Scanning the array of gins at the Constantine Store, my attention was drawn to a broad, vaguely rectangular-shaped bottle which tapers slightly to the bottom. The labelling had an art deco feel about it deploying blues and gold to reflect the sea and sand of the Cornish coast. What particularly piqued my interest was that it described itself as “handcrafted Trevethan Cornish Gin infused with tradition since 1929.” The top of the bottle is broad, larger than you would find with a normal gin, and boasts a cork. It is a very attractively packaged gin with a hint of quirkiness and rustic charm.
Having made my purchase I couldn’t wait to get it home and give it a try. Fortunately, my expectations were not dashed. Taking the cork out of the stopper my nose was met with a lovely mix of juniper and citrus and the freshness of herbs and spices. I tasted it neat and the first sensation was that of the citrus quickly followed by the juniper base and then a slight bitterness as the liquid washed around my mouth. The addition of a tonic seemed to tone down the bitterness and accentuate the citrus effects and brought the juniper to the fore. It was a thoroughly impressive, well balances, somewhat bold gin and sits proudly towards the top of the list of my favourites.
There are ten botanicals in play – juniper, coriander, cassia, angelica, cardamom, orange peel, lemon peel, vanilla and to add a touch of Cornwall, elder flower and gorse flowers which are picked from the hedgerows of a dairy farm in Trenelgos. The botanicals are macerated with the base spirit for 18 hours before being put into a 300 litre still. The resultant spirit has an ABV of 85% which is then reduced to 70% before being laid to rest in a stainless steel container for up to 48 hours. Natural spring water is added to reduce the spirit to a still punchy 43% ABV and then bottled and labelled by hand. My bottle came from batch number 047.
Naturally there is a story to this gin – isn’t there always? Norman Trevethan was a chauffeur to Earl and Lady St Germans in the 1920s and drove them between Cornwall, where they lived, and London where they were part of the society set. The Trevethans had been distilling gin for some time and by 1929 Norman created a recipe for a perfect Cornish Gin. As gin went out of fashion and later generations were not so keen to continue family traditions, the recipe, which was never written down, was laid to rest. Norman’s grandson, Rob Cuffe, along with his friend, John Hall, decided to resuscitate the family tradition.
The only person left alive who had tasted Norman’s hooch was Rob’s mother and she gamely assisted the duo in recreating her father’s pride and glory. By 2015 the spirit was sufficiently close to Norman’s daughter’s recollection of its taste and this encouraged the duo to surf the ginaissance by producing it commercially. The rest is history, as they say.
Of course, whether the current Trevethan actually recreates Norman’s recipe, as the bottle tries to suggest, is a matter of some conjecture. What is certain, though, is that it is a wonderful gin. When my bottle runs out, my dilemma will be whether to try out the mail ordering system of Drinkfinder.co.uk or to have another trip to Cornwall. Decisions, decisions.
Filed under: Gin Tagged: Constantine Stores, drinkfinder.co.uk, ginaissance, Norman Trevethan, Rob Cuffe, Trenelgos, Trevethan Cornish Gin
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