There is a vast array of different gins on the market, generally they fall into a few different categories depending on the botanicals used, distillation method or where in the world it is produced. One such category that is rarely seen in quality gin nowadays is cold compound gin.
Cold compounding simply means infusing the base spirit with botanicals rather than adding the botanicals through distillation. Here the botanicals are allowed to rest in a neutral spirit at ambient temperature, before filtering, dilution and bottling. The technique was long seen as a poorer method of producing gin and rarely used anymore. In fact, it is easier and faster to produce a consistent product through traditional distillation. However, with skill and attention to detail, it is possible to create a high-quality gin using this method and that’s just what Ampleforth’s have done with their Bathtub Gin.
The name dates back to bootleggers of the prohibition era in the United States, when cold compound gin made a brief clandestine resurgence. The bootleggers used flavourings to mask the taste of the cheap alcohol and the name bathtub gin denoted one of these poorly made, harsh spirits. The exact etymology is unclear, perhaps referring to bathtubs used as tanks to infuse the alcohol with botanicals or that the bottles were diluted with tap water from the bathtub, as the bottles were too tall to fit under the sink tap.
Ampleforth’s Bathtub gin plays on this name to brush off the stigma and create a unique gin using the cold compound technique. However, the quality of botanicals and care given in the creation of the gin are what sets this apart. They begin with a high-quality copper pot distilled spirit, infusing it with botanicals including juniper, orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. The time given to the cold compounding is entirely governed by periodic sampling to determine when the spirit has achieved the qualities required. Due to this method of production it pours a natural colour, lightly tinted by the botanicals. The compounding method also adds a fuller creamy mouthfeel, and displays earthy pine with spicy cardamom, juniper and clove backed up with fresh delicate citrus tones.