Gin review, Naked Tasting

Gin tasting: Jam Jar Gin, Botanical No. 1

Hand’s up if you’ve heard of Yerburgh’s JAM JAR GIN? No? We hadn’t either. Jam Jar Gin is a new gin that hasn’t even made it to market yet, but this evening they made their crowd-funding target just 3 days after it went live. You can imagine how chuffed we were here at The Gin Club to get some samples of their first born to try! We tried Botanical No. 1 and can confirm it really does the Founders, Dan and Faye Thwaites, proud.

Yup, you guessed right - bottled in Jam Jars!

Yup, you guessed right – bottled in Jam Jars!

This is a delightful London Dry with a divine story – you can read it on their website. Delivered in miniature jam jars, the samples just looked the business. The real deal is of course going to be bottled in large jam jars – they’ve even invented a pourer for those wishing to be more accurate on their serves. This gin is going to really stand out on shelves. It doesn’t just look good – it tastes fantastic.

Inspired by ingredients found in their Victorian kitchen garden, Dan & Faye have created a truly British gin. Carefully selected botanicals, like raspberry leaf, give the gin a clean, citrusy & uplifting fragrance. On the palette, a rounded, peppery sweet taste with a long, creamy finish. Dan says of the botanicals, “They’re all inspired by the original experiments we did in our garden. To get the volume and quality, we select them from the best sources to make a flavour that we love.” Watch this space! They plan to build a distillery in their garden, right at the source of inspiration!

Their recommendation is to freeze the gin before serving; we tried it both frozen and room temperature – both work. (If you want some top tips for nosing & tasting gin like a pro, read this earlier post).

Quite simply, this gin is bloody marvellous. We were so inspired by the profile of Botanical No. 1 during the neat tasting that we immediately experimented with ingredients in the cupboard. And do you know what? It worked! Here’s what we came up with:

  1. ‘Jam Fine’ – blended frozen raspberries, organic bramble jam, mint, lime & Botanical No. 1 served with lime, fresh mint and a sprinkle of sherbet on the top.
  2. ‘Earl-y Marmejamjam’ – cold steeped Earl Grey tea, marmalade, candied orange peel, soda & Botanical No. 1 served with dehydrated clementine slice and ice shards. A breakfast gin if ever there was one! (Drink responsibly folks…)

We’ll post the recipes tomorrow – you’ll just have to wait!!

serves

Our experiments: ‘Jam Fine’ and ‘Earl-y Marmejamjam’ cocktails made with nothing more than what we found in the cupboard.

As it goes, we enjoyed this gin so much we had to go and support these determined GINdependants as soon as we tasted it and buy a bottle. They’ve already hit their target, but take a look at their crowd-funding page here and support them – that way we won’t have to wait long to get Jam Jar Gin in more G&T’s. Hoorah! *Makes room on the shelf for Jam Jar Gin*. Dan told us, “We’ve got big dreams for our lovely gin but the drinks business can be pretty tough, so we need to get as much of a head-start as we can. With some very generous backing, we’ve already hit our minimum target. We’re keen to keep going to see if we can get a jar of our lovely gin on as many shelves as possible!”

The official Gin Club Review

#1:      ON THE NOSE

If you could bottle the first day of spring in London… you know, that day when you can just SMELL it and everything feels GOOD? That’s this gin! Floral, freshly cut grass, lime zest and gooseberry.

#2:      ON THE PALETTE

 So much… just… so much! Gentle pink peppercorns come through at first which make way for a fleeting burst of bitter dark chocolate and orange peel. Surprising, to say the least.

#3       THE FINISH

Boiled sweets that remind you of younger days on Brighton beach, warming custard and blackberry crumble too.

The Perfect Serve

Here’s the best bit… there isn’t one! This is a gentle gin that can play with lots of flavours. The whole philosophy behind Jam Jar Gin is to hold a space in the world of cocktails for those of us who aren’t necessarily professional mixologists, but who enjoy experimenting.

“The perfect garnish? We’re simple souls, we like frozen fruit! We have a lot of produce from the garden, but more often than not it all comes at once. So we often end up bunging some in the freezer. One time, when I was making some drinks, we had run out of ice, so I just grabbed what was to hand – some frozen blackcurrants. Not only did they cool the drink beautifully, but they slowly infused the mixture.” – another top tip from Dan. We love this!

Rating: 9/10

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How To Guides

How to taste gin like a pro: the slimline version

Let’s face it – once you get off the nursery slopes and start feeling the fresh botanical winds of craft gins off-piste, it’s time to learn a few specialist techniques to hone your skills and improve the ride. Here are some top tips for nosing & tasting the “black run gins” in your life.

