Anno Kent Dry Gin
Priding itself as the first gin distilled in Kent for 200 years, Anno Kent Dry Gin is certainly something special, coming to the UK just at the start of the "gin boom". Distilled in a copper pot called Patience, named after the lengthy wait for a license and a tribute to early challenges in the Anno Gin journey, the final recipe uses many botanicals from the surrounding Kent countryside, while keeping traditional elements too. Anno Gin was founded in 2011 by PhD research and development chemists Andy and Norman (ANdy and NOrman - Anno - get it?!) and they've been utilising their skills to craft high quality products, which includes other spirits as well as gin!
The Anno Gin bottle is a shape I've never seen before, and the story behind it is fascinating, with so much thought put into the detail of the design. The copper "A" is a nod to Patience,the copper still where the gin journey starts, while the dancing green writing resembles an image of Kent, "the garden of England" and reflects the spirit of alchemy. I love that descriptions of the gin cover the entirety of the bottle, rather than being confined into a conventional paragraph, and this bottle has taken pride of place in my collection.
An extensive list of botanicals feature in Anno Kent Dry Gin, some of which are the more traditional gin flavours (juniper, coriander, liquorice, cassia), but these are combined with Kentish countryside ingredients which give the gin a very distinct taste. Kent is famous for its successful hop farming and has grown hops for English Beer for centuries. Hops are probably the most unique botanical, but there's also handpicked lavender from the Kent countryside, elderflower, chamomile, rosehips and samphire.
Tasting the gin over ice, it is so invitingly fragrant! Without mixer, its a woody, herbal gin with a complexity of flavours and a slight saltiness. It's smooth to sip and delightfully savoury with juniper certainly being one of the forward botanicals on the palate. Anno Gin overall is quite soft with a touch of heat, but bitter flavours, presumably from the hops, take over on the finish. The gin is designed to be smooth like whisky so is very nice simply on its own, allowing an appreciation to the depth and layers of flavour you wouldn't get with a G&T.
Saying that, I of course tried Anno Gin in a G&T too. I paired the gin with Fevertree Light Tonic with samphire to garnish - the distillers' suggestion! (I'd never heard of samphire in my life and they told me where to find it. I'm now obsessed with the stuff and buy it on every food shop.)
Bringing the glass to your face, there's a waft of fresh sea air and the G&T is slightly salty to taste. The gin is dry and crisp with a complexity of flavours. It's quite herbal and savoury overall with a slight woody tinge, a hint of spice and a soft touch of citrus coming through too. The G&T is a bitter one and it's bold dry flavour makes it a drink that lasts. It's a refreshing serve but this is definitely more of a sipping G&T than a gulping one! I loved using the samphire as a garnish. It makes a really unique pairing that I'll certainly be revisiting.
Overall, I love how different this gin is to anything else I've tasted and the savoury bitter flavours are right up my street! It's a stand-out gin and the attention to detail in every aspect of the crafting process really shows.
So what's next for Anno? It's all top secret at the moment, but they are hoping to release some new things this year, so look out for more details and hints on what that could be. Anno will also be getting involved in Bees' Needs Week (this week!) which raises awareness of pollinators and their surrounding nature in the UK. Bee's are a key part of Anno's Orange and Honey Gin, which tells the story from flower to honey and uses natural ingredients like local bee pollen and local honey.
For more information about Anno Distillers and their spirits, check out their website www.annodistillers.co.uk
The team at Anno Distillers kindly gifted me this bottle to try.