When it comes to gin, Warrington may not be the first place you think of. But it should be one of them at least.
For starters, they have G&J Distillers (previously G&J Greenalls) – England’s oldest continuous gin distilling company, home of Greenall’s Gin, Opihr, Bloom, Berkeley Square, Thomas Dakin and manufacturer of a number of own brands, and others, such as Bulldog Gin.
And now, it has another to add to it’s pedigree. Three Pugs Gin.
(Yes pun intended).
Husband and wife team Stephen and Christine Ditchfield were inspired following a gin tasting event at Wine Buffs in Warrington. After a ‘practice’ session at Burleighs in Leicester, and advice from Jamie Baxter, they set up their own distillery at their home in Orford just over a year ago, and use a 30 litre copper still from Portugal, named Silverback. Their recipe uses eight botanicals: cardamom, juniper, coriander, orris, angelica, basil, orange and elderflower, with an ABV of 40%.
And the name Three Pugs? That’s down to their dogs – Pepsi Tutu and Mojo – who appear on every bottle.
For me, someone who freelances in marketing, I’m struggling a little with the bottle. The slanted bottom makes it look a little drunken, which is a nice gimmick I guess, but the branding – can I picture it on the back bar of Manchester House? No. Can I picture it on the back bar of a restaurant chain? Again, not really. Local pub, yes. Wetherspoons, probably. It just feels like it’s leaning on a gimmick, and there’s an argument that a gimmicky bottle hides a poor drink. It becomes a drink I can’t and don’t want to take seriously.
Onto the spirit itself. The nose is sweet with good notes of coriander, pine and some muddy herbal notes in the background.
On the palate. Blimey. There’s an profile intensity that’s actually for me, not pleasant. It’s layered, busy. Too busy. Sweet oily texture hits of coriander, juniper, oily pine notes, very peppery. At right at the end there’s a long lingering rosemary led finish to it.
I tried this three times. And each time, I must admit I struggled. Not to pick anything up, but to make anything from the busy nature of the flavours. I’ve tried a lot of gins and I sample every gin neat, so I can gather the tasting notes, before moving onto a G&T.
Three Pugs is definitely not a gin to enjoy neat – at least not for me. Though the herbal notes make me wonder if it would work in my gin risotto.
Time to move onto a G&T. This is far, far softer. Gone are the green notes, and the intense rosemary hit. Instead it’s much lighter, with lots of sharp orange, coriander, juniper and a distinct sour citrus hit at the finish.
This is far more pleasant, but the sour note flavour is akin to malic acid (the sour stuff you find on Haribo Tangfastics) – and is astringent on my tongue. I know that I do have a sensitivity to acids on my palette, so it simply could be that even a G&T isn’t for me, at least not more than one.
Overall – I want to support the little guys. I wanted to love the gin – perhaps in spite of the branding. And despite my belief that there’s always a way to drink a spirit, it’s just matching it to the right method, I can’t believe I’m saying this. But I’ve found probably the first gin I don’t actually like.
And this makes me rather sad.