Floral, lemongrassy new gin, St Giles, launches in Norwich
- Credit: Archant
Simon Melton launches new London Dry gin, St Giles in Norwich.
If you love a tipple and are totally on board with nation's ever-growing obsession with gin, make sure you try a new brand fresh out of Norwich.
St Giles is the concept of seafaring Norfolk resident Simon Melton who has crafted the drink after a painstaking two years of trials and tastings alongside wife Alison and distiller Pete Margree.
The gin, a traditional London Dry, was conceived after the trio had tried almost 80 other recipes. But they're now happy with the result – a smooth, fragrant spirit that doesn't need tonic.
'Simon is a gin enthusiast,' says Alison. 'He's always like gin, and Bombay Sapphire used to be his favourite. He's a professional diver and offshore manager and he travels all over the world. Africa. South America, Scandinavia – and he's tried loads of gins here there and everywhere and always wondered why we didn't have many gin brands.
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'Then Sipsmith came along and he really liked their gins and the fact the laws had been relaxed, meaning smaller distillers could be set up. He had this idea for a long time but about two years ago we started thinking about it more seriously and it's taken all that time for the gin to come to fruition.'
The couple invested in a 400 litre still from Germany, which took five months to build and was displayed at a gin fair in London before making its journey up to Norfolk so Simon and Pete could begin concocting.
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'The initial thing for the gin was that my husband is very fond of malt whisky,' says Alison, describing the process of making St Giles. 'He wanted a gin that was so smooth you could drink it on its own. Normally these drinks burn and you need tonic to make them more palatable. After that it was about choosing the botanicals. There's hundreds you could pick from – the list is endless – but we picked a base of juniper, coriander and orris root and worked with that.'
Included in the blend of 10 botanicals are lemongrass, rose petals and grains of paradise (like little black peppercorns). The rest remain a secret.
'It has a very slight fruit flavour to it,' delights Alison. 'It's citrus with a hint of fruit and floral.
'I prefer it with tonic. We are going for a standard Fever Tree tonic because we think out gin is flavoursome enough already. We want you to taste what Pete's made. It goes well with orange, or a twist of orange peel. And it makes a nice Prosecco French 77 cocktail with lemon juice and elderflower cordial, topped up with prosecco.'
The name for the gin has both connections to Norwich and London. Alison and Simon have a property on St Giles Street in Norwich, and St Giles is associated (albeit not favourably) with 18th century London, being the name of the 'gin area'.
'St Giles Street used to be longer than it is now and one of the roads off it was called Distillery Street. Everything was pointing to that name, The Church of St Giles has a lightening rod that's oxidised over time and we've matched the colour of our label to that. Our tamper strips represent it too. And on the label we have constellations to reflect my husband's travels – he's at sea a lot of the time!'
You can buy St Giles at Jarrolds in Norwich, and at various delis and pubs such as The Black Horse and Earlham Arms.
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