Hidden Curiosities is a small batch gin inspired by silk scarves, Japan, and a whole lot of botanicals!
Price: ~ £35 (50cl)
Grains of paradise
Jenny Meguro, the individual behind Hidden Curiosities, is a big fan of two things (amongst many others, I’m sure!): gin, and silk cravats. You might not think it possible to combine these two things, but Jenny has managed it (sort of, but I’ll get to that later).
After she became interested in making her own gin, and having spent several years in Japan (a country which has very evidently influenced almost every aspect of the gin), Jenny began sampling craft gins and researching what she needed to complete her project. Working with Silent Pool distillery, she was able to perfect her recipe and bring to life the first batch of Hidden Curiosities gin in July 2017. Since then she had added a second gin to the brand: Aranami (‘Raging Wave’ in Japanese) Strength (59%), which has won numerous awards and is high on my list of gins to try!
Finally, as you may be able to see from the label, there are in fact 20 botanicals in this gin, though nowhere does there seem to exist a list of all of them. The website does state there are 5 different peppercorns and a ‘cornucopia’ of citrus, so lemon may well have been snuck in there, and I would hazard a guess that szechan and cubeb might be present too, and possibly black or sansho? Elsewhere I’ve seen liquorice root listed. That takes us to around 18 or 19 including juniper. Almost there! Now, looking at the website there is an image of botanicals in the still, and to me it looks like there are a few vanilla pods in there so that may well be our last botanical!
The bottle is a squat, square shape with a short neck and wax sealed stopper. It’s functional, yet surprisingly pleasant and fits with the brand perfectly. It reminds me of a big old perfume bottle. The label, which covers the front and wraps around one side, is black with the name taking up most of the space in a sort of Victorian circus theme font and illustration. It’s all really well thought out and works with the name. There’s little else but the most basic info, which is nice and works with the theme.
I would be remiss, however, in discussing the design of this gin without showing the back of the label, which is just gorgeous and brings me back to the combination of gin and silk scarves. The image is in fact a copy of the Hidden Curiosities scarf (after which the gin is named) available through Jenny’s first endeavour: Cravat Club. Overall it’s a great design.
Interestingly there’s none of what I refer to as the ‘usual legal info’ which I thought was a requirement, but perhaps is not! It’s nice that the theme of the label isn’t spoiled by it, and helps keep things really smart.
On the node Hidden Curiosities is a lovely combination of citrus and floral, with the peppers bringing an extra fruity tang to the mix. It’s soft yet vibrant, with the juniper present but surrounded by a powdery, perfumed cloud. It’s a genuinely sensual aroma, and I get plenty of lavender and violet, along with some greener more full-bodied but sweet earthy tones. It’s not at all what you might expect when you hear about all the peppers and citrus fruits that are involved. It’s a delight.
Neat, the violet is first out of the gate for me, powdered and perfumed, but followed up with an earthy, peppery bite that leads slowly to a warm but zesty citrus edge. It’s not what I expected, even compared to the nose, and I’m having a little trouble getting past the violet for now, but I can still sense the cardamom and a nice balanced flow between orris, angelica, and coriander, to the yuzu and grapefruit, eventually round to a nice fruity pepper with hints of pine.
Water softens the perfumed elements a little and makes some room for the citrus and pepper, which is a welcome change of pace. It feels a lot more spacious here, and though it’s still a little on the powdery, parma violet end for me, there’s a nice warm fleshy citrus and a little herbal tang that makes the whole thing feel much more rounded. It’s a really interesting flavour, and one that takes a fair bit of exploring! I am finding that I’m hampered a little by the violet though.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic with dried lime and green cardamom pods to garnish). The result is clearly how this gin is meant to be experienced, because it’s wonderful. What for me was an overpowering violet, is now a delightful twist in the ebb and flow of flavours that make it a fascinating drink. Hidden Curiosities is absolutely the right name here, because I can almost see myself raising eyebrows and pursing my lips as my mind follows my tastebuds down an adventurous path. A genuinely unique G&T and a delicious one to boot.
Hidden Curiosities is exactly what it’s name suggests. Yes, neat it was a bit too much like a parma violet for me (which some may love), but it more than came alive in the G&T, producing a drink I can’t see anyone not enjoying immensely. It’s well made, as you’d expect from the folks who make Silent Pool, and you can feel the love that’s gone into it from Jenny. I would have loved to have been part of the recipe development too, as I find it really interesting to think of the process that went behind picking quite so many botanicals (though 20 is nowhere near as many as a few other gins out there!), but it’s clear that Jenny knew what she had in mind, and I think the end result is, if nothing else, a triumph in the world of G&Ts! With all that said though, it is an expensive gin so while I would definitely recommend it, I’d also suggest trying before you buy.
Add up to one feather if you love violet, remove half if you dislike it.
Hidden Curiosities is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.