Everything’s coming up Violets

Peter Morrell reviews the innovative J.J. Whitley Violet Gin created by a distillery with a long and distinguished heritage

The popularity of gin continues unabated. And as demand increases distillers are coming up with even more innovative products. One of these distillers J. J. Whitley, named after the Whitley family, who began distilling in rural Cheshire in 1762. The latest generation of the family Johnny Neill, is responsible for the premium and established Whitley Neill Gin and has introduced Violet Gin.

J.J. Whitley Violet Gin has been created with a blend of eight botanicals including juniper, angelica root, coriander and liquorice, all complemented by a natural burst of flavour from the quintessentially English country garden flower – the violet.

The new gin looks fantastic in the bottle and the glass and is perfect for drinking on its own and as a base cocktails.

I put the new gin through my standard tests. My knowledge of gin was learnt at the knee of Pol the cigar chomping owner of ‘t Dreupelkot, the jenever (gin) bar in Ghent, Flanders. He always serves gin neat in a shot glass, so I do the same. The J.J. Whitley Violet Gin showed bright aromas of juniper and coriander in the bouquet and this was joined on the palate with the most delightful floral taste of violets which took a slight edge off the dryness.

A very pleasing start, now for a Gin and Tonic. Two ice cubes in a large stemmed balloon glass, 50ml of J.J. Whitley Violet Gin, Fever-Tree tonic to taste and a wedge of lime. Delicious, with the juniper and coriander being enhanced by the flavour of the tonic and the added dimension of the violet aroma, the colour added to the fun, this is ideal for the warm weather.

My next cocktail was a Negroni, one part each of J.J. Whitley Violet Gin, Campari and Noilly Prat poured over ice in an old-fashioned glass, then stirred and garnished with a twist of orange peel. A real winner with the slightly sweet gin taking the edge off the bitterness of the Campari.

The final tasting just had to be the most famous of all gin based cocktails, the Martini. A shaker full of ice, one part Noilly Prat, two parts J.J. Whitley Violet Gin, then ‘shaken not stirred’ and poured into a chilled martini glass and garnished with an olive. This was highly aromatic with the violet flavour of the gin working well with the herbs in the vermouth.

My final verdict, an innovative gin both to drink neat and as a base for cocktails

J.J. Whitley Violet Gin is available in bars across the UK and for around £20 (70cl) from online retailers such as www.amazon.com, www.drinksupermarket.com and www.mastersofmalt.com