05 JUN

Portobello Road's most perfect gin


Portobello Road's most perfect gin

It may only be four years old but Portobello Road No. 171 Gin already feels like an utterly delicious institution says Victoria Moore

JUNE 03, 2015 17:51
Portobello Road Gin & TonicPortobello Road Gin & Tonic

The rise of craft gins continues apace. British supermarket Waitrose has just reported that sales of small batch, artisan gins have increased seven per cent over the last year. It has also added 27 new gins to its shelves, bringing the Waitrose gin list to 57, meaning you could have a different bottle for every week of the year and still not get through them all.

There is no sign in a let-up of new gins emerging, now one from the Cotswolds, now one from San Francisco. Bring it on, I say. Juniper. Pine. Coriander. Angelica. Black pepper. Green olive. Keep celebrating those fragrant botanicals.

These are heady times for gin and I want to pause for a moment to consider not one of the very latest gins but one of the most delicious, and a new pour.

Portobello Road No. 171 Gin has only been around since 2011, just four years, but already it feels like an institution. It was created to be the house gin at The Ginstitute, housed in a set of tiny interlocking rooms above the Portobello Star where you will find a 30-litre alembic still and a miniature gin museum containing phials of spirits flavoured with single botanicals.

Jake Burger, a man who knows pretty much everything there is to know about gin, is the Gin Instructor here, and if you can’t make it to one of his classes, well never mind, because you can always find a bottle of Portobello Road No. 171.

I love this gin. It is warm and rich, all woody spice, energised with citrus. It’s made using cassia bark and licorice and nutmeg, and the juniper glows through all that like Zeus, the god of thunder, at play in a pine forest.

Had I tried the Portobello pour - made with 1724 tonic and a twist of pink grapefruit peel? I was asked recently. I had not, but I did, and I highly recommend it. The tonic (available at at £1.26 for a 200ml bottle) is made using quinine hand-picked on the Inca Trail (at an altitude of 1,724m above sea level, hence the name) and is deliciously clean and clear.

A twist of grapefruit zest - you literally do need to twist it, to burst some of the oil bubbles, spritzing their fragrance into both the air and the drink - acts as a counterpoint to the rumbling spice of the gin, and gives it a bright charge of energy. I am a fusspot about G&T. I will be making this one again and again.

Portobello Road No. 171 Gin costs around £25 and is available fromWaitroseSelfridges and Harvey Nichols

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