The second gin from England’s leading wine maker Chapel Down, made from Pinot Noir grapes.
Price: ~ £35
Dried red berries
Grains of paradise
After buying the Bacchus gin from Chapel Down for Mrs Raven and being blown away by it, we didn’t need much convincing to put an order in when the Pinot Noir was released. Made using a different botanical lineup, chosen to compliment the grape variety, the idea is to produce an aromatic, red berry profile, with a citrus finish.
I won’t go into too much detail here as it’s exactly the same bottle as the Baccus, but with a pink blush (though I should mention the gin itself also has a pink blush!). I’ve learnt a little more about it though, in that the design is a nod to both spirits and wine, with the bottom half representing a cut glass decanter, and the top a frosted, classic wine bottle.
The mouthwatering smell of strawberries and cream drifts up from the glass in greeting. This is an incredibly aromatic gin, and you don’t need to get anywhere near it before the sweet red fruity notes make themselves known. It’s a really juicy aroma too, with watermelon and cherries in particular for me. The strength of the fruity tones are such that I can almost taste them, like I’m sucking on a jolly rancher. Some floral elements follow through, ending with a lift into a bright, slightly earthy coriander with a pinch from the grains of paradise. It’s not a classic gin aroma for sure, but it’s sensational.
Neat, there’s a richer, more tangy strawberry taste which leads effortlessly into the grape flavour of the base spirit. Much of the notes from the aroma are present, but with less sweetness and more sophistication, bitter and tangy. The juniper, angelica, and coriander are certainly more evident here, but not prominent compared to the fruits and florals. The grains of paradise feature too, working beautifully with the rosehip, coriander, and base. It’s really interesting, if a little difficult to know what to do with, if that makes sense.
A drop of water brings out the citrus a little more on the tongue, and though the berries are still the main feature for me, with the sweet strawberry still out in front, there is a definite change in dynamic. The earthy punch from the grains of paradise is increased, and I’m getting a lot more from the rosehip too. It’s a little more rounded overall but much the same.
Finally, a G&T (2:1 Lamb & Watt Hibiscus tonic with fresh lemon peel to garnish). I decided to use less tonic than I normally would in this as it’s flavoured (I figured the hibiscus would compliment the red berries and rosehip) and I didn’t want to overpower the gin. The result is pretty spectacular actually! There’s a gorgeous sweetness from the sweet berries in the gin and from the tonic, but a really pleasant hit of bitterness too. It’s not your standard G&T by any measure, but it’s delicious if you like fruity, berry flavours!
The Pinot Noir is much further from a classic gin than the Bacchus, and for that reason I can see it appealing to fewer people, but for what it is, it’s a really lovely drink. The huge berry flavours present are absolutely delicious, and really cover new ground for me, without straying into proper ‘flavoured’ territory. There’s still plenty of complexity here, and the quality is undeniable, so if you fancy something different and like sweet red berry flavours then you’re in for a treat.
Add/remove half a feather if you love/dislike red berry flavours
Chapel Down Pinot Noir is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.