Gin review, Uncategorized

Gin Tasting: Pothecary Gin

Ladies and GINtlemen – we have a very special tasting to share with you today. The good folk at Pothecary Gin proffered us with a bottle to try in advance of their grand launch in the UK and I must say, we’ve very much enjoyed this delightfully smooth tipple.

For us, this gin took us straight back to a late spring day on the island of Jersey surrounded by lavender bushes, warmed by the sun and smelling the bright scent of the ocean. And yes, lavender is a key botanical in this fresh-off-the-stills expression.

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Now, what we really love about Pothecary Gin is that it is a British (distilled in Dorset), blended gin. They have a unique process of distilling each botanical separately – and this yields a delightful profile of flavours that are both well-balanced and refreshingly individual, including wild-foraged juniper from Bulgaria, organic lavender from Provence and Organic black mulberries from Anatolia to name a few.

Incredibly smooth and easy to drink, lovers of floral, soft gins will really get on very well with Pothecary. And before it’s even properly launched, Pothecary Gin has been awarded ‘Double Gold’ at the globally renowned ‘San Francisco World Spirits Competition’. Accolade indeed.

Concepted and carefully distilled by friends Lukasz Dwornik and Martin Jennings, the pair decided after tasting one too many bland gins that they could do something better. And they may just have.

You won’t have seen Pothecary Gin on the back bar yet in London town… but fear not! If you’re off to Junipalooza this year, a) see you there and b) look out for the Pothecary team as they will be officially introducing London to their gin!

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THE TASTING

#1:      ON THE NOSE

Lavender (BIG TIME!), palma violets, liquorice and caremelised sugar.

#2:      ON THE PALETTE

That lavender doesn’t give way – it shines through on the palette, quickly followed by gentle juniper and lemon sherbet.

#3       THE FINISH

A mellow, ripe blackberry finish with earthy tones of cocoa and even a hint of basil.

If you’ve tried Pothecary Gin, tell us what you thought on Twitter @the_gin_club.

 

The Perfect Serve:

OK so a G&T is great, but gin rickey (soda) let’s this delicate profile shine. Even better, a dry martini, shaken with a twist of lemon.

The chaps at Pothecary recommend a Vesper Martini or a Gin Sour.

Price:             £39

ABV:              44.8%

Our rating:     8/10

Where to Buy It in the UK:

 

Exclusively at Gin Kiosk until it launches on World Gin Day at Junipalooza, £39

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Gin review, Uncategorized

Gin Tasting: Malawi Gin

Imagine you are sitting under a palm tree, skin too hot from a day in the sun, feet buried in warm sand and you are listening to a gentle fish eagle call from way back in a deep red and orange sunset over the water. That’s Malawi Gin – a soothing sunset, bottled.

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M.G.T. (Malawi Gin & Tonic), as it is fondly known, has become something of a cult amongst holidaymakers and travellers who have ventured over to the warm heart of Africa. You need only check the forum boards on TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet and you will find travellers desperately seeking a bottle once they returned to the UK. Well great news, travellers – Malawi Gin is finally available here in the UK (see end of post for where to buy)!

Established in 1965, Malawi Gin is a firm favourite not just with travellers, but with most gin lovers in Africa and it’s easy to see why – it’s a soft, gentle gin with a classic profile that has become all too forgotten lately with the prolific and wild botanicals that are awash through the gin industry right now. It’s polite and very easy to drink. Subtle notes pushing through a very silky gin indeed.

The packaging will have hipsters delighted – there’s a quaint 70s vibe I really like about it and it’s nice to see a gin that isn’t bamboozling with design and print finishes for a change. It’s true to its original look and hasn’t changed in 40 years or so.

This is indeed a dry gin, but it’s got some really lovely sweet and fruity notes that shine through.

Having grown up in Malawi, it would be fair to say that this gin has a special place in my heart and I am absolutely delighted it’s now available to buy here in the UK and I was very excited to share this delightful gin with our members.

THE TASTING

#1:      ON THE NOSE

Honey, juniper, citrus and fresh cut grass with a surprising undertone of coconut.

#2:      ON THE PALETTE

Predominantly juniper and black pepper which make way for softer, sweeter notes of toffee, candied lemon peel and fresh mango.

