Spring Gins on Sunday Brunch

More about the gins featured on Sunday Brunch and the recipes used!

Scroll on down to see the recipes for the cocktails featured on Sunday Brunch, as well as a little more about each gin.

The theme was to use gins that are perfect for this time of year, served up in lovely, lighter cocktails. I also deliberately chose three gins that are also at the budding phase of their development too, but more on that as we go…

So what is a Spring Gin? 

There are seasonal limited editions that exist, but on the whole, as distillers have become better at balancing their recipes and mitigating seasonal variances, gins don't necessarily change from month on month. 

Some gins however just come into their own at certain times of year, when the flavours seem to match the mood all around and the kind of cocktails that work well at this time of year are enhanced by using something particularly appropriate.

I chose to feature those kinds of gins as opposed to limited editions, and I served them in cocktails that are quite Spring-like in nature. Two of them use seasonal ingredients that are coming to life all around us at the moment - the next time you're out and about, take a look at the yellow blooms of gorse and think of the distillers busy harvesting and drying! 

It's not just flowers either, Spring is a good time for a lot of the producers who forage for ingredients. Many of the seaweed varieties are starting to come through, so are dandelion flower / roots, the likes of rock samphire, yarrow and early pine shoots.

Papillon Dry Gin

Up first was Papillon Gin in Spring Spritz.

1 serving
  • 40 ml Papillon Gin
  • 10 Violet Infused Aperol
  • 150 ml Soda Water
  1. Add the ingredients in a glass filled with ice
  2. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary

Papillon Gin is made in Dartmoor National Park by a husband and wife team Adam and Claire. Butterfly conservation is central to them – thus the Papillon name - whilst a donation from each sale goes to helping a local conservation programme. As well as traditional gin botanicals they use ‘Dartmoor flavours’; fresh gorse flowers from the moor, rowan and hawthorn berries, chamomile, nettles, navelwort and Devon violets. 

The cocktail tries to bring this to regional accent to the fore. Somewhere between a G&T and a Spritz, the addition of infused Aperol enhances what are already quite fruity and floral flavours in the gin.  

Papillon Gin, Dartmoor

Put the fact that Papillon's flavour embodies everything about Spring aside for a minute, the distillery's relationship with nature and its seasons was why I thought it was so apt to feature. Dartmoor bursts to life at this time of year, something that Adam and Claire bring into the gin through the ingredients but also then return the care and attention and back towards. They do this through charitable donations, volunteering and more, they give back to nurture it and celebrate the wildlife you start to see from now and over summer through their conservation work - there is a lovely cycle going on over there.

Papillon started as an idea when the two founders took a year off and went on an epic bike ride. They hatched their plan and set it all into motion once they returned. In very different circumstances, so many have just gone through the same kind of (forced) time away and are reassessing their options. 

As a business – they are at such an early stage of their journey, it feels like they are set to bloom too. They are doing something that many are now looking towards - starting a business for themselves, rooted in their local area and in creativity, but with extra purpose built in. There's lots to be charmed by here, not just a tasty drink…

Next up was Lantic Gin in a cocktail I've called Hedgerow in Bloom

1 serving
  • 35 ml Lantic Gin
  • 30 ml Vermouth
  • 15 ml Gorse & Elderflower Liqueur
  1. Add the ingredients to a beaker, fill with ice and stir.
  2. Strain into a chilled coupe.

Top tip - Pick a lighter vermouth to allow the fresh nature of the gin to come through. I used Ostara Sweet Vermoouth as it's also made using a lot of hedgerow botanicals (and because of the link to the Spring Equinox!). The likes of Lillet, Sacred Amber or something not too bitter would also work well. 

You can make your own syrup (or pick a non alcoholic cordial as the base), but I prefer infusing Elderflower Liqueur with gorse flowers. If you can't be bothered to forage for some, just use elderflower liqueur on its own instead.

The cocktail is a deliberately sweeter, with minty herbal tones and moreish. It's all of the enlivening sensations at once - apple mint, lemon thyme, samphire from the gin, sweet elderflower and coconutty gorse an underlying vinous vermouth edge. Delicious!

Lantic Gin is made down in Cornwall by Alex Samborne (pictured), who returned to Cornwall in 2010 after a stint working in finance in London. Having been inspired by the burgeoning gin movement and his own growing interest in food and drink, Alex decided to connect his passion for foraging and distilling and created his own gin. 

It has a soft, lighter profile and is made with six hand foraged herbs and flowers - heather, rock samphire, gorse flower, apple mint, water mint and lemon thyme alongside more traditional ones. I find that the gorse and the apple mint comes through quite strongly, which fits the season nicely here as a quick look outside and those yellow flourishes are blooming everywhere, especially if you over emphasise it further with some home made syrup.

Gorse aside, Lantic Gin is a good example of a gin that has a strong connection to where it’s made and the kind of flowers and herbs that come into season now and over the next few months. If you’ve ever meandered up the Cornish coast, a lot of what you can taste and smell is captured in the gin. That fresh nature is perfect for this time of year. 

Isle of Scilly Gin bottles

Last but not least, we had Isle of Scilly Gin in a Cucumber & Rosemary Gimlet.

1 serving
  • 50 ml Isles of Scilly Island Gin
  • 15 ml Fresh Lime Juice
  • 20 ml Cucumber & Rosemary Cordial
  1. Add the ingredients to a shaker with ice, shake, then strain into a rocks glass.
  2. Add more ice into your drink and garnish with a sprig.

Top tip - To make the cucumber and rosemary cordial, add fresh rosemary, sugar and a little bit of hot water and make a syrup. Leave it infuse for a good hour. Once cool (and by this point green hued) add cucumber juice and just a little more sugar. If you don't have a juicer, don't blend the cucumber just muddle chunks of cucumber into the rosemary infusion. I keep mine more on the runny side, compared to a viscous syrup, but up to you. 

Scilly Spirits is another tiny team and super small distillery who are only really starting to emerge on the gin scene. Their Island Gin pays homage to the island's history and folklore, which has informed their gin and what they make. There’s piney juniper, piquancy of cardamom, with a hint of orange, herbal lime leaf and warm familiar notes of cassia and pink peppercorn. The bottle shape and design is an homage to a local lighthouse.

Flavour wise, the gin is more spice driven than light Spring time seasonal fair, but that's precisely why I think it works at this time of year – to act as a counterbalance against zesty and zingy flavours. Contrasting flavours is a great way to highlight them. In this case, the zesty lime juice and the fresh cucumber are set off by the gin and the whole thing is that more refreshing for it.

I also wanted to include this gin in particular as it’s a good reminder for all who are looking ahead. Summer staycations will be big again this year and places like Isle of Scilly Distillery in particular make for amazing destinations if you are looking for things to do and places to go. If you do, don't forget about all those gin makers - they'll be keen to show you round and almost all have open doors, tours and tastings!

If you want to see more about each of the gins - head over to @SpiritsBeacon Instagram, where I've gone through each.

Spirits Kiosk
Scilly Island Gin
Scilly Island Gin
Scilly Atlantic Strength Gin
Scilly Atlantic Strength Gin
Papillon Gin
Papillon Gin

By Olivier Ward

4 April 2021