6 O’clock is a proudly British gin, born in Bristol from a family fruit farm’s old gin recipe.
Price: ~ £32
Nearly 30 years ago, fruit farm owners Edward and Penny Kain decided to start a little business on the side making fruit liqueurs. This was the origin of the family’s gin recipe, created as a base for their Sloe Gin.
Skip forward a good while and enter Michael and Felicity, who took over their parents’ now prosperous distillery and, with their expertise in liqueurs, the family set about perfecting the gin recipe for sale. In 2010 their signature 6 O’clock Gin was born, made in a unique ‘double sphere’ copper pot still named ‘Kathleen’. This gives the spirit prolonged contact with copper during distillation and only the pure heart of each run is used.
The bottle is a standard shape of deep ‘Bristol-blue’ glass. The label is a gold screen printed ‘6’ with intricately designed cogs sitting within. Below that is the name of the gin, also in gold, and above the name is embossed. The back has a little blurb about the gin and distillery in gold, above the usual info. The lid is a silver topped glass stopper, sealed by a neat little black label. While the blue is striking, my overall opinion is that it’s too dark. The print really has to catch the light to be easily visible, but as there aren’t many other bottles out there quite this colour, it’s still fairly distinguishable.
A very classic juniper forward gin aroma greets you, a little heady, but full and smooth. The elderflower is present, nicely floral and sweet, and those classic notes from the angelica, coriander, and orris create a broad backdrop of a quintessential gin profile. The citrus sits beautifully with the floral notes, warming things a little while keeping the edges soft. There are hints of herbs, but this is very much a fleeting high note in amongst the softer tones of everything else. It’s a lovely aroma and though it may not have anything bold that shouts its name, I don’t think that’s what the makers are going for. It’s a classic gin, and it smells like it.
Neat, the flavours are smooth and slightly earthy. A waxy pine coats the tongue, beautifully soft and flavoursome, then expands to a rich, bittersweet earthiness that brings out a little citrus and, definitely, some herbal notes from the winter savory. The elderflower is less pronounced for me than I had expected, but its presence can still be felt, though only just. It has a slightly peppery aftertaste, but predominantly this is a very classic gin profile.
Water brings out the orange nicely for me, lightening the earthiness and bringing out some brighter, warming citrus. The flavours don’t suffer from dilution at all, and in fact expand beautifully, with the coriander seed and orange pairing nicely, and a little more floral flavour coming through. It’s lighter and a little sweeter for me now, which I prefer. I’m actually quite surprised by how much more citrus is coming through and can already tell I’m going to enjoy this as a G&T.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Mallorcan Tonic with a lemon wheel to garnish) . The result is somewhat muted. So much so that I added an extra glug of gin, but to no avail. Instead I’ve tried Mrs Raven’s, made with Ridge Valley Indian Tonic, and it’s actually much better. I had thought the floral element of the mallorcan tonic might match with the elderflower, but evidently not! So… sipping my wife’s G&T while she’s out of the room… the citrus works much, much better here and I used lemon to try to give the citrus a little zingy kick which works well. I have to say though it’s still quite muted for me, and while it’s nice, not much about it stands out. Beyond the flavour of the tonic and garnish, I get a fairly generic gin flavour, albeit a good quality one. There’s no harshness or anything like that… it’s just a little lacklustre for me.
6 O’clock gin is, for me, a good gin that lacks substance. It has a lovely, classic profile that I think any gin drinker would enjoy, but in my opinion it’s not robust enough to stand up to other flavours. It works well with an Indian tonic, but not well enough to rate it higher than an average, classic gin. I enjoyed it with water, and thought the orange came through beautifully, that’s not really how I or many others enjoy drinking gin. If you’re looking for a classic gin profile with subtle flavours, and one that makes a perfectly pleasant G&T, this is fine, but so are many others.
6 O’clock 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.