#3       THE FINISH

Silky hints of chocolate and orange sherbet.

If you’ve tried Malawi Gin, tell us what you thought on Twitter @the_gin_club.

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The Perfect Serve:

We tried it in a classic G&T with a mango garnish. The gin is so gentle it disappears a bit with tonic, so we also tried it as a Gin Rickey (soda and fresh lime) and this really worked well too.

 

Price:             ±£35, depending where you buy it from.

ABV:              43%

Our rating:     7/10

 

Where to Buy It in the UK:

Africanos World, £33

The Gin Festival Shop, £38

Amazon, £41.95

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Gin review

Gin Tasting: Gin Lane 1751 London Dry Royal Strength

This is altogether the most unique spirit we have tried in a long while. Do you love liquorice? Are you a savoury gin fan? Then you may enjoy Gin Lane 1751 London Dry Royal Strength.

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Having only been released in late spring this year, Gin Lane 1751 is still fairly new to the craft gin market. However, as a creation of 8th generation London Distiller Charles Maxwell, their credentials are strong (which is why we were really looking forward to trying this gin). Made with 8 botanicals in a traditional Victorian style, London Dry Royal Strength is one of 4 released this year by the brand and is the first we have tried. You can read a great interview with Charles Maxwell by the good folk at GinFoundry.com (who else?!) here.

Gin Lane 1751 Royal Strength G&T

The name and liquid profile is inspired by history. Back in the mid 1700’s, the government felt that ‘Mothers Ruin’ was indeed causing far too many problems on the streets and they created a campaign to try and encourage people to switch back to a more ‘gentile’ drink – beer. Gin was blamed for a lower birth rate and for more infant deaths than ever before. As part of the campaign, this famous print by William Hogarth was commissioned, titled ‘Gin Lane’.

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Hogarth claimed that this print was ‘calculated to reform some reigning Vices peculiar to the lower Class of People’. Not long after, The Gin Act of 1751 was introduced which ensured licensing of retail premises and finally reduced consumption. Hence our Victorian style gin here is delightfully named Gin Lane 1751.

So, onto the gin – it’s a London Dry Royal Strength – and let me tell you, it really does pack a punch on the palette at 47% ABV! But even more so in flavour profile. Read on to see our tasting below. Before we get to the profile though, it must also be said that this gin has a really refreshing price point – £22.99 for a 70cl bottle. They have a principle of bringing affordable craft gin to the market place which I really like.

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THE TASTING

Made in a traditional Victorian style, it is heavy on juniper and star anise. What hits you right away is the strong citrus, bitter juniper and heavy pepper, which quickly opens up into a real hit of liquorice and fennel. I’d be so bold as to suggest that this isn’t a beginner’s gin – with quite a complex palette and a very bold profile, this gin is for those looking for something very different. Not everyone at Gin Club got on with this expression, but I’m pleased that it’s a gin bold enough to inspire opinion.

#1:      ON THE NOSE

Plenty of juniper, rosemary, lemon and limes.

#2:      ON THE PALETTE

The citrus and juniper are still very much there and are quickly followed by a powerful hit of aniseed and cracked black pepper.

#3       THE FINISH

Coriander, a hint of lemongrass and even a tiny notion of bitter cacao.

If you’ve tried Gin Lane 1751, tell us what you thought on Twitter @the_gin_club.

The Perfect Serve

We tried it in a classic G&T with lemon, a Negroni, a dirty martini and then we also tried it again as a G&T with coriander and chilli. We felt this London Dry suited the savoury servings most and the simple garnish of chilli and coriander helped to compliment some of the natural punch in this gin.

Price:             £22.99

ABV:              47%

Our rating:     6/10

Where to Buy It

At TheDrinkShop.com (£22.99), here.

At MasterOfMalt.com (£22.99), here.

As Selfridges (£26.99), here.

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Gin Events, Gin Joints

Drink Here: The Hendrick’s Emporium of Sensorial Submersion

2015HENDRIC_ASVLike gin? Going to Edinburgh Fringe this year? Looking for something a little different to do in-between shows? Curious enough to magnifiy your mind, fall into a state of hypnagogia, experience your gin in a completely new way? Good, then you need to get your fine self down to the most unusual Hendrick’s Emporium of Sensorial Submersion (#HESS) on 91 George Street, Edinburgh, pronto.

