Down the A83 in the bone-shaker - always a roller coaster of a white-knuckle ride. But we eventually pull the handbrake on and tumble out in an effort. Close to Loch Lomond is Strathleven the home of both Vault Vodka and our quest for today Gilt Gin. Made in a copper still endearingly called 'Donald's Troosers'
The still has an appendage - a chill filtration system to give the spirit a unique clarity by discarding out any 'nasty' impurities that might have got past the first defences.
Now, Gilt Gin has a story - There was a Spaniard and a Scotsman (no this isn't a joke) who dreamt of a gin using first class botanics and - this is important - malt barley spirit. So we are tempering raw malt whisky distillate with the bounty of nature and they take it very seriously. The malt spirit is distilled 5 times to give purity and this also lends a smoothness to the gin. Good ingredients being backed up by considered technique and process. It is a strange, in a good way, gin in that the base spirit really does become one of the flavoursome ingredients - as we shall see.
Besides the usual juniper, coriander (Base and Middle notes) we find lime peel, orange peel, cardamom, liquorice, cassia, angelica and orris root. The lime brightens the top notes with the orange, cassia and cardamom filling the middle. The angelica and the orris act as binding agents so as to give a smooth transition through the taste spectrum. The liquorice enhances the base and middle tones and gives a natural sweetness. Everyone with me? - Good, let us continue.
I think this is a great 'sipping' gin - best drunk neat or with a little water. The malty sweetness is sublime. After a nosing that gives a little citrus pizazz, the malt plays with the taste to give you a flavour of Digestive Biscuits with toffee and its delightful. The addition of water accentuates the sweetness. Like a kissing cousin of gin and whisky. The juniper is there but restrained and the orange gives a roundness of taste in the mouth and lingers on the finish with a little spice heat.
I pondered long and hard how to mix using Gilt Gin and eventually an idea dawned on me. Some people find the bitterness of the Campari in a Negroni a little to sharp - so lets try to temper it. So here is a recipe for a more rounded and sweeter variation:
1 Part Gilt Gin
1 Part Belsazar Red Vermouth
1 Part Aperol
Pour over ice, stir and garnish with an orange slice (Tickle it fancy with a splash of Prosecco).
Strathleven Distillers also makes a malt spirit vodka called Vault, as I mentioned. Try it if your that way inclined you'll get a nice surprise.
Now we better get the toilet breaks rostered and then get on our way. Having got a taste of malty gin, we're off to Perthshire and the delights of Strathearn. It's Gin, Jim. But not as we know it.