P.S. This is the slimline guide for busy people. You can find the full fat version with more detail here.

BLOG - GC - N&T_notes

#1: PREPARATION

Glassware
Get your hands on a tulip shaped copita glass, or a Glencairn nosing & tasting glass. The shape of these glasses ensures that the aroma of the gin you are tasting is concentrated. You can buy them from WineWare.

BLOG - GC - N&T_glass

Room temperature
To get the most out of your gin, you want to serve the gin room temperature (21-23 degrees C).

Bare, naked gin
No ice, no tonic, no garnish – not for nosing and tasting. Do however, have a little bit of water nearby.

#2: NOSING

The first nosing – in the glass
Get your nose right into the tulip of the glass. Take a slow, very gentle sniff. What are your initial impressions here? Sharp? Fresh? Spicey? Sweet? Make a note.

The second nosing – on your hands
Here’s a top tip I learned from Matthew Ferguson for nosing spirits to remove some of the alcohol:

#3 TASTING

The first tasting – neat

  • Hold the gin on your tongue for a moment – take note of what you get.
  • Move it around your mouth – what changes, what else do you get?
  • Swallow – what’s in the finish? Do new flavours arise on the pallet?

The second tasting – with water
Adding water will takes the sharp edge off the alcohol and saucily unbuttons layers of botanicals and flavours in your gin. Easy does it mind, drop by drop.

#4: ASSESMENT & GRADUATION

If you’ve enjoyed it and the gin has passed, graduate to a full serve G&T with complimentary garnish or serve as your favourite gin cocktail. I really like this handy guide from the Craft Gin Club – they asked Distillers directly what the best garnish was for their gin.

And there you have it. Now you know how to nose & taste gin like a pro!

What now?

Want more detail? Try the full fat version of this blog post, here.

Tell us what you think in the comments below or tweet us. If you’re doing a tasting, share a pic on instagram and tag us (@theginclub).

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How To Guides

How to taste gin like a pro – the full fat version

Let’s face it – once you get off the nursery slopes and start feeling the fresh botanical winds of craft gins off-piste, it’s time to learn a few specialist techniques to hone your skills and improve the ride. Here are some top tips for nosing & tasting the “black run gins” in your life.

P.S. This is the full fat guide. You can find the slimline version here.

BLOG - GC - N&T_notes

#1: PREPARATION

Cleansed palette
Simple: don’t nose and taste directly after eating strong flavoured foods (garlic, onions, spices etc) and avoid having chewing gum in your mouth.

Cold, weak coffee and a sniff of coffee beans can help to cleanse the palette, for the really pernickety amongst you.

Glassware
You’re going to want to put your highball and tumbler glasses to one side and get your hands on a tulip shaped copita glass, or a Glencairn nosing & tasting glass. The shape of these glasses ensures that the aroma of the gin you are tasting is concentrated up into the thinnest curve of the glass, allowing you to really explore the aroma of the gin.

Personally, I like the stemmed copita glass only because the stem allows you to swirl the gin a little more easily than a Glencairn (more traditionally used for whisky tasting). They are elegant to look at too. You can buy them from WineWare.

BLOG - GC - N&T_glass

Room temperature
Temperature affects the aromas and flavours you will experience when nosing and tasting your gin. To get the most out of your gin, you want to serve the gin room temperature (21-23 degrees C). If the gin has been in a cold corner of the kitchen, consider placing it on the radiator for a bit. If the gin has been on a warm back bar or some such, perhaps leave it to cool down to room temperature first.

Bare, naked gin
No ice, no tonic, no garnish. Not to start with anyway. Tonic and garnishes are designed to enhance the flavours in the gin – you want to see, smell and taste this gin in it’s birthday suit to start.

Do however, have a little bit of water near by – best to have it in a mini jug. You’ll need it in a minute.

#2: NOSING

The first nosing – in the glass
Get that coppita up, stare that gin right in the chops and get your nose right into the tulip of the glass. Take a slow, very gentle sniff. You’re nosing the gin undiluted, so it’s going to pack a powerful alcohol punch (good for clearing the airways) which for most, reveals little more than overwhelming ethol alcohol. That’s OK, your nose and palette will acclimatise.

What are your initial impressions here? Sharp? Fresh? Spicey? Sweet? Make a note.