Cucumber HQ promised “a synesthetic playground of wondrous experiments and entertainments lubricated with most unusual libations throughout – a fully immersive experience that will let you discover and experience the uniqueness of Hendrick’s Gin through the mediums of sound and taste. You will leave a smidgeon more educated, a great deal more titillated and a whole imperial tonne more befuddled by the absurd abilities of your very own senses.” – and they weren’t wrong. What an experience!

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Part cocktail tasting, part gin lesson, part experiment, part theatre, the HESS is not to be missed. The delightful Cacophony bar is filled with oddities as only you’d expect from Hendrick’s – everything from rose and cucumber listening devices to Pavlov’s dog to the elaborate ‘Phantasmagorical Cognitive Drinking Topper Hat’ that lulls you into a state of hypnagogia as you sip your way through a spectacular cocktail menu, mixed expertly by a suitably dapper team. The bar is free to all and is well worth a visit.

IMG_20150813_192638But for the truly curious, you must take part in the immersive experience – for just twenty-four Great British Pounds you experience 5 Hendrick’s drinks and learn an awful lot about yourself, the way your mind works in relation to taste and leave with a delightfully satiated palette. Hendrick’s don’t do things by halves – they worked with world-leading sound artist Mark IJzerman from the University of Utrecht to deconstruct the cocktail tasting experience and present it in a new way. Here’s an overview of our night on the immersive experience:

The Quietest Bar on Earth

Here, adorned in white gowns, we entered a white room and enjoyed a dry martini in complete silence. Issued with noise cancelling headphones, our host used boards with words on to talk us through a conscious mediation that was designed to quite the mind and the palette. A most unusual experience and completely unexpected – I can’t remember the last time I sat in complete silence for 10 minutes. Hearing your own heart beat in your ears and your own breathing whilst surrounded by other people was awfully strange, but actually helped you focus on the flavour if the martini, which was delightful. Hendrick’s is a superb gin in a martini – really soft and floral.

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The Audio-gastrotorium Laboratory

Next, in a science lab classroom, we explored and learned about how our sensory stimuli are all interconnected. Presented with 3 vials of different coloured liquid, we were invited to put some headphones on and, using a flavour wheel, describe the three different gins. A most unexpected outcome – I won’t give the game away, but this was probably the most interesting room and a fascinating experience.

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The Quantumphysical Soundscape of Hendrick’s Gin

In a deep red room, we were invited to play with a most curious contraption designed to “uncover the secret quantumphysical voice of cocktails as we amplify the effect one has on the vibration of concoction’s sub-atoms” – we basically “played” our cocktails as you would instruments – the best way I can describe this was like playing a theremin. An absolutely fascinating experience and fun way to enjoy a cocktail!

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Sonic Cucumber Bath

The final room was a zen like oasis – in the midst of the crazy festival, this was truly lovely. Here, we enjoyed a sonic sound bath led by a gongologist – basically playing tibetan singing bowls and a gong while you lie back and fall into a state of deep relaxation. We finished off the experience with a an alarmingly green coloured liquid called ‘cucozade’ – which in fact tasted delicious.

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All in all an amazing experience and one not to be missed! More info and tickets:

  • Location: 91 George Street from 7th – 30th August 2015.
  • The full Hendrick’s Emporium of Sensorial Submersion experience runs every hour from 6pm – 11pm, Wednesdays to Sundays. Each experience lasts approximately two hours and will be undertaken in groups of 20.
  • Tickets for the full experience cost £24 (including drinks) and can be purchased from https://www.edfringe.com.
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Garnishes, How To Guides

How To: Garnish Your Gin

Remember when we only used to drink G&T’s with lime?

