Cowes Week debutant

Wight MG bottle  (2)The Isle of Wight Distillery’s new Wight Mermaid Gin is making its first Cowes Week appearance this month.

I am surprised that the commercially astute Isle of Wight only just has its first distillery.

The Isle of Wight Distillery is based at the established Rosemary Vineyard near Ryde and the two founders, Xavier Baker and Conrad Gauntlett, have been able to transfer years of experience in wine making and brewing to distilling gin and vodka.

Wight Mermaid Gin is very much in the ‘boutique’ small-batch distilling range at 42 per cent and £36.50 a 70cl bottle. Like other boutique gin producers, they work hard on their flavour differential with an interesting range of botanicals added to the essential juniper berries: hand-picked rock samphire from a secret IoW location, Boadicea hops grown at the Ventnor Botanic Garden, English coriander seeds, fresh lemon zest, elderflower and angelica, liquorish and orris roots.

The exact recipe is, of course, a secret. The botanicals are steeped together for 24 hours, distilled for a whole day and then rested for seven days to allow the flavours and aromas to mellow.

Tasting notes: classic freshness, hints of citrus and tropical fruit, raisins and vanilla. As with most boutique gins, Fever-Tree is the recommended tonic.

This is the gin’s first Cowes Week but not the distillery’s first sailing involvement, having sponsored the Sail the Wight event last month with gin and tonics for the prize-giving party and bottles for the winners.

Try it during Cowes Week at Coast bar, Ale House, the Anchor, the Grill, the Island Sailing Club, the RORC, formerly Royal Corinthian YC and at the Wine Therapy shop (opposite the Fountain Hotel) where several other speciality wines and spirits can be found.

Eco-friendly big idea

5The SaltWater Craft Brewery in Delray, Florida has invented an edible 100 per cent biodegradable material to replace the plastic six-pack rings used to hold beer or any other cans together for multi-buy retail. Horrific underwater photographs have shown how life threatening plastic rings are to turtles and other marine life.

Sailors worldwide led by clubs and sailing rules and national bodies like our RYA have got the message and compliance is widespread: no plastic can rings, aluminium cans lined by plastic or empty plastic water bottles thrown overboard.

But the brewery tells me it is non-sailing folk who are still the biggest polluters in their own Florida backyard.

Fish feasting on an edible ring. Image: SaltWater Craft Breweryy rubbish thrown in the water

The rings are created from barley and wheat ‘spent’ residuals from the beer brewing process, 100 per cent biodegradable and edible by fish.

The main drawback is that the rings cost more than plastic. The brewery hopes customers will pay a few cents more to help the environment.

Eco-warriors indeed, and not the first time consumers have been asked to pay the eco premium.

SaltWater is too small to export its beer or to fund worldwide development of the edible rings. To go ‘global’ they unselfishly want a big brewer with R&D funds to take it up and if others join the bandwagon the cost would come down.

It would be nice to think a UK brewery with sailing connections could be enthused by our own sailing and boating fraternity to bring the product over here.

To get involved or follow the progress go to or