Richard’s Blog…

Somewhere in the world it must be time for a gin. It would appear that the rise in popularity of micro breweries and artisan beers has made way for a wave of gin.

Those from Sussex may have seen our glorious white gin bottles in local stores, bars or hotels. Named after the iconic Seven Sisters but gin from these parts is not a new phenomenon. The land that folds over the top of the Seven Sisters cliffs between Seaford and Birling Gap is knows as Crowlink. Genuine Crowlink Gin was the drink in the 1800s in London. It was illegally imported gin which could be legally sold over the bar. Many landlords even resorted to placing the word Crowlink on their barrels as pure PR to improve sales, even if it wasn’t the real deal. The smuggling trade was of huge importance in this part of East Sussex and many of the larger houses that adorn the landscape have been ‘funded’ from the illegal import of alcohol. Ours is not illegal but we do hope it continues to be the gin to drink!

Gin as a product was not on our radar as a business last year but by popular demand it could remain on our ‘menu’.

Last month Rathfinny were invited to showcase our Seven Sisters gin at the inaugural Sussex Gin and Sparkling Festival in Lewes (image above is of our display at the event). It was a great day and many people were able to see our botanicals, give them a good sniff and then try the gin. Many knew of angelica, bitter orange or liqourice but the orris had some stumped (or should that say ‘rooted’). Ground orris root has been used for many years in gin and provides a floral note to the liquid often likened to Parma violets and an earthy smoothness to the palate. For me the liquorice is the gem that opens up with the addition of ice to provide a wonderful back note to the drink. The key to our gin, and the one botanical which was not on show at this event, is our grapes. Rathfinny’s very own grapes form the base of the gin with the required neutral grain spirit. These are the same grapes that have been gently pressed for our Sussex sparkling which is launched next summer.

I met so many gin fanatics it was lovely to discuss ‘perfect’ pours and the difference a tonic can make to a drink. Our suggested pour is with a slim line or naturally light tonic, such as Folkington’s, a slice of orange rind, plenty of ice and a large glass. Some sun. A foot stool. Hey presto – bliss in a glass. Even better, get someone else to make it for you.

Our gin is sold in many independent wine merchants local to the Estate and can also be found in pubs and hotels. In some it is great to hear that customers are wishing it to be served as a sipping gin, neat over ice. This really reflects to us that we have made a wonderful smooth gin that can be enjoyed on its own. I know we don’t have many cases of Malaria in Sussex, but I like to take my prescribed dose of quinine with some gin and ice!

If you’re interested in our gin, or wish your local retailer or watering hole to stock it, please get in touch with me.

Anyway, is the sun past the yardarm yet?