To kick off London Cocktail Week, the Craft Gin Club ventured into the City and into the gin-lover’s haven, Merchant House, for the Burleigh’s Gin Masterclass. Passing through the candlelit ground floor lounge, guests are asked to descend into the main bar, stocked full with 250 different types of gin where they’re welcomed by extremely knowledgeable bartenders including Nate Brown who also introduced us to Burleigh’s Gin.
Nate started with an entertaining history of gin digging back into the Middle Ages for some fun facts:
- Juniper berries were thought to prevent one from catching the Bubonic Plague when it broke out in Europe in the 1300s. But juniper wasn’t the cure, rather the rats that carried the disease didn’t like the smell of juniper and thus stayed away from the people that began carrying it on their person. This led to the distillation of juniper as a medicine which eventually led to genever in Holland and to gin in England.
- the £50 tax on all those that wanted to make gin decreed by Parliament with the Gin Act of 1736 simply led to a flourishing black market for the alcohol. At one point, there were an estimated 1,700 establishments distilling in London alone virtually all illegally.
- the reason lime is the go-to garnish of choice for gin and tonics is pure marketing. Lemon was the traditional garnish as many gins use lemon as a garnish whereas fewer use lime. It wasn’t until Gordon’s, when creating a marketing campaign, realized that the yellow lemon clashed with its green bottle and thus went with lime, more of a color complement than a taste complement.
- copper and alcohol have an intimate chemical relationship in that the copper strips out many impurities in the alcohol making for a smoother drink.
To finish the history of gin, Nate introduced one of the gin world’s most recent creations, Burleigh’s Gin, Master Distiller Jamie Baxter’s latest venture. With years of experience launching gins in the UK, Baxter decided to launch his own brand, Burleigh’s, inspired by the woodlands of England. Four of the botanicals - silver birch, dandelion, burdock and elderberry - capture this essence. After Nate’s talk, it wasn’t a surprise that Burleigh’s is distilled in copper stills.
Burleigh’s is producing 3 versions: London Dry, Export Strength which bottles at 47% ABV, and the Distiller’s Cut which ramps up the gin’s floral botanicals. All are made specifically for G&Ts so next time you’re craving one (in a few hours?) head over to Merchant House for the perfect pour.