Review: Salcombe Gin Is a Bright, Refreshing Way to Kick Off 2021
How to enjoy this award-winning London dry gin inspired by forgotten maritime history
What we’re drinking: Start Point and Rosé Sainte Marie, two gins by the Salcombe Distilling Co.
Where it’s from: Based in the southwest of England and three hours from London, Salcombe today is a Hamptons/Martha’s Vineyard-style summer getaway. In the 19th century, however, the coastal town served as an important trading port, where copper-hulled schooners (“fruiters”) would land with citrus and spices from the Mediterranean. Ergo, most of the botanicals and citrus fruits in Salcombe’s gin releases are inspired by those early trade routes.
As for the gin … “It’s one of the only distilleries in the world you can directly access by boat,” explains co-founder Angus Lugsdin, who partnered with an old sailing friend to start the business. Prior to gin, Lugsdin was mapping sea beds and working with the U.S. Coast Guard and NYPD — a very different type of maritime work.
Why we’re drinking it: Officially launched in the U.K. in 2016 but only available here in the U.S. as of a few months ago, Salcombe has already garnered some of the highest awards in the spirits world. That includes multiple Double Golds and Platinum designations (via the SFWSC, SIP Awards and Beverage Tasting Institute) … and that also includes Double Golds for their pink gin, an increasingly popular category that doesn’t usually win critical accolades. “It’s a massive trend over here, but pink gins get weird and wacky … and virtually all of them are awful and loaded with sugar and artificial colors and flavorings,” says Lugsdin.
How it tastes: Start Point utilizes botanicals and fruits ranging from red grapefruit to Javanese cubeb. It’s very menthol and licorice on its own, but in a gin and tonic the fruity notes practically explode. Give it a minute: You’ll find a balance of flavors but also the right body to hold up in any gin-based drink, including a martini. But really, it’ll make for one of the most memorable G&Ts you’ll ever taste.
Rosé Sainte Marie is a different creature. Still a dry gin but one that sets out to emulate elements of a dry rosé wine from the Provence region, it features a faint pink hue — obtained naturally via unsweetened red fruits — as well as abundant floral and fruity notes both on the nose and palate. Add in a strawberry and/or a lemon peel to really enhance those respective flavors. It tastes like summer.
Fun fact: Salcombe just launched New London Light, a juniper-forward non-alcoholic spirit with notes of citrus, ginger and cardamom.
Where to buy it: Salcombe’s gins are available in stores in just four states but in dozens more online for $40; you can order directly here.
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