Reviews / Product Details
by Kevin Gray | Jun 29, 2012
Knockeen Hills Heather Gin is dubbed a "super premium" London Cut Dry Gin. It hails from England, but it's produced with Irish whey distillate. And, it's distilled five times. That's nothing for vodka, but unusual for gin.
More fun facts - The term "heather gin" is derived from its use of heather as a botanical. That heather joins juniper, coriander, angelica root and savoury for a fairly unique lineup of botanicals. That 5x distillation and inclusion of heather should, in theory, make for an easy-drinking gin. So, let's take it for a spin.
On the nose, Knockeen Hills Heather Gin is intensely aromatic, with lots of juniper, coriander and citrus zest, plus some mild peppery notes. On the palate, it's fairly traditional, with juniper as the most prominent flavor. But there's a background of sweet heather and hints of dried flowers. Its texture is well rounded and creamy, and its long finish is clean and dry with plenty of pepper and citrus.
All in all, pretty good. It's not as juniper-forward as many London Drys, but it's not nearly as citrusy and floral as modern-style gins. Its creamy nature makes it easy to drink straight, if that's your thing. Though a gin and tonic is where this spirit really shines. Its natural sweet heather and citrus notes, paired with the juniper bite, stand up well with a decent tonic like Fever Tree.
- 47.3% Alcohol by Volume
Heather is one of Knockeen Hills' super-premium traditional 'London Cut' Dry Gins which have uniquely achieved a very noticeably softer delivery of spirit on the palate by additionally using five times distilled Irish Whey Spirit at every stage in its production. This process also involves natural heather and exclusively organic botanicals, steeped in the spirit for at least 24 hours. This clean, clear, transparent, distillate consists of only a minimal amount of cogeners at 0.024%.
To ensure maximum quality and supervision, only selected small batches are produced at a time. The mix of the botanicals selected, make the addition of a lemon slice unnecessary for many drinkers, who find the wonders of them sufficient, when mixing Heather with a premium tonic water, such as Fever Tree®.
To preserve the full taste of the ingredients, try occasionally keeping the bottle in a fridge, to avoid the unnecessary dilution of the taste through the use of ice cubes.
Five sets of tasting notes appear below:
Clean pure silver white spirit. The nose has an intricate complexity, high toned key notes of dried flowers with a firm core of juniper, coriander seed and citrus zest. Full flavoured and wonderfully aromatic; delivered with a surprising delicacy and smoothness, the floral/meadow flower complexity kicks back on the finish. Clean, generous and very precise, a very well made spirit indeed.
Angela Reddin. 2009 International Wine & Spirit Competition, Chair Judge.
Delicate earthy complex botanicals especially juniper.
Aroma (With Water):
Light slightly sweet heather with spicy peppery overtones.
Smooth delivery on the palate with earthy botanicals and cassia bark, a long finish with the merest hint of citrus.
Gentle but definite on the palate with spicy peppery overtones resting on a delicate saline base.
Derek Strange. Chair of the International Wine and Spirits Competition, former Head of Buying, Beers and Spirits for Waitrose plc.
London Dry is a category that now includes more flavour profiles than ever - the latest one to push the envelope is Heather 'London Cut' Dry Gin from Knockeen Hills. It's only got five, organic, botanicals (juniper, coriander, angelica, heather and the sage-like savory) but it's herbaceous and aromatic on the nose, a little like walking into a steamy hot house full of exotic plants. On the palate an initial fresh blast of juniper, garden mint and green chilli quickly softens to more hay-like and slightly earthy characters that are prettied up by some subtle floral notes. Very well balanced with a refined finish that belies its 47.3% abv. Its produced in small batches at the Thames Distillery.
Alice Lascelles. Founding Editor, Imbibe Magazine. Editorial Review, March/April 2010.
Strong juniper, hints of spice, herbs and traces of bark.
Traditional; with a very dry palate, but a softer than usual spirit. Hints of herbal, floral & heather notes.
Long, soft, dry and clean.
Charles Maxwell. Master Distiller, London Dry Gin, London, England.
Knockeen Hills Heather Gin
Knockeen Hills Spirits (UK) Ltd. Made by Thames Distillers Ltd., London, England, UK.
