Review: Castle & Key London Dry Gin (Autumn 2020 Recipe)
Christopher Null January 23, 2021
Alas, here’s another seasonal product that slipped through the cracks, but we’re finally getting to it. The good news is this limited edition gin from Castle & Key should still be available for purchase should our tasting notes move you to make a buy.
Here’s the backstory: In 2019, Castle & Key launched the first in a series of limited release gins. These gins were intended to be designed around the season, featuring botanicals and flavors specific to the time of year. The bottling we’re reviewing here is the third release in the series and is from the Autumn 2020 recipe, and it includes the following botanicals: Juniper, orris root, licorice root, grains of paradise, spicebush, caraway seed, nutmeg, bitter orange peel, rooibos tea, black cardamom, red cardamom, and cedar leaf. The distillate is made from a mashbill of 17% yellow corn, 63% rye, and 20% malted barley.
Let’s give it a try.
The nose here is thick and savory — fans of citrus-forward gins will find this a bit off-putting — with a big kick of licorice and earthy orris root. I catch the tea leaf notes distinctly, along with a bit of a campfire smoke element. The palate takes us down the rabbit hole of savory smokiness: Smoked sausages, dry underbrush, green pepper, black tea, apple cider vinegar. This is — wow — an intense gin, and frankly it’s a bit much at times, taking its ball on the finish and running headlong into the woods, where notes of roasted mushrooms, savory, and bitter citrus leaf dominate.
Gins like this are rarities in the market — and Castle & Key’s Autumn 2020 offering will clearly be a love-it or hate-it proposition. As for me, I find it quite a bit too savory for easy mixing.
B / $36 / castleandkey.com