The husband and wife team behind Tom Cat Sussex Gin talk cocktails, botanicals and why they chose gin.
Gin is definitely one of the most fashionable spirits at the moment, with gin bars popping up around the country.
But there was a time when drinking gin was hidden and kept secret.
Back in the 18th century places around London served the spirit out of a cat in a wall.The enterprising gin producer would supply a shot of the illicit gin but not over a bar.
A penny would be dropped in the wall mounted cat’s mouth and the gin would come out the cat’s paw, a sort of feline vending machine.
This is one of the reasons for Tom Cat Gin’s name.
“Cats and gin have a long history together,” explained owner Kate Wratten.
“We also made beer through Black Cat Brewery so liked that the names linked up.”
Kate and her husband Paul decided to make gin as they both loved the drink but felt that they couldn’t run the brewery and gin businesses side by side so decided to focus solely on the spirit.
“It took about six months of trying different botanicals to get the right gin,” she explained.
“Then our distiller came up with recipe, it is very different to making beer though and both for very different markets.”
The artisan gin is created in small batches of about 70 litres and is sold in bottles ranging from £6 for 5cl to £39 for 70cl of the flavoured gin.
Tom Cat currently has three variations the Sussex dry gin which is along the lines of a London dry gin with an flavour of orange; and two flavoured gins - a cloudy mango and a blueberry.
“We haven’t seen anyone else do a cloudy mango or blueberry gin which is exciting,” revealed Kate.
As to how to drink them, Kate has some interesting suggestions.
“The Sussex dry gin just enjoy with some orange zest, some rosemary and a good tonic just a traditional G&T,” she said.
“The cloudy mango gin I would have with crushed blueberries and some mint with lots of ice.
“And the blueberry works really well with the zest of a lemon, mint and premium tonic you don’t want a tonic that has too much flavour to it otherwise it can overpower the taste of the gin.
“Also for something a bit different along the line of a cocktail the sweet, flavoured gin works really with a sparkling wine such as Prosecco it is really delicious, refreshing drink.”
The gin was officially launched in November 2016, and the 70cl and 20cl bottles are individually hand dipped in black sealing wax which can be easily removed.
It combines six aromatic botanicals to create a smooth gin with juniper and a finish of orange.
The husband and wife team are now based in Crowborough but sell at farmer’s markets in Steyning, Shoreham and Chichester on a monthly basis.
Being in Sussex is important to the pair and they use pure Sussex mineral water from Pear Tree Well in Palehouse Common, which is sourced from a well 120 ft deep and hidden beneath a 5ft thick layer of rock having never seen daylight for thousands of years. They also use coriander from the county.
During the festive and party season for anyone who has a gin lover in their home Tom Cat does a number of gift sets including one of all three of the different gins in a gift box or you can choose just to have two of your choice in a duo set.
Having made the move from beer to gin, Kate says that she is still learning and taking everything in, but considering her subject is gin it certainly is an interesting subject.
To see stockists for the gin or to buy online, visit www.tomcatgin.co.uk