Rockland Distillery was founded in Sri Lanka in 1924 by Carl de Silva Wijeyeratne. It was the first distillery in the country and was built to distill Arrack, an alcoholic drink made with fermented coconut flower sap. During World War Two, the distillery was asked to produce spirits for the British war effort, and its gin production began. With the trade routes blocked, the recipe used domestic botanicals including Sri Lankan curry leaves, cinnamon and ginger.
The distillery is now run by Carl’s grandson Amal de Silva Wijeyeratne, who joined the company to rebuild it after the 2004 natural disaster. He decided to recreate the wartime recipe precisely and took distillation to Langley Distillery in the UK amidst fear of tightening alcohol production regulations in Sri Lanka.
|With Mr. Amal de Silva Wijeyeratne, CEO & MD of Rockland Distilleries|
Colombo No. 7 Gin has a wonderful history and it is a testament to the original recipe that Amal decided not to change it when reviving it. The name is a strong reference to the number of botanicals used in the preparation – curry leaves, coriander seeds, juniper berries, cinnamon bark, liquorice, angelica root and ginger.
Whilst the inclusion of curry leaves could be dominating and pungent, Colombo No. 7 is a beautifully balanced, and subtly spiced gin. Coriander seeds bring citrus notes that run throughout; with juniper, sweet cinnamon and liquorice, earthy angelica root, and a kick of warmth from the ginger. Colombo No. 7 Gin is the ideal accompaniment to spicy food and can be garnished with citrus peel or a curry leaf.
|Colombo No. 7 Gin with its botanicals|
Recently Flipsydee, importers of this fine gin, held a Gin Evening with the luxe Arth playing the perfect venue host. The evening entailed sampling some Colombo No. 7 gin-based cocktails made by the best bartenders in the world and pairing them with some delectable charcoal fired appetizers by Arth.
The Colombo Fizz was a blend of lemon juice, orange peel, egg white, and topped with fizz while the Colombo Buck had coconut water, lemon juice, angostura bitter, and ginger ale. While the lemon juice blended well with the gin, the combination with coconut water was a revelation. One of the best gin-based cocktails I have had!
The Bees Knees Collins was made with thyme, honey, lemon juice, and egg white while the Kandy Fix had homemade Grenadine, lemon juice, pineapple juice and garnished with curry leaf. The thyme gave a wondrous fragrance to the Collins while the grenadine and gin combination painted a potent and pretty picture.
|Bees Knees Collins|
The appetizers included Rhododendron Seekh, Paneer Chargrilled, Stuffed Tandoori Aloo, and Naga Mushroom Gilawat for the vegetarians while Mutton Kakori Kebab, Bhune Hue Murg Ke Tikke, Chicken Silbata Kebab, and Fish Chargrilled satiated the carnivores.
With a wonderful undercurrent of spiciness running through, the dishes were an apt complement to the Colombo No. 7 Gin.
The first Asian-made, handcrafted gin of its kind, Colombo No. 7 is best enjoyed now as it was then: with plenty of ice and crisp, good-quality tonic.
|Straight up G&T|
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