The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2015

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Page 54 of 136

54  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2015 WHAT'S NEW T here are small batch distilled gins which taste nice; small batch gins which look good and small batch gins which are going to succeed when the going gets tough (as it will soon enough for the craft distilling sector). Edinburgh Gin from Spencerfield Spirits is all three: it tastes good, looks great and is developing real brand qualities that will see it emerge and stick around as a leader in the fast-growing premium gin category. It's the brainchild of Jane and Alex Nicol, well-known to readers of THE TASTING PANEL as the entrepreneurial team behind Pig's Nose, Sheep Dip and The Feathery brands of Scotch whisky. Imported to the United States by Frederick Wildman & Sons of New York, the first two styles are showing sales growth of more than 30% in the last year (happily, they're in the buoyant premium blended Scotch category) and Wildman's Tim Master tells me that he's more than pleased with The Feathery—"gaining new distribution daily" he relates. It's to be expected: after all, The Feathery was awarded "Best New Product" from Scotland Food and Drink in 2013 and has picked up other gold medals as well, thanks to its long aging in full-flavored oloroso Sherry casks. Spencerfield's newest whisky on the U.S. bar scene is Sheep Dip Islay Blended Malt. As you'd expect, both nose and palate offer a generous helping of peat smoke up front; a briny balance, from Islay's sea-washed warehouses and a surprising, but delightful, sweet finish. Like its stablemate Pig's Nose, a vanilla influenced first-fill bourbon cask dram, it's being picked up by discerning barkeeps who appreciate its great combination of value and flavor delivery. With this team and background, it's no surprise to see their Edinburgh Gin making great progress in international markets. First launched in 2010 with a single style, the range now includes the citrus-led standard expression (great in a Ramos Gin Fizz) and a high-strength variant named Cannonball (after the ancient armaments lining the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle high above the gin's basement bar home). That one will be coming to the U.S. early in 2016 with further exciting expressions to follow. They represent some of the ground- breaking work that the Edinburgh distilling team has been undertaking with the graduate program at Heriot- Watt University to explore new botani- cals—it's a unique collaboration between the U.K.'s only university-level distilling course and the company. Heriot-Watt graduates work as "partners" with the distillery, using the Edinburgh Gin distillery as a hands-on, practical learn- ing resource to explore new flavors and distilling techniques. The result: some innovative new gins for Edinburgh and real-life experience for these aspiring Master Distillers. Now distilled in the shadow of Edinburgh's historic castle, demand for Edinburgh Gin is such that a new copper pot still of the company's own design will shortly be installed in a new home to increase capacity and continue sales growth; according to independent trade research, it's currently Scotland's fast- est-growing gin brand. The plans call for a stand-alone distillery in Edinburgh's gritty Leith district, home to the capital's hipsters and coolest bars. Along with the expanded distilling capacity comes a striking new bottle and label design that is both eye-catching and stylish. For Wildman, Tim Master sees the brand moving to a new level in 2016. Plans include further gin expressions to be launched in the U.S. through the year and continued efforts to reach out to the bar and liquor store community. It's easy for small brands to talk the talk. With the Spencerfield range of whiskies and gins, the company can do more, confident that repeat purchase and satisfied customers convincingly show them walking the walk, holding its head high. Dave Wilkinson, Head Distiller at Spencerfield Spirit Company. The Gin Classroom Comes to Life SPENCERFIELD SPIRITS ADDS EDINBURGH GIN TO ITS PORTFOLIO by Ian Buxton

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