England, Notting Hill, Martin Miller’s Gin

Sep 1, 2012
2012 / September 2012

There they were, three friends in a bar in London’s Notting Hill, sipping gin and tonic and hating the gin, when one of them, Martin Miller, pushed his drink aside. “Enough,” he said. “Gin shouldn’t taste like this. Gin is romance. Gin is adventure. Gin is the most seductive of drinks. It should invite you to love it.”

The friends said nothing.

“I’m going to make my own gin,” Miller went on. “I’ll find the best distiller in England. We’ll use only the most traditional methods. I want my gin to be as smooth and refined as the Bentley I used to own. I want to create a modern classic with a twist of tradition.”

The friends said nothing.

“Of course,” he added, “the secret to great gin may be the water. Other gins use demineralized water. You know what Icelanders call that? Dead water.”

The friends looked up.

“They believe demineralizing takes away the water’s life force. My gin will be made only with Icelandic water, the softest, purest water on Earth.”

“You’re mad,” his friends said. “Let’s do it.”

And they did. They distilled their gin twice in a copper pot in England, using the most traditional methods. They blended in botanicals, including juniper, coriander, angelica, Florentine iris, orange and lime peel, licorice root, cassia and cinnamon bark, which had been separately distilled. And then — call it gimmick or brilliant innovation — they sent their gin 1,500 miles to Iceland to add pure water and returned it to England. The first bottle debuted in 1999.

Today, Martin Miller’s Gin comes in two strengths: one at 40 percent alcohol (about $30) and Westbourne Strength at 45.2 percent (about $40). Both are smooth with the scent of citrus and juniper up front and with a softness and purity that could very well be attributed to that Icelandic water. Mix Martin Miller’s in a Tom Collins or a gimlet. Use Westbourne Strength in mixed drinks with more forward or complex flavors such as a Negroni or an Alexander, or substitute it for vodka in a Bloody Mary. Be sure to make Martin Miller’s part of your next gin and tonic — in a way, the drink that started it all.

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