South Bank is a budget gin from Burlington drinks in Witham, and contains a mystery list of ‘herbs and spices’
Price: ~ £13
Full disclosure: I got this bottle so that I could get free delivery on an online order (I forget what else I got), figuring a bottle of gin for a few quid extra is always going to be better than paying postage! I’ve mostly used it to make batch cocktails, but made sure I saved enough to give it a full review, as we don’t like to discriminate here! It’s as deserving as any other gin for a good old quaffing, and I thought now was as good a time as any!
As you can imagine, for such a low price, you’re not going to get a fancy bottle, nor are the makers going to go all out on labelling. As such, it’s a totally stock bottle shape (more closely associated with whisky than gin), and the label is a plain white and dark green number featuring Big Ben (or Elizabeth Tower for all you pedants out there!), the name and description of the liquid, and a lion. On the back is a standard product label. It’s functional at best!
A soft juniper rises from the glass, with a pleasant touch of cereal and a slightly sour finish. It’s a simple aroma, a sort of classic ‘old school’ profile. There are hints of aromatic spices, so I think there could be cinnamon or cassia there, and I also get quite fleshy greens, bordering on hints of berry right at the end. It’s obviously not got a lot of kick, but it’s far from offensive. I actually really like that sour tone I’m getting, whatever it may be!
Neat, it does come across a little ‘watery’. It’s thin and mild, with a short life on the palate, but there are some interesting flavours there. Still very classic in profile, though I can’t say I’ve ever had the same sense of wheat/cereal flavours as I get here, and I really like it. There are still sour notes, with a little spice and a touch of citrus, so perhaps there’s lemon peel in there too, and a little pepper.
Water obviously takes out what little burn there was from the alcohol, but the flavour isn’t really affected, which is good. The aromatics warm up a little, and the sourness fades, leaving an almost bittersweet flavour that’s actually pretty good, albeit fleeting.
Finally a G&T (2:1 Schweppes Signature Collection Light Tonic) with dried lemon peel and a small stick of cinnamon. I’ll admit, even at a 2:1 ratio, the gin is pretty washed out, though it does make a nice fresh tasting drink. There’s a nice punch from the lemon, and a subtle warmth from the cinnamon, but beyond that there’s only really a sense of ‘gin’ flavour, which is not at all distinctive enough for me to pick apart. It’s not an amazing drink, but I dare say it could be worse!
South Bank is what it is: a very cheap gin that doesn’t try to be anything more than that, though for what it is, it’s perfectly respectable. There is nothing about this gin that I dislike. Of course there’s nothing about it I love either, but I’ve had gins that cost twice as much that I wouldn’t rate as highly. Then again I’ve had gins for the same price that I think are better, so there is that too. It’s got an interesting profile neat, but that all disappears when it’s put into a G&T, and this isn’t a gin you’d buy to drink neat. It’s fine, especially if you can get it delivered to your door for free, but I think you’d be better off spending a bit more on something else.
South Bank is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.