Island Queen: no, it’s not what Philip calls Lizzy when the royal family goes on a Caribbean holiday. It is, however, the name of the latest spirit from Salcombe Gin, created in collaboration with chef Monica Galetti.
Galetti is known for her work as a judge on MasterChef: The Professionals and as the chef-patron at Mere, the Fitzrovia restaurant she runs with her husband, sommelier David Galetti.
The new gin is the fourth in Salcombe’s limited-edition Voyager Series, which sees the brand partnering with chefs and winemakers to craft small-batch spirits. Past collaborators include Michael Caines MBE, Mark Hix MBE and Niepoort.
Speaking at the launch event for Island Queen, held at Mere, Samoa-born Galetti discussed her idea behind the gin: ‘Coming from the Pacific Islands, I wanted to create a spirit that captured that setting.’
To that end, Galetti and Angus Lugsdin, co-founder of Salcombe, honed in on fruity flavours – particularly pineapple – to add character. It’s a fitting ingredient, considering ‘Island Queen’ was the name of a Salcombe schooner famous for its transport of the fruit in the 19th century.
‘The pineapples were the most difficult element of the gin to get right,’ Lugsdin said at the launch. ‘For each batch of 800 bottles, we had to use 50 pineapples.’
He explained that one-third of the pineapples are slow-roasted and smoked over Manuka wood and steeped in the base spirit. This spirit is then re-distilled with botanicals including fresh pineapple, mango, coconut, lime peel, orris, anise, pink peppercorns and the essential juniper to bring Galetti’s vision of a Pacific Island-inspired gin to life.
And Imbibe found that it succeeds. On the nose, a sunshine-bright burst of tropical pineapple, warming spice and a touch of smokiness sit against a distinct backbone of juniper.
The palate also delivers big pineapple flavour – both fresh and candied – as well as sugared citrus peel, a heavy-hitting spiciness and a velvety, full texture. With tonic, the candied notes fall back a bit, and the spices come to the fore. We’re keen to see what it does in a Gimlet.
46% abv, £60/50cl, Salcombe Gin