Cambridge – Rosemary & Verbena

Cambridge distillery produce some of the world’s most expensive gins. This is a limited edition of their classic dry.

Price: ~ £40
ABV: 42%
Known Botanicals:
Angelica
Basil
Blackcurrant leaf
Lemon verbena
Rose petals
Rosemary

Cambridge distillery make a big deal out of their distillation methods and I have always known them as taking a very scientific approach to gin making. The fact that they have a laboratory, rather than the quintessentially copper filled distillery is proof of this. Their gin is produced by blending individual, temperature controlled, vacuum distilled botanicals using a rotary evaporator, so while it’s not exactly romantic, it is precise.

This limited edition rosemary & verbena gin is November’s gin of the month from Craft Gin Club. What I do find a little odd though is that I can’t figure out exactly what makes it a limited edition. A quick look at their site and you’ll find an identical bottle (with the exception of the ‘limited edition rosemary & verbena’ on the label) with an identical list of botanicals. I’ve not tried their regular dry gin though, so I can’t say for sure that it tastes the same!

Design

As you would expect from the way they make their gin, the bottle is all about clarity with sharp, squared edges a glass stopper. It’s not a unique bottle by any means, but it suits the brand. The labels are primarily a lovely pale mint green with a faintly embossed window design in white as a background. On the front is the name of the distillery and gin, with some info on the batch. On the back is a little blurb with a couple of illustrations including one of Darcy, the distillery dog!

Nose

On the nose, the gin has a very classic profile with a lovely herbal juniper very much at the fore. There’s a bright, fresh aroma that’s very crisp but with a slight burn. Following up there are some deeper herbal notes, with the basil giving that element of freshly cut greenery. Rosemary also comes through along with that light citrus from the verbena. At the very back I get a hint of rose, but the overall profile is very much classic juniper. It’s light and fresh, with a faint, pungent herbal tang.

Taste

Neat, the juniper flashes over the tongue but is short lived, quickly equalled by a range of herbal flavours. There’s a sourness, but not an unpleasant one, with a definite sense of freshly cut verbena that sweetens as it develops. The basil and rosemary feel a touch muddled, but right at the end is a sweeter, floral flavour. Interestingly it develops a sweet, almost toffee flavour after a while.

A drop of water seems to cause the flavours to dissipate significantly, which is a surprise. There’s a definite increase in citrus flavours, and the herbal notes are much less sour, but really there’s not a lot else going on with the water.

Finally, I served up the perfect G&T (4:1 Cambridge Tonic, Lemon Verbena Edition) with dried pear slices. The result is a perfectly respectable G&T, but for me not much about it stands out. It’s beautifully clean and crisp, with a very welcome sweetness from the pear. I’m not sure whether this tonic is readily available though so perhaps it’s not the idea test for a G&T. Still, it’s good, just not exceptional.

Overall

So it’s another tricky one. It’s a good gin, there’s absolutely no doubt about it, but is it outstanding? For me? No. The USP of Cambridge distillery, to my mind, is innovation and the quality that their approach brings. While I’m not sure there’s anything particularly innovative about this edition, I know they produce other very interesting gins (but at an enourmous premium as far as gin goes). As for quality? It’s absolutely present in this gin, but that’s where, for me, semantics come into it. When it comes to products like alcohol, I associate quality with purity, and I think a lot of other people would too. From that point of view, this gin has it in spades, but purity doesn’t equate to taste and flavour. When it comes to that, you could argue compound gins are much further towards the other end of the spectrum than Cambridge, but that doesn’t mean they can’t taste sensational. And therein, for me, lies the rub. This gin is technically fantastic, but as far as flavour and taste goes: it’s good, but not outstanding, and given the price (this is BY FAR their cheapest offering) that carries some serious weight. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to try some of their other stuff, but as I say, it’s seriously expensive. As for this, it’s good, but that’s about it.

3.5 / 5 Feathers

Add half a feather if money is no object

Assuming the regular edition is at least very similar, Cambridge Dry Gin is available online.

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All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.


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