Testing Cuckoo Solace Gin: We put the world's best gin which is distilled in Lancashire through it's paces - and here's how we got on

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The world's best gin is distilled in Lancashire. Ten miles from my front door.

It would be rude not to try it, frankly.

What's the gin?

Cuckoo Solace Gin, distilled at Holmes Farm in Brindle, has beaten 11 other highly-rated gins from around the UK and the world, to take the title of Craft Gin Club’s ‘Gin of the Year 2021’.

LEP reporter Catherine MusgroveLEP reporter Catherine Musgrove
LEP reporter Catherine Musgrove

>>>Click here to read about the award win.

The juniper-rich gin scored better feedback than any other craft gin sampled by 100,000 members of the Craft Gin Club last year.

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It leaves an even better taste in your mouth when you hear that a percentage of profit from every bottle sold goes to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

Will I like it?

Cuckoo's Solace GinCuckoo's Solace Gin
Cuckoo's Solace Gin

Honestly, there's a bit of pressure knowing this is the worlds best gin, and 100,000 gin lovers say so. What if I don't like it? What if I can't tell the difference betweent this and any other?

For years and years, I vowed I didn't like gin. Not for me, face-pullingly bitter and perfumey spirits with a funny-tasting fizzy water. No thanks, I'll stick to the fruity liqueurs, the cocktails or the wine.

But I am old enough, sadly, to have had my first introduction to gin when there were only a handful of choices in both the gin and tonic.

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Ah, so you fancy a gin? What's it to be? Bombay Sapphire or Gordons?

Well, fast-forward a few years, and you can hardly move for the stuff - and so much of it is small batch, craft, and premium quality.

Every small town seems to have it's own distillery, supermarket shelves are brimming with multicoloured bottles of the stuff, offering all kinds of different sensory experiences. You can even buy G&T flavoured soap.

So, if you'll indulge me, now rewind to the start of the pandemic and remember how everything, pretty much, was closed.

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I am a thirty-something wife and mother of a two-year-old in a pandemic, and I'm sat at home on a Saturday night and well, why not try a G&T? My husband likes them, I'll give it a go. I'm a grown-up now, right, my tastes might have changed.

And they had.

So here I am, a marketeer's dream. Every new product with a shiny bottle, I'm there, like a magpie. And, well, the bottle for Solace gin is pretty lovely, isn't it?

Turquoise and blue, with embossed botanicals on the front and 'Lancashire' on the reverse.

I love the idea of this proud Lancastrian gin sitting on shelves and in cupboards across the country, or even across the world, displaying it's origins so fiercely.

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And the fact that it rolls off the bottle production line in Yorkshire is even better.

The perfect serve

When I spoke to Mark Long, the master distiller, he told me the best way to enjoy this gin was "on a Friday night, grab a big glass and get as much ice as possible, because that means it melts less, and it's nice and cold.

"Then get a good double measure of the gin and mix it with a Mediterranean tonic, and maybe add a sprig of rosemary or some olives, as those botanicals are used in the gin."

It wasn't a Friday night, but near enough, and I had everything else. Infact, after reading the serving suggestions on the Cuckoo website, I even had some rock salt ready to add. It sounded strange to me, but in for a penny, in for a pound and that.

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Firstly, the aroma. The gin wasn't over-poweringly stong, like some of them can be. There was a definite citrus note, a freshness, and a hints of rosemary - from the sprig right under my nose, but the gin has been distilled with a combination of rosemary and lemon thyme from Holmes Farm, as well as with Nocellara and Cuquillo olives and lemon.

The taste. Well, the first hit was a saltiness. It wasn't overpowering, and it quickly gave way to a sweetness and more citrus notes, followed by a big hit of the more bitter grapefruit, before again, a more savory, perhaps Olive-tasting finish.

The gin was smooth. Really smooth, and easy to drink. It swished in a very velvetty manner in the mouth, before I went in for seconds.

I did wonder what a 'mellow' gin meant, but I get it now. This is so easy to drink. It's different in that there is a savoury aspect going on, but it's not too wild to make you worry. It's moreish and smooth, and I can quite easily imagine myself on holiday in the sun having a few of these. I think you could find some solace in that situation.

What's the name all about?

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The word solace means 'comfort in a time of great distress'.

Master distiller Mark wanted to use the name following his wife Liz's battle with cervical cancer.

He said: "We got solace from people during Liz's illness, and we wanted to give something back."

Now a percentage of proceeds from every bottle of Solace go to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. To show their support, Craft Gin Club made a donation of £10k, taking the total amount raised for the charity so far to almost £50k.

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For more information on Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, click here.

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