There are two things about London No. 1 Gin that will immediately grab your attention. The first is the news that the gin is owned by 180-year-old González Byass, the famed family winery, makers of Sherries and brandies in Jerez, Spain. Few brands can claim such a lofty pedigree.
The second point of distinction is the gin has a discernible blue hue. During development, it was discovered that adding gardenia flowers to the botanical mix imbued the gin with a turquoise hue and added the aroma of jasmine. Gardenia extract blend, with a hint of blue alkaline, is added after distillation and then stabilized before bottling.
Launched in 2005, London No. 1 is produced in London under the direction of 8th generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell. The gin starts with superior neutral spirits made from grain sourced in Suffolk and Norfolk. It is quadruple-distilled in a copper pot still with a botanical mix that features juniper berries, coriander, angelica root, lemon peel, licorice, cinnamon, almond, iris root, orange peel and bergamot. It is rendered to proof using spring water and bottled at the traditional strength of 47% alcohol (94 proof).
London No. 1 indeed has a bluish hue that's both alluring and intriguing. In the right light the gin looks almost aquamarine. It has a light, dry body and a wafting, juniper-forward bouquet. The alcohol is so well integrated you can't discern a trace of excess heat. The finish is long and quite mesmerizing.
"Spain has been a key player in the Gin & Tonic renaissance and London No. 1 has played a major role of this movement," says Andy Taylor, director of marketing for importer Vin Divino. "It's a modern, full-bodied gin graced with the aromas of Earl Grey tea, balsamic herbs, spices, juniper and truffle. The mouth feel is soft and elegant and its citrus components marry with the fresh, luscious flavors of Italian orange and lemon peels. Factor in its long and refreshing finish and you've got a gin perfect for any classic mixed drink or gin-based cocktail."
London No. 1 is spectacular served in a Chelsea Garden (London No. 1, Aperol, Rose Liqueur, lemon juice and Vilarnau Brut Cava), or the G & Tea (London No. 1, St-Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, cold Earl Grey tea and a top with a premium tonic water). There are also London No. 1 versions of the Mojito, Singapore Sling, French 75 and the Negroni. The best of the bunch may well be the Blackbird Martini (London No. 1, St-Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, Lillet Blanc, a touch of lemon juice and some egg white. Shake in a Boston shaker, double strain into a Martini glass and garnish with three juniper berries. Unbeatable.
London No. 1 is a sensational gin. After all, how often do you get a chance to make cocktails with a great tasting gin that's blue?