Theodore gin is ispired by what are thought to be some of the earliest settlers in Scotland: the Picts.
Price: ~ £39
So named for their painted bodies (perhaps tattooed?), the Picts lived in northern and eastern Scotland in the late Iron Age and early Medieval periods. The folks behind Theodore gin (two master distillers, one French and one British) have combined old and new distilling techniques to create a frangrant, adventurous gin that ‘represents a journey of curiosity’ between the past and present. This bottle is the July 2019 offering from Craft Gin Club.
The bottle is absolutely lovely, as you can see. Helped by the colourful contents no doubt, but it’s unlike most bottles currently on the market. Short and rounded with 16 ‘sides’ (which incidentally is the number of botanicals) there are smooth sections for the labels front and back. On the front is a lovely circular label with the name of the gin surrounding an embossed, stylised ‘T’ which seems to be the emblem of the gin. Around the shoulder the letters THEODORE are embossed, and on the back is a small square label with the usual information. It’s a really lovely bottle and definitely one that will likely be upcycled by many.
A myriad of aromas positively leap from the glass, though along with it comes a fairly significant alcohol burn. Beyond that though this gin is almost perfumed. It’s very fragrant and floral, with juniper fighting for space alongside the chamomile, rose, kaffir and coriander. In honesty there aren’t a great deal of independent aromas, instead everything seems to be working together to create something that is arguably greater than the sum of its parts. Hence my use of the term perfumed. It smells absolutely beautiful.
Neat, there’s a big floral hit of juniper that’s intricately entwined with the rose. Everything else is a bit of a mix and difficult to separate. If I concentrate, I can pick out the chamomile, lime and lavender, but the way it all presents seems to me that that is not the real goal here. To me, this gin is best considered a big, bold, punch of flavour, all in one, not something to try to pick up individual notes on. From that point of view it is contradictory, at once stunning in its complexity and body, but also somewhat overwhelming and overly perfumed.
With water, the flavours become much more earthy, though still very floral. The rose is a huge player in this, but now some of the heavier toned spices come through such as cardamom. It’s much the same but different. There’s a lot more body and less of the light florals. Though it is no less perfumed, it feels a little more defined and robust. More sophisticated and less ephemeral.
Finally, I served it in a G&T (2.5:1 Fentimans Light) with a couple of sprigs of thyme (I don’t have any mango as recommended on their website!). I considered using mediterranean tonic, but thought I would try something to help cut through those florals a little. The results are surprisingly muted considering how full of flavour the gin is! That said there is still a strong floral flavour but it’s gone back to being very light and fragrant, though more of the herbs are coming through too. It’s refreshing if, not sweet, but… I just keep coming back to the word perfume. It’s dangerously close to moving beyond the realm of gin and into an eau du parfum!
I am in two minds over this gin. On the one hand I love it for its complexity, its different-ness, its design and, yes even the fact that it is highly perfumed (Mrs Raven absolutely loves it). On the other, after a few sips I do begin to wonder why it tastes so much like perfume! I think it can genuinely go either way. If you’re in the mood for it, it’s absolutely remarkable. If not, it could be considered gaudy and ostentatious, and to purists, verging on the ‘not a gin’ category. So I’m going to split it down the middle. It’s definitely worth trying though.
Add one feather if you love fragrant, floral flavours
Remove one feather if you really don’t!
Theodore Pictish Gin is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.