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Three of the Best Sussex Craft Gins

The trials and tribulations of lockdown

One of the interesting side-effects of lockdown is how local businesses have innovated and adapted, and how the appetite to support local has seen a massive revival. After all, what is there to do, when you can’t go anywhere or do anything other than order online. So, a commitment was made here at Sussex Exclusive, to start trying as much local produce as we could conceivably manage in order to help support local and spread the word. A dirty job we know, but someone had to do it.  And what better way to start than by sampling three, very different, locally produced Sussex craft gins.

HYKE Gin (orange)

Sussex Gin
Credit for image to Foxhole Spirits

Produced by Foxhole Spirit in Bolney, West Sussex, the HYKE Orange gin is one of their signature series. Foxhole launched in 2016 and they have already won a number of awards. They produce a variety of other gins as well as rum.

James Oag-Cooper, co-founder and MD of Foxhole Spirits told us more,

“Our mission: Reclaim, repurpose, reimagine. We want to prove that using sustainably sourced, surplus materials can create spirits better than those that use grown for, single purpose materials. For HYKE Signature Series Orange, we source oranges that would otherwise go unused.  We add fruit and botanicals to the award-winning HYKE Gin, which is distilled with a sustainably sourced grape spirit and support this with an additional botanical maceration for complexity and balance. It’s zesty, fruity and delicious! 

Orange is also a great flavour as it’s so versatile and allowed us to do it in our own distinct way.  There are lots of orange gins out there but each one is different due to orange being such a versatile fruit which pairs with lots of other ingredients.   For a simple serve we love HYKE Orange with premium tonic and a slice of orange (what else!) looking for something a little more complex then try it in a Negroni or as a swap for HYKE Gin in our HYKE Martini which is a grown-up chocolatey indulgence made with Amontillado Sherry and Crème de Cacao blanc. 

The vision for our new Signature Series is to make more use of surplus fruit and to make more flavoured variants with a focus on balance and botanicals. We’ve got some exciting launches coming later this year!”.

Our online order arrived in less than two days and we LOVED it. We tried it (leaving no stone unturned) alongside a Tarquin’s blood orange gin and Gordon’s Sicilian lemon. Not as sweet as the Tarquin’s and more subtle than the Gordon’s, it slipped down very nicely with Fever-Tree and a roaring fire. Zesty but not too sweet, this was lovely on a cold winter’s night but would be equally drinkable on a hot summer’s day!

Jarrold’s Sloe Gin

The design of the bottle of this Sussex sloe gin is enough to win prizes alone, with a sublimely Art Deco feel. Made at the Nodding Donkey Distillery in Chichester, West Sussex (which also launched in 2016), the Jarrold’s Sloe Gin is indeed already award-winning. They use a traditional 250 lt copper pot at the distillery. Our online order arrived promptly, beautifully packaged and with a handwritten serving suggestion of mixing it with bitter lemon to serve as a long drink. It was lockdown and we were all out of bitter lemon so we tried it first, on the rocks and then with an elderflower Fever-Tree tonic … very drinkable indeed!

Sussex Gin

This sloe gin packs quite a punch! It’s not as sweet as many sloe gins, and has an almost citrusy feel, followed by what tasted like the almond … that’s the punchy bit. Jarrold’s mission was to create a “year-round” sloe gin, so we’ll re-invest in some bitter lemon and give it another try in the summer but as a warming winter’s drink in front of the fire, you can’t go far wrong with this one!

Horsham Spirit

Last but not least on our list of Sussex gins, we ordered the Horsham Spirit produced by Cabin Pressure Spirits, a husband and wife team based in Horsham that launched in 2017. They make small-batch gins, with each gin botanical ground by hand and their artwork is done in-house. We’re lucky to be based near Horsham, but even so, I was more than a little impressed to get our gin hand-delivered with a follow-up message to ensure we’d received it OK. This is what makes supporting local producers so special. You’ll also find the Cabin Pressure team at Horsham market.

Sussex Gin

David from Cabin Pressure told me more about the brand behind the gin,

“We’re not looking to take over the gin world with Cabin Pressure, merely create a range of interesting products with strong links back to our local community. Collaboration is the key, be it between myself and my wife Emily, who designs all the artwork, or by working with other local businesses such as Leonardslee Gardens, Crates Local Produce, Loxwood Meadow and Horsham Coffee Roaster to develop our range. Going forward, we’re looking forward to kindling more exciting partnerships and spreading “The Horsham Spirit” far and wide.”

Horsham Spirit is beautifully labelled and has a wonderful aroma, and a smooth, elegant and lightly floral flavour. It went superbly well with Fever-Tree in the early spring sunshine and I think this is a gin I’ll come back to again and again.

We know there are many more Sussex gins to try as the craft gin industry continues to go from strength to strength, and we’re committed to sipping our way through as many as we can – all in the name of research, of course!

For more Sussex craft gin try:

There’s something special about Sussex gin 

Sussex Gin Fest and Three Gins To Watch

The Spirit of Brighton: a Sussex Craft Gin



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