In the first few months since our launch, we’ve been working hard to make lots and lots of gin, respond to inquiries and partner up with some stellar local businesses around Oxford. So, here is a list of local Abingdon and other Oxfordshire venues where you can try Abingdon Gin. Also, read on to find out where you can buy a bottle for the gin lover on your Christmas list.
The Tipsy Mercer – a new local bar with great cocktails, live music and an excellent gin collection! The staff at the Tipsy Mercer are fantastic. This local venue is quickly becoming the main location for events and special celebrations in Abingdon.
The Brewery Tap – this pub regularly features on the Camra Town and Country Pub of the Year list and for good reason. Again, the staff are excellent, the tipple selection extensive and they have good live music regularly. Oh, and THE FOOD!
R&R Cafe – Yes, it is a coffee shop, but it’s also bringing evening cafe culture to Abingdon with their Thursday – Saturday late hours. Stop by R&R for a mellow evening drink.
The Greyhound Inn, Wantage – this 18th century free house, in the centre of Letcombe Regis, a pretty downland village within the Vale of the White Horse region of Oxfordshire, serves up a stunning selection of gin and we’re proud to be on the menu!
Didcot Food Festival, 28 October – we’ll be sampling and selling Abingdon Gin on Sunday, 28 October at the Didcot Food Festival. We’re looking forward to rubbing shoulders with fellow local food and beverage producers and, of course, gathering your feedback as you sample a wee tipple.
Clifton Hampden Christmas Fayre, 1 December – check out our special Christmas gift sets and stocking stuffers at the Clifton Hampden Christmas Fayre. We’ll be sampling mini Christmas cocktails as well!
Abingdon Christmas Craft Fair, 7 December – Abingdon’s Christmas Craft Fair is a must for the holiday season. We’re excited to be there amongst Abingdon’s local crafters and artisans to sample and sell special gin gift sets.
Don’t want to buy online or need it right now?
Here are some local brick and mortar shops selling bottles of Abingdon Gin.
Loose Cannon Brewery Shop – local booze creators stick together. You can now buy Abingdon Gin in the shop at Loose Cannon next time you go in to pick up the latest brew.
Wells Farm Shop – cheese, jams and now gin! Pop into the Wells Farm for a delicious meal or coffee and stock up on all the best ingredients for a cheese and wine (or gin) night.
The recent gin explosion has made an almost overwhelming range of styles available… London Dry, Old Tom, Matured, Signature, Compound to name a few.
But what do these names actually mean to the average gin sipper and how does the process and techniques differ between them?
These styles are normally defined by a few key criteria –
- How the flavours are imparted
- The bottled alcohol strength
- Modification after distillation
- Type of botanicals used
The London Dry style is perhaps the most well known and has a reputation for producing some high quality gins, including our flagship product!
The flavour profile is Juniper-driven with other aromas providing balance rather than direction and it is the gin of choice for martini cocktails and G&Ts.
It is tightly regulated with certain requirements that must be met. The botanicals and flavours must be imparted through distillation with the spirit reaching an alcohol content immediately post-distillation of at least 70% ABV.
These regulations came about to separate it from its predecessor, Old Tom.
During London’s gin epidemic in the 1800s, unscrupulous distillers tried to stretch their gin by cutting it with turpentine amongst other poisonous spirits. Adding sugar and liquorice to cover the unpleasant taste, Old Tom was sold on the cheap to oblivious customers.
The new spirits caused pubs to be inundated with drunks forcing landlords to come up with a novel solution – serve them drinks outside. The name ‘Old Tom’ is believed to come from the wooden plaques of cat into which one could drop a coin to receive a shot of the cheap gin through a metal pipe extending out through its paw.
Once new methods of distillation came along, the quality of gin picked up and the London Dry style became popular. Old Tom gins began to disappear until very recently when they were rediscovered during the craft gin revival.
London Dry describes a gin that has been carefully regulated but mostly in terms of technique and process rather than botanicals. A classic gin describes the flavour profile we would associate with traditional gins including a dominant juniper notes balanced with coriander, angelica root and some citrus notes.
Traditionally known as a low quality gin due to the low cost methods used to impart flavour into the spirit. These gins aren’t distilled but are made by steeping (macerating) the spirit in botanicals for sufficient time until the spirit has taken on the flavour of the botanicals. This was used to make the cheapest gin and so was often mixed in bath tubs to keep costs down.
It has seen a resurgence with the gin explosion but thankfully the bath tubs have been left behind.
A new type of gin that is characteristic of new world distilleries, As with all gins, juniper is still discernible but other flavours like citrus and spice are more prominent, often providing the leading direction. It is a style that encompasses ‘New-wave’ and ‘ New American Dry’ amongst others.
This style of gin is a close relative of the London Dry but with less juniper presence and a strong combination of earthy flavours delivered through botanicals like Angelica and Orris root.
This refers to any gin bottled at an ABV of between 57-58%.
How did a Canadian and a Brit come together to make gin in Abingdon?
Abingdon Gin started as an idea in a cramped Hong Kong apartment where partners, Ben Blackledge and Janice Hewitt, began dabbling in distilling with the aim of creating a truly sippable gin.
Ben, who was working as an airline pilot at the time, would bring botanicals back from layovers around the world, experimenting with recipes and cuts using a tiny copper still.
“We weren’t living right in the centre of Hong Kong. Our village was pretty out of the way, and it was hard to get a decent drink.
“We discovered that we could bring together some really interesting botanicals from the furthest corners of the world and combine them to make some really tasty gins – admittedly though there were some howlers along the way!
When they moved to Abingdon, they found a thriving town without any craft distillery so decided to take on the challenge.
“Abingdon is a hidden gem – lovely parks, on the Thames and plenty of pubs! It was definitely moving onwards and upwards with lots of trendy bars coming in which in turn is bringing in a younger crowd.
“We’re grateful to add our gin to the community in Abingdon. It has a rich history and is full of active, sociable people who enjoy a drink in the pub or at home in the garden. We’re happy to contribute to that in our own way.”
Nearly 100 batches, 7 methods and 1 year later, Abingdon Gin is opening its doors.