A lot of fluffy language surrounds the Lake District inspired Bedrock Gin. Visit the website and you’ll be met with beautiful, dark imagery accompanied by mad, half formed sentences. What is Bedrock Gin, you ask by virtue of clicking through to the about page. ‘From a landscape of mountains with their shoulders cloaked in cloud,’ comes the answer. It sounds like something Confucius would have said on an off day, rather than a description of a London Dry Gin, but hey – we’re in a curious mood.
Vince Wilkins set up Spirit of the Lakes in 2008 after realising that there were no spirits with a Lake District connection. He was already involved in the alcohol industry, so had something of an inclination that Gin was about to come back to life on the wider stage. Inspired by this notion and armed with a strong idea of what he wanted to create, Wilkins met with the late Peter McKay of Alcohols Ltd and asked him to create Bedrock Gin.
They worked together on the flavour profile, which has something of a classic taste, albeit with a hint of the unexpected from the local angle botanical – Lake District oak bark. Juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, lemon peel, orange peel, cassia, liquorice, nutmeg and cinnamon form the rest of the named botanicals, leaving us with something of a mystery as to what the remaining ingredient is.
The botanicals are loaded into one of Alcohols’ copper stills and left to macerate overnight with the neutral spirit. They are heated gently, to allow the oils to release and infuse into the spirit ahead of the run. Most Alcohols’ gins are made to a 16x concentrate or more, so once further neutral spirit has been added post distillation, it is shipped up north to be blended with water from the spring of Ennerdale Water; a vast, deep, glacial lake surrounded by the stunning surrounds of the Lake District.
The spring water is of such clarity as to be invisible as it runs towards the lake, bar the reflection of the sun and clouds it projects outwards. It’s filtered by earth and rock as it makes its way to the surface, before being captured by the Spirit of the Lakes and used to cut Bedrock Gin down to its ABV of 40%.
Bedrock Gin to taste…
Soft cassia and cinnamon whip at the nose, though liquorice sweetness waits in the wings, as though biding its time for the limelight. The juniper seems to be supported by the latter botanical, itself bringing a certain (almost floral) sweetness. Lemon and orange carry a bright, oily citrus smell that bears a sticky, marmalade-like richness when placed next to the more honeyed botanicals.
No matter how smooth a gin promises to be, you never expect the sensation to be… well, this. It’s honestly as soft as water, bar the cinnamon/cassia tongue lashing. Smooth as silk, with a fiery taste, Bedrock Gin is a Martini masterpiece. Liquorice sweetness coats the tongue too, while a deep purple, resinous juniper jumps in at the back. It’s delicious, truly.
The spiced botanicals are calmed by tonic, which brings everything to something of an even kiln, rather than letting any particular flavour dominate. In a G&T, Bedrock Gin takes on cooling, almost menthol properties. We’re hard pushed to guess what the unnamed botanicals may be, but we’d hazard a guess towards something herbal and perhaps even in the mint family.
Wilkins recommends serving Bedrock Gin with a slice of lime and a handful of basil, which would add a kick to the lemon and orange and up the classic feel. That said, this is a gin with no particular leaning – Citrus, pine, spice, sweet and herbal flavours all hold an even footing, so we’d play with the juniper’s subtle floral notes by using lavender, which in turn would increase the herbal feel.
Following a redesign, Bedrock Gin is packaged in a tall, broad, glass bottle with a thick, black label cut into a shape to represent the topography of the Lake District. A cool typeface in white, with details written in metallic, shimmering blue add a particularly stylised look to the overall product, whilst the IWSC medal sticker fixed to the front of the bottle adds an element of trust to the product.
Given the overall quality of the Bedrock Gin, both in terms of taste and packaging, it would be reasonable to question why no-one seems to have really heard of it yet, especially given that with a 2008 launch, it was amongst the earliest entrants to the nascent gin recurrence.
In this light, Bedrock Gin is almost a textbook example of why having a good gin just isn’t good enough. It missed the early boat with a somewhat lacklustre look (before it’s redesign) and never really engaged with the bar industry or big name consumer shows, nor was it hugely active on social media. Because of this, it never generated a wide enough fanbase to carry it into the awareness of the new generation of gin drinkers. That’s not to say that it is not an impressive feat to have created a gin, nor that that it’s been an armchair ride for the owners, merely that it takes a huge amount of energy, spent consistently and relentlessly, to build a brand that is anything more than thought bubbles set to artistic imagery. To compete, you need both a cutting edge and willingness to trail blaze.
While it seems to still be flying under the radar, with a little nurturing it could gain prominence. Hopefully Wilkins and the team will start to visit more gin shows and engage with a keen audience on a more regular basis. They can keep the fluff on the website – it’s an angle, after all – but hopefully they’ll add some real detail in their too. We’d urge them to tell the story of the gin, how its made, what it represents and who’s behind it. Good gin is good gin once its in your glass, but there are so many out there now that the biggest challenge for producers is convincing audiences that theirs is the one to try.
Interestingly enough, there are now two other Lake District gins keeping Bedrock company – Langtons No.1 (another third party distilled product) and The Lakes Gin, which is distilled locally. This demonstrates how far Gin has come since Wilkins had the idea to create a local spirit nine years ago – there’s a gin for every area (and an almost deafening amount of noise in the category generally, hence there are so many we haven’t heard of yet…).
Bedrock Gin is deserving of so much more of a following that it has. Traditional without being boring and slippery smooth, it’s a superb example of gin and one you should seek out.
For more information about Bedrock Gin, visit their website: bedrockgin.co.uk
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