Before we delve into Red Hen Dry Gin for a tasting, let’s take a minute to run through the development of this lovely drop.
Back in 2015 when the team began working on their gin, Anthony admits there was a fair bit of trial and error. None of the brothers or Luke had significant experience in gin or distilling. What they did have was the patience to keep trialling their gin until they got it just right and in our opinion a great palate for knowing when it was!
Every experimental batch on the way to their final product was distillied with the full botanical mix. In this way the guys were able to fully understand how the botanicals were going to interact with each other. It did of course mean a long development process, but one which they were incredibly happy with.
Red Hen are unbelievably still producing their gin on the same 100l column still they first launched with. To give you a sense of how small this is, many distilieries will use a 50l still for experimentation purposes when developing a new product. 300l + is a typical size for many craft distilleries, with 300l being at the smaller end of the scale.
For Red Hen who’s gin is 100% vapour infused, this means switching out their botanical basket numerous times across the course of their distillation run. Anthony explained that in experimenting on their production, this meant they extracted the maximum amount of flavour in a consistent way across every batch.
You can guarantee when you’re drinking Red Hen that you’re sipping on something that has had an exceptional amount of personal attention, even by craft gin standards!
Onto the gin itself, as we mentioned Red Hen is 100% vapour infused, with the botanicals suspended together in the column in a basket. Vapuor infusing typically is slightly gentler on the botanicals, so will bring out some of the lighter notes of each botanical. This is neither good or bad in our opinion, just one way of producing gin to achieve a desired product.
The final botanical mix for Red Hen dry is:
Juniper, liquorice root, cassia bark, muntrie berries (more on this shortly), cubeb pepper berries, celery leaf, grains of paradise, angelica, rosemary, lemon rind, orris root and almond.
On the nose the gin is light, but juniper forward. There’s some light citrus and a hint of fruitiness from the muntrie. If you’re sensitive to rosemary you may pick this up, but we find it pretty well restrained in a lovely supporting role.
To taste Red Hen is smooth and light, slightly peppery from the cubeb, celery and grains of paradise. This hint of pepper carries all the way through and is a lovely feature of the gin. There’s citrus and subtle hints of apple from the muntrie berries that can be hard to put your finger on until you’re looking for it!
We’re highly recommending Artisan Violet Blossom tonic with a slice of dehydrated orange. We tested the tonic range extensively and while this is a dry gin, it’s a fairly delicate one and easily overpowered with the wrong mixer!
The same goes on the cocktail front, we’re pretty set on this as a dry martini gin. Save your boldly flavoured cocktails for a gin that won’t be dominated quite so easily. Red Hen makes a smooth, easy drinking martini, especially for anyone who finds some dry gins a bit hard to take in this classic cocktail.
Red Hen Martini
60ml Red Hen Dry Gin
12 ml Maidenii Dry Vermouth
Dash of orange bitters (optional)
Lemon zest twist to garnish