There are so many gins on the market these days. Spirits are enjoying a classy revival not seen since the ’20s. Justin Birch of Wadhurst, East Sussex has spent a decade perfecting his eponymous Birch Gin. Well, that was 10 years well spent!
In 2010 Justin moved from Singapore to be greeted by the UK craft gin revolution. He resolved to create his own gin and tinkered with many botanical and herb combinations, looking for that ideal profile.
The method used for making Birch Gin is the one-shot method. The distiller puts all the chosen botanicals into a pot still with the base spirit. These are allowed to mingle and macerate. The still is then run with the botanicals remaining in the spirit. The resulting distillate is then proofed with water to the appropriate strength.
One of the ingredients in Birch Gin is, unsurprisingly, birch syrup, which has traditionally been viewed as a health tonic in Finland, and the raw sap has also been made into wine. It’s on the lines of maple syrup but it’s less sweet and more complex. The sap is tapped from birch trees in March, and 100 litres of sap, when evaporated, produces just 1 litre of birch syrup.
The smoothest gin
Justin spoke to many distillers but finally formed a professional relationship with Andrew Parsons, Gold winner for the World’s Best Contemporary Gin at the World Gin Awards. Birch Gin is made using Justin’s own recipe and it works. It is perhaps the smoothest gin I have tasted in a very long while. Many producers will say their gins are delightful consumed neat, but I would suggest they are after the insurance money. Birch Gin, however, truly is a sipping spirit, with no hint of harshness. Enjoy it on the rocks, or as a G&T – but add a simple mild tonic with light flavour and fizz.
Their Birch Gin contains the aforementioned Birch Syrup, the essential Juniper, Coriander, Rosemary, Orris Root, Lemongrass, Orange, Lime, Grapefruit, Cardamom, Ginger and Cinnamon, and a secret ingredient only known to Justin and Andrew (are they ever allowed to travel together?). On the nose it’s juniper and citrus but on the palate those delicate spices are there, rounded with grapefruit and sweetness from the birch sap. This is nearer to an Old Tom than a London Dry.
Birch Gin is well crafted and produced in small batches of a couple of hundred bottles at a time. Each attractive bottle is gift-quality beautiful with its unique batch information hand-written on the back. Any true gin aficionado would love to have this instead of a Selection Box at Christmas. It’s a winner and my Pick of Spirits 2020.