Martin Miller, author of an apparently well known series of antiques books, is like many of us a fan of gin. After experimenting with many a gin and many a gin cocktail he decided nothing currently on the market quite matched what he was looking for. At this point most people would simply find the gin that matched their tastes best and make do, but Martin didn’t want to make do, so what was he to do? Make his own gin of course!
Martin Miller’s gin is produced in England using a copper pot still made in 1903, with ten botanicals including juniper, cassia bark, Florentine Iris and coriander. After distillation the high-proof spirit is sent north to the frosty island of Iceland, where it is cut with glacial water and bottled at both a regular 40% ABV, and a “Westbourne Strength” 45.2% ABV. Of course stories of glacial water and antique stills all sound very good, but ultimately what matters is the liquor, so how does Martin Miller’s gin taste?
Martin Miller’s Gin
The bottle for Miller’s gin immediately reminded me of Plymouth gin, with its tall, sleek stylings and authoritative blue labelling. On the nose it is sweet and floral with hints of citrus and a mild suggestion of alcohol. In the mouth it was remarkably smooth, with little heat but an interesting mix of juniper, citrus and other botanics. On the finish there was a slight heat and some spicier flavour components along with continuing citrus and a slight sweetness.
Its smoothness reminded me a lot of Plymouth, albeit with extra citrus and floral flavours. Excited by this given how good Plymouth is as a mixing gin I quickly made an Aviation, which turned out beautifully. Subsequent experimentation has shown it also makes a fine, if subtle, gin and tonic and a great Martini too. I imagine Miller’s will work well in most things Plymouth works well in – not to dismiss Miller’s as a mere Plymouth stand-in though as it definitely brings its own character to the party.
Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin
Using the same base distillate as the standard Miller’s, but bottled at a higher proof, Miller’s Westbourne Strength seems an even more exciting a prospect given its weaker brother’s performance. The juniper is much more apparant both on the nose and on the tongue here, but the interesting citrus flavours remain bright and there is also some extra spice noticeable. It still remains smooth despite the increased strength, and while a little hotter it is still sippable even at room temperature.
In a gin and tonic this was absolutely wonderful, with the increased strength making for a more powerful flavour that stood out from the tonic water more effectively. A Martini made with this and The Bitter Truth Celery bitters also makes for a very tasty drink. I’ve yet to experiment much more, but the mixture of robust flavours with a smooth lightness makes me keen to try this in other things.
Overall I was very impressed with both of Miller’s gin offerings. Like a lot of new gins Miller’s attempts to stand out with a unique mixture of botanicals and other distinct production processes, but where many gins become so offbeat they are no longer suitable for general mixing Miller’s retains enough classic gin sensibility to work well in many standard gin drinks. Definitely one that’s worth trying, especially if you can locate the Westbourne Strength version.
Note: In the interests of full disclosure, both gins reviewed here were sent to be by the US PR representative for Martin Miller’s Gin.
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