The second nosing – on your hands
Yup, that’s right. Your hands! We want to try and nose a second time, but to remove some of the punchy alcohol from the experience. Here’s a top tip I learned from Matthew Ferguson for nosing spirits:

  • Place your hand on top of the nosing glass, turn the glass upside down and allow the gin to wet your palm.
  • Turn the glass back up the right way and remove your hand.
  • Wipe your palms (don’t rub) together to remove the strong alcohol and bring them, cupped, to your nose.
  • Take a deep whiff.

Here’s a quick video on how:

How lovely is THAT? Now what do you get? Different to the first nose? Do you get more? Take note.

#3 TASTING

The first tasting – neat
Finally! The GOOD stuff! We are going to take a small sip of the gin, neat. It’s room temperature; we’ve prepared our palette and nose…. We’re cooking with gas now.

  • Hold the gin on your tongue for a moment – take note of what you get.
  • Move it around your mouth – what changes, what else do you get?
  • Swallow – what’s in the finish? Do new flavours arise on the pallet?

IMPORTANT NOTE: Proceed with caution on the first tasting… if you’re used to only tasting gin with the influence of tonic or mixers, you will likely find neat gin an unpleasant experience. The more refined your palette becomes, the more you’ll be able to decipher profiles neat, but if it’s your first time, perhaps skip straight to the second tasting below and add water.

The second tasting – with water
Distiller’s often take a spirit down to 30% ABV with a bit of water. Most gins are bottled at around 40% ABV (unless your drinking a navy strength gin which will be around 50% ABV), but benefit from being taken down to sometimes even 20%. Adding water will takes the sharp edge off the alcohol and saucily unbuttons layers of botanicals and flavours in your gin. Easy does it mind, drop by drop. Try the gin with tiny sips a few times, adding a drop or two more as you go. Notice if that changes anything.

#4: ASSESMENT & GRADUATION
Hopefully you’ve been jotting down a few tasting notes on a piece of paper for your gin as you’ve been going, but now is the time to asses and form your opinion on the gin.

If you’ve enjoyed it and the gin has passed, graduate to a full serve G&T with complimentary garnish or serve as your favourite gin cocktail. I really like this handy guide from the Craft Gin Club – they asked Distillers directly what the best garnish was for their gin.

And there you have it. Now you know how to nose & taste gin like a pro. May the junipers be ever in your favour.

Tell us what you think in the comments below or tweet us. If you’re doing a tasting, share a pic on instagram and tag us (@theginclub).

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Gin Joints

Drink here : Mr Fogg’s, Mayfair.

Located at number 15 Burton Lane, tucked into a non-descript side street in Mayfair; it was introduced to me as the kind of place one might find a gentleman that has travelled the world in curious circumstances. It is of course, Mr Foggs.

Even as you approach the large double frontage, with the exception of the uniformed doorman standing outside, there is little to tell you that you have in fact found your destination. Those of a less adventurous demeanour might be perturbed and walk on by, thinking it perhaps a private residence or an old Mayfair members club.

Mr Fogg's

Upon entering the establishment, you are ushered into what I can only imagine was the officers mess at some Victorian era colonial outpost – the walls are adorned with mounted animal heads, ordinary bicycles hanging from the ceiling, a large hot air balloon appears to have crash landed and entangled in the rafters. A large fireplace hosts several roaring logs, above which the head of a Kudo keeps watch over the proceedings. Uniformed waiters, dressed in the style of colonial mess stewards seat you and take your drinks orders.

The selection of Gin on hand was, as you would expect of such an establishment, both extensive and eclectic, with some rare 1970’s bottlings of Booth’s, Gilby’s, Beefeater’s, Pitman’s, and Plymouth Drys. I, of course, being a man who likes to get straight to the point when ordering drinks, looked no further than the first entry on the Gin list: Mr Fogg’s Butlers Gin and a Fevertree tonic. The drink was served in a traditional way, which I guess for me was partially lounging on a low chaise discussing with my colleagues various business engagements.

Mr. Fogg’s is famous for their ‘Tipsy Tea” and whilst I had not the time nor the inclination to order “an intriguing selection of Alcoholic Teas served alongside an exquisite array of elegant Sandwiches, Cakes, Pastries & Petit-Fours” at 17.37 on a Tuesday eve, I have no doubt that other members would find this offering most delightful.

As this was an unplanned late afternoon reconnaissance for a future Gin Club meeting, I have kept the details brief, but I can say that this is definitely a place that will certainly be revisited in an official capacity with the other members of Gin club in the coming weeks.

Mr Fogg's Butler's Gin and Fevertree Tonic

Mr Fogg’s Butler’s Gin and Fevertree Tonic

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