Poetic License Northern Dry is a traditional gin made by folks who like to be bold, and buck the trend.
Price: ~ £33
Mark Hird, the man behind Poetic License, is a veteran of the leisure trade, and has worked with food and drink in various roles for over two decades. With a number of venues and eventually a micro-brewery under his belt, Mark decided to look at starting a distillery too. Thus, Poetic License was born.
The brand has a few classic gins (including flavoured tipples), as well as liqeuers, collaborations, and what they call their Rarities range, which are limited edition ‘experiments’ for want of a better word! It’s quite the line-up overall, but it all began with the original Northern Dry, and their Old Tom.
The gin is made in Gracie, a 500L hybrid still which allows both pot and column distillation. The botanicals (most of which are kept secret but which I think also include Angelica, Coriander, Cinnamon, and Cubeb) are crushed and macerated first, before being slowly heated.
The bottle is a standard round design with sloping shoulders and a lipped neck that sits beneath a chunky cork stopper. What makes it different is that it’s matt printed in black to look more like a ceramic bottle. Such printing methods come with colour limitations though, but it’s here that the team have played a blinder. By using only white and one other colour on the black, they’re able to make the most of consistent branding, using the one changeable colour to denote the style, be it the Northern Dry with pale green, Old Tom with orange, or Graceful Vodka with pink. What they’ve also done is cover the bottle in writing, using a lovely script font.
On the front right in the middle is the logo, which consists of the name, gracefully surrounded by the brand blurb (being about ‘Wild Spirit’ which is sort of their slogan) and some little flourishes of line art. Round to the left is more script in a sort of parable, drescribing the wild spirit, then round to the right is a definition of ‘Poetic License’ and some tasting notes. Around the base is the main band of colour, giving the style and usual legal info.
It’s all really well designed and the black makes it stand out well.
Right away I get a pungent juniper that’s heavy with fresh cardamom, and as a fan of cardamom it’s like a siren’s song to me. Beneath that, there are hints of citrus, aromatic spice, and pepper as well as a faint menthol. Finally I get a little coriander seed rounding the experience up. It’s a wonderful smelling gin to my senses, and though I’d say it’s cardamom dominant, it’s not overpowering. That aromatic spice which I think is cinnamon is providing a sweetness that softens it beautifully. Wonderful stuff.
Neat, cardamom is no less dominant and in fact I’d go so far as to say it’s significantly more intense here. The more sour flavours come through quite strong and though they work well with the juniper, along with a bitter citrus element, it is bordering on overpowering, even for me. There are some nice pepper notes around the edges, and a soft aromatic centre still flutters with life, but there’s a definite tingle on my tongue from the strength of the cardamom.
Water does a good job of relaxing the cardamom so that, while the flavour is still dominant, the intensity is reduced to much more comfortable and enjoyable levels. The pepper comes through well with a dryness that is nice, but seems to reduce the longevity of the taste a little, and still tailing along is a soft, earthy citrus from the coriander. It’s dry and a little sour, but crisp and refreshing. If you like cardamom, this is a good way to enjoy this gin.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic with a wedge of orange to garnish), and the result is wonderful. The recommended garnish is pink grapefruit, but I prefer a warmer, sweeter citrus and I think it goes well with cardamom. Of course the tonic isn’t going to quell that mighty cardamom flavour here, but if you’re a fan like me, this is a darn-tootin’ good G&T. The dilution takes the cardamom back as you would expect, and the quinine works really well with it, giving the drink even more freshness. There are elements of pepper and spice in the background which work well, especially, for me, with the orange. It’s crisp, and very refreshing. Great for a hot day (if we get those any more).
I like this gin, but that’s because I’m a fan of cardamom. Those who aren’t, I can’t see getting along with this at all. It’s easily the most intense cardamom flavour I’ve had in a gin yet, to the point I think you could almost label this a ‘cardamom gin’, so much as I’m enjoying the G&T I’d also have to say it’s a little one-dimensional. Quality wise, it’s great. It’s smooth, clean, crisp and there’s no burn from the alcohol so no complaints there. I think it could work well in a Negroni too, really well, so there’s definitely potential to put that flavour to good use, but overall it’s just too cardamom heavy, even for me.
Remove a whole feather if you don’t like cardamom
Poetic License is available online and in some shops.
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.