A gin that is anything but ordinary - everything from the beautifully engraved copper flask to the botanicals is different and unique and this makes Dr Squid Gin stand out in a very crowded market.
Pocketful of Stones Distillery is based in Long Rock, Penzance and they have created a range of spirits, but this is definitely one which pulls them out of any obscurity. The team of 4 (Shaun Bebington, Balazs Schieber, Paul Motley and Mike Cunliffe) met and worked in bars in Central London, where they honed their skills and learned everything there is to know about spirits. They made the move to Cornwall a few years ago, where they now use all this experience to create unique and high quality spirits, including their flagship Caspyn Dry Gin. In Spring 2018, after many hours toiling over a recipe which they assumed may not even be feasible, they launched Dr Squid Gin, which is made using real squid ink, used both in the distillation process, but also added afterwards to create the unique black colour of the gin. Add tonic to it though and it turns a vivid pink. We are told that only a small quantity of squid ink is necessary and so although there is a coastal element to the gin, it's beautifully balanced with vanilla, sea buckthorn, citrus and juniper. As you would expect, a unique gin requires distinctive packaging. Not only is the flask beautifully engraved, but it also has high quality gold foiled labels, which compliment the copper tin. Given Shaun hails from South Africa, it's no surprise that he used one of the many talented agencies there to help design the branding for this gin. Roots SA were commissioned to come up with something unique that would showcase the landmarks and diverse fauna and flora iconic to Cornwall, but also intertwine it with local folklore and history. They created a character - Dr Squid - who is depicted on the printed label with a golden sunset behind him. The custom copper flasks are handcrafted in India and the labels printed in the UK. The flask design has a feel of antique apothecary and is the kind of product you would expect to have seen sold by travelling medicine salesmen - in fact Dr Squid is depicted exactly as one would be dressed! What struck me most when I received the product, was that the tin is so much sturdier than I thought it would be. Even the lid is heavy and solid and best of all, it also comes with a speed pourer to ensure there are no spillages. But back to the design.... I've pondered for ages over it and every time I look at it I see something new! The central figure is a mermaid and throughout Cornish folklore there are references to mermaids, so this is no surprise. Two wellknown mermaids are the Mermaid of Padstow, who enjoyed sitting on a rock at Hawker's Cove. There are several versions of her story, but it's said she was shot by a local man she rebuffed or shot as she was mistaken for a seal. Always though the tales end explaining that due to her fate, she summoned up a storm which caused shipwrecks and caused the Doom Bar sandbank to appear. I prefer to think though that she is the Mermaid of Zennor, especially since the pirates ship anchor chain features so prominently in the design. This story tells of a mermaid who fell in love with a local man, Mathey Trewells and after he followed her home one day, neither were ever seen again. It was only when a ship tried to drop anchor off Pendour Cove that a mermaid appeared and asked if the anchor could be moved as it was blocking the door to her home and she could not get to her children, that led to the belief that the children referred to were that of the mermaid and Mathey Trewells. Cornwall also has links with King Arthur and Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor is believed to be the lake in which Sir Bedivere threw Excalibur into the Lady of the Lake and a sword can be seen to the right of the mermaid. There is also reference to seafaring pirates and smugglers who thrived around Cornwall with a pirate's treasure chest, skulls and a ship. St Michael's Mount also features prominently and is another nod to the distillery's location. One side of the tin is dedicated to the sea, with whales, turtles, dolphins, a shark, penguin and of course, a lone surfer - included not only due to the popularity of the sport in Cornwall, but also as one of the founders, Shaun, hails from Durban South Africa and the sport also being the reason he transitioned from London to Cornwall. Birds feature on all sides - a raven, choughs and an owl, to name a few. These are beautifully intertwined with flora and fauna, such as a box, badger and hedgehog. Can you spot them all? Lastly, it also includes Mên-an-Tol, which consists of three upright granite stones - the round stone with the middle holed out is easily recognisable on the tin. It's unsure if this stone is a natural phenomenon or whether it was carved this way. Legends and folklore are attached to this stone said to have miraculous powers, from curing rickets in children passed naked through the hole, to helping women get pregnant if they pass through it at full moon backwards seven times. All said, this gin is no myth! It's legend! I've indulged in a few with tonic and ginger ale and it's such an easy and enjoyable sip, but for the purposes of these photos, I've made a gimlet, replacing the lime with lemon juice instead, resulting in a less sharp sip. I could not resist pairing with a seafood pasta, which complimented the gin and cocktail as well. Dr Squid Gimlet 50ml Gin 25ml Fresh Lemon Juice 15ml Simple Syrup (adjust if you prefer sweeter) Shake or stir with ice and serve with a lemon peel rose Squid Ink Pasta This easy recipe combines garlic, lemon, chilli flakes, oil and prawns with squid ink spaghetti and is served on a bed of thinly sliced fennel. Garnish with fennel fronds, lemon zest and a few extra chilly flakes.