Cambridge Seasonal Gin
The Cambridge Distillery is home to the world’s first seasonal gin, made using locally grown and foraged botanicals.
We developed the idea of a seasonal blend whilst walking our Labrador in the fields of Cambridgeshire (Darcy now graces the label of every bottle in recognition of her contribution). Seeing seasons gradually come and go bearing blossoms, fruits, herbs and spices was the inspiration behind the blend.
We collect various botanicals, either grown in our garden or foraged from fields and hedgerows, before distilling them at low temperatures under vacuum. In doing so, we effectively distil the very essence of each season.
These distillates are blended into a strictly limited run of just 50 litres, now available exclusively in Selfridges. If you are lucky enough to have obtained one of these bottles, the season typed on the front label or recipe code on the back will enable you to identify which blend it contains.
We’ve just finished bottling Autumn – Winter 2016, which you can purchase now from our online shop.
Tasting notes for each of our seasonal gins follow.
#AW16 Now Available!
Autumn / Winter 2016 has been our most challenging vintage yet, but this time not just because of the weather. Since September we have been even busier than usual: collecting and distilling botanicals for our seasonal gins, as well as building our new distillery. Fortunately, we’ve managed both, and are proud to see #AW16 now available and our new distillery ready to welcome our first tailoring clients from January.
The weather has certainly been remarkable this season, having recorded both the hottest and coldest days ever seen within the vintage. We’ve reflected this within the the AW16 blend.
Top notes of zesty bergamot with blackcurrant leaf provide a vibrant, fruity profile, whilst warm winter heart notes of rosemary and fennel give this gin an unparalleled warmth and depth. This is a gin to sip and savour. Served in a whisky glass, after dinner, in front of the fire place. Perhaps a single ice cube. Arm chair essential, Labrador at your feet highly recommended.
Only 60 bottles are being released here. If you are lucky enough to have acquired one of them, we’ll be raising a glass to you from Cambridge.
#SS16 Vintage Report:
Following the most unusual conditions of the winter of 2015 (see below), we saw a false-start to spring in 2016. In mid-January there were flowers and blossoms in bloom as record temperatures were recorded in the first months of the year. We thought it was too good to last, and indeed it was.
A spell of cold, wet weather forced a break in our foraging which inevitably delayed production. The second round began in early May when we saw cherry, apple and hawthorn blossom as well as violet in flower, which went on to take centre stage in the SS16 blend. The citrus notes came from the distillery gardens: a blend of lemon thyme and lemon verbena providing a crisp, zesty citrus tang.
Fortunately we’ve managed to get the gin distilled, blended and bottled before another wet week unfolds: on the day of bottling we saw 4cm of rain in just two hours here in Cambridge.
We’ve made SS16 a beautifully floral gin: elegant enough to sip over ice and perfumed enough to hold its own in a refreshing G&T. Bottled at 42% ABV. Best served in the sunshine, should you manage to find any!
#AW15 Vintage Report:
AW15 is a gin like no other we’ve ever produced. The season was vastly different from a normal Autumn – as I write this on December 11th we are still awaiting the first frost, and there are daffodils in flower in the fields surrounding the distillery.
We started with a very turbulent summer, which saw both the hottest and coldest July days in over 100 years. Rainfall was a significant feature of September, which kept the herb garden very happy, but the temperatures still haven’t really dropped. We now find ourselves surrounded by Christmas decorations, whilst many people are walking around in 13C + daytime temperatures without even wearing coats.
The first frost usually marks the beginning of bottling for our Autumn-Winter blends, but all the signs indicate that we will be waiting until after Christmas for that milestone, and I for one am getting rather thirsty waiting.
As a result of the extended season, we’ve made AW15 our biggest and boldest yet, and it’s richly herbaceous.
At the base, we’ve found an alternative to liquorice root in tarragon leaf. Both contain an important aromatic compound – anethole – but with tarragon we can harvest the leaves without digging up the root, thereby killing the plant.
In the heart we’ve delivered a rich, fruity quality by using blackcurrant leaf. Then, for the top note we’ve used another herbaceous citrus flavour, lemon thyme in this instance. Try as we might, lemons and limes simply don’t grow on trees here in Cambridge.
