Start Point is a small batch gin from Salcombe, Devon. It has won an array of awards including double gold at the San Francisco world spirits competition.
Price: ~ £37
Red grapefruit peel
Named after the iconic ‘Start Point’ lighthouse, which marked the beginning of the 19th century voyages of the Salcombe Fruit Schooners, this gin is inspired by the ships and their cargo of exotic goods, fruits and spices. It is produced using the single-shot London Dry method and is another beauty I received from Craft Gin Club many moons ago. I had been recommended it by a friend so was rather pleased to find it in my box!
The bottle is a fairly standard shape, though a little taller and more robust. The beautiful, tapered label is printed on lovely textured paper with a copper-leaf effect as a trim and for the flag that helps it stand out. It’s a fairly simple, text led design. On one side is the usual descriptive info, and on the other, the story behind the gin. As a little extra, printed on the back is a copy of the small map design with the location of Salcombe’s Start Point ‘pin pointed’, along with the co-ordinates. If for no other reason, it stands out for being seriously classy.
On the nose, Start Point is exceptional, which is a word that appears a lot in relation to this gin. It’s full of aroma, with a bold, waxy juniper leading the way. Behind that there’s a lot going on, deep and creamy citrus with hints of spice. It’s warm, bright and incredibly clean. Genuinely difficult to smell without immediately tasting it!
Neat, the gin packs a punch, but not one that burns at all. It bursts with flavour, coating the mouth and expanding on the tongue. A clear and resinous juniper is most certainly the highlight, but it quickly makes way for a bold rush of cardamom, coriander, and citrus. There are some late developing spices too, and right at the end a touch of pepper leaps up, ready to be heard.
A touch of water brings home the juniper wonderfully. The more tart, sour notes soften into a luscious green, herbal profile that’s lifted by the citrus and kept from becoming overly pungent. There’s still planty of cardamom for me, and it’s this botanical in particular that’s at risk of tipping the flavour over the edge, but it’s just held back by the sweeter notes of the cinnamon and liquorice.
Finally, I tried it in a G&T (3:1 Fevertree Mediterranean with a thin wedge of lime). I have mixed feelings. On one hand, it’s an excellent G&T, well balanced with a very pure ‘gin’ flavour. In terms of what I imagine would be considered a ‘classic’ G&T I doubt you would find much better. However for me, it’s just lacking something else. Nothing stands out in a way I had hoped it might, and while I realise you could still argue that’s a good thing, it’s just to my tastes that I feel something is missing.
The quality of Start Point gin is difficult to overstate. They’ve put the word ‘exceptional’ on the label and frankly I’m not sure anyone is in a position to argue with it. For me, that’s what this gin is about, taking the classic gin profile and making it exceptional. Unlike some of my absolute favourites, there’s no particular flavour here that drums to the beat of my heart, but by no means does that mean I don’t think this is an absolutely amazing gin. It’s like Mary Poppins: practically perfect in every way. But that ‘practically’ leaves space for it to not quite be perfect for some, and for me, while it’s ‘technically’ perfect, I just know there are some out there that speak to me on a level few others can.
In summary, it is pure nit-pickiness that holds me back from giving this gin full marks. You should buy it. It’s exceptional.
Add half a feather if you’re a fan of gin.
Start Point is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and payed for by the author, unless otherwise stated.