When you come across an array of pretty coloured gins, there’s always a worry about added colouring.
It’s commonplace in some spirits. Rums for example sometimes have caramel added to ensure a balanced colour. Some brands are open about it, some not.
If you’ve ever played around with gins at home, you’ll know the effect sunlight can have on your infused booze. Sloe gin can start out as a deliciously rich pink, and suddenly go slightly orangey. My own rhubarb and ginger gin began as a delicate rose. Then went peach. And is now something like a orange/brown.
It still tastes bloody delicious.
And if you saw the Apprentice… Yeah, the least said about that the better.
So when Sam, the brains behind Espensen Spirits suggested I keep these out of the light to help them keep their colours, I know we’re dealing with the real deal. Un-adulterated fruit infused spirits.
And they are.
Espensen Spirits are based in Bristol – Sam had made fruit spirits for a number of years (at one point she had close to a hundred jars infusing in the cupboard under her stairs) – and along with business partner Phil, the two ladies have worked to create a brand that is quirky in design, innovative, and above all, tasty.
Currently, there are four drinks for you to try – PG Sips (Pink Grapefruit and Raspberry Vodka), Ruby Cuby (Rhubarb and Custard Vodka), Pump up the Jam (Raspberry Gin) and Gin Genie (Blueberry Gin).
Gin Genie, is something I’ve made myself at home. Blueberries have some surprisingly floral notes, as well as the soft, sweet roundness that you expect, and both come out really well in gin.
It’s gorgeous in a G&T, but spying some ginger beer on the shelf in the fridge, I couldn’t help but pair these two together (plus it was an excuse to use a fancy glass). The fruit and the ginger together are wonderful.
Pump Up the Jam called for a G&T and some fresh mint from my kitchen windowsill. There’s something about raspberries and mint that’s heavenly, and this was no exception. For me, it’s just as good, if not better, than Pinkster’s has been more recently. I’m suspecting a changed recipe in the latter, which means for fruit notes, this is a winner.
I went all Martini-like for Ruby Cuby. On it’s own with ice, there’s a Bird’s Custard note that drives me back in for another sip. But a drop or two of Galliano with ice, add the vodka and stir it down a touch and oh yes, that’s rather something.
I did save the best for last. I adore the Gin Genie and it’s nod to Bowie. The Ruby Cuby and that yellow brick road. But PG Sips, just needs ice. I could sip this balance of grapefruit and raspberry all day long.
Or chuck it in a glass of fizz so it turns a light delicate peach.
To be truthful, you could serve all of them with a little prosecco and you’d have something a bit special.
I think though it’s the ethos of Espensen I love even more. Sam and Phil use their brand, and their bar, Bristol Spirit to both raise awareness of mental health issues, and bring attention to charities that support these. Something that filters down to their staff.
Espensen is all round good gin.