Although Colombo No. 7 gin was only launched in 2015, this gin has a story going back 70 years.
Rockland Distillery was founded in 1924, and was the first commercial distillery in Sri Lanka . Originally they made Arrack, but were asked by the British Government to switch production to other spirits to support the war effort. A special regulation was passed to allow non-native spirits to be produced (CMFL, Ceylon Foreign Made Foreign Liquor).
Founder Carl de Silva Wijeyeratne’s favourite gin was Tanqueray, so his recipe was based on this. However, the war prevented Carl accessing traditional gin botanicals, so he had to look closer to home. Cinnamon (from the cinnamon gardens of Sri Lanka), ginger and curry leaf were added to his base of juniper, coriander, angelica and licorice.
When Carl’s grandson, Amal, joined the company in 2005 to rebuild the distillery following the tsunami in 2004, he delved into the archives and discovered his grandfather’s original recipe and decided to relaunch it as Colombo No. 7.
Today, Amal has moved production of Colombo No. 7 to the UK to protect the business from government intervention, however, the gin remains true to his grandfather’s recipe.
Tasting Colombo No. 7 gin
Colombo Gin No. 7 at Junipalooza Melbourne (image by Bar/d Up)
Having read the list of botanicals, I was expecting something a bit weird tasting, and possibly over spiced. I am not a fan of cinnamon either. So It was a relief to discover that Colombo No. 7 is a properly balanced gin. Juniper and citrus aromas and flavours abound, followed by subtle cinnamon. The finish has great white pepper notes. In case you were wondering it doesn’t taste of curry!
Drinking Colombo No. 7 gin
Pretty much a perfect G&T, crisp with juniper and citrus with the curry leaves coming through on the finish. I used their suggested garnish of curry leaves which was delicious, but there are plenty of other garnishes that could work well like ginger, lime or mango (that one courtesy of my friends at Gin Foundry!).
In a martini, I’d definitely go dry with a twist of lemon or lime. I loved Colombo No. 7 in a Negroni, the cinnamon, angelica and licorice providing a solid balance against the Campari. I used cinnamon stick for a garnish/stirrer.
This was an unexpected delight of a gin and already a firm favourite at GQHQ!
Country of Origin: UK