O Brave New World!
There’s no doubt about it. The world is changing rapidly in hugely momentous ways. But there are also interesting if less significant changes that catch me by surprise when I happen to chance upon them.
Such was the case recently when I was invited to a launch event by Silent Pool Gin – and I found I was in for two surprises.
The first surprise: I’m not a gin drinker but nevertheless I’m able to name a few brands like Beefeater, Gordons and what I thought to be a very modern one, Bombay Sapphire in its distinctive blue bottle. Being vaguely aware of a gin revival I turned to Google and was astounded to find that the UK produces more than 500 brands and that there are more than 6,000 brands produced worldwide.
The second surprise: I was very intrigued by the venue Silent Pool had chosen to hold its event – a modern-day barbershop in London’s Soho.
Another quick Google told me that Murdock came about with the rise of the hipster movement in London’s East End. A quote from their website explains: ‘
The first of Murdock’s traditional barbers opened in 2006 in the vibrant bohemian village of Shoreditch. Frustrated with the bland high street barbers and unisex salons on offer, we wanted to create a memorable grooming experience that is inspired by British tradition, whilst being perfectly suited to the modern man.’
When I arrived at the event, the link between the gin and the barber’s shop gradually became apparent: gin, traditionally flavoured with the juniper berry, is now infused with a huge variety of ‘botanicals’ thus creating a myriad of tastes for the traditional gin and tonic. Silent Pool were promoting their Black Tea Infusion product, for which the starting point was Murdock’s Black Tea fragrance for the modern man.
I spoke to Stu Bale, whose job title is Head of Innovation at Silent Pool and the creator of the aromas featured in their ‘intricately realized’ gin. He obviously loves his work and clearly has a nose and palate for it. As his elaborate tasting notes for the Murdock Cocktail tell us: ‘
I started with the base notes which for me were obviously black tea, nutmeg and pepper. I tried various different kinds of pepper but the one that stood out the most ended up being a Tasmanian pepper which gave a great warmth without overpowering spiciness. I used the Rare Tea black tea for as far as I’m concerned it’s the best in the world. Then along with the nutmeg……..working up to the mid-notes I added in tiny amounts of sandalwood and cedarwood to add that woody, mysterious oriental vibe. Finally for the top citrus notes I used neroli and petitgrain which are both different expressions of the orange tree but still in a warm way’.
I asked Stu where he had trained to gain such expertise in the smells and tastes business – his answer was that it came naturally, as it clearly does, adding that he had originally trained as a dentist but soon decided it wasn’t the correct career path for him.
So there I had it. An explanation of why a launch of a gin product was taking place in a barber’s shop! We were of course invited to sample the Murdock Cocktail, though we were informed that it was not so much a cocktail, more an interesting version of a gin and tonic. To make your own, take 50ml of Silent Pool Gin Black Tea Infusion and 100ml of tonic water (the recommended one is 1724, a whole article could be written about the current explosion of superior tonic waters on the market). Add ice to a rocks glass, pour in the gin, add the tonic water and a twist of orange to garnish. Cheers!
Silent Pool Gin can be found at Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, Amazon and Magestic Wines
Jeannette Nelson, food critic