Sussex, home of white cliffs, green fields and the Downs (with their inevitable ups). Now nestled away in this green and pleasant landscape is a distillery that is producing artisan spirits, Sussex’s first point in fact.
Under the name Blackdown Spirits, the husband and wife team are producing vodka, gin and most interestingly, vermouth. This is interesting to me because no one else in the UK is producing white vermouth, so for the first time in human history you can have a home grown Martini – one small step for man, one giant leap for cocktail connoisseurs.
I’ve managed to get my cocktail-shaking hands on a bottle of gin and vermouth so with further ado let us start with the vermouth:
Fox's tasting profile
The first thing that hit me was Christmas pudding (I must remember to duck next time) which was followed by a slight nutty taste. Overall it’s pleasantly sweet with a nice subtle spice to it.
Blackdown tasting profile
NOSE: Full of flavour including Wormwood, Chamomile, Silver Birch and Juniper
TASTE: Creamy, Spicy and full of flavour
FINISH: Traditional, elegant and smooth with a hint of sweetness
Average Price: £24.99
Now moving on to the gin:
Fox's tasting profile
The gin is smooth with very little burn and is pleasant to sip neat. On the whole, it has a traditional woody aroma with a blend of 11 different botanicals (the most interesting of which being cinnamon bark, angelica root and liquorice) and Sussex Silver Birch Sap. This creates a unique dry gin that is full of flavour, crisp, with a pleasing refreshing citrus note with hints of coriander. One thing that makes this gin a little different is the inclusion of the (not so) secret ingredient of silver birch sap that is growing in abundance around the distillery. I’ve never sampled this ingredient before but I’m told it adds a fresh and fruity flavour that is certainly evident in the drink. Topping off the gin with some fever tree tonic, you get an extremely drinkable beverage. Excuse me while I refresh my glass in fact.
Blackdown tasting profile:
NOSE: A delicate gin, with traditional woody aromas; the predominant notes are Juniper, Coriander, Citrus and Silver Birch
TASTE: Full of flavour and slightly sweet with a very smooth and refined mouth feel.
FINISH: Traditional citrus finish, a smooth and refined on the palate.
Average Price: £27.99
So whilst these two products are great on their own, the true genius comes from their combination. Mixing the gin and the vermouth together to create a British Martini is a winning idea, and was the first thing I did after taking a cheeky taste of the two spirits. A Blackdown Martini has somewhat the same feeling as sitting on a Sussex seaside cliff on a sunny day discussing politics with Winston Churchill. All at once crisp, relaxing and educational. Keep calm and make a Martini.