Gin. It’s become quite the thing of late. Chances are even your local boozer has a gin menu the length of your arm and an array of high-end tonics to go with them. All of which means it’s becoming harder and harder for craft distillers to stand out from the crowd.
Unless, of course, you happen to unearth a lost 170-year-old recipe deep in your distillery vaults. This, if you hadn’t already guessed, is exactly what happened to Plymouth Gin master distiller Sean Harrison, who immediately set about trying to recreate Mr King’s 1842 recipe.
This is not as easy as it sounds. Firstly, having also found the original sales records from that time, the recipe called for a specific juniper that only grows on a single hillside in Frontignano, Italy. Using connections developed over 20 years in the industry Harrison worked with local experts to identify the most authentic and historically accurate raw ingredient for the job. He then combined the juniper with orris root to create an elegantly simple flavour palate far from the complicated flavours of modern gins.
In addition, thanks to improving technologies, the gin-making process has changed a lot over the past two centuries. However, with Plymouth’s Black Friars distillery being the oldest England, the team’s combined knowledge of processes old and new meant they were able to recreate the 1842 distilling method but with increased precision.
The result is a 2,000-case strong small batch gin which, thanks to the hyper-local sourcing of its ingredients, can never be reproduced. “Mr King’s 1842 Recipe is a truly one-off craft gin,” says Harrison. “Even if we were to visit the same Italian hillside next year, the climate and harvest conditions would affect the juniper resulting in a different taste profile. At a time when other brands are using many different botanicals throughout the distillation process, Mr King’s 1842 Recipe focuses on just two and the result is something very special. It’s an honour to bring Mr King’s gin into the 21st century.”
To see how Harrison brought Mr King’s 1842 Recipe to life watch the film above.
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