Review: Organic Gin from Dà Mhìle

It’s nearly summer and outdoor gatherings and late night dinners are made extra special with beautiful beverages. We are fans of botanical cocktails, organic spirits and wines and seek out products that offer clean flavours and are created with passion and organic ingredients.

Dà Mhìle’s gin range offers just this and on trying their gins we became instant fans. Dà Mhìle Distillery is a family run distillery in west Wales committed to producing organic spirits and liqueurs. Delicately flavoured with organic botanicals, herbs and spices and copper pot distilled in the most traditional method, their gins are organic, vegan, free from added sulphites and gluten free, made from sugar rather than grain.

Gin has long been considered a medicinal drink due to its botanical ingredients. Notably flavoured with juniper berries known for their health enhancing qualities, gin has been a popular spirit since the 17th Century. Distilled from high proof spirits and redistilled with juniper berries and other botanicals, the heated alcohol extracts flavour from the botanical ingredients that create a spirit embued with the herbal benefits of its ingredients.

Dà Mhìle have great respect for gin making and it comes through in their range. Their gins are subtly flavoured yet full bodied with delicate aromas and a smooth mouth feel. Free from a strong alcoholic taste, they go down extremely well and have made gin fans of us.

Their Botanical Gin is made with 18 botanicals including rose, juniper, dandelion, cardamom, coriander, sage, fennel, peppermint, star anise and clove, all beautifully balanced to create a softly flavoured drink that still has clear notes of juniper and smells fresh and herbal. We see this working with cucumber, mint and watermelon summer cocktails just as well as it does with tonic water, a slice of lemon and ice.

Their Oak Aged Gin is a British take on the Dutch Jenever, aged in single grain whisky barrels – no gluten makes it through the distillation process – and subtly flavoured with juniper, fresh herbs and spices and enhanced with sweet grain whisky tones. Dà Mhìle recommend sipping this alone with ice and we don’t disagree. The flavours of this drink really come through when mixed with a little water and there is almost a smokiness to it that brings an enjoyable depth. With an incredible fragrance and gentle hue, this is our favourite of the range.

Their Seaweed Gin is made with botanicals added to small batch gin and infused for three weeks with seaweed handpicked from the Celtic coast. Triple filtered, rather than having a heavy flavour of fish or salt, it has a light and delicate flavour, mirrored by its subtle green colour. With its gentle sea scent and sweet yet savoury taste, we most enjoyed this with sparkling water and fresh lime.

Their Sloe Gin is a rosy coloured, fruity version of the traditional sloe gin, given extra fruitness by winter fruits and warmth by nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. These winter flavours are brought to life with freshly squeezed orange juice and zest or apple juice mixed with sparkling water and we imagine them also working beautifully with the lighter, more summery flavours of berries and currants.

We spoke with Dà Mhìle about their passion for traditionally made, organic spirits.

Why did you start Dà Mhìle?

Dà Mhìle was the brain child of John Savage-Onstwedder, who in the seventies and eighties saw the emergence of organic wines and beers coming onto the market and noticed the absence of an organic whisky. He took it upon himself to ask Springbank distillery whether they would be willing to produce for him the world’s first organic whisky of the modern era. Pretty much everything over a hundred years ago would have been organic.

In 1992 Springbank distilled a Single Malt Whisky using organic barley. The idea behind this first batch of whisky was that it would be a special one off batch to celebrate the coming of the new millennium. Dà Mhìle pronounced da-vee-lay is Gaelic for two thousand.

We’re an independent, award-winning farmhouse distillery in West Wales, committed to bringing you the highest quality organic artisan products.

After this in 2000, John decided to have another batch of organic single malt whisky produced, this time at Loch Lomond distillery. He also had them make an organic single grain whisky, which was another world first. In 2004, once the new single grain whisky had surpassed its minimum age requirement of three years, he had an organic blended whisky made, using the 2000 single grain and 1992 single malt. Another world first.

After this it was time to invest in building his own distillery and over the course of 2011-12 we installed our custom made still and started producing a wide variety of products and Dà Mhìle Distillery was born.

Why organic?

The Soil Association was founded by Lady Eve Balfour who was a visionary who foresaw the damage that non organic farming would do to the environment, the planet and the health of people. The Soil Association is probably the most trusted and recognised certification body and that is why we want its symbol on our products.

Why no added sulphites?

Sulphites are a natural by product of fermentation. Most companies add extra into their fermented goods, such beers, ciders but particularly red wines and fortified wines, as a method of preservation. The soil association allow this but only in minimal amounts. If you make a product without any added sulphites then it can be called ‘natural’.

Our distillery is run by John’s eldest son, John-James, who was trained at Kilchoman distillery in Scotland and studied under Dr. Klaus Hagmann who has a PhD in distilling and designed our still.

Spirits don’t need the preservatives and very little sulphites pass through the distillation process. The spirit companies that use them will be adding them for a mouth feel. The fact we don’t add any sulphites to our fermented goods before we distill them means that our spirits are much lower in sulphites than most.

What makes your gins vegan?

Although every gin would be vegan based on the ingredients, there are many companies who use filtration systems that contain gelatine. Our filtration system uses a woven cotton and clay plate, thus making us 100% vegan.

What processes do you use that make your spirits special?

We use a custom made Reflux Stil to produce our spirits, which allows us to produce a very fine spirit.

Are all your ingredients sourced from the UK? Are they sustainably grown and fairtrade?

Most ingredients are from the UK. For our gin some spices and herbs do not grow in the UK so are organically sourced from elsewhere. All of our products are made at Dà Mhìle Distillery on a rural farm in west Wales.

How do your products compare to conventional and more well known options?

Customers tell us our products have much more flavour that conventional products, are smoother to drink, have no harsh alcohol taste and are generally a delight to the senses.

What makes a good gin?

Most independently distilled gins will be good. They will taste difference to your run of the mill gins who all seem to have the same base notes of alcohol. Selecting great ingredients to begin with then a slow distillation, selecting the best parts of the distillation for your final product all add up to a good product. Too many distilleries go for volume and speed which has a negative influence on the final spirit.

Our mission is to produce only top quality spirits at an honest price.