- Jonathan Winters
Hepple Gin Review
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
A unique gin that celebrates juniper and the essence of London Dry
Review Hepple Gin Review
Made in: Morpeth, Northumberland, England, by Moorland Spirit Co.
Method: Pot distilled, high pressure vacuum distilled, supercritical extraction
45% alcohol/90 proof
Botanicals: Green Juniper (unripened), juniper, Douglas fir, blackcurrant leaves, blackcurrants, lovage, Amalfi lemon, coriander seed, fennel seeds, orris root, licorice, angelica.
Style: Classic gin.
Hepple was a recommendation from a trusted source who told me that this was something special. Honestly he was right. This is a very interesting gin, and a classic profile one, which doesn’t try to hide it’s juniper origin behind other flavors but works hard to accentuate the juniper, in a great multiple layered gin.
In this their distilling is unique. They use three processes, not just one, or even two to extract the flavors of the botanicals. While there are other distillers who use high pressure vacuum distillation like Snowdrop, to my knowledge no one else uses supercritical extraction - a method used to extract a single substance from a mass of others, and derived from the perfume making industry. They do that to increase the depth of flavor, so that they can blend their gin.
This method of making gin takes a lot more time. Five times the time according to their own website (note: it did NOT take 5 times as long to drink it). Many of their ingredients are harvested from their own estates.
Like almost every gin it’s just a bit too hot if you try it neat. But add a touch of ice and a minute or three to let it mellow and it becomes very lush, and the heat goes down, though it still strikes me as a more acrid gin 2-3 minutes in.
A deep inhalation reveals strong juniper and bright floral notes with spice, and just a hint of eucalyptus.
But in the mouth this is a celebration of juniper. It’s deep in resinous tastes, juniper, pine, and bitterness from the blackcurrant too with a well balanced amount of citrus, herbaceous and spiciness, with strong black pepper and subtle anise notes complimenting a faint whiff of celery and honeydew. The flavors are wildly intense, and as strong as what I’d expect in a navy strength gin but with a freshness that mellows it in a very agreeable way.
The mouthfeel is thin and dry with just a touch of heat lingering on the palate for a few seconds.
I liked the gin a lot on the rocks, although I think for most people it would taste perhaps a bit too strong, and maybe a bit too hot.
I was tempted to make Vesper Martini with this one - especially due to the intense flavor profile, but instead I started with a classic martini - just to see how well Hepple would hold up. It came across as very classic, intense, and bright with juniper with nice undertones of blackcurrant. I preferred it with a twist to an olive in this case, as just a tiny boost of citrus, really made this one shine. This is a martini any bartender would be proud to serve.
Now ordinarily I debate, in my own mind, just which tonic I should use for my G & T. Which really would go best. But with this gin, I felt it could stand up to just about any one I could throw at it - so I chose what I had the most of - a traditional indian style tonic. Perhaps that wasn’t the ideal choice, but Hepple stood the test well and made a very classic gin and tonic with good flavor that balanced the tonic very well.
When I tuned down the Campari I found I liked this a lot in a Negroni, and it was enjoyable in a Vesper Martini, but this is going to be best in cocktails where you want that strong twang of juniper and some added bitterness. I’d definitely use this one in a Fizz or a Collins. But I noticed that the more complex the cocktail got, the less you could note anything but the juniper. I enjoyed it quite a bit in a Last Word, and suspect it will shine anywhere where a traditional London dry would.
This gin is akin in some ways to some of the best Juniper forward gin - such as St. George Terroir and Georgian Bay but for all it’s strength it has subtleties and refinements that I don’t quite find in the others. For those who definitely want a serious juniper experience, or love classic tasting gin, it’s a must try.
Overall rating: 95 Highly recommended. This is a gin I’d be proud to serve, it makes a great martini and a damn good gin and tonic. It also stands well in more complex cocktails, but in those a lot of the refinements of this gin are muted. This is the kind of gin that leaves the old classics behind and raises the bar. For fans of London Dry, this is what you’ve been waiting for.
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.