Recently you may have seen a photo I shared of a bottle of gin I had received from a company called Inspirited. The bottle was labelled ‘Under the Ginfluence – Marigold Sunshine’. Where did it come from? Well, this is a ‘gifted’ experience (just to clarify), and I created the recipe myself, how nice is that?

Inspirited contacted me recently to see if I fancied having a go at designing my own gin through their website. An online gin blending experience? Of course! I replied, it didn’t take a moment to decide. I mean who wouldn’t? What gin geek could turn down the opportunity of designing their own? It is worth mentioning that Inspirited have a range of their own gins on the site and after trying the one I created, I’d be keen to try theirs too as I imagine their London Dry base is the base of the customised gins and it seems pretty solid to me!

I had a loose idea of what to expect, and I have to say I was really impressed with the website and the options for the gin. Yes, the abv is fixed at 37.5%, and it would be a bit difficult with price points and logistics to do anything different. The site does give some guidance, in theory you can put in up to 12 botanicals, but the advice is to keep around 6-10 to prevent everything from blurring together. I mean, if you put coconut in the gin you want to taste it, right?

From the get go, juniper, coriander and orris root are already included in your recipe. Now, a solid traditional gin recipe usually contains these three botanicals (maybe angelica instead of orris but they serve a similar fixative purpose). And, I love the fact that you can remove the coriander and orris, but not the juniper. There’s no option to remove that, as otherwise this wouldn’t be a gin, would it?

The botanical options are broken down into flavour expressions: spice, fruits, citrus, floral, nutty and exotic. Each of these categories has 5-6 botanicals listed that cover everything from your basic coriander to quite unusual and interesting options like matcha or hazelnut. These more niche elements were of great excitement to me and when I realised what was available, my brain began gushing with ideas! Rose and Kaffier lime felt appealing. And, for a while I toyed with the idea of almond, cranberry and coconut which evoked a lovely idea of flapjacks, granolas and cakes. But no matter what combinations I thought of, I kept coming back to one botanical, marigold flower.

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for marigolds. I remember reading a recipe for marigold syrup when I was quite young and it stuck with me. Marigold syrup is an elixir that tastes delicious and one that is meant to be very good for coughs, colds and general wellbeing. This memory, paired with the wonderfully bright, happy colours mean marigolds make me smile and I felt sure that they had to be at the heart of my gin. Making a gin is a very personal thing, I think. It’s nice to put flavours together that you think will work, but even more special when you can put in botanicals that have meaning to you, much like Quaker Gin and their rose petals.

The site is good looking and helpful. When you hover your cursor over the botanical, two buttons pop up. One is the option to add to the mix. You also have an info option which gives you some brief info on the botanical. In some instances there are also some ideas of other botanicals that work together. I would humbly suggest this as my only constructive criticism of the process. I mean, it didn’t take me long to research the botanicals I was interested in via websites anyway, and that actually became came quite a fun learning process. However, I think that Inspirited are missing a trick as with some extra material on their site, they could incorporate that learning process into the experience that they deliver for the customer. It would be great to have a suggestion list of botanicals that mix well into each other on an info screen. Plus, it would also be great to create a page of basic recipes with tasting notes, simple mixes like rhubarb and ginger for example, coconut and lime. I think a few ideas like this would be really helpful for the customer. Maybe there could be a spot for customers to leave reviews of their gins, share recipes and how they worked.

The reason I think this is important, is that I stalled over ordering mine for three weeks because I wanted it to be good. Considering this experience was gifted to me and the usual price is £49.99, I can imagine other people may do the same. Considering the cost, the creation of this product is a really special experience. I wanted to make something amazing, but by doing this online, I had little to go on in respect of actual tasting. On one hand this made it tricky to commit to the decision, though on the other the anticipation for it’s arrival was thoroughly enjoyable. The turnaround was pretty quick (within a week, I think) and every day prior I found myself thinking about the botanicals and what the finished product would taste like, which was just another part of the fun.

But back to the gin, what did I go for? I made a little video above of the home page leading to me adding my first ingredient. The website is lovely to look at with a video rolling of a hand picking the botanical you’ve chosen and adding it to the basket for each selection. I started with marigold, ‘poor mans saffron’ as its otherwise known (as advised by the info on the site). I had this idea of brightness in my head, so I went with fruits, sweet orange, Kaffir lime and apple (again advised by info on the site) and finally a little ginger to give it some extra pow.

Once you have chosen your botanicals you then get to customise your label, a wonderful element to gifting if that’s what you’re doing. I should add that I would absolutely not blame you if you are thinking about gifting yourself! No judgement here! Now this is where I need to come clean, please double check the label before you press the button! In my haste I made a typo on my own site name! On receiving the bottle I shared pictures on my social media with good response, and then I received a message from a friend asking if they had ‘lost points for the spelling error’. I was mortified and thought about sweeping that under the rug. However, I am a heart on my sleeve kind of girl and can’t lie for toffee so better to hold my hands up and take that embarrassment on the chin.

When the bottle arrived, it came with the really nice touch of a box of the dry botanicals for you to smell, to help you get into your gin and determine those different notes. This is a great addition as it once again gave you more experience for your money. All the packaging is a lovely design and one that matches the label with clean white background and mottled splashes of colour as a pop art style of the botanicals. Visually it’s gorgeous and would make a fantastic present. But how did it taste?

On the nose, it has a lot of classical gin elements. Juniper is very present and the additional botanicals are definitely an addition to the style, mellowing it rather than changing it into something different. They do come through a little more if left in the glass for a few minutes and the result is a lovely earthy sweetness and a subtle zing of ginger. On the palate the botanicals have more of an impact and there is a bright fruit sweetness that carries you through the journey with smooth undertones of earthy spice, juniper and a beautiful crackle of ginger heat on the finish. Not having any control over the ratios of botanical, you’ll likely find them more subtle than you’ve built them up to be in your head, and this does work well, allowing you to put your own spin on those bold traditional notes.

Naturally any of these will work great as a gin and tonic. My one actually opened up really beautifully and really impressed me with it’s composition. With the fruit and my ideas of marigold syrup I’ll be keeping some of this for hot toddies in the winter months too.

So how would I rate this experience? Great fun, educational and wonderfully personal. I took a lot of time over putting the order in, researching and deciding. Each day of anticipation is worth noting and now all the time I get to enjoy with the gin, so all in all, you get a lot for your money. I think with some additional educational info on the site the experience of making the gin could be made even fuller, but it’s early days and I’m sure this sort of thing will come in time. I’ll be honest, I loved creating my gin. It’s also a fantastic gifting experience if you want to buy it for someone else to make their own. Likewise, if you have someone in your life that likes gin, maybe you want to create it for them and make them a gin with all the flavours you know they like. It’s all good to me!

Thanks to Inspirited for for gifting me the experience in exchange for this write up. I hope you’ve enjoyed this and you find the feedback helpful. This is a great idea and well organised too, well done indeed!

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