Once upon a time, I was introduced to Karl Bond. Karl, freely claiming he (and Lindsay, the couple behind Forest Gin) had no idea what they were doing when it came to gin. He and Lindsay had crafted a gin from primarily foraged botanicals in Macclesfield. They then asked for a little help from local bars and restaurants – just to see how it worked, whether it was a ‘good’ gin.
The next thing this little weasel with the long whiskers was flying off shelves in Knightsbridge.
In truth, it was flying off the shelves in Knightsbridge before many of us up here in the north had chance to get our mitts on it. After leaving it in a restaurant in Cheshire for feedback, it was spotted by the buyer for Harvey Nichols. They as asked for a sample, and then snapped it up immediately.
And I can’t blame them.
Each batch of Forest Gin uses foraged botanicals from the Macclesfield Forest, alongside more common organically grown botanicals. Even the water comes from a local spring. Every batch is made at their new distillery site on the outskirts of the forest by their now three person team. And the stunning bottle is made by Wade in Stoke on Trent and features a print created from a stunning papercut design.
The botanicals means that flavour profile wise, you get layers of flavour. Fruit, herbs and an earthy finish, that is perfectly garnished with a little rosemary.
But it was during a sneaky visit to their new distillery that I was introduced to their new Limited Edition gin. This gin merges their own spirit with a tea from Quinteassential – a tea that’s high on my favourites list for quality, and flavour profile.
Allow me to introduce Earl Grey Forest Gin.
Pretty isn’t it?
No really, it is.
The earthy and fruit notes of Forest meld beautifully with the perfumed qualities of the tea. Bergamot is the top note, the oolong tea sits at the back and in the finish, with vanilla and soft, warm citrus.
My immediate thoughts were of a Negroni, which I’ve since made at home and I must admit, I could drink all day. The bitter tea notes soften the bitterness from the campari, giving it yet more depth.
But onto a G&T.
With tonic lemon sherbet notes come out to play, the tea’s depth is softened – it becomes more like an iced tea, and the citrus notes become so much more refreshing. Suddenly I want to make a long refreshing Tom Collins (which I haven’t done yet, but I will be).
Yes, this gin comes with a high price tag. The original Forest Gin is £59 from Harvey Nichols, and this one is an eye watering £67.50 – but I would argue here that you’re getting a blend of two fantastic ingredients into one. I knew the quality of the gin was excellent, and I knew the quality of the tea too, was excellent. I’ve long been a fan of that particular Earl Grey.
And yet even I’ve been surprised by the quality of this gin. It’s another that even Mr GFB (who isn’t a big gin drinker by any stretch) has become rather fond of.
When Karl handed me this gin, he insisted that I drink it, that I enjoy it, that despite it’s limited edition nature, I enjoy it.
Karl love, that’s not going to be a problem at all.
I’m just going to need a bigger gin budget.