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Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin

Review: Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin   90.5/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra
Published March 06, 2016

According to the information sheets provided to me Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin is a traditional London Dry Gin produced in London (England) from eight botanicals: juniper, lime peel, sage, bitter orange peel, borage (star flower), coriander seed, lemon peel and angelica root. The botanicals are steeped in a quadruple-distilled grain spirit, and then distilled once more upon a traditional pot still. The finished spirit is bottled at 47 % alcohol by volume.

The spirit is named for George Gilpin who is said to have traveled to Holland as an Ambassador from Queen Elizabeth I where he was apparently one of the first Englishmen to enjoy (and bring home) the new Dutch “Genever”. Interestingly, George Gilpin is said to be the descendant of Sir Richard “the Rider” de Gilpin who was famous for hunting down and killing the Great Wild Boar of Westmorland in 1207. Apparently wild boars can be particularly vicious, and this particular wild boar had been terrorizing the pilgrims in the Lake District during the time of King John. For his courageous act, Sir Richard was granted the Wild Boar as the symbol of the Gilpin Family. The history of this tale is hard to verify, but it certainly adds a wonderful back story to the Gilpin’s Westmorland Gin.

Gilpins SAM_2353In the Bottle 4.5/5

Gilpin’s arrives in the solid rectangular bottle shown to the left. The label is a professional affair with fonts that are clear and easy to read. The Wild Boar symbol of the Gilpin Family is displayed at the top of the label, and the bottom of the label includes some useful bottling information pertaining to the gin’s bottling. My particular bottle was produced in 2014, from batch No. 15/001A. The bottle number is 4223.

The presentation is quite nice, and I have scored it well.

In the Glass 9/10

When I poured the gin into my glencairn glass I immediately noticed the spirit featured a classic juniper forward nose accented very nicely by citrus zest. The power of the 47 % alcohol by volume bottling strength is apparent as the juniper and citrus spice aroma is unrelenting. A very faint floral quality is present which seems to temper the citrus push, and I seem to catch an underlying earthiness which softens the juniper but does not diminish it.

I am pleased by the firm aroma in the breezes above the glass.

In the Mouth 54/60

I taste a firm push of juniper chased by zesty citrus peel and spicy coriander (perhaps peppery sage as well). This is followed by wisps of lightly bittersweet (more bitter than sweet certainly), earthy chocolate-like flavours (which would seem to be the influence of the angelica root). The overall  flavour, like the aroma, is firm. Despite the firmness of these major flavours, everything works very well together as an ever so light herbal sweetness holds the strong flavours together. If I add ice to my glass the bitter chocolate flavour becomes more pronounced, yet the light sweetness does not diminish. In my mind, this is the way traditional gin is meant to taste.

I quickly decide to mix a Gin and Tonic, and there is absolutely no reason not to mix another. Martinis are next on the agenda (the following day of course), and I discover that using a Spanish olive works wonderfully (see recipe below). I am sure that many more classic recipes will also work well with the Gilpin’s as this is without a doubt one of the finest traditional gins I have tasted.

In the Throat 13.5/15

Coriander and sage seem to have more expression in the finish giving the gin a nice spicy peppery bite which works well in cocktails. A pithy bitterness follows which lingers upon the palate bringing back those impressions of dark bitter chocolate. (This really is much nicer than it sounds.)

The Afterburn 9.5/10

Everything about Gilpin’s is classic. The juniper leads out in front and does not relent. Classic citrus zest combined with coriander and sage give the gin a lively mouth-feel and wonderful lightly spiced finish. Then the earthy bitterness of angelica root caps the experience. I think what ties everything together so beautifully is an ever-present light sweetness that allows all of these aggressive flavours to assert themselves without ever overwhelming the palate. If you like traditional London Dry Gin, then Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin is one that is sure to please.

You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipes

I am going to recommend a Traditional Gin Martini recipe with a 1:5 ratio of gin to vermouth. With Gilpin’s Westmorland Gin, and at this ratio of Vermouth to Gin, the resulting martini has a nice dry bite. I have chosen a Spanish Olive to garnish the cocktail. The light saltiness which accompanies the Olive works very well with London Dry Gin.

Gilpin's Dry MartiniDry Gin Martini (with Spanish Olive)

2 1/2 oz Gilpin’s Westmorland Gin
1/2 oz Vermouth
Spanish Olive

Add the gin and vermouth into a large mixing glass with ice
stir for about two minutes until the sides of the glass are very cold
Strain into a chilled martini glass
Add a Spanish Olive (fresh from the jar)

Of course, you should enjoy responsibly!

If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more mixed drink recipes!

Note: I have made this point with respect to the Vodka Martini, and it bears repeating with respect to the Gin Martini. Once you open any bottle of vermouth, it is important that you realize that all aromatized wines have a very short shelf life. This is because the wine will begin to oxidize immediately, and after only one short week (even if the bottle is refrigerated) its flavour will have undergone an undesirable change. I strongly suspect that it is experiences with bad vermouth that have led many people to decrease its volume in the classic martini cocktail, not understanding that the vinegary component they are tasting is not a normal flavour component of good vermouth. Please use fresh vermouth whenever you are serving Martini cocktails.


My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that score as follows:

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:

70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


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