As part of my involvement in International Scottish Gin Day I was put in touch with Carol Jackson, founder of Ellis Gin. I wanted to look at a brand that had gone in a totally different direction to the classic Scottish Gin marketing. I had previously purchased the Ellis No.5 Lemon Gin and been impressed so I felt keen to know more.
For full transparency, subsequent to our meeting I was sent a sample of Pink Shimmer and Bramble gins to test out. My Ellis Gin Review is based on my own opinions but gins were gifted.
Carol Jackson was ahead of her time. Back in 2016 when gin was reaching fever pitch, Carol developed her original Ellis gin with the aim of making crafted ready to drink cocktails. Gin and Mix was launched but the timing wasn’t right for the market so she went back to the drawing board. Coming up with the idea of going down a different path, she chose the Asian botanical Butterfly Pea Tea. This bright blue hued gin turns a glorious lilac when added to tonic. And she wanted to add a flavoured gin, Bramble – not intentionally, but this gin turns from a deep red to an amber orange when tonic is added. And so in 2018 the Ellis range of gins was launched.
Ok, first up I am going to lay it out there that me and novelty gin is never going to be a match made in heaven. I can be a bit of a gin purist. But I am always open to exploring different things. So, believe me when I say that there is no one more surprised than me that the Ellis brand has made it onto my gin shelf.
I love lemon. It’s one of my favourite citrus flavours. But if you’ve seen, heard or tasted any lemon flavoured gins then you will have tasted that acrid, fake lemon flavouring. A bit like the extract you use baking cakes and it can be really off putting. But I started hearing so many great reviews straight away about Ellis No 5, and from reliable sources, when it was launched with Crowdfunder this summer I decided to take a punt.
Beautifully springlike in colour and branding that you can’t help but love, I was taken in. You get a soft florally citrus scent when you open the bottle and the tangy lemon really bursts through when you pour some out. I was surprised at the lack of sweetness. Don’t go expecting a liqueur. This is bottled at 40% and uses Carol’s original Ellis gin as it’s base. You certainly get the gin coming through and the lemon is zesty and refreshing against the bite of the juniper. I trialled this endlessly – I know, hard life eh?! I found that I enjoyed it most in a Lemon Drop Martini.
60ml Ellis Lemon Gin
Juice from half a lemon
20ml Triple Sec
Bar spoon of Thyme syrup
Rim a martini glass with sugar. Then pour in the thyme syrup and coat the glass. Shake the Ellis Lemon Gin, Triple Sec and Lemon juice with ice and strain into the martini glass. It’s a gin I’m delighted to have in my collection and would recommend.
Many of you will have had a bramble gin or another berry flavoured concoction, so you will have ideas about how it will taste. Ellis No.2 Bramble shakes things up. Not sweet like you expect and a little spicy. You get a cool colour change from deep red to a golden orange when you add tonic but for me the balance wasn’t right with tonic. Too bitter and I lost any sweetness from the bramble. But I found it worked really well with a little ginger ale, garnished with dried orange and mint. Oh yes! To taste it was delicate and a little floral. Fruity in a fresh sense rather than jammy sweetness. You do get a little juniper but not heavy, more a nutty undertone. A spicy aftertaste gets your tongue tingling for more. The colour is just beautiful. I couldn’t help but be impressed by this gin.
Then …well then they went and did it. They really fell down the rabbit hole of novelty and went sparkly. Ellis No.4 is Pink Shimmer. If I saw this on the shelf I wouldn’t be going near it (sorry Carol!) You either love it or hate it. But you can’t deny there is a market for it! This is frivolous and fun and there are many people in my life who I would happily be buying this for. If you shake the bottle and hold it up to the light you see the iridescent shine and it lasts a while it doesn’t settle like others I’ve seen. The Pink Shimmer Gin has a soft sweetness and with a Mediterranean tonic I felt it was a really delicious sip. Anyone who likes a bit of sparkle and fun will adore this, it would make a great gift or addition to a party. I was delighted when I tried this that it had been made with the same Ellis gin base.
The botanicals for the Ellis base gin are simple. Juniper, corriander seed, orris, citrus peel and angelica. This is a very classic mix. It is subtle enough to work with a range of flavours but crisp enough to stand up and shine. Carol has her gin contract distilled by Illicit spirits in Glasgow.
The range of Ellis Gins are visually unique. I feel they can back themselves with the novelty factor because they have a solid, classic gin base. These gin are clean and crisp – and colour changing! I have to be completely honest though that they are not for me. But anyone who is looking for more than just the usual g&t will be seriously impressed that there is more to Ellis Gin than just a gimmick. I love the fact Carol and her Ellis Gin brand are so transparent about their product. It is a true Scottish gin brand with bags of character, the main appeal of them is for a bit of flair. A bit of theatre and show.
Ellis Gin definitely has cornered a market that is booming though. Have a look at any gin shelf and you will see a selection of flavoured or coloured gins, very rarely will any of them stand up to taste scrutiny. I can honestly say that Ellis Gin proudly does. This range made me really reconsider my preconceptions about gin.
You should follow Carol on Facebook, she is an absolute star and started a segment during lockdown called Cocktails with Carol on Facebook Live. Its brilliant. To find out more about Ellis gin or where to buy it then head over to https://ellisgin.com/
Again this was a gifted post but no restrictions were placed on my content and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Big thanks to Nat at http://internationalscottishginday.com/ for putting me in touch with Carol. I enjoyed chatting and getting to know more about Ellis Gin and am excited to bring this brand review to my followers. If you are anything like me and maybe have a certain propensity to be a gin snob then break the habit and suprise yourself! Real gin can be fun too. If you love all things quirky, cool and classy then you are going to fall in love with Ellis Gin.
What do you think about the range? Will you be trying it? Let me know!