I have found my drink
I tasted this in the evening and woke up the next morning happy because it was a new day and I could have it again. It would be nice to say that it is a distillation from a smallholding in Wales, made from foraged ingredients gathered in moonlight, but it’s not: it’s M&S’s entry into the non-alcoholic distillation market, and in my opinion it’s as good – if not better – as anything I’ve tasted in this field. This is not just any gin substitute, this is an M&S non-alcoholic spirit.
I’m stressing the personal taste element here, because your opinion may very much vary. M&S have not played safe but have gone for strong, storm-the-castle flavours and credit to them for that. There are countless juniper-heavy spirits subs on the market; the dominant flavour in Botanicals is much more complex and includes a confident use of lavender. I’m a sucker for flowery flavours, so I would love this anyway, but it’s not over floral; instead the lavender brings a deep oily aroma that sets up excellent base layer for the higher notes of the other botanicals. These include cardamom, pink peppercorn, the astringent notes of grapefruit and lime peel, some ginger extract and, yes, the inevitable juniper. There’s rose in there as well. It might sound as if the ingredients have been nicked off Jo Malone’s mixing table, but the results are a beautifully balanced blend which has won front place in my fridge. There’s a lovely gold-tipped green lady design on the bottle and as a final bonus, the last item in the ingredients list is wormwood, which apparently translates in French (the ingredients are listed in both ) as absinthe. A non-alcoholic drink containing absinthe; that old soak Toulouse-Lautrec would approve.
Or this drink may well be available from your high street supplier – we’re sorry we cannot check them all but you might like to.
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