Matthew Steeples samples petrolhead and television chef James Martin’s London Dry Gin and finds tradition with a twist dominates in his punchy 44% ABV tipple
In recent months, I’ve reviewed new gins from historic landed estates such as Goodwood and ones from recently created small-scale distilleries and vineyards such as Terlingham and Bone Idyll. In a once staid sector that now surprisingly keeps growing and growing, there is clearly room for all sorts of varietals, so my next sampling had to be from a favourite television personality of mine, the cheery chappy and North Yorkshire born chef James Martin.
50-year-old Martin – who anchored BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen for ten years from 2006 to 2016 and whom now has an equally popular ITV1 series, James Martin’s Saturday Morning – is a farmer’s son and trained as a chef at the Hostellerie De Plaisance, Saint-Émilion in France.
He went on to appear on television shows from 1996 onwards and won a Michelin star at a restaurant he opened at The Talbot Hotel in Malton, North Yorkshire in 2012. Subsequently came a range of premium wines produced in in the village of Névian near Narbonne in the Corbières region of France in 2021 and then also a gin.
Described as a “rich flavoured gin” and a “truly proper gin” in marketing material, the chef’s eponymous spirit is made in Holland with grain spirit and, as it should be, the dominant botanical is most definitely juniper.
Featuring a total of eleven botanicals, the 44% ABV offering has notes of coriander, angelica and orris, but it is the ginger, lemongrass and limoncello lemon zest that gives it a taste that will appeal to both the traditional ‘Gin & Jag’ set as much as this renowned petrolhead’s much younger ‘Insta Influencer’ fans.
Of his gin, in a video introduction at the time of launch, Martin suggested:
“I worked on it for about a year… I’ve blended a whole range of different botanicals, eleven different botanicals in this gin and I’m really proud of it.”
“It’s just won its first award in Vegas [in 2021]. We sent a bottle out there not knowing what we were going to get and it came back with a gold award… As it says on the bottle, it’s my own gin, try it.”
Editor’s Note – Unlike as is the case in many publications, this article was NOT sponsored or supported by a third-party. Follow Matthew Steeples on Twitter at @M_Steeples.