Review – Berkeley Square Gin
In the increasingly competitive world of gin, finding yourself a specific target audience is ever more important. Some go for the young, fun-loving crowd, others the discerning gin drinker seeking an unusual botanical combination. Berkeley Square are going for the Scotch whisky-drinking market, even somewhat confusingly claiming to be made in the same way despite never seeing the inside of a barrel. Anyway, you can’t blame them for trying, and it’s the liquid that does the talking. Distilled by G&J Distiller’s, Berkeley Square uses triple-distilled neutral spirit, into which the ‘traditional’ botanicals of juniper, angleica, coriander and cubeb berries, plus the less traditional kaffir lime leaves are placed. Basil, lavender and sage are wrapped in muslin and added as a sort of bouquet garni and all are left to macerate for 24hrs before distillation.
Nose: Soft and suede-like if an aroma can be such a thing. Gentle, almost creamy juniper eases you into a sophisticated medley of basil, lavender, lime cordial and a little bitter orange oil. Well balanced and highly inviting.
Neat: Most definitely suede-like in texture. A gentle but still juniper-led palate whips through crispy basil, not-at-all-soapy lavender, a fleeting lime cordial hit and hints at sage. Fantastically sippable, slightly sweet and exceedingly well put together.
Mixing: Such a stellar performance in the neat testing is one thing, but this alone does not guarantee unreserved success when mixing. In fact, in a G+T for example, the subtlety of flavour is destroyed by the quinine and with no spice backbone to speak of, it’s a forgettable experience. The Negroni too is too sweet and too un-ginny. This is a gin that needs to be left very simple, (it makes for a tasty Martini) or else supported by other ingredients that will coax out its best side. A Gin Buck (with a little rhubarb liqueur) makes a decent start in the right direction, the ginger ale offering a touch of spice that does not dominate. The Basil Smash too picks up on one of the core botanicals and lets it shine in a veritable basil-fest. It’s the lime cordial note here that I really like however, and the obvious choice of a Gimlet is a real corker. Pleasingly tangy, the savoury and floral notes too have their say in the flavour mix; a cocktail that justifies picking up a bottle on its own.
Berkeley Square is a subtle and refined gin which delivers a unique and characterful botanical mix which are both individually identifiable yet also utilitarian in the easy-drinking appeal. Whilst it lacks the spice and earthy elements necessary to stand up for itself in some cocktails, it makes such a fantastic Gimlet you’ll be wanting some anyway.
Berkeley Square Gin is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.