Whitstable Gin and Glass

Whitstable Harbour Gin was launched In July 2021, by the landlord Darren Wilton and Justine Setterfield from The Old Neptune pub in Whitstable.

I’d heard how good it was and I love to shop local to help support our local businesses, so I wanted to find out for myself what it was like.

I popped into town and got myself a bottle and here’s my gin review speckled with smuggling, local plants, oysters and a bit of history.

Justine and Darren founders of Whitstable Gin

Whitstable Harbour Gin

Whitstable Harbour Gin is a small batch London dry gin made with Sea Buckthorn and Samphire. It’s the brainchild of Darren and Justine from The Old Neptune pub in Whitstable who thought of the idea back in 2017.

They stock many different types of gin in the pub and wanted to create a local gin after being asked by lots of their customers if there was such a thing.

It was created from scratch by Darren and Justine who, over the course of three years, experimented with lots of different variations and finally came up with the perfect combination in 2020.

gin with ice and slice

They particularly wanted to use Sea Buckthorn and Samphire as these plants are local in Kent and help to make the Gin unique to Whitstable.

South Quay shed bike

Whitstable Harbour Gin comes in a lovely clear, corked glass bottle with a very distinctive label, which is designed to look like a train ticket with an inspector’s clip out of the bottom.

The inspiration behind this came from the Crab and Winkle train line which used to run between Canterbury and Whitstable. The line was called the CW line but locals referred to it as the Crab and Winkle line.

It’s truly inspired and gives the gin bottle a lovely local and unique look.

Whitstable Gin bottle

What does it taste like?

It’s a hand blended gin made in traditional copper stills. This small batch London Dry Gin is infused with sea plants native to Whitstable and mixed with ten botanicals.

It’s a modern gin and tastes so smooth. It really is one of the nicest gins that I’ve ever tasted. It’s so crisp, fresh and clean.

It’s light on the palate yet robust and so full of flavour. It’s contemporary, warming, vibrant, sweet and classy with a clean finish and very moorish.

You can enjoy it neat with ice or with a tonic, it tastes just as good either way. I added tonic, lemon and orange slices to mine with some ice and it was such a lovely refreshing drink.

I drained my glass and was ready for another.

South Quay shed bike

Sea Buckthorn and Samphire

Sea Buckthorn is a shrub that can be found in the sandy dunes along the east coast of Kent. It has dense, thorny thickets and green flowers with bright orange berries.

These berries have a sour taste so they are often mixed with something sweeter, but are very nutritious.

The berry juice can be used for all sorts of things from cosmetics to syrup. They can be used in pies, jams, teas, fruit wines and liquor.

They are rich in Vitamin C and Carotenoids (antioxidants) and are often used in nutritional supplements.

Marsh Samphire is a green plant which is said to be like asparagus with a crisp and salty taste. It’s part of the parsley family and tends to grow in marshy areas near sea water, salt marshes, estuaries and tidal creeks which are very common in Kent.

The name Samphire originates from “Saint Pierre” , Saint Peter, who is the patron saint of fishermen. Samphire can also be known as glasswort, salicornia, sea beans and baby asparagus.

Neptune pub whitstable

Kent Smugglers

Smuggling was rife in Kent for centuries. There is a smuggling museum in the main town of Broadstairs. Walking along the coast there, you can see the caves the smugglers used, lining the chalk cliffs.

Kent was a popular county for smuggling in the 1700s as it is so near to the French coast. Particularly in Deal, Folkestone, Hythe and Seasalter near Whitstable. The Warren in Folkestone is one of the closest areas in Kent which is only about 30 miles away from the French coast.

boats whitstable harbour

Smuggling started with wool after an act in 1698 preventing the exportation of wool. Wool was not to be bought or sold within 15 miles of the coast.

The Isle of Sheppey ( meaning The Island of Sheep) was at the heart of the illegal wool trade. The Isle of Sheppey can be clearly seen from Seasalter beach and is just a short crossing from there by boat.

The wool trade declined in the 1720s and this led to more luxury items being smuggled into Kent.

The gang of smugglers in Seasalter was known as “The Seasalter Company” and was founded by Dr Isaac Rutton in 1740. They were an extremely successful gang and highly secretive and complex, which is said to have helped them to avoid detection.

It is alleged they reached an agreement with the coastguard service and that is how they were so successful. Seasalter was isolated and an ideal spot to land smuggling boats and they used the nearby Blean forest to hide the smuggled goods.

This gang ran for over a century from 1740 and made the men running it very rich. One of the partners, William Baldock died with a fortune of over £1 million in 1812, which is about £200 million in today’s money.

They typically smuggled tea, whisky, tobacco, lace, gin and brandy.

Find out more on a journey around another Kent landmark, Botany Bay.

Neptune from the side

Where can you buy Whitstable Harbour Gin?

You can order a bottle online of course.

Or in Whitstable you can find it to drink at:

  • The Old Neptune
  • The Rose in Bloom
  • Cafe and Kitchen
  • Samphire
  • The Handsome Sam
  • The Prince Albert
  • The Rock Lodge
  • The Fountain
  • The Pearson’s Arms

Or also available in other establishments around Kent at:

  • Judd’s Folly in Faversham
  • The Royal Oak in Blean
  • The Pelton Arms in Greenwich
  • The Shortlands Tavern and The Two Doves in Bromley
    Westgate and Birchington Golf Club

You can buy a whole bottle from:

  • The South Quay Shed in Whitstable
  • The Old Neptune or The Offy in Whitstable
  • Murrays General Stores at the Goods Shed in Canterbury
  • Sholden Village Stores just outside Deal
  • Gibsons Farm Shop in Wingham

How much is it?

£38.50 for 70cl which is 41% volume.

South Quay Shed Whitstable

South Quay shed

You can also buy Whitstable Harbour Gin from their new shop in the South Quay Shed in Whitstable Harbour.

The south quay shed was opened in 2022. There are 2 floors with seating for about 100 people.

It’s open from 9am – 8pm 7 days a week. It’s been a big success and is in the perfect spot with amazing views being right on the harbour.

You can look out and watch the fishing boats coming in and out and try the delicious local cuisine.

Units there are: Rewear, Whitstable Harbour Gin, Knotstuff Crafts, Dunk Cookies, HatsHats Coffee, The Fish Course, Lost Sheep Coffee Ltd, Wit of Whitstable, Art Shed Whitstable, Lavender & Blackberry Limited, Pork & Co Limited, Rad Burger, Charlie Chan’s Asian Street Food, Sooshi Sushi Ltd, and The Picnic Box

South Quay shed shelving

Conclusion

Whitstable Harbour Gin is a new and modern gin which was first launched in 2021.

It’s become a huge success and is absolutely delicious. It’s well worth the money and it will definitely become your new favourite gin.

book and gin
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