In case you haven’t already grasped, Dry January is something of an alien concept to me. If anything, I’ve been busy drinking even more booze than usual so I can find the strength to get through the most miserable month of the year.
It therefore seems appropriate that my first blog post of 2019 is dedicated to a brand-new gin on the market- Nicholas James Gin. Crafted in my stomping ground of Salford, and created by budding drinks entrepreneur Nick McCance.
Gin is a trend that shows no signs of slowing down as we progress into the new year. When conducting research for gin tastings, it can sometimes be quite a challenge to keep tabs on everything within the gin world; there’s an almost endless stream of new distilleries popping up left right and centre. So much so, the market has become increasingly competitive, with smaller distilleries struggling to get their voices heard. With this in mind, I’ll therefore be focusing upon less established distillers this year, in an effort to bring local/artisan gin to a wider audience. Because it’s bloody marvellous, and I encourage you to drink it in earnest.
In the first of our new craft gin series, we’ll be setting the bar pretty high with some gin from my home city. I’ve been really chuffed to find that Salford has been coming on leaps and bounds in the gin market (Worsley Gin and Sis4ers are two excellent examples) with small, local distilleries working tirelessly to bring their craft to the masses.
Nicholas James Gin has started to emerge as a local frontrunner since its launch last year; taking a no-frills approach to craft gin, it’s a premium, contemporary style drink that goes to town on unusual botanicals. There’s no huge backstory behind the brand, which a lot of companies do really oversell these days. Instead, you’ll find an honest, quality product made by a team that just bloody love gin. And that’s the way it should be.
I was therefore feeling exceptionally smug when I was gifted with a (flipping massive) bottle of London Dry, complete with those all-important gin garnishes. You can also get your hands on a raspberry version, for those of you keen on fruity flavours.
Like wine, it’s important to suss out the nose of your gin before diving into the glass. This enhances your gin experience magnificently, as you can really get to grips with the underlying botanicals. I found the aromas to be more reminiscent of an Old Tom style gin more than anything else, as there’s plenty of sweetness on the nose. That being said, I could still pick up some refined notes of citrus, as well as that distinctive punch of juniper.
The taste itself is marvellous. The sandalwood really comes into its own, which adds a pleasing aromatic edge. This also mellows out the sweetness of the gin, establishing balance and depth. You’ll also begin to notice a few distinctive layers emerge in the overall tasting; the initial sweet aromas then develop into herby tones, before finally transforming into a refreshingly clean finish. I really do tend to go wild for distilleries that can manage to layer their botanicals so beautifully, so Nicholas James earns a fair few brownie points here.
If you’re a fan of citrus gins, then you’re in luck- the additional of lemon zest and added notes of lime tree flowers really do lift the entire flavour profile, and cut through the heavy botanicals rather nicely. Without it, the gin itself would perhaps become a little cloying. You’ll also find that the gin retains a nice length on the palette; it’s well-structured and smooth, with a lingering note of coriander.
In all honesty, I preferred mine without tonic. I didn’t want to dilute the punchy flavours that define the gin so wonderfully. If you do however insist upon tonic, I found that a Mediterranean Fever Tree works exceptionally well, as does a classic Schweppes (just to clarify, I hardly ever condone the use of Schweppes, but will make an allowance upon this occasion.) Throw in your garnishes of dried raspberries, rosebuds and juniper berries, and you’ve got yourself a pretty indulgent gin treat right there.
Overall, I’d say that this is definitely a distillery to keep your eye on. It isn’t the most attention-grabbing gin by any means, but its ethos and distinctive flavour profile is something I can really get behind. You don’t necessarily need a fancy, overblown backstory to sell your gin- it’s about premium quality, and a passion for your product. I’d therefore say that given its fantastic taste and ambition, Nicholas James Gin fits the bill perfectly.
Find out more about Nicholas James Gin at https://nicholasjamesgin.co.uk/
You can also stock up on your gin supplies by heading to https://uniquelymanchester.co.uk/products/nicholas-james-gin