Wight Mermaid Gin – A Jewel in the Garden Isle?

Two hours South of London, lying just off the centre of southern England, you will find the beautiful Isle of Wight. Known as the Garden Isle, this diamond shape island is better known for its world famous garlic festival and beautiful gardens rather than its spirit production. In fact,  the Isle of Wight distillery can boast to being the first and only licensed distillery on the island full stop!

The Isle of Wight distillery was founded by friends Xavier Baker and Conrad Gauntlett (the former a brewer, the latter involved in wine production), with an aim to make a gin using flavours sourced from the island – these include elderflower, hand picked rock samphire and Boadicea hops, plucked from the Ventnor Botanic Garden. The other botanicals that form this gin are juniper, coriander, fresh lemon zest, grains of paradise, angelica root, liquorice root and orris root.

It’s the Boadicea hops that really peeked my interest when I heard about this gin.  Hops have the ability to give this gin a wonderfully savoury flavour and while I do like a citrus gins, my absolute favourite is savoury!

Before we move on to the tasting a little note about the bottle design… On the front the label has a cut out of the Isle of Wight that lets you look through the bottle to lovely line drawing of a mermaid looking out to sea and you are reminded that this gin is produced in small batches – they produce 450 bottles a run. On the back, there is a lovely description of the gin, noting the botanicals and flavours along with the batch number – mine being number 22. there is a nautical theme to the bottle, with the gold gilding around the edge designed to look like rope.

Wight Mermaids gin to taste

On the nose, you get a subtle medical freshness from the juniper but what really stands out is the savoury-ness courtesy of those hops. There is also a slight fire to this gin provided by the coriander and the grains of paradise, the latter also adding a slightly musty aroma. On a second sniff I can pick out the lemon and also a slight buttery biscuit scent. There is also a slight saltiness provided by the samphire.

To taste neat, this gin starts off subtle but does have quite a heavy mouth feel. As the flavour grows you can pick out the spice from the grains of paradise and coriander. Finally, juniper pops up at the end and fills your mouth with beautiful flavours of pine. It’s wonderfully dry and savoury but still manages to keep the flavour of biscuit that I picked out when smelling. After adding a splash of water, the freshness of the lemon comes through more prominent, as well as the samphire and the earthy notes from the root botanicals. Adding tonic enhances these flavours even more and really balances out this gin.

The suggested serve is a slither of cucumber and couple of juniper berries,  the cucumber forming a bridge between the rock samphire and lemon zest. We did try this and agree that it works very well to marry those two flavours but we also feel that a simple garnish of lemon peel would go very well with this gin.

So, did I like it?

Yes! How much? A lot! I loved the savoury flavour,  the salty samphire, the slight lemon flavours and the juniper finale. Each of the botanicals in this gin can be picked out but like all good gins they marry well and balance perfectly in a G & T.

You can find out more about Mermaid Gin on their website here: www.isleofwightdistillery.com


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