The views in this review has not been influenced by anyone at Bloody Bens. They are all our own views and we have not been paid for this post.
Bloody Bens is a gin which has been creeping up on our Instagram feed a lot recently, especially after their Bloody Bens Bloody Mary Mix appeared on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen back in March. We got hold of a bottle of their signature gin to review at the Gin Bandits HQ, and all we can say is that they’ve nailed it.
On the nose, the gin has a beautiful sweet aroma which comes from the use of honey amongst their botanicals. When drank neat, the sweetness from the honey hits the palate which is followed up with a spicy orange citrus and a good amount of juniper.
As a G&T, we served it on their recommendation and used Fevertree’s Mediterranean tonic with a slice of orange and a sprig of lavender, which we were lucky to have peeking through a gap in our fence from the next-door neighbour’s garden. This combination makes a superb gin and tonic and it’s definitely on our list of favourites.
As always, we’ve been able to put a few questions to the man himself, Ben Walton to find out a bit more about this wonderful gin…......…
It started in 2011 with Ben's Canteen where we hear you were serving a superb Bloody Mary with your brunch. What was it about the idea of distilling your own gin that appealed to you?
We were looking for a way to be more meaningful in the local community around our Earlsfield canteen. The excellent By the Horns Brewery had craft beer covered, so gin seemed a great idea and no-one had made one in Earlsfield before - we wanted to raise the profile of the area as not that many people know where ‘Earlsvegas’ is, gin seemed a fun way of achieving that.
We really enjoyed the gin - it has an initial sweetness, similar to an Old Tom, followed by some spice, orange citrus and a good amount of juniper. Who came up with the choice of botanicals and how long did it take for you to come up with the final recipe?
We noticed that the customers in our restaurant ordered sweeter gins, so we knew that was a profile we wanted for ours. We then decided to tell the story of the business, living and working in Wandsworth (so Wandsworth honey) and day-dreaming on frequent trips to Mallorca (my brother lives there, so I’ve been going for years) of starting my own business. The oranges represent Mallorca and Shane Gardiner who runs the ops at the canteens and has taken the role of Master Distiller came up with the recipe - this is his first ever gin and everyone is delighted!
Wow, that's awesome. Did Shane have any experience in the gin industry before?
Shane used to work in lots of cocktail bars, so he has been using that experience. We often ask ourselves, what would a bar tender want from us. That’s one reason we’ve gone for a reasonably punchy gin at 43% ABV.
Keeping things local, you’ve used Wandsworth Floral Honey in the gin which gives it a beautiful natural sweetness. Whose idea was it to add the honey? It works so well, but it’s not commonly used in a London Dry Gin.
The only thing we could find that was produced in Earlsfield was honey (although now there is gin too of course!) So we used that.
The gin is being distilled in the bar area of Ben’s Canteen in Earlsfield, what type of stills are you guys operating, how often are they running?
We’ve got a small copper still and Shane does all the distillations. We run 1-2 batches a week (typically 60 bottles at a time).
The label for Bloody Bens Gin has nice bright pastel colours, and it really stands out on our gin shelf and its also what drew us to the bottle on Instagram. What inspired the colours and design of your label?
The label is all about escapism, dreaming and sunny vibes. One of my best friends runs a branding agency (Studio Molasses) and he came up with the design.
What’s next? Can we expect to see some other gin products, maybe a Navy Strength gin or a different spirit coming out of the Bloody Bens range?
We plan to create limited edition seasonal gins, but before then, we’re thinking we’re going to make a rum. On our road, where we distil, there used to be a gunpowder factory used during the dutch wars, a rum therefore seems rather fitting.
Rum sounds good to us. Do you run any tasting events from your distillery?
Yes, at the moment they’re a bit ad-hoc, if you’d like one then email me email@example.com. Also we just ran the Earlsfield Gin Festival which was such a success that we’re going to do The Earlsfield Summer Gin Festival on the 29th June. Details about the event can be seen here
Can you recommend a cocktail recipe for our followers using Bloody Bens Gin?
They both sound amazing. Where can our followers pick up a bottle of Bloody Bens?
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The Gin Bandits