Artisan gin distiller and family business Mews Gin may have both a subtle gin and understated label, but look closer and you’ll see there is real quality to be found.
Mews began as one of those Sunday lunchtime discussions.Father and son duo Richard and Dan are lovers of gin and began to discuss the different producers, the revival of the craft gin market and decided to do some research.
With Dan’s pedigree as an Oxford graduate engineer, and Richard having spent a career in the oil industry, the duo’s methodical approach was never really in question. Nevertheless, it was more gentile persuit rather than ferverous research and over a leisurely two years – they gradually moved from theory and excited dinner conversations to purchasing a small (Turbo 500) still (which they named “Sweaty Betty”) to try different recipes and distillation methods.
The project got its much-needed deadline with Richard’s daughter’s wedding in 2014 where the pair decided to work tirelessly (such hardship) to try various combinations until we were pleased with the result and it was as we wanted. Now that’s an episode of Don’t tell the Bride we’d actually watch…
With their recipe in place they purchased a 100lt copper still, made by legendary coppersmiths John Dore & Co. Small. Seemingly free of all the bells and whistles of its German counterparts she is unusually simple (looks are deceiving though, she’s more than capable). As a result, they named her Ugly Betty and the first batch of Mews Gin was officially launched in early 2015.
Adding to the holy trinity of juniper, angelica and coriander seed, their recipe was formulated to add depth of flavour but not be so individually strong as to swamp the juniper forward flavour. Out of the 11, the more pronounced botanicals that contribute to the Mews profile are the addition of lavender (as a reference to their countryside location) and pink peppercorns. Liquorice root, lemon and orange peel alongside cubeb berries and cassia all add to the mix and help give the gin some depth.
Each batch of Mews gin is made using a one shot method, creating approx. 100 bottles over a 6 hour distillation. Perhaps a little more unusually even in today’s crowded gin market, they vapour infuse the botanicals rather than steep and macerate in order to create a gin with a lighter style.
To taste, underlying the journey is a lighter, green juniper joined by its traditional gin partners liquorice root and coriander seed which help provide a traditional backbone. Lavender and pink peppercorn dance above and help give the gin both levity and some depth respectively, while the cassia help adds some length onto the finish. Mews gin is a good example of a gentle twist on a classic gin that is subtle, soft and nicely poised, easy to sip neat.
As fans of higher proof gins however, any Gin under the 40% ABV can to us, all too easily become washed out with just a hint of a mixer. Jaded drinks hacks we might be, but that aside, sub 40% ABV, certain flavours just don’t seem to carry as well and we feel that in the case of Mews Gin we feel a higher ABV would allow cubeb to better compliment the lavender (as it can have a lovely violet nose) while simultaneously, add to the depth of the pink peppercorns. Obviously, this is subjective and according to Richard, Mews Gin is bottled at 38% for the same reason as they use the vapour method. We wanted to deliver a smooth, quite light but very subtle gin that can be drunk as a Martini.
His position is understandable – Mews Gin is a light, refreshing gin whose individualities are in its subtlety. In fairness – it’s not that subtle either (merely in the context of hardened gin drinkers). This is where it has it’s lovely charm. Keep this in mind as for the adventurous eager to explore new booming flavours, testing out garnishes and getting their G&T on you may well find it all too easy to overwhelm this gin. Go for lower ratios of tonic in your G&T to start with and test it out from there. We found a sliver of pink grapefruit worked beautifully as a garnish. Mews Gin is in the nuance, the delicacy and indeed, it does make a lovely Martini.
Fans of Tarquin’s Gin take note, Mews is a gin you should seek out as while different flavour profiles in comparison, they share many similarities in their easy going charm and softer nature.
The label was designed by agency CookChick in Brighton. It is supposed to be a kind of Art Deco meets Arts and Crafts, but the main element of the remit was that it should be distinctive but with an understated quality to it. This is particularly well achieved and comes into its own once in hand, where the tactile embossing and de-bossing give it an interesting feel.
Mews, like many other craft distillers are enjoying a growing success. They imbue their spirit with passion and have found themselves a niche in the market.
With both full sized bottles going at a reasonable £39.00 and separately, a rather cheeky 10cl version (which makes for a great gift just saying) they are already showing clear signs of positive growth. No doubt their countryside spirit and softer gin will appeal to many and that Mews Gin will maintain its status of another quality gin to add to the list being produced by craft distillers.
For more information about Mews Gin, visit their website: www.MewsGin.co.uk
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