I chat to a good few gin makers these days and I’m adoring the interactions I’m having with them. You don’t get love or passion just picking up a gin from a supermarket, website or in a bar. But when you talk to these guys and girls you can really get the love they have for their product and the passion they have for it… And the desire for you to love what they have produced.
“DARKNESS CANNOT DRIVE OUT DARKNESS; ONLY LIGHT CAN DO THAT. HATE CANNOT DRIVE OUT HATE; ONLY LOVE CAN DO THAT”
– Martin Luther King Jr
The gin market is a tough one just now. In spite of it’s popularity it’s an incredibly saturated market and, in order to not get lost amongst the bajillions of other bottles and brands out there you need to have certain things that make you stand out.
You definitely need a unique selling point… Something that makes YOUR gin stand out… That makes it special and unlike the other gins on the market. The other thing that helps it PHYSICALLY stand out is an attractive bottle… Agree or disagree an eyecatching bottle is going to help… ESPECIALLY for those sitting on supermarket shelves.
When I look at the bottle for this gin I think it basically sums up the brand. The images of woodland start to point you towards the brands USP… The fresh botanicals are, predominantly foraged across Lancashire, Yorkshire and Wales. The thing with foraging the botanicals is that each batch of Defiance will likely differ ever so slightly from the last… Each batch is one of a kind while maintaining some consistency.
Defiance started life as a paper on the “Renaissance of Gin” when founder Paul Sheerin was studying for his WSET (Wine & Spirit Education) Diploma… Clearly he decided that wine was out and gin was in!!!
The botanicals are picked fresh and then frozen until required. When the time comes to make the gin the botanicals are steeped in 96% alcohol for 2-3 days. After the clear liquid has changed to a luminous green (a result of the plants)
the dry botanicals are then weighed and vapour infused.
The final step here is that once the gin has been made it goes into a tank for between a week to two weeks to allow the flavours to develop and become more rounded.
Defiance was a six month development to create a premium gin that was super smooth with no alcohol burn whereby the flavour could really shine.
“Every new year is a battle for life to start again after the cold of winter. In many ways it’s a metaphor for the human spirit. This is why we have the Martin Luther King Jr quote on every bottle”.
Defiance comes in many forms;
Premium Wild Rose,
Navy Strength (winner SIP Gold 2018 Navy Strength),
The one we’re looking at today is the Premium Gin.
- Coriander seeds,
- Dehydrated orange & lemon,
- Orris root,
- Angelica root,
Fresh botanicals used are;
- Sweet cicely (Yorkshire/Lancashire/Wales),
- Spruce tips (spring growth only – Lancashire),
- Tangerine root (Anglia).
ABV – 40%
Size – 50cl
RRP – £42.00
Based – Lancashire/Greater Manchester, UK
Into the nitty gritty then…
First off, in the interests of transparency this gin was provided to me for the purposes of the review so thanks to Defiance for that.
On the nose (look at me using proper review banter)… I got the citrus. A lovely fresh smell.
When tasting it neat you really don’t get an alcohol burn, you can feel the alcohol ever so slightly (its 40% so you’re going to get a heat from it, lets be honest) but nothing overwhelming and it certainly doesn’t detract from the flavour.
The initial flavour I picked up, unsurprisingly, was the citrus which then moved away to reveal the spruce which was lovely. The odd thing is this then moves away aswell and the citrus came back and was the lasting taste on my tongue… Which I really enjoyed.
Paul told me that, tonic-wise, Fever tree didn’t pair well in his opinion so he suggested Double Dutch or Schweppes 1783 skinny tonics.
I used the Schweppes. The recommended serve for this was 35-50ml gin to 100-150ml tonic.
I garnished with orange.
I tried the 35ml with the 100ml tonic but felt that the tonic diluted the gin too much with this split so I fired in more gin. This was much better but it still felt more diluted than I would like. If you don’t like to really taste the gin too much then these measurements will be absolutely spot on for you. For me, personally, I like to get the gin as well as the tonic with a G&T… Especially when the gin has as much depth to its flavour as this one does.
I tried the gin again with a different gin to tonic ratio… 35ml gin to 60ml tonic so almost a 50/50 split. This time I used Franklin & Sons tonic (as I had it open for another tasting anyway!). I found this split much much better and enjoyed the taste of the gin really being able to shine.
A lovely deep gin with a wealth of flavour that changes moment to moment. Impeccably smooth and wonderful neat, if you’re so inclined. When mixing with tonic approach with caution in terms of volume and you’ll end up with a wonderful drink quite unlike any other.
If you like the flavour of your gin to be more dominant in your G&T then I recommend a 1:2 ratio (approx) of gin to tonic for this, while for those that like the gin to be slightly more diluted, then your normal ratio may still apply, however, consider adding less tonic in the first instance and going from there as, I think, you’ll be surprised by how much you actually want to taste this really unique gin.
As always hop onto my social media through the wonder that is the internet and enjoy my antics going forward… March should be a fun month with a gin festival and, hopefully, a little get together with some folk you may recognise….