There comes a time, as editors, when we must compel ourselves to ‘take one for the team’. With this moral responsibility in mind, Gryphon editors Charlie Green and Will Hoole were invited down to the Botanist, Leeds, where they were obliged to sample the second best gin in the world. Here’s what happened…
Gin Gin Gin. If you don’t love it, you’re doing it wrong. Or, at least, you aren’t drinking the same kind as us. But I’m getting ahead of myself… Something hung in the air as we walked the evening high-street, something would happen tonight that would change us forever, for good. Morrisey’s Leeds’ side-streets usher us into the Botanist; Leeds’ charmingly edgy eatery tucked behind Trinity.
Warmth, the plaintive strumming of a guitar, the whole heady scene bamboozles us inside. And there it is: Caorunn.
The gin sits seductively alone as we sidled over. But before we can make the move, the others join us, the masterclass begins. First there’s a short history of Caorunn (pronounced ka-roon). The artisanal Scottish Gin proposes to mix “the rugged charm of Speyside” with “the urban sophistication of modern Scotland”. We began to feel out of our professional depth (Charlie’s a Red Stripe man). Nevertheless, our guide presses on, carefully elucidating the drink’s infusion of five foraged ‘botanicals’: Rowan Berry, Heather, Bog Myrtle, Dandelion, and Coul Blush Apple.
Now, I’d love to say the first taste to hit my expert taste buds was the unmistakeable resinous pang of ‘Bog Myrtle’, but, alas, it was not. The first thing we tasted was gin, and bloody good gin at that.
History lesson over, we were herded over to the bar like excitedly tipsy sheep.
Our shepherd showed us many life-changing things that evening, but most importantly he showed us how to make a cocktail. Half-pissed on straight Caorunn, we didn’t think the night could get any better, until we learned just what we were in for.
The cocktail is a speciality of Caorunn, crafted especially by the Botanist. Firstly, we watched, doe-eyed, as our mentor mixed an example. His expertise made it look easy – it’s only a cocktail after all, how hard could it be?
Well, we were about to find out. Stepping up to the bar, Charlie and I posed like practiced bartenders. Unfortunately, the gin-infused confidence was not to last. As Charlie maniacally decimated an apple beside me, he proceeded to slice his thumb open – bloody drops dripping into his gory concoction.
To his credit, Mr Red Stripe persevered, dumping the blood-sodden apple chunks into the mixer. Despite this minor hiccup, we both completed our cocktails. The cocktails were ready, and, although Charlie’s appeared a little redder than mine, they both tasted bloody orgasmic. After all, how could they not – there’s Bog Myrtle in that Caorunn, you know.
Once again, the Botanist proved the most endearingly homely neck of the Leeds woods. We were left comfortably free to embark on our alcoholic adventures, and, though we may have lost some thumb-blood along the way, we returned vastly improved. Caorunn proved the passion of so many gin-lovers, and though there are some that would cling to their Red Stripe (not naming names), we couldn’t help but leave gin-lovers ourselves.