Fort Gin is a new Hampshire gin made by the Portsmouth Distillery Co which is based at Fort Cumberland located at Eastney Point at the entrance to Langstone Harbour.
Portsmouth Distillery was established in 2018 by ex Naval officers Vince Noyce and Giles Collighan and Dich Oatley who has spent many years working in the wine trade. Vince and Giles shared a mutual love of rum and the distillery was founded with the aim of making a Portsmouth Rum. Indeed a Portsmouth White rum and a spiced rum call Cinnabar (after the Cinnabar moth found at the fort) should be released before the end of 2018. For the patient, these will be followed by barrel aged rums in due course. The rums are made from sugar cane juice from Costa Rica.
In the meantime the guys have produced the fantastic Fort Gin. It is handcrafted in small batches (approximately 150 litres) at the fort and is distilled using two stills, a 500 litre pot still made in China nicknamed Sophie Wu and a 4 plate column still. The botanicals were inspired by foraging around the fort and include locally foraged Elderflower, Gorse Flowers and Sea Radish (Raphanus maritimus). Alongside these local maritime influenced coastal botanicals, the other botanical include Juniper (of course), Lime, Sweet Orange, Red Peppercorns and Szechuan Pepper.
The presentation is very smart and has lots of references to Fort Cumberland and Portsmouth. A plan of the the Fort is the main feature of the label which also features the Portsmouth Star and Crescent Coat of Arms. There is a hidden map of Langstone Harbour inside the bottle which is topped with a copper stopper, a nod to the copper stills. It is bottled at 41% ABV and when I asked Dich why, he said because 4 + 1 = 5, representing pentagonal design of Fort Cumberland.