Originally launched in 2015, Hepple Gin is the result of a “pursuit of a gin to make the perfect dry martini,” culminating in a “complete rethinking” of how gin is made.
The British gin is made using a three-step process that distills the spirit in three different ways. Step one is a fairly standard but single-round pot distillation of a grain neutral base spirit along with key botanicals. Step two is a separate, vacuum distillation of different botanicals in a rotary evaporator. Finally, a machine called a supercritical CO2 extraction system, usually used to make perfume, is used to make a third distillate. The three distillates are combined to make the final blend.
In addition, different botanicals are used in each of the distillations, including several varieties of juniper, plus Douglas fir, blackcurrant (berries and leaves), lovage, Amalfi lemon, coriander, fennel, orris root, liquorice, and angelica. Several of the botanicals are sourced from Hepple’s estate in Northumberland.
Let’s give it a try — both solo and in that martini they mention.
Lots of fresh greenery hits the nose first. It’s not just juniper, though there’s plenty of that. The Douglas fir adds a uniquely verdant spin to the aroma, and it smells very much like a wander through an evergreen forest. The lemon peel adds another nice nuance, coming across with a more complex citrus character than I’d expected.
On the palate, the gin is lively and refreshing. Again, its’ quite evergreen, but that spritz of lemon makes it feel like a martini even before it’s been mixed with anything. The other elements fade into the background, though there’s a curious — and unexplainable — red berry note on the finish, plus just a hint of licorice-fueled bitterness.
Oddly, I was a bit less enchanted of Hepple in a martini, likely because the ice cold temperature muted many of its delightful flavors. The cocktail ended up very mild and almost innocuous, although, depending on your point of view, that can be a good thing, I suppose.