Master Distiller Darren Rook, and business partner Nick approached the gardens about the collaboration after they had successfully created a gin for prestigious London store, Fortnum and Mason.
I caught up with Darren when he came to Junipalooza Melbourne in October last year, where he was launching Kew Organic gin to the Australian gin-lovers. He told me when it came to collecting plants from around Kew, they were like kids in a candy store. Tony, the head gardener, “let us go loose”.
This probably explains how the gin came to have a whopping 44 botanicals. Darren told me he had brought it back from 48, saying “I was trying to get to 4”!
The team decided that creating a gin for Kew without using the incredible range of botanicals on offer would be a wasted opportunity. Of the 44 botanicals, 27 are from Kew. Six of those are different types of lavender, each with different flavor profiles, including cotton lavender which brings a saline character to the gin.
Darren explained the challenge of using so many botanicals to build flavour without having any one dominant note. They began by splitting the ingredients into different distillations. The final version was created by accident, using four different gins and blending them together to make Kew Organic Gin.
There are two types of organic Juniper (Bulgarian and Tuscan) used to make Kew Organic gin, alongside five different varieties of citrus: lemon, lime, pink grapefruit peel, orange peel and bergamot peel. The specially foraged botanicals from Kew Gardens include santolina, rosemary, lavender flower, galangal and passion-flower.
83gms of juniper per litre go into each of the gins produced by Dodd’s. For those of you who don’t like a punchy juniper style gin, don’t worry, Kew Organic gin is a masterclass in how balanced a gin should be. On the nose the pine and citrus notes are apparent. On the palate, juniper, citrus and coriander are at the fore with white pepper, spice and a hint of lavender coming through towards the end. It has an incredibly smooth and lengthy finish.
As usual, I tried Kew Organic Gin in a gin and tonic, a martini and a negroni. I could not fault it in any of the three drinks. The louching (cloudiness) of the gin and tonic is due to the high level of botanical oils in the gin. It makes a perfect martini. It’s ABV (it’s 46%) is able to stand up well to the vermouth and Campari to make a stellar negroni.
Darren’s team will have access to wider selection of botanicals in the future, and there are plans to establish a dedicated gin garden at Kew. I cannot wait to see what they come up with next. Kew Organic is a very special gin indeed.
Country of Origin: UK