Tarquin's Cornish Pastis 42% 70cl
Based just 20 minutes North-east of Newquay, the Southwestern Distillery was founded by Tarquin Leadbetter in 2012. Previously a classically trained chef, Tarquin left a desk job in London to pursue a dream of opening the first distillery in his homeland of Cornwall for over 100 years.
Recognising the growth of gin at the time, Tarquin is completely self-taught, selling his first bottle of gin in July 2013. His first still was originally heated with a large gas ring that was used for his paella pan - the operation now has 4 stills (named Tamara, Senara, Tressa and Ferrara) that are all heated with a direct flame. The tops of the stills are sealed with bread dough - which sounds weird but is a very traditional process.
Pastis is an anise-flavoured spirit originating from France - the name originates from ‘mash-up’. It was first commercialized by Paul Ricard in 1932, 17 years after the ban on absinthe and was an attempt to emulate the popular drink without risking the somewhat political aversion to it. Ricard was the first official sponsor of the Tour de France, and in 1969 built his own racetrack – which has held the French Grand Prix since 2018.
The legal definition of Pastis is anise flavouring, with addition of liquorice root, a max 100g of sugar per litre and a minimum of 40% ABV. Pastis gets its flavour from star anise, whereas Absinthe uses green anise and fennel. As with Absinthe, Pastis is traditionally drunk with water as an aperitif.
Tarquin's brilliantly named Cornish Pastis is the first Pastis to be made in the UK.
13 botanicals are used, many similar to the base botanicals for the Cornish Dry Gin – aniseed and fennel seed from Turkey, star anise from China, liquorice root from Uzbekistan, angelica root from Poland, green cardamom from Guatemala, cinnamon from Madagascar, orris root from Morocco, juniper from Italy, orange/lemon/grapefruit peel from locally sources, and finally gorse flowers from the clifftops surrounding the local area. Everything but the Gorse flowers are macerated in a wheat based spirit overnight, then the Gorse flowers are added just before distilling. Liquorice root and orange peel are also added during dilution to add colour.
I've always personally struggled with aniseed flavours - not just in drinks but in general - but I really enjoyed sampling this on a tasting event earlier this year. There's a lovely silky mouthful and the sharpness of the anise is tempered as a result. There's citrus coming through too (particularly orange), which adds depth and balance, and the floral notes of the Gorse flowers is definitely present. So for any fan of Pastis or Absinthe I heartily recommend you give this a go!
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