Tipple Gin Review

by | 15 Sep 2021

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Free bottle of Tipple Gin was provided with an agreement to share and review. All opinions are that of the author.

Tipple Gin.

Tipple Gin was launched in July 2021 by Aberdeen couple Laura Punzano and Neil Thomson. A contemporary gin, made using a London Dry process, the inspiration for their gin was a love of Scottish berries. The gin’s key botanicals include damson, honey and rosemary.

Find out more about how Tipple Gin was brought to life, how it’s made and most importantly, what it tastes like!

Key facts.

Gin type

London Dry

Made at

Lost Loch Spirits,
Scotland

Key Botanicals

Damson, Honey, Rosemary

ABV

42%

Story.

With over 500 Scottish gin expressions from 150+ brands, it’s fair to say the category is tougher to break through than ever. However, a saturated market coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a trend of fewer new brands, while established brands seek to consolidate their position by expanding their range. Indeed, the number of new Scottish brands launched in 2020 was just 16, half that of the previous year.

While 16 is a healthy number given the competition of the market in Scotland, let alone further afield, it seems like this is likely to be a trend that continues on a downward trajectory.

Launched in July 2021 by Laura Punzano and Neil Thomson, Tipple Gin is one brand whose release was delayed by the pandemic. The first batch of Tipple Gin was actually distilled over a year prior to launch, with the Aberdeen-based couple holding off until things were a little more certain.

Getting to this point was something of an adventure Laura told me. The idea came about from a discussion between the pair in 2018 where they felt there was a gap in the market between dry gins and sweeter styles.

Their recipe was inspired by Laura and Neil’s love of Scottish berries. Laura is a foodie and part-time food blogger and having cooked with damsons in the past wanted to use this as a key botanical in their gin.

So they bought their own mini copper still to experiment with recipes and seemingly tried it all – infusing vodka, distilling with fruits, adding fruit post-distillation or adding extracts. There were mini explosions and leaks in their pursuit of the perfect gin, and the stories just bring up the most endearing imagery in my mind! Two gin fans and self-confessed novices just trying to make a spirit that they loved.

Laura and Neil then turned to nearby distillery Lost Loch Spirits to produce their final recipe. As well as making their own spirits, including eeNoo Gin, Lost Loch also work with a range of clients to bring their ideas to market. Tipple Gin is the latest among some 20+ different brands that distillery has worked with.

Tipple Gin bottle and a gin and tonic, sitting on outside table in the sun.

Known botanicals

  • Juniper
  • Damsons
  • Deeside honey
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Lemongrass

How to serve Tipple Gin

Tipple Gin is best served neat over ice, or as a gin and tonic:

  1. Add plenty of ice to a glass
  2. Pour 50ml of Tipple Gin
  3. Top up with quality tonic. I recommend going with a light tonic and a ratio of one part gin to one part tonice
  4. Garnish a sprig or rosemary

Process.

How Tipple Gin is made

Tipple Gin is distilled at Lost Loch Spirits in Aberdeenshire. Using a London Dry process, all the botanicals are added to the grain spirit for the distillation, with no maceration beforehand. Having experimented with both maceration and vapour infusion, they felt this produced the best flavour.

A 500-litre iStill is used and produces just over 350 bottles per batch. Using a single-shot method, the gin is rested for 4 to 6 weeks before being cut back to 42% ABV with Deeside water for bottling.

Tasting notes.

Nose

Nosing the glass, Tipple is exactly what I expected it to be, with a delicate waft of juicy berries. It’s sweet and fruity in scent with juniper humming gently in the background.

Neat

To sip neat, it’s the fruity berries front and centre, giving way to a lovely sweetness from that local honey. Subtle herbaceous notes from the rosemary bring balance to the mid-palate before a warming tingle of spice on the finish. As that dies away there’s an enduring echo of honey that coats the tongue.

Juniper, of course, has its part to play, but the stars of the show here are the damsons and honey. There’s not too much in the way of citrus in Tipple Gin, and with the sweetness from the honey, it’s not your traditional London Dry in flavour profile. 

With tonic

Being quite light and delicate with its flavours, Tipple Gin is lovely on the rocks. However, with tonic, don’t overdo it as it’s definitely one where less is more. The honey comes a bit more to the fore, as does the rosemary, making for a refreshing G&T.

Tipple Gin recommends a sprig of rosemary to garnish, but if you want to bring out more citrus notes, try adding some lemon or orange peel.

Overall, it’s a solid gin, and with its fruity and sweet style it’s likely to appeal to a wide range of consumers.

Tipple Gin and tonic garnished with orange twist.

Being quite light and delicate with its flavours, Tipple Gin is lovely on the rocks.

Tipple Gin bottle and a gin and tonic, sitting on outside table in the sun.

Brand.

As discussed earlier, competition in the category has never been more fierce. So just how does a new brand break into the market?

There are few who know more than master distiller and consultant Jamie Baxter about what this entails. Speaking to Spirits Beacon, Jamie explained that there were three main strengths any new gin needs to have to “make it” – the gin itself, the back story and the brand/packaging. If any of these are not up to scratch, he added, then the “chance of success is greatly reduced.”

If you need any further convincing on what packaging can do for a brand, take a look at Google Trends for “Mermaid Gin”. Note the growth in brand searches from March 2019 after they launched a stunning new bottle.

The other thing I’d add to what Jamie mentioned is price. It’s always an important part of the mix when it comes to the success of a product, but with the current trend of big brands being able to reduce their price point, it makes it even harder for the newer brands whose volumes are smaller and thus, need to have a higher margin on the sale. As an aside, it’s important to point out that an extremely high percentage of a gin purchase is tax.

Retailing at £42, Tipple Gin is at the higher end of the price scale and it’s a lot for most to part with on a punt. The bottle is nice and a bit different from what you see from many new entries. But I’m not sure that’s enough to tip the scales into making it that desired purchase where people buy with their eyes first.

Where I think many brands are missing a trick is through their digital presence – particularly social media. There’s an engaged community of gin lovers, particularly on Twitter, and not many brands actively get involved in the conversation. Yes, many will post messages to their followers, but it’s called “social media” for a reason!

Mackintosh Gin is one of the brands that spring to mind when it comes to social engagement. Yes, they post a solid number of promotional messages, but in between, they’re actively involved in the community, more as gin lovers than a brand. It’s that personality and passion which shines through. In my opinion, this has not only created a small army of customers, but actual advocates for the brand.

As a gin consumer first and foremost, digital is where I think many brands – and I include Tipple in this – should put more emphasis. The gin community is very much invested in the people behind the gin and the intangible, emotional aspects of a purchase.

In order for a brand to succeed, the gin, back story, and brand and packaging need to be high quality.

Review verdict.

Tipple Gin is a welcome addition to the Scottish gin category and one, if they can get in front of consumers, which should be well-received by many.

For fans of a more traditional and punchy juniper-forward style, this might not be what you’re looking for. But with its light and fruity profile, it’s perhaps a good entry point for newcomers to the category, or those who usually drink flavoured gins but want to start moving towards a less sweet style.

At £42 it’s on the higher end of the scale price-wise. The bottle is nice, but in today’s market, it’s not an absolute showstopper. That’s by no means a criticism as the investment to get bespoke glass is a serious one for any craft newcomer. However, you get the feeling that there’s plenty of personality that they can use to their advantage to promote the brand.

Tipple Gin can be purchased from their website or via The Gin Cooperative.

With its light and fruity profile, it’s one for newcomers to the category, or perhaps those who usually drink flavoured gins…