Conker is the product of Dorset’s first gin distillery, using British wheat and New Forest spring water to create a delicious, flavoursome gin.
Price: ~ £35
New Forest gorse flowers
Seville orange peel
Master distiller Rupert Holloway decided one day, back in 2013, that he would be the one to make Dorset’s first gin. After learning as much as he could, he acquired a 1.5 litre still and in December of that year began experimenting. Over the next 6 months he went through 45 trial recipes, though it was no. 38 that was selected as the final blend of local, and far flung botanicals.
I got this gin from Craft Gin Club, along with a sample of their cold brew coffee liqueur. So here are my thoughts!
I love this bottle. I’m not even sure if I can explain it, I just love the shape. It somehow looks like it could be a 50cl bottle, much smaller than regular ones, but obvously it’s just a solid little squat shape. I love the angled top, the short neck and the copper coloured cap. The label is beautifully laid out with everything you want to know. It’s simple, striking and smart.
On the nose, Conker gin is full of warm, berry notes with a salty tang. There’s so much going on, it’s difficult to pin things down, but what a delightful challenge to face! There’re hints of sour, fleshy citrus, and warming earthy spices, but nothing is too much. It dances around the glass on light feet, every so often teasing something new, but never letting anything get carried away. It’s a beautiful smelling gin.
Neat, Conker is quick to remind you it is indeed a gin with a bold, earthy juniper hit. This is swiftly followed by a spicy citrus zinger that gives way to a playful poke of floral tones that were a little elusive on the nose. It’s quite the onslaught of flavour, but I say that in a good way! There’s a fair amount of sourness from the citrus that even all those roots, herbs, and spices can’t assuage, but it’s not too unpleasant. There really is a lot going on in this liquid!
With a drop of water, the orris and cassia push through, backed up by the coriander and angelica. There’s a much more earthy, pungent flavour, with hints of the gorse and samphire. I must admit though, those sour notes are still putting up a fight and they’re hard to ignore.
Finally, a G&T (I had no lime so served it with a slice of lemon), and Conker holds up admirably. The tonic cuts through all that sourness to really make space for those berry notes I had trouble picking up on the tongue but was so entranced by on the nose. It’s a lovely sweet affair and towards the end those seville oranges come sliding into view like they were on the front row all along. It’s an amazing transformation and a really great drink!
Conker is a really great gin. It’s got so much going for it in the flavour profile and because nothing really dominates (and don’t for a second think that this is a bad thing! This gin manages to do something a lot fail at, and that is have heaps of flavour without any one thing taking over. It’s like a feat of engineering), it’s destined to be a major crowd pleaser. My only gripe was that level of bitter/sourness that I got a little hung up on when tasting neat, but overall and for the price (which I consider average at this point in the game) it’s a real winner. If you’ve not tried it, add it to your list!
Remove half a feather if you are a juniper gin purist.
Conker is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.