Many moons ago (some time last year, my recollection is hazy), I attended the launch of an exciting addition to the Portobello Rd Gin repertoire, Navy Strength Gin. Like a bolder, more commanding cousin of the flagship London Dry No. 171 blend including juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, lemon peel, liquorice root, cassia bark and nutmeg, the Navy Strength edition is infused with a smattering of sea salt at the end of the distillation process, thusly conjuring nautical impressions. Coming in at a whopping 57.1% I was to discover that evening, that a strong gin doesn’t have to feel like you’re swallowing fire. In fact, during our tasting session, we were given a selection of gins to sample, each with varying strengths and it’s remarkable how a slightly punchier gin actually results in a noticeably finer and quaffable beverage. It has something to do with the flavour and perfume of gin being carried more efficiently through the alcohol component and that’s just fine with me. After an entire evening of sampling Navy Strength cocktails in the company of some of my favourite people, I came away with some very fond memories of Portobello Rd Gin and a sheet of temporary tattoos.
So, when it appeared on my radar, of course I was eager try the latest iteration of the Notting Hill produced gin – this time from their limited edition ‘Local Hero’ range. Blended by co-founder Jake F. Burger and Notting Hill neighbour (and gin-lover) Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, this particular gin Portobello Road Gin – Local Heroes : Mark Knopfler possesses a slightly different flavour profile from the No 171. While it still packs the bold botanical punch, the Local Hero No 3. – due of the addition of lime zest, fresh cucumber peel and olive oil – feels a little spicier, slightly crisper and yet beautifully balanced thanks to the olive oil.
Complete with a limited edition guitar-themed label designed by creative agency Analogue and the Hero himself, this bottle also comes equipped with a disarmingly charming miniature version of Knopfler’s signature head band, snugly mounted just below the cork stopper. Sadly I’ve almost finished my bottle of Portobello Rd Gin already. With kitchen renovations in full swing I was in need of the healing powers of special edition Mark Knopfler gin at the weekend. I have a small amount left that I’ll sip slowly over an ice cube later this evening, reflecting on how I’ve developed a deeper, more complex relationship with Portobello Rd gin, and how I look forward to our shared future with anticipation.