Over three years ago, the Moorland Spirit Company set out to make a gin for gin idealists. From their individual perspectives – a chef, a mixologist, a drinks developer and juniper-obsessed countryman – their aim was to re-examine every stage of the gin making process from juniper bush to bottle.
In the juniper-dotted hills at Hepple in Northumberland they developed a revolutionary method that reveals more complete, delicate flavours than is possible with conventional methods alone. It is intricate, lengthy work, but is worth it. Delicious with tonic and sensational in a martini, Hepple Gin tastes as fresh as the north wind, and as invigorating as a dip in a hilltop pool.
“THERE IS ROOM FOR ANOTHER GIN IF IT’S AS GOOD AS THIS ONE. IT MIGHT BE THE BEST MARTINI GIN I HAVE EVER TASTED” ~ VICTORIA MOORE, TELEGRAPH WEEKEND
The process begins traditionally, by distilling a classic botanical mix in the copper pot still. The distiller Chris Garden, formerly of the brilliant Sipsmith in London, makes a great “one shot” gin which is complex, balanced and above all smooth. For most other gins that is usually the end of the road. But for the Moorland Spirit Company, this is just the start.
Some of the botanicals, notably those that are carefully harvested from the surrounding Hepple hills, including the young green juniper, take a detour through a glass vacuum still. The low temperature distillation of the glass still, ensures the most fragile flavours of the Hepple botanicals are preserved and the exceptional delicacy of the gin is forged at this stage.
HEPPLE USES THREE TECHNIQUES TO CAPTURE THE FULL RANGE OF FLAVOUR FROM OUR INGREDIENTS BRINGING THEM AS ALIVE IN THE BOTTLE AS THEY WERE ON THE HILLS.
At the core of a classic gin is juniper. Using a technique normally found to make the most expensive perfumes, the team have developed a way to layer the most pure expression of juniper. This technique – called supercritical extraction – yields something rather unique – known as the “absolute” from the ripe juniper berries. This is the soul of juniper and what is added to create Hepple’s unique texture and exceptionally long, ringing finish.
Finally all these elements are precisely blended with water from the spring next to the distillery and then it is left to rest for at least a month. The unique gin-making method allows botanicals to ring through with great clarity individually and in exceptional harmony together. It takes five times longer to make Hepple gin than conventional methods, but Hepple is anything but conventional. It is the taste that matters, and as no other gin is made like it, no other gin can taste quite like it.
This is a gin with a complex and sophisticated heart, but with added aroma and finish dimensions thanks to the unique way in which it is made.” ~ Nick Strangeway & Valentine Warner
ON THE NOSE: There is an immediate fresh scent of green apple, bright grapefruit and spicy juniper. This then opens up to reveal underlying notes of Douglas Fir, and fragrant blackcurrant.
ON SIPPING: The initial fresh citrus flavours evolve into unexpected ripe cantaloupe melon, the spicy fragrant juniper continues to coat the palate. There is a luscious sweet mouthfeel, which is both juicy and quenching.
THE FINISH: Extremely long and this is where the juniper reveals itself further with flavours alternating between sandalwood and cedar with a notable savoury presence that complements the sweet blackcurrant and liquorice. The sweet juiciness is maintained throughout the finish.
GOLD MEDAL WINNER AT THE SAN FRANCISCO WORLD SPIRITS COMPETITION 2016
“IT IS THE MOST FOCUSED, CLEAN AND DELICIOUS GIN I HAVE TASTED… A CLASSIC GIN WITH A MODERN EDGE.” ~ THE GANNET, FINANCIAL TIMES HOW TO SPEND IT.