AW15 is bottled at 44% ABV. We enjoy sipping this gin in a tumbler with ice, with a slice of pear to garnish. Of course, you’re welcome to drink it however you please – we’d love to hear from you when you do.
#SS15, Vintage Report:
Spring / Summer 2015 started with great promise. We basked in sunshine during the Boat Race, which at least took the edge off the disappointment of watching the other place claim victory in all three races, and temperatures regularly exceeded 20 degrees Celsius in the daytime, with blue skies and warm breezes bringing temperatures higher than Athens into the second week of April. All of this provided perfect conditions for our early spring blossoms.
We collected mahonia, viburnum and violet in the first week of April, then cherry and hawthorn blossom until the 25th. An overnight downpour marked the end of cherry blossom picking, but the beginning of apple blossom followed just a few days later.
May was disappointing; with temperatures 2 degrees lower than average for the time of year, resulting in a slow end to what began as a very promising season. Early June provided enough warmth to provide us with plenty of lemon verbena from the gardens here, allowing us to capture the cool, crisp profile we aim for in the Spring / Summer blends.
SS15 has focussed on the floral notes from earlier in the year: mahonia has a divine rose-like quality, hawthorn and cherry blossom slightly more robust- these flavours work particularly well when sweetened slightly with tonic.
Only sixty bottles are available – via Selfridges – to the public in the U.K, with a further 24 reserved for Cambridge Distillery Alumni.
When winter draws in, our Autumn – Winter 2014 Cambridge Gin provides a warming and rewarding gin to savour indoors.
A combination of wild foraged botanicals including elderberry and rose hip, we’ve bottled AW14 at 44% ABV. The result is a rich, full-bodied gin with an intense and complex palate.
An initial softness represents the long, warm Autumn we enjoyed towards the end of 2014, followed by a fresh berry quailty which grows on the palate alongside the juniper note. The rose hip top-note keeps the blend fresh, before the base-notes offer a robust, spicy finish.
Serving suggestion: pour a generous measure of AW14 into a short glass over a couple of cubes of ice. Recline into a leather armchair, then garnish with a Labrador sleeping at your feet in front of a log fire. Perfection.
Cambridge Gin, the UK’s first seasonal gin, is produced in strictly limited quantities and this batch promises to sell out faster than all other before it. This bottling is available exclusively in store and on-line via Selfridges and in selected Michelin restaurants.
The Spring – Summer 2014 Cambridge Gin is a true delight. Reflecting the unusually temperate spring this year, we’ve created a light, crisp and floral gin which is ideal for summer drinking. Using home-grown verbena, mint, basil and rose combined with locally foraged cherry and hawthorn blossom and a pinch of elderflower, the elegance of this gin is second to none.
As always, the production of the UK’s first seasonal gin is strictly limited, so act quickly to avoid disappointment. This bottling is available exclusively in store and online via Selfridges.
Following the success of the Cambridge Gin Spring – Summer 2013 blend, the Autumn – Winter 2013 has arrived to brighten up the increasingly dark evenings.
The Autumn – Winter blend features botanicals grown and foraged in Cambridge from Midsummer’s Day of 2013 onwards.
We recommend tasting Autumn – Winter 2013 over ice in a short glass. The initial warmth of juniper is softened with the herbaceous rosemary mid-note. Fresh nettle lends a crisp character, balanced with the sweetness of elderberry. As the ice melts, gradual dilution reveals the gentle spice of ginger and fennel which combine to provide a lingering, evolving finish.
Bottled at 44% ABV, the Autumn – Winter 2013 is not only a product of the season, but also designed to be enjoyed during the season. Rich, full-bodied with a touch of spice, it’s the perfect winter warmer.
Cambridge Gin, Spring – Summer 2013, was a delicate delight.
The blend includes: elderflower, rose petals, mint, thyme, rosemary, cucumber and Earl Grey – not strictly from Cambridge, but he studied here at Trinity, so we’re claiming him as a Cambridge botanical!
The Spring – Summer 2013 Cambridge Gin is not only representative of the season, but also meant to be enjoyed within the season. As such, we created a light, fresh, zesty gin, ideal for drinking long, over ice and with tonic, on those endless summer evenings.
For details of earlier batches, please write to us, including your bottle number, at firstname.lastname@example.org