Knockeen Hills was originally established in 1997 and is internationally known for producing Irish poteen (previously referred to as a form of Irish Moonshine). Irish poteen was granted European Union "Geographical Indicative" status in 2007, meaning it can only be produced from distillate emanating in the geographical area of the island of Ireland, for it to be called Irish poteen/Irish poitin. This Gin uses the same distilled Irish Whey base spirit as the Poteen and was launched in 2009.
Thames Distillers is operated under the supervision by Charles Maxwell who is the 8th generation of the family (founders of the Finsbury Distillery) who have been producing London distilled Gin since 1700 - making them the oldest unbroken lineage in Gin distillation.
Imported from Ireland, the base spirit is made unusually from Irish Whey (as used in their Irish poteen production) and distilled 5 times. The botanicals are steeped for a minimum of 24 hours prior to the last distillation.
The Gin is presented in a tall long necked rectangular bottle, tapering from the base up to the square broad shoulders. The long white label has black and pink colored writing with a pink block image of heather at the bottom. Knockeen Hills have a strong environmental approach with the bottle specially chosen for its ability to be recycled within the home for other liquids e.g. oil, salad dressing, bath oil etc. To this end replacement cork stoppers may be purchased for $1 and a self-addressed stamped envelope from Knockeen Hill Spirits (UK) Ltd., Rose Cottage, Templeton,Tiverton Devon EX16 8BP.
London 'Cut' Dry Gin.
Alcohol By Volume (ABV)
47.3% (95 Proof).
It can also be obtained online from Master of Malt or The Drink Shop both leading suppliers in the UK. Currently no outlet has been authorised to act as a wholesaler or importer in Ireland.
Made with 5 natural organic botanicals: angelica, coriander, heather, juniper berries and savory.
Knockeen is a small village about 5 miles to the South West of Waterford, Waterford County, Ireland. Small hills surround the village; most particular is one called "Sugar Loaf" found approximately 2 miles to the South East. The base spirit is named after this area hence the name "Knockeen Hills".
At Knockeen is a megalithic dolmen, a single-chamber tomb or tomb portal. Dolmen, dating 3 to 4,000 years old, can be found in Korea, India and Europe, with Ireland having a notable few. They are made of large upright stones (usually 3 or more) with 1 or more large flat stones (called tables) across the top.
On the nose are juniper and lemon citrus (coriander) with hints of spice, herbs and a floral perfume. On the palate this creamy smooth lightly sweet spirit has dry juniper and spicy lemon citrus (coriander) with an earthy herbal grass/meadow and spicy pepper taste. On the close the lemon citrus and peppery spice continues with a return to the floral notes in a long dry finish. For such a simple recipe it has a lot of smooth refined complexity, proving to be a very well made Gin.
The Irish Whey base provides the smoothness whilst the botanicals make for a good traditional feel to this Gin. This is a pleasing Gin to taste neat and belies its high alcohol content of 47.3 % ABV. Also, don't let the name trick you into thinking this is a flavoured Gin, you can taste the heather but it is more of a general note in the overall composition... This makes a great Gin & Tonic, Knockeen Hills recommend using Fever Tree Tonic, and a slice of lemon as garnish, although many find the lemon slice unnecessary. Often aromatic floral/ herbal style Gins are overpowered in a G&T but this is far from the case here, it stands its ground remarkably well. In a Martini the dry juniper and citrus profile begins whilst the Vermouth matches well with the developing sweet floral aspects to make a very good complex and fresh drink. We haven't tried this yet but we think it should compliment a pear flavor - perhaps a Gin soaked pear dessert or, for the adventurous mixologist, there should be a pear liqueur out there to experiment with!
This is not quite as juniper forward, and is quite soft, compared with many London Dry Gins but maintains a high level of versatility in a plethora of mixed dinks. It is an extremely well devised and delivered Gin, giving the ability for both Gin drinkers and non-Gin drinkers to be enticed to try this again, and again. We strongly recommend this Gin.
Awards and Accolades
- 92 Points, Beverage Testing Institute.
- 87 Points, Ultimate Spirits Challenge, 2012.
- Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2011.
- Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2009.
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