Whitley Neill is a premium London Dry Gin launched in 2005 by Johnny Neill. It contains two African botanicals, Baobab fruit and Cape Gooseberries, that give the gin an exotic touch to the palate and sets it apart from others.
Whitley Neill, distilled near Birmingham, is made from a 100% grain spirit that is steeped with botanicals prior to being distilled in a beautiful antique copper pot still called ‘Constance’ who is over 100 years old. Only the purest water is used and each of the nine botanicals are carefully selected to ensure that they are of the highest quality. Whitley Neill’s tagline of “Made in London and Inspired by Africa” goes a long way in describing what those botanicals might be. Bringing together a mix of innovative botanicals like cape gooseberries and baobab fruit to its lineup, it also has other more traditional botanicals such as juniper, coriander, lemon & orange peel, angelica root, cassia bark and orris root. The tag line also lends its cues to the attitude taken on by the creator Johnny Neill, as it reflects his fresh 21st century outlook whilst also making a reference to gin’s heritage and the London based gin distilling experience put into use at the distillery.
Bottled at 42% ABV, subdued juniper and citrus notes come to the fore at first followed by a subtle spice and complex finish. It’s definitely an interesting gin especially considering the botanicals used. We would recommend using Fever-Tree for a G&T, but they recommend adding fresh ginger root or lemon juice and honey for the more discerning.
As a whole, the gin is not too juniper dominant and has a distinct zing to it so it’s perhaps one for fans of the lighter gin styles. However, there is enough in there to hold the traditionalists’ attention too so don’t go writing it off either. Out of all the drinks that we have tried Whitley Neill in, the Martini was most successful as the well-balanced citrussy nature of this gin provides a great background for a dash of vermouth.
With one look through the story of how the gin was created, one can see the passion creator Johnny Neill has for the place. Married to an African woman who told him evocative stories from her birthplace, he took both the cape gooseberries and the baobab fruit as a way of infusing elements of their lives into one product. Interestingly, 5p from the sale of each bottle will go to Tree Aid in Africa to help with reforestation. Possibly the first gin to have made such an outspoken commitment to a specific cause, they are no longer the only ones, with Elephant Gin giving 15% of its earnings to two Elephant conservations. These two brands should both be applauded for their gestures and other brands should follow suit. Drink Gin, save the world… Bob Geldof would be proud.
With Whitley Neill’s website and bottle receiving a well-deserved and awaited redesign, this passion and rich history shines through. The black bottle is a marked improvement and gives the gin a really special feel.
The man himself founded the company in 2004 with the aim of offering consumers a new and totally different gin to those already in existence in the market. Despite the brand being 10 years old and this being Johnny’s first foray into gin, their family origins have links to distilling since the mid-eighteenth century (Johnny Neill is from the fourth generation of the Greenall Whitley distilling family). Expect to see more of this gin in years to come, especially as other markets adopt it. Although it’s not set to grow at the same rate as the Sipsmiths’ of the craft gin world, don’t be surprised to see their numbers rise in the UK as more and more gin fans try the gin made from the “tree of life” and whose advocacy holds strong.
For more information about Whitley Neill, visit their website: www.whitleyneill.com
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