Silent Pool Gin has been around since 2015 and the bottle design has become pretty iconic. Having first tasted it last year I have been dying to share with you my thoughts on this London Dry Gin.
If you’ve read any of my other reviews then you will know that I am a sucker for a good story (it’s the fiction writer in me!) So reading the folklore surrounding the Silent Pool in Surrey where Ian McCulloch and James Shelbourne decided to set up their distillery back in 2014, made me smile – although once you hear it you may not think it’s worth smiling about!
The Silent Pool is a spring-fed lake, sitting in the North Downs around 4 miles to the East of Guildford in Surrey. The story goes that a young woodcutter’s daughter was taking a dip in the lake, sans clothing, and along came a man on horseback. So enamoured was he that he tried to lure her to the edge of the pool to talk (sure that’s all he was after?!) When she refused he rode his horse into the lake startling her and forcing her swim further out where she unfortunately drowned. When her father came down to the lake to find her he found the hat from the man floating in the lake, it bore the symbol for Prince John.
Also, back in 1926 when Agatha Christie famously disappeared it was suspected she had drowned in the Pool as her car was found nearby. Famous authors of the time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L Sayers all joined in the manhunt which involving aeroplanes for the first time. Agatha’s husband was even suspected of murdering her after it was discovered he planned to leave her for another woman. But the mystery novelist was discovered alive and well, hiding out in a hotel 11 days later in Harrogate – she never did explain how she made it there or why she left her car and belongings at the Silent Pool.
Ok, enough of the history! Onto the gin!
Silent Pool Distillery was set up by a group of friends who’s ambition was to make a new kind of distillery. Sustainability and quality are overriding factors in their busines model, and they can be seen throughout.
They use a vintage wood-fired steam boiler to give power to the 350l copper still, Juliette. Then use Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil as a renewable fuel source for their other 1800l still, Ophelia. Refining renewable inedible waste into a renewable fuel and reducing the greenhouse gasses by up to 90% by not using diesel. Cracking! Not only that, but they use a closed loop cooling system to significant reduce water consumption. Solar panels help offset the energy they use. Glass stoppers instead of plastic and bottles capped in tin rather than plastic. They also have a refill machine to try and fulfil their aim of working sustainably. I would say they are flying the flag for sustainability in these modern times, hats off lads!
You can’t talk about Silent Pool Gin without mentioning the bottle. It is a work of art. Instantly recognisable, that pattern is standout. The details such as a man on horseback, floating woman and all the botanicals are all intricately placed in gold on the blue bottle, this gives it a feeling of place as well as tying together their spirit and brand.
#forthespirited is their battle cry and looking at the craft that has gone into their recipe I think it’s very fitting. They don’t just dump their chosen botanicals in and hope for the best. They have a few stages that have been chosen very carefully to get the best from each ingredient. Bosnian juniper, liquorice root, cassia bark orris and bergamot are all bashed and macerated in the base spirit initially before being transferred to the still. This brings out the richer and heavier notes throughout the spirit. There is then a gin basket filled with fresh orange and lime peel, dried pears, Macedonian juniper and angelica. This is dangled in the still and acts to infuse these flavours. It allows the spirit to lift the rich citrus and keep these complex and bright notes. Finally we have rose petal, Kaffir lime leaves, linden and elderflower infused like a teabag and added to strip the oils and aromatics. It stops the delicate perfume and floral earthy tones from being lost in the wash.
Bottled at 43% I was expecting some punchy boozy notes but it’s a lot more subtle on the nose. I get a burst of juniper and that gorgeous classic London Dry zing. On first taste I am surprised by the sweetness and light floral notes that are chased away by a slight spice. The spice notes are only a whisper before the citrus and pear and honey come through. Woah! It’s complex. Each individual element has definitely given something to the end product, but amazingly nothing overpowers or is overpowered. The gentle elderflower sweetness holds it own against the honey and spicing and the delicious citrus freshness really cleans up your palate. I’d love more of a boost of that pear as it’s so fleeting but I think that’s what makes it so moreish. Left with a warming aftertaste and I’m happy to say that juniper is singing all over my tongue. A very well crafted gin.
Have you tried Silent Pool yet? Go have a gander over at their page now and you can get an idea of how vast their range is. Spiced Redcurrant Gin, Sour Cherry and Sloe Aperativo(yes please!), Rye Grain Vodka and English Rose Gin, to name a few. They run tours from £20 for a 90 min deep delve into their distillery and production and also have Artisan Tasting Days as well as other packages.
It is a distillery that is firmly on my “must visit” list and I can’t wait to try more of their range and see their brand go from strength to strength.
This was not a paid review or in conjunction with Silent Pool Gin, all thoughts and opinions and any inaccuracies in my information are my own!