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Apr112016

Dodd's: The gin drinker's gin

Earlier this year, while we were working away quietly on our Bibendum Bar project, we managed to have ourselves appointed as The London Distillery Company’s exclusive Australian importer. And we were pretty chuffed about it too. Since its inception in 2012, this Battersea-based distiller has emerged as one of the most exciting, quality-driven start-ups of the UK’s artisanal spirit boom, and their mighty, full-bodied gin – named after 19th century entrepreneur Ralph Dodd* – is undoubtedly one of the standout spirits of its genre. For wine people, Dodd’s combination of deep concentration, purity and exquisite balance will resonate powerfully. For spirits people, the quality is self-evident.

Gin is only the first step for this boutique distiller. LDC is also London’s first licenced whisky distillery since Lea Valley closed its doors in 1910. So London’s first Rye and Malt Whiskey in over a century will follow, but at the moment it’s the LDC’s unique, small-batch gin that the world is getting excited about.

“What has emerged [from the London Distillery Company] is Dodd’s Gin and we’ll confess that we’re mightily impressed. Dodd’s Gin is something discernibly different in a crowded market place. Not just another gin. It’s the perfect example of a team producing something that’s both good & different and in doing so, The London Distillery Company really showcases the difference between cashing in on a category and adding to it.” The Gin Foundry

Although there are now countless Gin brands today - there is now apparently one thousand gin labels produced in the UK alone! – the devil (and the quality) is in the detail. Housed in the old cold storage of a former Victorian-era Dairy**, Dodd’s is one of the few gins producers to actually distill their own product on site. Perhaps this may come as a surprise to some, but the overwhelming majority of gins today are contract-made by large distilling companies outside of London. At the time of writing, London has only nine licensed gin distilleries (of which we are lucky to work with two). Owning and running your own still, of course, makes a huge difference, more so when your team includes – in Graham Ritchie and Andrew MacLeod Smith – not one, but two of the UK’s young-gun distillers. Controlling the distillation isn’t the only point of difference here – there’s also the fact that Dodd’s Gin is actually a marriage of two separate distillations. The lion’s share of the botanicals are distilled in a small, 140-litre Christian Carl copper alembic still called ‘Christina’, while a micro-distillation of the more delicate botanicals (such as raspberry leaf) takes place in a small, customised ‘cold vacuum’ still, christened ’Little Albion’. The two spirits are then blended and rested for several weeks before bottling.

Then there’s the botanicals. It’s exceptionally rare for a gin distillery to go to the effort and expense of sourcing the finest organic ingredients. Yet here, well north of 90% of the botanicals – which include Juniper and Angelica along with Dodd’s more unique set of botanicals (fresh lime peel, red raspberry, bay laurel, and black and green cardamom) are organic, as is the base spirit, which comes certified by the UK Soil Association. Dodd’s London roots are celebrated by the inclusion of local honey, straight from the rooftop hives of the The London Honey Company, which is added to the pot pre-distillation, primarily of enhance the spirit’s texture. It’s not just in the sourcing of ingredients that is ecologically focussed. Founder Darren Rook and this young team have designed a unique cooling water system to recover heat from their copper stills for use elsewhere, and there are plans in place to power the distillery using only hydrocarbon-alternative energy within the next year. Rook’s eco-bent even extends to Dodd’s exquisite packaging, where his eye for detail has resulted in the individually numbered, letterpress labels, that are printed on an old Heidelberg press and attached to each bottle by hand. The beautiful paper stock for these labels is carbon neutral and was made using only wind power – further underlining Dodd’s environmental credentials.

I mentioned the proliferation of gin labels earlier. It’s highly likely there has been at least one new label released in the time it has taken me to write this offer! I would wager, however, few of these could hold a highball, or martini glass to this bold, meticulously grafted London spirit. To read our tasting note, please visit our website.

* You can read a full background on Ralph Dodd and the origins of the London Distillery Company in this Hot Rum Cow article

** At the time of writing, LDC have temporally relocated to a site in Bermondsey, while their space in Battersea is being structurally refurbished.

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