- Jonathan Winters
Gin Lane 1751 Victoria Pink Gin Review
A modern take on a Victorian gin.
Review Gin Lane 1751 Victoria Pink Gin
Made in: London, England by Bloomsbury Club Brands and Thames Distillers
Method: pot still
40% alcohol/80 proof
Botanicals 8: juniper, angelica, coriander, cassia bark, orris root, Sicilian lemon, Seville orange, star anise. PLUS there is an aromatic bitter added to the gin after distillation.
Style: Pink Gin
Note: This review is for a bottle from batch number 5.
Now you’ve probably seen the name Bloomsbury on several other bottles of gin recently, including one that bears that name as it’s own (I don’t think we have that one in the US though), but in recent years we’ve seen that name pop up on other bottles (including Tanqueray’s Bloomsbury which showed up recently in the US as a limited edition). So you might as well know why that name seems to be inspiring so many gin makers.
The Bloomsbury Set were a group of hedonistic intellectuals made up of well known artists, writers, and philosophers including Virginia Woolf, E.M Forrester, John Maynard Keynes, Roger Fry, Clive Bell, and more, who were together in the early part of the 20th century They were joined together by a belief in the importance of the arts, and they as a group had a big import on everything from modern feminism, sexuality, economics, literature, art and art criticism, and more. Needless to say they were an intellectual powerhouse of an informal group, BUT they were quite hedonistic and bohemian in their lifestyles and beliefs. They played hard, loved hard and drank hard.
Today the Bloomsbury Club brings us a line of Victoria Lane 1751 gins - named after the Gin act of 1751 - which I won’t go into here, but ultimately lead to better quality gin being produced. This one is the pink style - and don’t confuse that with sweet, because it certainly is not.
Pink gin. Yeah. Pink gin. This is very different from the gins, made with pea blossoms that change into a beautiful pink color like Empress 1908 when mixed with tonic (or citrus, etc). Pink gin is just gin with bitters mixed in, adding in a different flavor component, and obviously a different color into the gin. Now you can grab your own bottle of gin at home and mix in a little bit of bitters to make your own pink gin (I’m rather fond of celery bitters, or burnt lemon bitters in my own gin), but this is a gin made to mix specifically with the bitters that Gin Lane’s distillers have chosen.
Other than that this is a fairly traditional gin, but with a nice little kick of spice. It’s a collaboration between Thames Distillers and it’s 8th generation master distiller, Charles Maxwell and the Bloomsbury Club, which aside from being located near Bloomsbury, England does not seem to have much to do with the Bloomsbury Set. While I can’t tell you if their gin really is made in the Victorian style as they claim, I can give you my opinion of what is in the bottle.
First off let me disabuse you of the notion that this is going to be a sweetened gin, it is not. It’s strong, sharp and very sippable. It’s strong but not overly hot and it has quite a pleasant although not complex flavor profile.
The aroma has a lot of orange in it and of course juniper and hints of angelica.
The gin opens on the palate with definite peppery notes, spice and of course quite a bit of juniper. Far in the background there are some faint whiffs of cinnamon and an even fainter trace of licorice. There isn’t much layering or complexity here, but somehow it seems to work.
Mouthfeel is very middle of the road here, somewhat light, and leaving with a very soft finish with just a trace of the spice of the bitter.
Since this is more or less a traditional flavor profile I was almost sure this gin would find its niche in mixed drinks.
As a gin and tonic gin, I can’t list this one among my favorites. The bitters here messed a bit too much with the expected clean notes of a good gin and tonic. While it was perfectly fine, it just didn’t wow me, or elevate the cocktail when mixed with either a quality elderflower tonic, or with a traditional Indian style one. It certainly wasn’t bad, but I found it pushed the drink just a tiny bit off key for my palate. That said I can see it meshing well in a good spanish style gin tonica with fruit and herbs.
But as much as I didn't find it elevating in a gin and tonic, I found it made a good dry martini (made with Bordiga extra dry vermouth and a pimento stuffed queen olive). The taste was pure classic on the forefront, and had just a tinge of spice toward the finish which worked so well that I had to try it twice. It made a good martini, into an even better one. While it’s not elite at all, it’s quite good. Now I can’t say how that will work in more elaborate flavored martinis, but I suspect it will mesh well with just about any that use both gin and bitters.
In deciding just what cocktail to make with this gin, I thought long and hard about it, and even consulted Gin Lane’ s own suggestions before deciding on a Negroni (although to be fair I prefer using Luna Amara to Campari here), and here the Gin Lane 1751, hit the highest notes I found in the tasting. It made an excellent negroni.
This is not a complex gin, but it’s not a bad gin. It’s decent for sipping and it mixes well enough that I’d use it in negroni’s and some martinis. It will make plenty of good cocktails. It’s certainly not a perfect gin, but it is a long reach better than any well gin, and quite good in terms of a pink gin.
If you are looking for complexity and sophistication do look elsewhere. This isn’t a gin that is going to wow you, but straightforward isn’t a bad thing. In fact as I write this I’m enjoying a touch of this over ice.
Rating (Sipping): 84 - an enjoyable sipper, not elite but it won’t disappoint.
Rating (Mixing) 84 - While I did not love it as a gin and tonic I found it made better than average cocktails. I’d certainly keep it around as a good mixing gin.
Overall rating: 84 - I think some would rate it higher, but while this is a solid gin, it’s not elite.
What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.