Hidden Curiosities Gin
We admit, we approached this one with caution. The price? High. The production? Third party. Our collective ability to spell curiosity without adding in an extra ‘u’ or two? Nowhere to be found… Still, our trusted Gin-quaffing peers were all too keen to sing not only Hidden Curiosities Gin’s praises, but those of its owner and creator, Jenny Meguro, so when the chance to review it came up, we put judgement aside and delved in.
Meguro was a keen drinker of gin (albeit not a particularly clued up one), but her core business was (and still is) the somewhat niche industry of cravats. Pocket squares may not be all the rage, but with a modern twist and great design, she and her co-founder, Julian Spencer-Smith, have been making their mark in the field. So… why make the move from pocket squares to gin?
“I had always loved gin, namely Gin and Tonic,” Meguro explained, “but it wasn’t until around two years ago that I really delved into craft gin, which in turn became a hobby of mine to try new and unique craft gins.” I would go through phases of having a favourite gin, but after a while I would become too accustomed to the flavour and then want to move onto something else. This would happen time and time again, and eventually made me want to create my ideal craft gin – one with a flavour profile that was complex, multifaceted and versatile enough so that it would never fail to draw me in and engage any senses.”
Deciding to work with her local distillery, Silent Pool, she set about developing the recipe forHidden Curiosities Gin. Her tasting sessions over the past couple of years had driven her in a decidedly peppery direction, but she also wanted this to be balanced with citrus, sweetness and a floral finish. Explaining her (very) boozy methodology, Meguro said: “I came up with my recipe after extensive research testing over 100 craft gins, devising my own botanical combinations and eventually working out from my own experience what botanicals I thought would marry well together.” Still relatively fresh for a five-year stint in Japan, Meguro’s palate was used to picking out strange and unique flavours, so she worked these newly acquired skills hard as she set about developing Hidden Curiosities Gin.
That Japanese influence is felt in the gin, which lists yuzu amongst its 20-strong botanical list. Though secretive about the rest of the ingredients, Meguro is willing to give away the following: juniper, coriander seeds, angelica root, orris root, green cardamom, pink peppercorns and locally sourced lavender.
To make the gin, the Silent Pool distilling team macerate the botanicals in a wheat based spirit for 24 hours. This is then poured into their 350-lire Arnold Holstein still and distilled over a six-hour period. Only the hearts cut is used to make Hidden Curiosities Gin, which is left to mellow for a week after distilling before being cut down to its bottling strength of 42% ABV with water taken directly from the Silent Pool spring. After this, it’s given a couple more days rest (to allow for any volatile notes to dissipate), before being bottled, labelled and wax dipped.
Hidden Curiosities Gin to taste…
Strong citrus greets the nose, with that mandarin-like yuzu bidding a bittersweet hello. There’s a great earthiness here, too, alongside a rich, fruity pepper spice. It’s actually very fresh and verdant on the nose, with a ginny familiarity but a slight lack of juniper itself. It’s all the elements that surround juniper, that make a good gin, that fill the journey that are all clear on the nose, just not the star protagonist herself.
The taste reminds us of those old tin horse racing games you find at amusement arcades, in that all of the flavour elements stand side by side and race at an even pace. There’s the strong, technicolour yuzu, the earthy orris and angelica, the fragrant, spiced notes of cardamom and the softer floral elements from lavender petals, which flip flop between petal sweet and brutally stalky and herbal, slotting in comfortably alongside the piny juniper. Last but not least, a white pepper spice underpins it all and lingers on a warm finish.There’s a great width to the flavour, all of which emerging from different areas, as opposed to being a multitude of the same thing and the result is brilliantly balanced. It’s a real achievement, flavour wise, with a bouquet of flavours veering in all directions with wild confidence.
With tonic, the floral nature of the gin sings. The petals drop into the mouth with ferocity, the yuzu hums a bright citrus tune and the peppers bring huge, cavernous depth. It is very tasty while also being very accessible, so we can understand the quick success Meguro is finding. That said, it’s notably expensive and in our opinion, this is a major blemish in the overall package. At £36 for a 50cl bottle (working out at £50 for a standard 70cl), Hidden Curiosities Gin rises above the average price, and for no real clear reason.
Meguro’s justification for that is the quality of the base alcohol and botanicals, as well as the lack of machinery involved in the process. The fact that Silent Pool Gin is made from the same base, by the same team, at the same distillery, yet retails at around £34 for a 70cl bottle, negates that argument for us. Elsewhere, other, even smaller producers with equally hand-intensive process charge less too (58 Gin to name just one).
The bottle is a fat, square glass affair with a decidedly striking, circus-esque look and a hint of Victoriana. There’s some real quality foiling going on and a great duality, with the back of the label printed with one of Meguro’s favourite designs from her silk scarf range. It’s a bottle that will do Hidden Curiosities Gin well, as it stands out beautifully on a bar, but is also exceedingly gift-worthy.
We like Hidden Curiosities Gin a lot and we’ve joined the ranks of people who find Meguro charming company. We think it’ll do well, and we’d certainly point to it as one to watch because she’s a cunning character when it comes to getting her gin out and about. Still, that price point might cause a couple of issues though…
For more information about Hidden Curiosities Gin, visit their website: www.hiddencuriosities.com
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