Monday, 1 September 2014

Bath Gin & The Canary Gin Bar

The historic city of Bath.. Famed for its majestic abbey, that iconic Royal Crescent, and most importantly*, those magnificent Roman Baths. You can leave your togas and gladiator sandals at home though, because there's a new attraction in town; Bath Gin.
*The Bath Bun was a close second.

Ok, I know we kind of talk gin all the time, but it's only because the rise in the spirit’s popularity has meant that nearly every man and his dog are having a go at making their own. I’m certainly not complaining – it’s my favourite drink - but I'll admit that I was a little dubious about this one; labelling itself as "Bath Gin", there was a chance of it being a bit of a tourist swizz. I take back my hesitation though - it's delightful.

I can thank a friend for introducing me to Bath Gin on a recent trip to the city. She’d taken me to The Canary Gin Bar, which stocks an impressive 250 (or thereabouts) different types of gin, and is the home of Bath Gin. Whilst I didn’t try it at the time, I left with a little miniature of it for a later – more sober – date.

Whilst the gin bar has been open for a couple of years, owner Peter Meacock and his team have only recently created their own spirit to sell by the glass or by the bottle. This first batch – known as the Canary Edition – is distilled down in London by Thames Distillers, but there are plans to house a distillery somewhere in Bath over the next few years to keep it local.

Bath Gin contains a total of ten carefully selected botanicals; juniper, cassia bark, lemon peel, burnt orange peel, liquorice, cardamom, angelica root, cubeb berries, and then more unusually, wormwood and Kaffir lime leaves. Wormwood is typically used in the distillation of absinthe, and Kaffir lime leaves are more commonly associated with rum, so on paper the gin sounds quite curious - there’s even a slogan classing it a “Gin of a different persuasion” - but what does it actually taste like?

The first thing I notice about it is that it's incredibly smooth, not like your traditional London Dry style; I should think not too, this is from Bath! At 40% it's fresh and fruity, and there's a delicious orange flavour that lingers throughout. From what I assume might be the wormwood, the gin has floral notes giving it a bit of an orange blossom vibe, perfect then for Laura's Sun & Tonic cocktail. Lengthening it with ice and tonic brings out more of the aromatic ingredients, and for me, I pick up cardamom the most. 

The recommended serve of Bath Gin, as you'd get in The Canary Gin Bar, is in a coupe with tonic and a Kaffir lime leaf soaked in lemon juice. The idea was to create a gin that was great in a G&T, a martini, and many other cocktails; "there are lots of gins that are good for one, but not necessarily all." Whilst it will definitely do all of the above, I don't think it will break any boundaries, but I'm pretty sure they knew this already considering they have a bar heaving with premium gins to compare it to! 

You can buy a bottle of Bath Gin via their website for £36.50, Master of Malt also stock it too, and gift boxed versions are priced a bit more. They're on their second release of the first batch - 1001 - 2000 - and each bottle is hand numbered, which is a nice touch. Oh, I should probably mention the label on the bottle whilst I'm here. It's a rather cheeky image of a winking Jane Austen; she based a lot of her books on Bath and was apparently known to enjoy a glass of mother’s ruin or two... Pretty cool. 

If a trip to Bath takes your fancy then The Canary Gin Bar is well worth a visit, and you can purchase some Bath Gin direct at a slightly cheaper price. Spread over two floors, you can choose your poison and watch as the well trained staff piece together your drink - different tonics, different garnishes - all to get the best out of your preferred gin. Every Saturday the bar hosts a gin tasting and cocktail masterclass for £35. You get to try 5 different gins, be taught a few cocktails, taste a few cocktails, then end with a free Bath G&T.

There's actually a '30 Days of Gin' event running throughout the 30 days of September too. In each week a different gin will be celebrated with tastings by the producers (Saturdays at 3.30pm), and special cocktails will be available for a mere £7.50. It kicks off this week with Sacred Gin; Portobello Road, Ish Gin and the home grown Bath Gin are also on the lineup. If you fancy booking a place, email

Have I tempted you?.. I'll let you wear your Roman Costume if you must.

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