Fishers London Dry Gin is a coastal spirit with an adventurous heart. Made at Adnams’ Southwold distillery, the producers use English seaside botanicals like spignel and rock samphire to imbue their drink with a strong sense of place.
Fishers Gin was founded by Andrew Heald, a drinks industry veteran who was struck with the inspiration to make a gin when wandering around Suffolk. He told us: “We wanted to make a drink that encapsulates the flavours and diversity of wildlife on the English Coast. One cold and crisp spring morning I was walking along marshes near Southwold on the Suffolk coast, on some of the most beautiful RSPB land in the country and couldn’t believe how many interesting wild plants were growing. I was already involved with drinks production in France and Scotland and wondered how we could use these plants to make something as a tribute to this very English landscape. I immediately thought of gin.”
The journey from inception to production took around a year, with the first step being the procurement of a botanist. They landed on James Firth, an Oxford University botanist with a vast knowledge of plant life – more specifically, of which plants give the best flavour (and of which plants give the most poison…). After they had James on board, the Fishers Gin team enlisted the help of Adnams Distillery and the talents of Head Distiller John McCarthy, to complete the task of making the gin.
Adnams Distillery was a good fit for the team, with their East Anglian Barley base spirit adding heft to Fishers Gin’s strong sense of regionality. The sea, too, serves as home – hence the moniker. Fishers is named for fishermen and the coast – even the bottle itself is reminiscent of the sea, with the clear glass printed with a yellow, orange, blue and white fishing net style pattern.
While provenance is clearly hugely important to the producers, Fishers Gin doesn’t make this a constrictive rule – quality is king here, so the more traditional gin botanicals are imported. These include juniper, coriander seed, orris root, orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom pod, caraway seed, fennel seed and angelica. The Fishers Botanicals, as Andrew refers to them, are predominantly coastal and either grown or foraged by James. These include spignel, wood aven, bog myrtle, rock samphire, wild angelica and wild fennel. Spignel, Andrew informs us, is the most elusive of the bunch, so Fishers grow their own in a well-hidden spot.
The recipe was chosen by James, who worked hard to strike a balance between the core gin botanicals and the coastal Fishers accent. The traditional gin botanicals needed to tread a fine line; to be light enough that the Fishers botanicals would shine through, but strong enough that the drink retained the core characteristics of a gin. Once James has picked the botanicals, they’re taken to the Adnams Distillery, where John McCarthy sets them to work.
The first step in the process is the creation of Adnams’ East Anglian barley spirit. To make this, John produces a barley wash which he ferments to 7% ABV. The wash is then stripped, polished and rectified and transformed into over 90% ABV base spirit. The gin botanicals are steeped in this vodka overnight, with the English ingredients given a little bruising to help them along their way.
Each run takes seven hours, with the gin running through John’s three-plate copper still. One shot distillation is used to make Fishers Gin, with water added to the final spirit to reduce it to bottling strength of 44% ABV. Around 1500 50cl bottles are produced per run, and around 1000litres is produced per week.
Fishers London Dry Gin to taste…
To nose, a rich, wet, herbaceous smell comes through. There’s a thick layer of spignel which provides a huge, highly distinct (cumin/caraway-like) aroma, that is further accentuated by bog myrtle. The unfamiliar nature of the botanicals means that there is nothing one can quite place a finger on, though there is an overwhelming sense of underlying, almost mentholic spice.
The medicinal nature of the spirit carries through to the tongue; juniper isn’t immediately obvious to taste, instead the English botanicals shine. Spice hits the back of the throat and the coriander brings a real, deep warmth to the citrus. Juniper as an singular ingredient isn’t obvious (perhaps a little more at the end), wherein the mouth is coated with a sharp, piny taste.
Tasted neat, Fishers is an intriguing gin with a long, winding finish. In a G&T we’d recommend a slice of lemon to serve – this will freshen up the herbal and spiced botanicals, which at times can conspire to overwhelm the glass. Andrew himself recommends a sweet garnish like dried pineapple, which would counteract the gin’s otherwise savoury tone.
The Fishers Gin branding is very cool – the fishing net pattern on the bottle is visually striking and beautifully complex, with loops and lines and seemingly infinite details filling the corners. The Fishers logo itself echoes those – sitting inside a complex, line filled frame, with an anchor above the name to further represent the sea theme.
With the gin selling well, Heald and co have started to consider adding variants into the Fishers family. They’re working on a sloe gin and would like to make a 100% English Fishers product – though the lack of juniper available in the country might mean this product won’t be a gin.
Fishers is a gin that tastes like no other, but one made with a clear understanding of the spirit. The aim – “to create a rare, unique flavour” has been well and truly met. While it may not be the first choice for juniper purists and yes, it is polarising in its flavour profile, but the long finish and piny aftertaste make it one we feel is well worth seeking out.
For more information about Fishers Gin, visit their website: www.fishersgin.com
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