Based on the Hebridean Island of Colonsay, Wild Thyme Spirits has launched a new Old Tom style gin. Based on their multi-award winning Colonsay Gin, Cait Sith (pronounced Caught Shee) also takes inspiration from both Celtic folklore and the natural surroundings of the Isle of Colonsay, where all of the brand’s spirits are produced.
Having relocated from Oxfordshire to their self-built Colonsay home in 2016, husband-and-wife team Fin and Eileen Geekie quickly launched Wild Thyme Spirits, which produces a collection of award-winning products. The brand also has an exclusive foraging agreement with the Colonsay Estate, giving the distillers scope to experiment with an array of local botanicals worthy of future products that have an “unmistakable Colonsay provenance”.
Hugely popular during the 18th century, Old Tom styles gained notoriety when the Gin Act of 1751 was brought into effect, banning the sale of gin in prisons, workhouses, and shops selling every day staples. Distillers were unable to sell gin direct and publicans were no longer able to issue credit. As a result, gin became less readily available and more expensive. During this time, quality improved significantly, with gin having become a drink of respectability by Victorian times.
Of the new styles born from the movement, ‘Old Tom’ was allegedly named after the sign of a cat on the door of the notorious Captain Dudley Bradstreet’s speakeasy bar, or the cat’s head shaped brass plate above London’s Gin Houses. Customers would put a penny in the cat’s mouth in exchange for a drink. Old Tom gin and cats have been inextricably linked ever since. Wild Thyme Spirits’ Old Tom is even named after a legendary spectral cat that roamed the Scottish Highland and Islands, according to Celtic Mythology. The fairy-like Cait Sith was said to carry either a blessing or a curse, depending on whether households left suitable libations as an offering.
Typically drier than Dutch Genever but significantly sweeter than London Dry, Cait Sith follows suit, bottled at 40 percent ABV. Alongside the juniper presence, citrus notes of orange, pink grapefruit and lemon are prominent on the nose and palate, while a balanced sweetness develops with savours of vanilla and a welcome suggestion of liquorice, complete with a long, slightly sweet finish. Best enjoyed with a good tonic and garnished with a slice of grapefruit, or with soda as a long spritzer, ideal for summer.
Further information on Colonsay Gin Cait Sith can be found at wildthymespirits.com.