Cuckoo’s Solace gin has undergone a little tinkering for this exclusive edition for Craft Gin Club’s May offering, but the folks at Brindle Distillery have been sure to keep it true to the original recipe.
Price: ~ £38
Master Distiller Mark Long started his journey towards making gin with a career in hospitality. From there he made a sideways move to the business of selling artisan foods to large sellers, but it was when he married Liz Singleton that things took another turn, this time towards making gin. Having discussed how he and his father-in-law Gerard Singleton could work together, Mark was inspired by a holiday to Barcelona and an incredible G&T that led to an new obsession and the creation of Brindle distillery, built in an old cow shed on the Singleton family farm.
In keeping with their farm-to-bottle ethos, they grow as many of the botanicals as possible on the farm, as well as using spring water from an aquifer on the land. Many of the wildflowers are harvested and macerated or vapour-infused to make their gins. They also use local beekeepers, also based on the farm, for the honey that goes into their Sunshine edition, and Maggie, their 400-litre copper still is heated using renewable energy generated on site.
Sadly in 2018, Liz was diagnosed with cancer, but was able to undergo successful surgery to remove it. The couple wanted to use their brand to thank all those who had helped them, as well as support anyone going through the same thing. When the word ‘solace’ was mentioned, they realised it summed up their experience perfectly, and so a new edition of their gin found its name. Defined as ‘comfort in the time of distress’, a percentage of the proceeds from Solace gin goes to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, and Craft Gin Club have donated £10k to support the charity.
This edition features additional botanicals in the form of extra angelica, a third type of olive: the Greek Halkidiki, and an extra burst of lime.
The bottle is a beautiful round shape that curves in at the middle and fades from clear at the base to teal at the top. Front and centre the label, sat in an embossed space, features the name and edition of the gin, with a silhouetted Cuckoo perched atop the ‘k’, the volume and ABV. On the back sits another label with a blurb about the gin and how it’s made, along with the usual info. Around the shoulder on the back, the word ‘Lancashire’ is embossed, and around the base is a wonderfully detailed embossed image of flowers and leaves, designed by local artist Dorothy Charnley to represent the wild botanicals that thrive on the farm. On top is a dark wood stopper, and the tamper label features the teal ribbon used to raise awareness of cervical cancer. It’s a lovely colour and shape, as are all of their gins.
A wonderfully rich and vibrant juniper rises slowly from the glass, eliciting a sense of deep, earthy greens and woody roots. There’s a hint of sweet, aromatic cinnamon, along with a fleshy citrus which I find very pleasing indeed. It’s smooth and soft, but full of aroma, and I definitely get the olives as a bitter, herbal afterthought. There’s a bit of everything here, almost, and it’s all very well balanced, allowing me to pick up on different elements as I consider them. Towards the end, the rosemary and cardamom come through nicely, and I even get a little note of toast, before a flourish of liquorice and lemon takes me back round to start another journey through what I would describe as a beautifully fluid profile.
Neat, the gin is incredibly smooth and genuinely soft on the palate. It doesn’t so much sit on the tongue as glide around, as though frictionless in a vacuum. It’s quite the experience! The flavours are bold, more tart than on the nose, with plenty more citrus coming through for me alongside a punchy juniper. I find it nice and dry without being bitter, with a prominent savoury, herbal profile that I think shows off the thyme and rosemary nicely, along with the cardamom. Still, that citrus is very much part of the fabric that’s finished off by some more woody, earthy notes.
A drop of water, and things are turned completely upside down! It’s so sweet! I honestly can’t believe the change. The cinnamon and liquorice positively explode onto the scene, providing a warm, aromatic sweetness full of flavour. The citrus is present, now more reminiscent of peel than flesh, and those very classic gin notes, from the angelica especially, are softened and sweetened. It’s like a different gin, and I’m honestly blown away by the change.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic with dried lemon and juniper to garnish). The result is absolutely fantastic. There’s so much going on here, with the juniper sparkling bright and crisp, the cinnamon fizzing through the tonic, and the citrus providing an extra layer of depth. It’s sweet for a G&T, but there’s a full-bodied element of savouriness that adds a wonderful dynamic to the flavour, so much so I’d almost describe it as chewy, by which I mean it’s so full and flavoursome that it comes through as more than just a liquid for me. The flavours dance around through sensations of tart, sweet, dry, rich, bright, and bold, and yes, I think the olives come through here wonderfully (and this is from someone who could take or leave olives!). This is a truly great G&T.
Wow. This is a really, really great gin. Consider me a new super-fan of Cuckoo, because if this is anything to go by, I am going to be making sure I try every gin they make sooner rather than later. On paper the fact that it contains 3 types of olive might put people off, but I know that they’re there as much for texture as they are for flavour, and I can honestly say this gin has one of the best textures I’ve ever experienced. It’s a beautiful blend of citrus, herbal, and classic flavours, with touches of spice that all balance so well as to be a model for other gin makers. It’s almost a shame this is a special edition, but based on this I’ll be checking out the original Solace gin (and having read up on them, most likely as many of the others as I can get my hands on!), and I’d recommend you do too.
Cuckoo Solace (CGC) is available only through Craft Gin Club
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.