John McCarthy is head distiller at Adnams in Suffolk, England. This brewer-turned-distiller, an early face on the British craft gin scene, is the producer of gins including Copper House, Rising Sun and First Rate. The company’s well-established brewing operation means that John has interesting liquids to play with for gin base spirits, as well as adding flavour through unusual botanicals.
John tells us which gins he’d be packing for a trip to our desert island.
Gin #1: Sipsmith London Dry Gin
When Adnams were looking into the possibility of installing and running a distillery, Sipsmith’s original site in Hammersmith was an interesting and enlightening visit. Its London Dry Gin seems to be in every bar wherever I happen to be, so it’s a gin that is always a go-to for me, and made by the nicest bunch of people.
Gin #2: Plymouth Navy Strength Gin
I love the big juniper and citrus flavours of this gin: classic flavours, classic gin. I also love the flask-shaped, slightly green bottle design. It’s the sort of bottle you could imagine being washed up on a desert island.
Gin #3: Adnams Copper House Gin
This was one of two gins we launched the distillery with back in 2010, the other being First Rate Gin, and both still hold good memories for me. Copper House has been our best selling gin since day one and we receive some great comments from our customers. I think I was quite lucky to come up with the recipe, which blends floral and citrus with notes of cardamom and coriander. I was given hibiscus tea on a diving holiday in Egypt, shortly before I was sent into the lab to design our first gin, and Copper House was the result.
Cocktail: Pegu Club
Like most people I guess, my normal order is for a G&T or martini (extra dry), but occasionally I go for something a little more involved. The Pegu Club, a gin-based variation of a Margarita, is a favourite. If making at home, I would exchange the curaçao for agave syrup and serve in an ice-filled glass à la a Tommy’s Margarita.