A wee while ago I was contacted by Lyme Bay Winery to ask if I fancied trying out some of their gin. I’d seen a flurry of posts across social media and was most definitely intrigued…”Yes please!” Lyme Bay Winery have two different gins under their belts and I was keen to see which would arrive on my doorstep. Would it be their Lyme Bay Dry Gin or their Lyme Bay Pink Grapefruit Gin. No points for guessing which I had all my fingers and toes crossed for! (Pink grapefruit, pink grapefruit, pink grapefruit…)
Whilst waiting for my delivery, I decided to do a little bit of research into Lyme Bay Winery and find out what it was all about. For starters, it’s called Lyme Bay Winery, but they’re making gin?! Located in Devon’s Axe Valley, surrounded by beautiful, fresh, green countryside, the winery was founded in 1993 by Nigel Howard. Following on from a successful career in the city, Nigel decided to return to East Devon and follow his dream of making some exceptional West Country cider with a farm and a few apples. Over time the company and consumer base grew and their consistency improved. By the year 2000 the winery had relocated to their current site and were dabbling in fruit liqueurs, fruit wines and cream liqueurs. 2013 saw their first sparkling harvest and 2014 their first still wine harvest. Now, 25 years later, Lyme Bay Winery produce nearly a quarter of a million litres of cider a year and have over 200 products stamped with a Lyme Bay seal of approval, including their range of Lyme Bay Gins. With a passion for the exceptional, Gin provided the winery with a great opportunity to turn their inventive instincts and wine-making experience to creating a range of hand crafted gins.
It wasn’t long before my gin arrived and Juniper took great pleasure, (once again,) in helping me to open my parcel. The first thing which struck me was the colour of the gin, perfectly pink grapefruit tinged. The bottle’s label features a black and white image of the beautiful, unspoilt Jurassic coastline, paying homage to it’s heritage and local maritime history. I also like the attention to detail which has been paid in the use of some pale pink accents on the label, which really gives the impression that the bottle and spirit are one.
Next step, time to open the bottle and give it a sniff. Now, this is where this gin is going to become Marmite. You are either going to love it or you’re not. The minute I removed the glass stopper from the top of the bottle, the most wonderfully, fresh and citrusy, pink grapefruit aroma escaped from the bottle. As a lover of grapefruit this made me very happy, Hubby on the other hand was put off immediately…”Nope, not one for me” he muttered as he sloped off. There’s always something just a little bit satisfying when a gin is delivered which Hubby doesn’t like, because it means that I don’t have to share it!
Thames Distillers contract distil a London Dry Gin for Lyme Bay, which is then cold compounded at the winery.
“Thames Distillers is an independent gin rectifier and bottler which offers a specialist service to devise, develop and produce gin for its customers.”*
I’ve possibly used a couple of terms there which are a little confusing to some of you, so let me explain:
Contract distilling is where one business hires another to distill or produce spirits. This could be through renting equipment, or when a finished or part finished product is actually made. It is a process which is far more common than many of you may be aware. If you think about it, a still is a pretty expensive piece of kit and contract distilling enables brands to create gins, to the recipe which they have developed, by allowing them to borrow equipment.
Cold compounding is where gin is produced with absolutely no distillation of botanicals and therefore no still, which obviously therefore drastically reduces the production costs. Instead, a base spirit is infused with fresh and/or dried botanicals by immersing them in the spirit.
Anyway, back to the pink grapefruit gin. As I’ve just said, on the nose this gin is absolutely bursting with citrus, and to taste the profile is very similar, heavy on the citrus with only a hint of juniper pushing through. I find that when grapefruit or pink grapefruit is used as a botanical it takes on an almost sherbet type flavour with a slightly creamy perhaps chalky mouthfeel. As the pink grapefruit here is added after the gin has been distilled it retains it’s strong, slightly bitter, citrus flavour. I happily enjoyed mine with a light tonic, which did knock out some bitterness from the pink grapefruit, but not by any means all of it and again, for me there was no strong flavour of juniper pushing through and will very much divide opinion. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again…this gin will not be for everyone, but for me it was refreshing and satisfying. Definitely one for a sunny summer day and I’d imagine it’s got great scope for a using in a fizzy, fruity punch when combined with some sparkling wine. Now that sounds like a plan for my Summer holidays.
Seeing as I’m a sucker for grapefruit and it’s eye wincing bitterness I decided to throw caution to the wind and enter into some kind of crazy grapefruit madness. I used it to make a Salty Dog cocktail.
What you need:
- 50ml Lyme Bay Pink Grapefruit Gin
- 100ml Grapefruit juice (I actually used pink grapefruit juice because it’s what I had in the fridge)
What you do:
Rim your glass with salt by first dipping the top of the glass into a saucer of water and then into a saucer of salt. Fill your glass up to the top with ice, ideally crushed ice. Add gin and grapefruit juice then stir and enjoy.
The winery’s suggestion for a perfect serve also sounded pretty delightful, although I haven’t yet given it a try, need to get my hands on some elderflower wine first!
What you need:
- 1 part Pink Grapefruit Gin
- 1 part Elderflower Wine
- 2 parts Mediterranean Tonic
- Garnish with a slice of grapefruit.
What you do:
Combine all ingredients in a glass with ice and enjoy, super simple!
So, what does the future hold for Lyme Bay Winery? Well, 2019 is set to be another very exciting year for them. As well as continuing to develop their gins, with three new variants coming out throughout the year (Elderflower and Cucumber, Orange and Thyme and a Winter Gin.) They are also marching on with their mission to teach the UK about lesser-known drinks like Mead and English Wine which is another passion, which all sounds very exciting.
A huge thank you to Lyme Bay Winery for sending me through this bottle and for taking the time to answer a bunch of questions! Happy ginning my lovelies!