Altitude gin is an ‘alpine’ London Dry, featuring mountain botanicals, inspired by an ascent of Mont Blanc.
Price: ~ £38
Sweet orange peel
With its heart firmly ensconced in Chamonix and the essence of Après ski, Altitude is the cool January offering from the Craft Gin Club. Developed by friends Tim, Kristine, and Barney, the team knew right from the start that they wanted to bring the mountains to the bottle, not just in the use of botanicals from the region, but to capture the ambition, drive, and sense of accomplishment that mountaineers experience in their pursuit of the summit.
A brief but successful series of experiments using a borrowed still set up in a wooden mazot in Barney’s back garden, they eventually brought in master distiller Dr David Clutton (who had worked on leading brands such as Bombay Sapphire, No.3 and Tanqueray 10) to perfect their product.
The folks at Altitude are also keen to ensure future adventurers are able to enjoy the region that inspired them so much, so €1 of every bottle goes to the conservation of Mont Blanc. Big thumbs up there!
The design is very clever, with a screen printed mountain range flowing all the way around in blues, white, and a clever use of negative space. The name is printed near the top, over the summit the height at which the gin was conceived (4,810m), and at the bottom where the liquid was born. Around the back is a a little blurb on the inspiration of the gin, and a print of two climbers celebrating reaching the top. My favourite part though is that with the use of negative space, these figures are visible from the front as well. Very clever, and overall it suits the story of the gin perfectly.
But… at some point I can only assume someone had the idea of making the bottle extra tall, to accentuate the story and branding. As such, it doesn’t fit on my shelf. A pet hate of mine!
Right from the start, there’s a heady mix of classic pine notes, followed by fresh and cool but aromatic berry tones. Despite the crispness, the aroma is surprisingly heavy, but inviting. The sweet orange blends beautifully with the elderflower to create a lovely floral orange aroma that finishes with a smooth, creamy texture. Not entirely expected based on the branding, which to me suggests cool, fresh and sharp flavours, rather than sweeter, pungent fruits and florals, but an interesting aroma for sure.
Neat there’s a bit of a burn at first, but it soon mellows into a surprisingly aromatic, grassy flavour. I feel the flavours are much more of mountains from the perspective of being bound to the earth, rather than light and airy, cold and crisp, which is what the name and branding suggests to me. It’s got more tang and spice than the nose suggests too, with a more bitter orange flavour coming through, along with the cardamom. Behind it all sits the myrtille, giving it a bit extra body.
Water really makes a big impact on the flavour and it’s an improvement for sure. I’m now getting lighter, sweeter spice notes and a fuller orange flavour. The cardamom is kept in check which, much as I like cardamom, I think is a good thing here. There’s more body, and all the right flavours are improved, but what’s really interesting is that it seems both a little more sour, and a little sweeter. The floral notes have taken a bit of a step back though which I think is a shame, but they’re definitely there helping tame some of the more prominent notes that threaten to overpower. It’s fruity, with a good citrus edge
Finally, a G&T (1:3 Tonica Superfine Tassoni) with cinnamon and dried lemon to garnish. The result is outrageous. Its possibly a touch sweet for some (and that may be the tonic as I tried a bit on its own and personally loved it, but it’s also possibly the sweetest tonic I’ve ever had!) but I am absolutely loving this drink. Wow. It’s a totally different drink, brimming with sweetness and aromatic spices, lovely citrus notes and even a hint of those all too elusive floral tones.
I feel like I’ve said this in several reviews, but this is a tough one for me. In part I think it was because I had such different expectations to what I actually ended up tasting. As you may have gleaned, I was expecting something cool, clear, crisp, and fresh. Something with fresh pine notes, crisp citrus, and cool, perhaps almost menthol elements. Instead I got a heady mix of sour, pungent spice and fruity citrus. In honesty, I wasn’t a bit fan of it neat, and though water improved things, I still wasn’t in love. However, that G&T was absolutely spectacular, and while I’m someone who often drinks spirits neat, I’ve come to really appreciate gin that makes a great G&T. As such, I have to say that this gin has a lot of potential, and I’m looking forward to trying it in other drinks!
Add half a feather if you like a fruity/citrus/spice combination
Altitude is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.