Dartmouth distillery use botanicals from around the world to create a gin that celebrates the maritime history of Dartmouth.
Price: ~ £35
Grains of Paradise
Kaffir lime leaf
Scots pine needle
Lance and Caroline Whitehead are the folks behind June’s gin of the month from Craft Gin Club. The distillery sits nestled in the hills between Dartmouth and the Devon coast, part of the Calancombe estate, on which they also produce wine! Made in a custom still built by the Müller family, from the Black Forest in Germany, the impressive list of botanicals has an even more impressive list of origins. A few, including their water, are from the estate itself, whereas others are from as far afield as Pakistan and Sumatra.
The bottle is fairly tall with rounded base and shoulder and an impressive amount of embossing. Around the front half is a label of deep blue behind bronze. The name of the gin sits beneath the symmetrical image of a plant, and above an image of the wrought iron leopards from the doors of St Saviour’s Church in Dartmouth. Above the label the name of the distillery is embossed around the shoulder, and beneath, an embossed seahorse surrounded by waves. The entire back of the bottle is embossed with the same plant and leopard images as on the label, and printed on the back of the label is the logo of the distillery. It’s an impressive bottle, but for me the label is a little dark so I don’t think it stands out until you can get it in your hand.
Note: Having looked at the website it seems this may be a special bottling as the images there show a back label, rather than embossed glass.
Dartmouth has a delightfully smooth, creamy, sea-salty juniper aroma. There are lots of lovely fresh but soft notes of citrus, with a little tang from the cardamom and peppers. Beyond that a touch of herbal rosemary creeps through, mixing with a slight floral essence. There’s a lot going on, but in a complimentary way. There’s real cohesion from the botanicals, which I think is very impressive given the list, with the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. I find it quite mouthwatering, and can’t wait to dive in!
Neat, there’s a lot more juniper than on the nose, with the initial flavor being much more clean and fresh than the sweet, creamy haze of the aroma. It has a classic profile to me, with juniper out in front, followed up by a well rounded citrus that’s given depth by the spices. Orris is there, with a nice dry and floral kick, keeping some of the more bitter botanicals at bay along with the liquorice. It’s an incredibly well rounded gin, and delicious.
Water really brings out some of the drier flavours from the kaffir and cubeb, adding another element to the flavour which works really well for me. It retains that powdery floral element, but introduces a little more bite, and helps bring out some herbal notes, with the rosemary now becoming noticeable. It’s a more earthy flavour overall, darker and a little more bitter.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic with a lemon wheel and sprig of rosemary to garnish). The result is absolutely wonderful. Despite all the flavour of this gin, there’s a subtlety to this G&T that, rather than disappoint, actually impresses me all the more. This just works. The rosemary provides a gorgeous boost to the flavour already present in the gin, but the classic juniper flavour is still there, along with zesty citrus and tangy cubeb. Nothing is overstated, and nothing is lacking.
Dartmouth is a superb gin. Considering the complex list of botanicals, it reaches a degree of harmony that is very impressive, whilst still retaining a classic, juniper led profile. It’s bold and interesting neat, but not troublesome in a G&T, instead working beautifully with the tonic. I would highly recommend it.
Darthmouth gin is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.