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Coldplay were the hottest thing since sliced bread, beards were out and cucumber was reserved for tiny sandwiches at The Ritz. The only way to serve our favourite tipple was with a green wedge of fresh lime. OK, you’d have a slice of lemon, at a push…. Fast forward to 2015 and we are far more familiar with elaborate garnishes that range from exotic fruits to fresh herbs to bacon – so what’s happened? Hint: there’s method to the fabulousness. It’s not *just* for decoration…

If we look back into the history of the gin & tonic, some suggest that in fact lime was added to help fight scurvy in the mid-1800’s, however this cannot be verified. But it could be why we have since so faithfully remained wed to lime. (For a an in-depth look at this history of the G&T, this is a very good article)

Then, Hendrick’s Gin was introduced with wildly unusual rose and cucumber botanicals – arguably kick-starting the craft gin alternative botanical trend. And they did something unheard of…. They recommended we drink their gin with a slice of cucumber! This was revolutionary!

What most of us didn’t (and arguably some still don’t) realise is that this wasn’t just marketing fluff or an attempt to be different; the reason Hendrick’s is served with cucumber is because it enhances the botanical profile of the gin. Ah-ha!

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Garnish is to gin as food is to wine – some things just go better together. My top recommendation for garnish experimenters would be to visit Julia and the team at The London Gin Club – these guys really know their gin. Coppa glass, premium ice and intelligently selected garnishes will open your palette to a whole new world of wonderful. Indeed, I will never forget enjoying my first GinMare garnished with basil and cherry tomato – it blew my mind and really made me think I could be more selective with my garnish choices.

Photo courtesy of The London Gin Club website (thelondonginclub.com)

Photo courtesy of The London Gin Club website (thelondonginclub.com)

If you can’t get down to London, here are the basic principles of garnish pairing:

  1. Complimentary flavours – a garnish that is the same or similar to the predominant botanical and enhances the botanical note i.e. Hendrick’s Gin’s predominant botanical is cucumber, therefor serve with a slice of cucumber
  2. Contrasting flavours – a garnish that is the opposite to the predominant botanical that provides a unique take on the entire profile of the gin i.e. Sacred Cardamom is spicey, dry and peppery and served with a sweet slice of orange or ruby red grapefruit gives you a different perspective on the flavours

Additionally, our friends at The Craft Gin Club have been collating responses from distillers to create a definitive list of garnishes – a great place to start. Who knows better than the distillers themselves?

Finally, an important thing to say is let’s not get too puritanical here… garnish as you please and go for things you like. I can’t handle too much gin snobbery… let’s be aware, and then do as we like. Gin is much more about personal preference and enjoyment than rules. If you discover something that works really well, drop us a line on Twitter and tell us about it  @the_gin_club

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Gin review, Naked Tasting

Gin Tasting: Silent Pool Gin

Price:             ±£35

ABV:               43%

Profile:            Citrus, Kaffir Lime leaf, lavender, chamomile and fresh grass

Our rating:       9/10

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In the world of craft gins, you can easily become overwhelmed and bamboozled by obscure botanicals and quirky flavour profiles and exaggerated marketing… So much so that when you do come across a gin that is as well balanced, polite and altogether delightful as Silent Pool, you remember why you started drinking gin in the first place. Thank you, Master Distiller Cory Mason, for reminding us that, like a Gregory Peck or a Jaguar E-Type… sometimes the classics never go out of style. Indeed, Silent Pool have remade the classic profile of a quintessential gin but added a modern twist that is undeniably exquisite.

Having first discovered Silent Pool gin at The London Gin Festival back in February, we knew knew almost immediately that this would become a firm favourite at The Gin Club (not least of all because their distillery is not far from my house in Surrey!). We were then reminded of how superb it was whilst stopping in for refreshment on a long country walk at The Drummond, Albury (if you haven’t been you really must make a trip out to Surrey and enjoy the fine hospitality of the team and enjoy a Silent Pool by the babbling brook in the pub garden) and that was that, we knew we had to get several bottles in. A few weeks later we drove out to Ripley to meet Ian from Silent Pool distillery and acquire a few bottles for the next Gin Club meet. Needless to say, it was the most popular gin that night.

Silent Pool itself is a site of mystery, magic and legend based near Albury, Surrey. The Distillery takes spring water from Silent Pool in the making of the gin, hence the name. A place of extreme beauty and shrouded in mystery and magic, we’re pleased to report that the gin is just as interesting. Legend has it that a woodcutters daughter drowned in the bottomless pool and that her spirit can be seen rising from the waters at night. If you’ve ever been to silent pool, you’ll know how incredibly clear the water is and how many glorious rainbow colours you can see on the bottom created by various plant life. The Silent Pool gin bottle aims to reflect some of this magic and it certainly is a beautiful bottle that can be proudly displayed on your gin shelf.

