Eden Mill do a little bit of everything. Not content with brewing beer and distilling whisky in the old paper mill on their site in St Andrews, they also have a gin for all seasons. Alongside their Original they have four others in their core range, they have a seasonal offering, gin liqueurs, a mixology project and finally, their 12 Gins of Christmas – and it was this that led to their release of a Christmassy edition gin, the Candy Cane Gin.
As the name would suggest, the inspiration for this is those stripy mint canes that you see all over the place at Christmas – their own origins are quite murky. Story would have it that the canes were the invention of a 17th Century choirmaster from Cologne in Germany, who wanted to keep the children attending the Christmas nativity service quiet. He took white canes of sugar, made them into a ‘j’ or crook shape and handed them out. Over time the stripes were added and they were flavoured with peppermint or wintergreen.
Eden Mill have used peppermint as a botanical to match that minty flavour, along with juniper, angelica, cassia bark, black peppercorn, and lemongrass, star anise, orange peel, with bilberries and hibiscus to provide the colour.
Before we dip into this one, it’s worth noting that it’s not a gin liqueur. Despite it’s bright colour, it’s not a sweet, syrupy gin, it’s still got a 40% ABV, so well into the gin category. Though I am presuming that the berries and hibiscus are added after distillation, as the colour is very prominent.
Neat, the nose is initially cool and minty. Juniper sits in the background, but it’s definitely present, and there’s a hint of fruit, just a whisper. On the palette it’s rich and minty, a rounded texture, and the combination of hibiscus and mint gives it lots of menthol notes, like a soft eucalyptus.
This gin for me, is definitely better as a G&T. The nose is still cool and minty, but with a little citrus kicking through, softening everything down. On the palette, it’s now more candy cane than menthol – even with a light tonic, it’s sweeter, softer, fruitier, and the classic ‘gin tonic’ element kicks in on the finish and lingers a little, leaving you in no doubt you’ve got a G&T in your hand.
Pretty, Christmassy and minty, this one is maybe not for everyone, but a lot of gin drinkers will be happy with this boozy version of a sweet treat under their tree.