We wrote the following on the 25th October 2013 and have kept it intact as opposed to updating it as we went along. We have since tracked their journey in multiple interviews, reviews and updates however, which you can find below. We will also be reviewing the core flagship and new extensions in 2018 as a lot has changed and evolved since.
For those looking for the other expressions –
Tarquin’s Gin range. (Seadog, Nomadic, Tonquin, Hopster)
Tarquin’s Gin Range continued… (British Blackberry, Yeges Da)
Tan Ha Mor (Fire & Sea Limited Edition Gin 2018)
Tarquin’s Gin, a Cornish Dry Gin that captures the essence of the scenic coast, was launched in early 2013 and quickly found its way into shops and bars across the UK.
The process of making Tarquin’s Gin begins when they gently steep hand-sorted botanicals in wheat spirit overnight. It is then distilled in a small pot, flame-heated still, using a one shot method. Just 300 bottles are made per batch – tiny to say the least! During the eight hours of careful tinkering, monitoring and adjusting, only the heart of the run is collected for bottling (like with many distilleries they discard the heads and tails). Once cut with water sourced near Boscastle on the coast of North Cornwall, the gin is rested for several days after which Tarquin noses, tastes, hand fills, corks, seals and signs every bottle to leave the door.
When we talked to Tarquin for a Gin Foundry interview (found here), he talked about some of his ideas going into creating his gin, “I was always drawn back to quite traditional ingredients. My intention was and still is to utilise these botanicals in a slightly non-traditional way, to create something familiar but different at the same time. For example using fresh orange, lemon and grapefruit rather than dried, and going very light on the coriander – to give the incredible citrus brightness that I was after. Using violet leaves to add a green freshness to the spirit, supporting the clean pine-forest notes of the juniper and choosing cinnamon rather than the traditional cassia bark, to give a slightly sweeter aromatic aroma spice to Tarquin’s Gin.”
Sourcing these from all over the world, there’s evidently a great process in place at Southwestern Distillery whereby everything is handmade, meticulously looked after and vigorously tested. Commenting on his choice of botanicals and their provenance he said, “our juniper is from Kosovo, it is fresh and earthy/woody, but also quite floral. To complement, we use lemon-sherberty coriander seeds from Bulgaria, rather than the hot and spicy Moroccan variety. The citrus notes come from the fresh fruit zests of sweet orange, lemon and grapefruit, from wherever they are in season. We also use angelica root from Poland, orris root from Morocco, green cardamom seeds from Guatemala, bitter almond from Morocco, cinnamon from Madagascar, liquorice root from Uzbekistan and Devon violets from the garden.”
Tarquin’s Gin to taste…
To taste, Tarquin’s Dry Gin is a well-balanced gin with all the classic botanicals coming through on both the nose and the palate. The juniper is prevalent – as it should be – but a strong lemony coriander reminds us of a deep pine forest on a hot Summer stroll – earthy notes and warm orange blossom faintly joining in. Tarquin‘s back garden Devon violets only come through after a couple of sips, but are balanced by the amount of citrusy and rooty/earthy botanicals found mingling around. Bottled at 42% ABV Tarquin’s Gin is very, very smooth and while the finish is short, it’s one of those gins that you’ll find yourself picking up for another sip in quick succession.
On to what we prefer talking about most when we are all gathered around for a drink – after botanicals and the merits of recycling the heads into the next maceration of course – branding and packaging. Yes, we’re those kind of people… bar bores perhaps? Guilty, whatever the term is.
They’ve really nailed it with their colour palette and logo. The silver on black with additional blue strikes is well-balanced and is appealing to the eye. It’s different and makes a statement, but it also retains the image of a premium gin – after all it is priced at a RRP of £34.95 The little graphics on the side are handsome and intriguing to the eye too. Overall, the Tarquin’s branding is very likeable but it’s not completely there yet either, as the hand waxed bottles divide opinion as to much as they catch the eye. Their website however is very well made and the emphasis on the process is well presented and felt throughout. Their information and imagery flows naturally and is never overwhelming – so good job there too. This has all the hallmarks of a small operation that’s done the best it can on a shoestring budget, and there are clear signs that the team are more than capable of developing into a formidable force in the craft distilling scene. Too few craft distillers seem to understand that to do so, there needs to be a good mix for authenticity, provenance, design and solid marketing – Tarquin’s Gin seems to have all that within its grasp and we look forward to seeing them grow.
The company seem destined for growth – they’ve installed a second still – nicknamed ‘Senara’ and as a result, capacity has doubled. With an established reputation of producing high quality and consistent Gin, orders are flooding in. Export deals to other countries are in the works and more importantly – interest from all over the world is sparking the imaginations of bartenders and gin fans alike.
Tarquin’s Gin seems to be akin to a Cornish surfer who has timed their paddle to perfection and is set to ride the wave of interest in artisan, small batch spirits. With English wine growing in stature internationally and Craft distilling moving from urban hubs and out into the countryside within the UK – their gin isn’t just representative of a burgeoning movement, it’s one of the leading lights within it.
The coming years will set challenges for the small team. Increasing in size is no easy feat when everything is done by hand. Moreover, the competition will become tougher as others launch their gins. What can be certain however is that the most important assets to have in order to flourish are authenticity and damn tasty gin – and Tarquin has both by the bucket load.
It’s hard not to admire the effort that goes into making each batch and the sense of adventure, and tenacity needed to set up a craft distillery to make a dream become a reality. We salute Tarquin and the team for achieving this doing so with a certain panache – sorry that’s the Pastis talking French – “with style” for us Brits… Either way – we wish them the best of luck!
For more information about Tarquin’s Gin, visit their website: www.southwesterndistillery.com
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