Wessex is a small batch gin inspired by Alfred the Great, and the herbarium, an Anglo-Saxon document of herbal remedies.
Price: ~ £35
Sweet orange peel
Wessex gin is the latest offering from Craft Gin Club and is made by Jonathan Clark, founder and head distiller at the London Distillery Company until his retirement. However he soon decided he was better at making gin than being retired, and so started from scratch with Wessex Distillery.
There’s not a lot that needs to be said. It’s beautiful. The colour is a stunning aquamarine, with ‘Wessex’ embossed around the shoulder front and back. The labels are inset amongst the twelve sides of the bottle and suit the overall style nicely, with the font and dragon playing on the Anglo-Saxon motif. It’s a keeper for sure.
I do however have two significant, practical complaints. First is that the cork is not tight enough in the neck, and second is that the anti-tamper sticker is easy to unstick and replace without any evidence of tampering thus, combined with the ease of removing the cork, making it a big problem. I would seriously suggest the team consider adding a second layer of protection over the cork.
On the nose is a gorgeous, heady juniper, thick and warming. It’s rich and inviting, with hints of citrus and mild spice that makes you want to dive into the glass. There’s plenty of sweetness there too, but not in a bright, sugary way. Instead it all plays beautifully together in temptation.
Neat the gin is smooth and sweet. Juniper rises, languid but bursting with potential, capable but laid back. There’s next to no burn from the alcohol and instead you’re able to simply enjoy the rich, effulgent flavours. Citrus is there, of course, as is the coriander and the chervil which work perfectly with that lovely sweetness liquorice brings. It’s a simple flavour profile, but it’s doing so much work, and it does it effortlessly.
Water brings out the herbal elements a little more, separating the citrus and sweetness but not so far as to disrupt the overall integrity of the flavour. Sour notes come through a touch, but so does a freshness that compensates nicely and keeps things balanced. It’s different and I think I prefer it neat, but the quality still shines.
Finally, I served up a G&T (3:1 Lamb & Watt Orginal) with a slice of fresh lemon peel. The result is an absolutely lovely, simple drink that is in danger of lasting mere minutes. Now, there many not be anything here that stands out as exceptional in its own right, but that is actually what makes this so great. It is a simple (from a botanical/flavour profile point of view) gin done exceptionally well.
Wessex gin stands out on the shelf, absolutely, and it does so beautifully. Does it stand out as a gin? Simply put. Yes.
Not in a way that identifies any particular flavour, or sensation, but that’s it’s strength. It is so much more than the sum of its parts. This is a gin that should have a place on everyone’s shelf, and not just because of the bottle.
Wessex is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.