The Beginning of the Cornish Spirits Renaissance

Cornwall has always been a prominent place for anything foodie in the UK. The reputation of its products is well and truly established, thanks to their quality and provenance, all around the country. It’s not rare to find the finest Cornish seafood in many of London’s Michelin starred restaurants, or our local ales and ciders on tap in pubs all over Great Britain.

However what had been missing for a long time was the presence of spirits from our duchy.

Thankfully for us, when the gin craze took the country by storm a few years ago, it was not long before Cornwall claimed its place as one of the best in the United Kingdom and even the world. From multi-awards winning gins, to rums, vodka and even whisky – Kernow is now a respected place on the spirits map. We get the drinks trend lowdown from our Bar Manager Yohann…

WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT Cornish spirits?

Provenance, premium and distinctiveness are all words that could describe the range of spirits available in the county. All of them are made here, using mostly local, foraged ingredients, and most of them have distinguishing flavours like no others in the country.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THem?

Their quality and uniqueness. For example, the fragrance of Curio’s rock samphire gin, which is distilled using hand-foraged samphire from the cliffs of Mullion. Every sip recreates that unique taste of the Cornish coasts and offers a sensory experience which is impossible to forget.

In another category – Tarquin’s Sea Dog (a 57% navy strength gin made in Padstow) – has just won Double Gold in San Francisco’s world spirits competition. Along with the award for best in class, what is not to like?

But Cornwall doesn’t only make high quality spirits – it also produces some of the most interesting tipples you’ll have the pleasure to taste. The Wrecking Coast gin is a good example of a quirky idea turning into a great drink. What do you head to Cornwall for? A gin? A cream tea? Why not combine the two of them then! This is what the folks at Wrecking Coast did by distilling their gin with clotted cream. When I told you that Cornwall could create some interesting drinks…

Another favourite is Caspyn’s Cornish Summer Cup, a local alternative to the world renowned Pimm’s, but this time made only using local natural products such as fresh raspberry juice from Polgoon and lemon verbena grown down the road from them. And Tarquin’s new release, blackberry and wildflower honey gin, is an innovative concoction perfect for autumn evenings.

WHAT about the other spirits?

Of course gin is not the only spirit Cornwall is able to produce with perfection. Rum, vodka and whisky have also landed on our shores recently, and have all proven themselves to be successful.

New Dawn is a perfect example of what a great rum should taste like and is one of my personal favourites. Not cheap, but eh oh, quality comes at a price.

Other Cornish rums such as Revolver, Walter Hicks, Dead Man’s Fingers and Bombo rum liqueurs are worth tracking down, and a little bird told me that some others were already in the making.

Cornish Moonshine, a five-times distilled and unaged white whisky, also deserves a mention for the daring diversity it brings to Cornwall’s spirit scene.

WHere WOULD BE ON YOUR go-to place to try local spirits in CORNWALL?

The Water’s Edge Bar, obviously, for a vast selection and mouth-watering cocktails. It is the perfect place to introduce you to Cornwall’s much-loved favourites, from Curio to Tarquin’s, but also stocking Caspyn, Dead Man’s Fingers and more. If not, you can always find me as I will always have time to talk about what I love the most – great drinks!

I also recommend paying a visit to the distilleries directly. Some of them, like Curio for example, even have a shop onsite where you’ll be able to take some tipples home with you.

Other shops like The Bottle Bank in Falmouth or Constantine Stores (just outside town) stock mass amounts of local spirits.

Happy sipping!