Words by Lowenna Merritt
Inspired by the essence of the Cornish coast and its rich oysters, a new gin is welcomed to the table.
Award-winning distillery Salcombe Distilling Co is known for its flavourful gin which captures the spirit of a location or a moment, creating a palate enriched with nature and memory. Its latest gin is a collaboration with Michelin-starred Cornish chef, Paul Ainsworth. ‘Daring’, part of the Voyager Series, is inspired by a chef’s signature dish and is an amalgamation of fresh Cornish flavours. The gin is distilled with whey and foraged Cornish botanicals, capturing the spirit of the Cornish wilderness, and its refreshing flavour is reminiscent of a day by the windswept coast.
Southampton-born chef, Paul Ainsworth’s businesses include Paul Ainsworth at No6, Caffè Rojano, Padstow Townhouse, The Mariners Public House and Mahé Chef’s Table, all located in Padstow and Rock, Cornwall. Michelin-starred Paul Ainsworth at No6 is famed for its high-quality ingredients served in minimalist but flavourful dishes, which incorporate Paul’s unique personality and chef’s touch. His restaurants are esteemed around Cornwall for encapsulating the flavours of the county, using fresh foraged and local ingredients wherever possible to ensure the food is as inviting and invigorating as the Cornish landscape.
His signature dish, A Tale of Porthilly, is ‘Daring’s’ inspiration. The plate celebrates the richness of the Cornish oyster, balanced with a fennel and apple salad macerated in lime juice, zest and sugar before being topped with a slice of fennel seed salami atop the oyster, which is fried in panko breadcrumbs and nori. The dish is simplistic yet fresh, and this is what ‘Daring’ gin replicates. The drink’s fragrance is rich and buttery, balanced with fennel, seashore herbs and warming allspice, all of which mirror the scents and aura of a summer’s day by the wild, unspoilt coast. The palate of the drink is that of a soft, velvety mouthfeel, flavours of zesty lime and blood orange cutting through notes of sweet liquorice to create a lively sensation. The subtle underlying notes are that of umami from oyster leaf, perfectly balanced with earthy angelica. The finish is smooth with depth and length, as the tang of sharp citrus and the warmth of green cardamom and anise linger on your tongue. ‘Daring’ matches its name, as it strikes the delicate balance between a biting zestiness and a rich warmth, much like the contrast between the sharp salty cool of the Cornish ocean and the gentle warm heat of the summer sun’s rays.
The drink recreates the soft and rich mouthfeel of A Tale of Porthilly’s Cornish oyster, and this is done through a distillate of milk whey, sourced sustainably from Briddlesford Dairy, where Paul similarly sources the whey for the butter served at his restaurants. The milk vodka base is blended with English wheat grain spirit, creating a harmonious smoothness ready to be infused with Cornish flavours. The spirit is combined with 14 hand-selected botanicals, including fresh fennel, Cornish apples, seaweed, blood orange and fresh lime before being blended with oyster leaf and seaweed distillates. The finished product is indulgent, delicate and the perfect companion as you watch the fiery sun set into crashing Cornish waters.
Salcombe Gin has won a vast array of awards for their uniquely crafted artisan gin. Inspired by the magical energy of the coast and water, Salcombe Gin is based around the coastal vitality of Salcombe and its shipbuilding heritage for exotic trading. Their waterside distillery on Island Street is one of the world’s only distilleries directly accessible by boat, and every drop of their produce is crafted with the environment at heart. This is why Salcombe Gin is the perfect match for a Cornish gin collaboration, as they understand the process of replicating the seaside aura in bottled form.
‘Daring’ will be the seventh of Salcombe Gin’s Voyager Series, a collection of limited-edition gins developed in collaboration with world-renowned chefs or iconic winemakers, each of which reflect their unique style and personality. On his part in the collaboration, Paul Ainsworth says: “Living here in Cornwall, we wanted to evoke a sense of being by the sea and include local flavours and botanicals that we enjoy in our restaurants.”
Named after a Salcombe Fruit Schooner, built in Salcombe for owners based in Padstow, the drink is an ode to the heritage of Cornwall. “The name also recalls a time when our quaint fishing village of Padstow was a thriving merchant port, whose ships transported spices all over the world,” Paul explains. “‘Daring’ was one of the ships, built for owners in Padstow: it is also the perfect word to describe the driving force and ethos of The Ainsworth Collection.”
To make the most of the rich, oceanic flavours of ‘Daring’, fill a large gin glass with ice and slowly pour one large measure of gin to three parts of a high quality Indian tonic water. Garnish with thin slices of red or green apple and enjoy. This drink is best served sat al fresco, with a view of the wild Cornish ocean.