Not a vodka, or a gin, but a spirit in its own class: summer in a sip. We re-distil our own sugar beet vodka with fresh cucumbers, sliced and deseeded, to produce a quintessential English spirit. Fresh, fragrant, crisp cucumber on the nose, with a hint of white pepper. Silky smooth on the palate, with a honey-dew melon finish.
Serve one to one with tonic and ice; as a great base for a Bloody Mary; or splash it into your PIMMS.
The spirit of English summer.
WHAT MAKES THIS CUCUMBER SPIRIT SO SPECIAL?
Quintessential English summer in a bottle. An entirely new kind of spirit invented by Dr John, it does what it says on the tin: it’s a cucumber flavoured spirit. However, with a little help from molecular chemistry and Dr John’s distilling expertise, we are able to extract flavours from the cucumber that are only soluble in alcohol: meaning that locked in every bottle are crisp, fresh cucumber flavours & aromas as you’ve never encountered before.
It brought home a Gold at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in 2017...not bad for the humble cucumber!
Dr John puts it best:
“Many years ago Hendrick’s perfect serve was with cucumber, which led to some confusion and people actually thought it was made with cucumber. The idea of a cucumber gin was not one that made me rush to a still in the middle of the night compelled to create my own. However, the idea of just a cucumber spirit I thought would be interesting. I grabbed a selection of cucumber from our garden and various shops and dissected them. Tasted the various parts and narrowed down some quintessentially cucumber bits.
The seeds were quickly set to one side. Then the magic began to happen. Some skins were incredibly fragrant, others too bitter to mention. Some flesh watery and others also most savoury melon. A recipe was drafted kind of on the back of a match box, and we were off to the races. The recipe never changed.”
“When we have our Cucumber Spirit at shows or highlight it at talks, people always say, 'so it’s cucumber gin?' And we always reply with, 'No, its made in the same way as making a gin, but it doesn’t contain juniper so we cannot call it a gin; it's simply Cucumber Spirit.'”
- Dr John Walters,
'The Drinker's Guide to Distilling, Part 1'
Single distilled sugar beet vodka; eighty eight fresh cucumbers
HOW IS IT MADE?
We start with our own single distilled, East Anglian sugar beet vodka: for a base spirit that’s super smooth but capable of carrying the flavours we need.
If we infused it with cucumbers, we’d have cucumber vodka: as well as something that tasted quite soggy and wet. The key distinction is distilling with cucumbers to extract the alcohol soluble flavours we want in our spirit.
We slice and de-seed our fresh cucumbers (eighty eight per batch) and into the still they go, along with the vodka. The process of distilling means we grab all the right flavours from the cucumber: which means what comes off the still is the concentrated essence of crisp, fresh cucumber. The soggy bits stay in the still and are eventually sent off to be recycled, along with the impure parts of the spirit that we don’t want.
Cucumber Spirit is truly superb. Fresh, fragrant cucumber aroma on the nose, almost with a hint of white pepper.
Glorious, crisp cucumber on the palate: but the real surprise comes at the finish. A rich, deep and mouth-watering honeydew melon! Quite an incredible surprise: unless you are a botanist or plant enthusiast, as you would already know that these are phylogenetically closely related, being members of the same family.
Every sip contains unmistakable cucumber flavours, and yet different to the experience of taking a bite of a fresh cucumber. That’s because we’ve captured the bits of the cucumber that only bind to alcohol, and less so the bits that bind to water. Hence, a spirit with the concentrated goodness of eighty eight fresh cucumbers: something quite unique and utterly delicious.
In Dr John's words:
“The humble cucumber dressed up and ready to party hard. That said, cucumber is a toosh Marmite, so if you are dead against them to start with, or consider it the ruination of a good sandwich, best give it a wide berth.”
This is an instant classic at any garden party: with a variety of uses in any budding bartender’s arsenal. Some of Dr John’s favourites:
“Simply with ice and tonic water one to one. Slice of cucumber for eye-candy.
Swap vodka for Cucumber Spirit in a Bloody Mary and throw away the celery stick. Heaven with convenient parking.
One to one with PIMMs prior to adding your lemonade and garnish. Magic with a big wand.
As for cooking, I make a salt sugar brine with it in for my salmon prior to smoking.” It also pairs very well with sushi.
This is a great spirit to experiment with: with such a distinctive and original flavour, it can be used as an alternative to vodka or gin in an enormous variety of cocktails.