Portobello Road Gin Launches in California
Portobello Road Gin just launched in California. It officially launched in the US (New York) in 2015 but has now made its way to the West Coast and specifically you can find it at LA shops such as Wally’s, Mel and Rose, John and Pete’s and yes, BevMo.
Since it’s Spirits Week at The Minty, I thought I’d first talk about what is gin. Like a lot of spirits, there were historical uses of gin to treat maladies and/or help with digestion. Gradually, it became something “fun” to drink like beer or wine.
First let’s go back to when the Dutch invented genever which some think of as proto-gin. These days if you taste genever, you’re often reminded more of whiskey than anything like the herbaceous gin we now have. Gin by definition has to have juniper berries. Well known styles include London dry and sloe gin. Recently I also tasted a gin liqueur that was inspired by historical gin liqeurs. It is sweeter than Old Tom gins. Perhaps it’s easier to think of the very popular Pimm’s Cup which uses Pimm’s, is also a gin liqueur.
Gin became very popular in England when foreign imports were banned (specifically French brandy) and it was very inexpensive. The unregulated businesses were churning out cheap gin and people were becoming alcoholics. Origins of phrases like, “mother’s ruin” and horrific illustrations of the very real happenings from the gin addicted could be traced to this era.
Fortunately laws were passed and the rotgut gin dwindled.
We are now in a gin-renaissance and Portobello Road one of the distilleries leading the charge in London. The distillery is located as you guessed it on Portobello Road. They have an institute, humorously called, the Ginstitute, where you can mix your own gin. It’s also a very exclusive hotel (only 3 guest rooms!). However, there are 2 bars.
I was lucky enough to catch their launch party at Roger Room recently and learned about the 9 different botanicals that are in Portobello Road including juniper (of course), coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, licorice, lemon peel, bitter orange peel, cassia bark and nutmeg.
Portobello Road makes a special one-off gin every year for their Director’s Cut series. One year they made an artichoke gin. Another year they made pechuga which is inspired by mezcal. Pechuga is made when you re-distill the spirit with nuts, spices, fruit and either turkey, rabbit or some other meat. In Portobello Road’s case, they opted for turkey breast.
It was delicious.
I am also interested in trying their Director’s Cut last year which is very smokey from Lapsang tea.
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