London continues to nurture its blossoming distillery scene with more and more small operations launching, as spirits now enjoy the artisan renaissance previously reserved for beers and microbreweries. One of the latest contenders is Hackney Downs’ 58 Gin. Mark Marmont—who founded the company—has had a varied career, working—among other things—as a dive master, short order cook and in laboratories. After moving to London from Australia, he developed an interest in cocktails, helped by the fact that he lives close to award-winning cocktail bar 69 Colebrooke Row. “Going in there and learning about cocktails really helped me learn about gin, as that’s a precursor to a lot of the cocktails,” Marmont says.
Marmont decided to find out how hard it is to make gin, and to try and make one he would really like. The result of two years of experimenting and refining the recipe—going through what he calls the “Breaking Bad-stage, when things aren’t quite legal”—is 58 Gin. Named after his address at 58 Colebrooke Row, 58 is a smooth, creamy gin with a clean, slightly sweet taste. Marmont explains that when distilling the gin, he cuts off most of the head and tail parts (the spirit produced first and last in distillation), leaving more of the heart, for a balanced flavor that doesn’t have the sharpness that comes with cheap gin.
The 43% ABV gin contains nine botanicals (juniper, coriander seed, lemon peel, pink grapefruit peel, bergamot peel, orris, cubeb pepper, vanilla and angelica) that come together to create a nice balance between sweet and savory. 58 Gin is a fragrant gin that goes down easy, and works just as well in a classic martini as it does in more advanced cocktails. All bottles are made by Marmont himself in batches of 80 per week, and the gin is sold in a number of London bars and pubs, including Merchant House and The London Gin Club.
In his small distillery in Hackney Downs Studios, Marmont hosts distillery tours and continues to experiment with gin flavors. When CH visited, we got to try his latest invention, a tasty cherry blossom gin that will be available at the upcoming Hackney Drinks Market. 58 Gin is also sold at the weekly Dalston Food Market for £35.
Images by Cajsa Carlson