Gins galore

Salcombe Yacht Club’s annual Regatta Week has a new title, Salcombe Gin SYC, and a new sponsor, Salcombe Start Point Gin. The regatta, now in its 121st year, runs from 13 – 18 August and follows Salcombe Town Regatta, 6 – 11 August, so a good couple of weeks’ fun.

The gin, launched just over a year ago, has rapidly become a major attraction of the already picturesque town and is making an impact with the local sailing scene. The bar across the harbour entrance can sometimes be a bit bouncy but, once you are over that, the harbour is delightful and well organised.

Ashore, the Gin Bar in the new Salcombe Distillery building on Island Street is an oasis of cool chic, with a balcony looking over the creek. It is a conversion of the former Island Cruising Club’s repair shed and also offers a gin school experience. For £100 you can design and distil your own gin recipe in a miniature still and bottle the result with your own personal label.

Start Point gin is named after the local headland which all who have cruised the west country or competed in the Fastnet Race will know can be tricky to get around.

It is distilled using English wheat for the distilled spirit, which in itself is an important point of difference, if not unique. There is a lot of fruit in the recipe, authenticated by the historical role of Salcombe as a major centre for imported fruits from exotic locations like the West Indies and the Azores back in the 19th century, sustained by a then thriving fleet of fast square riggers.

Grapefruit, lemons and limes create a citrus edge. Liquorice, chamomile flowers and bay leaves are among the wider recipe of 11 botanicals and water from Dartmoor National Park.

Distilling is in accordance with the London Dry standard but the distillery would like it to be known as Devon Dry. “Very similar to London Dry,” they say, “with the addition of sunshine!”

One of our regular readers discovered this gin on a spring trip to the West Country by land. He says it is outstanding and delicious with a Fentimans tonic, but failed to bring me back a sample!

It is bottled at 44 per cent abv and priced at £37.50 for a 70cl bottle, in line with the swathe of other craft gins we are now blessed with. It is well distributed in and around Salcombe in local farm shops and delicatessens, in London in Fortnum and Mason’s gin emporium feature and online at

There will be a special gin delivery service by fast RIB for boats moored in Salcombe at regatta time or in Dartmouth during the Dartmouth Regatta, 24 – 26 August.

Prices from £100 for a wicker picnic hamper of Salcombe gin plus tonics and food. To order, call the Salcombe Gin Distillery on 01548 843907 or via VHF channel 71. Please mention All at Sea if you do.

One for the East Coast

On the opposite side of the country, in Southwold, Suffolk, Adnams brewer and distiller has launched a pre-mix can G&T with their now well established Copper House Gin.

Not a new idea as Gordon’s and Pimm’s, for example, have been doing it for years. The difference is that Adnams has created its own tonic to particularly compliment the gin’s flavour and work in a can.

East coast cruisers look out for it at Adnams Cellar and Kitchen shops mostly located in the best sailing towns of East Anglia, or direct from the brewery It is five percent abv and £21.99 for a dozen 250ml cans. Good for on board and beach picnics.