Arbikie is a Scottish farm and family owned single estate distiller who grow and make their own base spirits as well as the botanicals used in their gin. The water even comes from their own underground lagoon!
Price: ~ £35
Honey (locally sourced)
Arbikie make two gins, AK’s and Kirsty’s (which I’ll be reviewing soon enough!) and they’re both fantastic. AK’s gin is made from a wheat base and is named after Alexander Kirkwood Stirling, the father of the founding brothers Iain, John, and David.
The design is simple and clear. There’s nothing fancy about the bottle or labelling, though I like the ‘A’ that forms Arbikie’s logo. It’s not one to stand out, so it’s going to rely more on word of mouth to get the gin to people’s lips, rather than an attractive bottle…
AK’s gin has an incredible aroma. My first thoughts leap to buttermint, it’s so creamy and smooth with the sweetness from the honey really coming through. There’s hints of earthy, spicy tones and right at the end, just beyond the coriander, a touch of sourness from the mace. It’s well balanced, but not typical at all and there’s very little juniper to grab hold of. Again, for me this isn’t a problem, but for some I can see it smelling perhaps too sweet.
Neat the gin is smooth without being viscous, in fact it doesn’t coat the mouth like other gins, which given how sweet it smells is surprising. There’s a lot more earth and spice to the taste with pepper and cardamom presenting early on. I personally don’t know what sort of flavours to expect from the calamus root or indeed thistle (feel free to enlighten me in the comments!) but there’s a nice flow of spice around the mouth that doesn’t stay in any one flavour for long. I think the honey and orange probably do quite a lot of work to hold back the more bitter spices like pepper and mace, which for me in particular can sometimes get carried away, though thankfully it doesn’t here.
Adding water brings out the greener notes of the coriander and orris beautifully, and the orange starts to get a real showing. The spices are soothed and the other botanicals get to shine a bit more. There’s a much more grassy nature to the taste, but it holds the spice and sweetness.
Now, I know I’ve said I’m not a big G&T kinda guy, but the first time I tried this gin (after a quick sip neat) was with tonic, and it was the reason I ended up buying a bottle. It’s fantastic with the sweeter spices lifting the bitterness from the tonic to make a completely different drink. There’s citrus, but also hints of vanilla which really makes this stand out for me.
AK’s gin is really something different, and in a good way. I think the honey, despite not being obvious to the palate, makes this gin what it is. On its own it’s a delicious gin, but it makes a truly stand-out G&T, and for me that’s a true feat. My congratulations to Iain, John, and David on a superb gin I am sure AK would be proud of!
Deduct up to 1 feather if you prefer your gin to be a classic, juniper-forward taste.
AK’s Gin can be bought from retailers online, or direct from Arbikie (with free shipping!)
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.