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24 unique and unamed botanicals (the gin is as mysterious as it’s namesake) come together to deliver a very refreshing gin that unfolds gently on the palette. Our tasting notes in full below, however you will be rewarded with a crisp citrus and peppery profile to start that gives way to the deep sweetness of honey and that leaves a soothing wave of lavender and chamomile behind. We tried it neat and with Jack Rudy’s Tonic syrup and sparkling mineral water.

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An absolutely delightful gin – polite on the palette, refreshing with a confident citrus profile that is balanced beautifully with gentle notes of honey, lavender and rose.

#1:      ON THE NOSE

Lots of lovely juniper followed by bright lemon, kaffir lime, fresh cracked black pepper, coriander and sherbet.

#2:      ON THE PALETTE

Citrus quickly gives way to silky aniseed, sweet chamomile and lavender, a touch of rose.

#3       THE FINISH

Warm honey, fresh oranges and maybe even a hint of mint.

The Perfect Serve

We tried a simple orange slice garnish & a gooseberry – which complimented the citrus profile of the gin and then again with a slice of pear and sprig of lavender – which really sung.

Because Silent Pool has such a wonderfully balanced profile, a classic dirty martini, served extra cold, with lemon stuffed olives to compliment the citrus profile is just wonderful.

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tonics-bottles
Uncategorized

Tonic is the new Gin

We all know that we are living through another Gin renaissance. In recent years a mirriad of small batch and craft Gin producers have been jostling for position, trying to stand out in an increasingly Gin-soaked market by playing on the subtleties of their botanicals and ingredients. Global Gin consumption is definitely on the rise, but what of that other ingredient in the most popular of Gin imbibes, Tonic Water?

Tonic water originated in early 19th Century India and other tropical outposts, where British officials stationed in these places started mixing Quinine powder, an insanely bitter extract from the bark of the cinchona tree and used as a preventative for Malaria, with soda water and sugar to make it more palatable.

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Cinchona bark – Courtesy of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.

For many years the standard Schweppes and Canada Dry brands of Tonic were the mainstay of G&Ts the world over, providing a fairly homogeneous, less bitter, sweet syrupy tasting tonic with far reduced amounts of quinine. In the US the FDA limits the amount of quinine used in Tonic waters to 83mg/litre, whilst any effective therapeutic dose is in the range of 500-1000mg/litre, so a partaking in a cheeky G&T in the tropics is not going to stop you getting malaria any more!

SchweppesAd1Canada DryIn recent years we have seen some premium tonics enter the marketplace, the likes of Tomr’s tonic, Fever Tree, and Q Tonic have made an emphasis on using real quinine and natural ingredients, as opposed to flavorings and corn syrup.
And most recently craft tonic syrups have started to appear from Tomr’s, Jack Rudy Cocktail Co and Johns Premium Tonic Syrup. This is coupled with the increase in cocktail bars mixing their own tonics and adding their own craft flavours.

Fever Tree, setup in 2004 by Charles Rolls, the former owner of Plymouth Gin, was driven by “…the fact that with the tonics available on the market at that time, it was difficult to tell the difference between different premium gins.” says Rolls, something that this Gin Club has found consistently with blind taste tests. We even find that with some Gins, even Fevertree itself has a tendency to drown out some subtle flavours.

This is less so with the Tonic Syrups and hand crafted tonics, where moderating the ratio of tonic syrup to soda, to bring out or emphasise the subtle flavours in the gin, can dramatically change the overall flavour of the drink.

So far this Gin Club has only been able to smuggle in Jack Rudy’s Tonic syrup for review, but will be bringing in samples of Tomr’s and Johns Premium for a side by side taste test in laboratory conditions in the near future, but initial tastings of these stateside have proved to be promising and we are excited to bring these into regular club circulation.  If you can’t wait for that, then you should take a look at these excellent tonic reviews from The Gin Is In Blog.

As Tomr’s says “Life’s too short to drink a crappy tonic”

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