Dorset’s First Gin! Conker Gin, or Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin, to give it its full name, is distilled and bottled at the Conker Spirit Distillery, which is located in an old Victorian laundry, in Southbourne, Bournemouth and lays claim to being Dorset’s first gin.
The company was founded in 2014 by self-proclaimed Head Conkerer Rupert Holloway. Rupert had grown weary of his 9 to 5 job working as a chartered surveyor in Southampton and had also come to the conclusion that there was never any decent gin to drink in local pubs or eateries. He also noticed that, whilst Dorset has plenty of local beers, wines and other Dorset specialities, there was a Dorset Gin -shaped gap in the market. Rupert is a self-taught distiller and, after 6 months research, blending different botanicals and testing (drinking!) he finally came up with the final recipe that make Conker Gin a unique Dorset Dry Gin.
This is a truly hand-crafted, small batch gin made in batches of only 60 bottles at a time. The base spirit for the gin is made from British wheat and this is then re-distilled in the presence of the botanicals in a small, 30 litre, Portuguese-made, copper Alembic pot still. It is of course the type of base spirit and the blend of botanicals that combine to produce the unique character of any gin.
Conker Gin is now available at Fareham Wine Cellar.
Conker gin is based on a classic dry gin recipe and is made from 10 botanicals. There are some botanicals that are fairly standard to most gins including juniper (a requirement for it to be a gin), seville orange peel, angelica root and coriander seed. Some of the other botanicals are a little bit more unusual and include dried elderberries, lime peel, dried marsh samphire and gorse flowers. The gorse flowers are very much a local product. The bright yellow gorse flowers are foraged from The New Forest in March and April and then dried. When fresh gorse flowers have a coconut character but when dried they have chamomile, sweet nectar character which they bring to the gin.
After re-distillation with the botanicals, the gin is left to sit for 2 weeks, this period allows the gin to mellow, something that not gin goes through, prior to the addition of natural New Forest Spring water to bring the ABV down to 40% for bottling. All of this, bottling and labelling included, is done by hand.
The packaging is very smart and I don’t think I have seen the bottle shape before. The labelling is very clear and the copper-coloured screw top cleverly reminds one of the copper colours of the traditional Alembic stills whilst the yellow bottom label must almost definitely be “gorse yellow”. It took me a little while for me to realise that the “C” of Conker Gin is a conker in string too. Brilliant branding ideas.
Conker Gin Tasting Notes
A clear, colourless gin. The nose is very fragrant and perfumed. There are aromas of pine and juniper with definite citrus / lime notes. There are also floral and spicy, peppery hints. On the palate I detect orange flavours, more lime, blossom, honeysuckle, some savoury character (coriander) and nutty, woody notes which lead to the medium-length, dry finish.
This is a bright, smooth and refreshing gin that would be great to drink neat or over ice. If served in a gin and tonic I would most definitely garnish with a sprig of fresh gorse flowers. Of course, if your local supermarket doesn’t have any gorse flower then my second choice would be lime zest! I think this will complement the lime notes in the gin very well.
Whilst looking for information about Conker Gin, I also found this fantastic looking Cool Camomile and Conker Gin Cocktail at the Dorset Tea Website. There is also more information at the Conker Spirit website.