dissimilar from yours. Thinking about it’s on the scale of a lifetime, in the coming of age years, Gin was always a drink for grown up and older people, I learned the moniker ’mothers ruin’ fairly early, and heard all the jokes about it being ‘makeup thinner’ and it being the cause of 80% of crying women at the bottom of stairs at a party.

With the light of hindsight and context of modern society those saying and jokes are probably not appropriate but, it was the 90′s and I was a kid, so that was just the experience that stuck with me for years and years.

Fast forward to 2010′s when I really started to care about what I drank, switched to BrewDog for my beer, and to whisky for my spirits, But Gin just didn’t make any impact on me… The average Gin I would have was a Gordons Gin (because you don’t want cheap gin!) and lemonade – If I felt fancy I would have a Saphire Gin! Sure Bathtub Gin was starting to do their thing and selling online, but it just didn’t occur that Gin could be something to savor, rather than being a break from heavy beer in the pub.

And that’s pretty much where I remained until recently.

More recently I found a gin I liked called Nordes and switched to than, and on a trip on the old street underground I bought a bottle of monkey 47 which opened my eyes a little further to the possibilities of different tasting Gins. I was still schweps like 99% of everybody I knew.

What I discovered last week: Hepple Gin is AMAZING

At a cocktail evening hosted in Scotts of Alnmouth the owner of Hepple gin popped in, and blew my mind.

It turns out 90% of Gin is made the same way with copper pot stills and with some botanicals thrown in, usually dried juniper flown in cheaply from aborad. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Guys at Hepple just fresh hand picked Juniper from the Northumberland hills, and use a technique called vacuum distillation to extract more flavor from the fresher berries at lower tempratures, saving the flavor from being boiled away… and boy does it make a difference!

On that evening we had some french 75′s, and a vesper made using said Hepple gin! AMAZING!!!

What I discovered this week: Artisan Voilet Tonic is Amazing!
vielet tonic
I share some office space with a company who make and sell premium tonics and mixers.

I called BS on the whole concept of fancy tonics, after all over MANY YEARS I’ve tried every one on the supermarket and they are all pretty much the same from 45p to £3.50.

Steven being the patent and gregarious chap he offered me a bottle and said “go home: and try this tonight with a good Gin, and come back tomrrow”. So thats what I did.  But being the smart arse I am, I got 3 different tonics I had lying around the house and done a taste test – supermarket bargin Tonic, vs Schweps vs Artisan. I expected his stuff to be 10% better maybe… but I had my Mind Blown!

Using Hepple Gin and Artisan Violet together was an expereince that opened my eyes – I may be going a littel over the top here, but the comparison between the cheaper tonics and the Artisan was like the difference between Balck and white TV  vs Full Color 4k HDTV – The Gin and Tonic was alive with interest and flavors.

If Gordons and Tonic = Sainsburys own brand blended scotch. Then Hepple Gin and Artisan Violet = Macallan Rare Cask

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