Battle Of The Botanicals - The First Cornish Gins

Gin at the time of this blog being posted* was a drink that you would associate with Cornwall; cider, mead and ale are the alcoholic beverages that this fair county is historically known for but that is rapidly changing. The past few months (back in 2013) have seen the birth of not one, but two Cornish Gin micro distilleries and they are a stone’s throw away from one another to boot (but then everything is in Cornwall isn't it!?). Let's have a look at the tale of the tape before we compare the rival products, shall we?

In the red corner we have the Southwestern distillery who launched their product at the tail end of July, aptly named Tarquin's Dry Gin after the head distiller. This unique gin has proved quite the overnight success story with high sales reported from the off. Each small batch of spirit is distilled in a traditional copper pot which is fired by flame. Only the heart of the batch is taken for bottling which is checked rigorously on the nose and by taste. The spirit is then diluted with authentic Cornish spring water taken from a source in Boscastle and left to stand for a few days. Tarquin then personally wax seals each bottle (300 are produced per batch) and hand writes his tasting notes on the label. This is a real labour of love, but it is his vision to produce great tasting spirits with care and integrity. By all accounts it seems that he is succeeding in bringing this uncompromising vision to fruition!

In the blue corner we have the new contender who has come out swinging! Elemental Cornish Gin** is a family run company that is also distilling gin in the traditional way using a copper pot and naked flame. Again, only the heart of the distillate is used and is mixed with Cornish spring water to produce a bottled strength of 42%. The company have stated that their vision is to produce a quality artisan product that is unique and classy. Similarly, to Tarquin's, each bottle is wax sealed by hand - I think that must be a perquisite of making alcoholic beverages in small batches! However, Elemental Cornish Gin is produced in batches of only 80 bottles so it appears to be even more hand crafted - whether this will be sustainable economically remains to be seen!

So you would like to know which of the gins is the best then? That is a difficult question as they are both very different from one another despite the similarity of their creation. Tarquin's gin is very fruity with floral notes that are crisp yet delicate on both the nose and the palette. The Elemental Gin is considerably spicier and more robust with deeper flavours that are immediately obvious. So, which one is the 'best' all comes down to a matter of personal taste – Here at Drink Finder we recommend them both as they drink so differently and are both quality products. Obviously, Cornish Gin is a relatively niche market but hopefully both companies can make a success of their different gins.  We wish them both luck and may the best distiller win!

You can decide for yourself which gin should be the Cornish king!

Buy Tarquin's Dry Gin here.

Buy Elemental Cornish Gin here.

* This blog post was originally posted in 2013 and has been updated since.

** Elemental Gin was purchased by a young family – Nicki & Joe Woolley in 2020.