Getting the measure of... Colombo No.7

There is something reassuring about a traditonal, old-fashioned label. It speaks of antiquity and refinement, a mark of long-standing survival in a saturated market, which in turn speaks of quality and excellence. Most of all, it can give credibility to a collection that consists of brightly coloured bottles, supermarket logos and hundreds of cheap, half-empty miniatures.

Of course, the label isn't just there to make your booze look good. In the case of Colombo No. 7 gin, its colonial stamp appearance speaks of genuine authenticity, honouring a near 100-year history that has seen more war and trade route disputes than the opening crawl of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Plus there's a Gajasingha at the heart of the label, which is a mythical beast with the head of an elephant and the body of a lion, which is exactly the kind of awesome beast you would back in a royal rumble of messed up zoo animals. According to Colombo No.7's website, the elephant head denotes wisdom, while the lion's body suggests courage and strength, but obviously the whole creation is suggestive of clear roots in Indian culture.

And as segues go, that wasn't too bad...

The story

Colombo No. 7 gin is produced at Rockland Distillery, which is the first commercial distillery to be based in Sri Lanka. Originally established in 1924 to produce Arrack, Rockland owner Carl de Silva Wijeyeratne, a name that I definitely didn't just copy and paste from Google, was asked by the British Government to help during the Second World War and produce gin to offset the blocked trade routes preventing Brits from getting their urgent and vitally important access to the spirit.

Nowadays, Rockland is run by Carl's grandson Amal, who dug out the original 70-year-old recipe to produce Colombo No 7, which is - and let's be honest, this is the point of all of this - one of the finest gins I have ever tasted.

The taste

Four botanicals native to Sri Lanka - cinnamon bark, curry leaves, ginger root and coriander seeds - add a unique, flavoursome spice to more commonplace juniper, liquorice and Angelica.

It all sounds rather exotic, but the most reassuring thing that my philistine palate and inexperienced tastebuds can say is that this is a delicious, smooth gin with just a hint of nut and spice. Overall flavour? Class and distinction.

The drink

The suggested serve is just with tonic and a curry leaf garnish, to bring out that particular elusive flavour, but obviously that is nowhere near as exciting as throwing lots of things in a tin glass and shaking rapidly. So here's my own creation in honour of this marvellous spirit.

Inspired by the curry suggestion, I came up with this Mango And Cardamom Martini

2 Cardamom Pods
2 shot Colombo No. 7 Gin
1 ripe Mango, peeled and chopped
1 shot Homemade Ginger Syrup
1/2 shot Lime Juice

Bash the cardamom pods in the bottom of the shaker and then muddle with the mango. Then add the other ingredients and shake with ice. Fine strain into a martini glass and garnish with a mango slice.
In case it wasn't clear, you should go to one of these stockists and buy three bottles immediately. This isn't even an ad - you should just do that because, as the most experienced and eloquent spirits experts would agree, Colombo No. 7 Gin looks and tastes good.

Tags: Gin, Colombo No. 7 Gin, Review, Rockland Distilleries

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