Cocktails with… Sibling Gin

Over the past four years, we have published reviews for 299 gins from 31 different countries and so, today, it is with great pleasure that we reach our 300th Gin Review.

This review is of the new Sibling Gin from the Sibling Distillery in Cheltenham. The distillery is the brainchild of the Elliott-Berry siblings: two brothers, Felix and Digby, and two sisters, Clarice and Cicely, who are all under 25 years of age.

Their gin is produced in a glass and metal hybrid still that was designed in-house and contains a botanical infusion basket. They use a range of botanicals including: juniper, coriander, lemon, orange, vanilla, and blueberry. The gin is made using a vodka base, which is distilled in-house, and the final product is bottled at 42% ABV.

Sibling Gin FINAL

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Rich and creamy vanilla, with a hint of breadiness; there is also a little chocolate that is reminiscent of a dark chocolate brioche. More of the traditional gin notes then come through, with dry juniper, angelica, and some citrus. Finally, creamy berries.
Taste: This is quite a rich and full spirit, texture wise. There is juniper upfront, followed by a little pepper spice. This then makes way for luscious, rich and creamy vanilla notes and zesty citrus, followed by even more vanilla, a touch of chocolate, and a burst of berry notes from the blueberries. The finish is long and dry with a little citrus, pine, and some residual vanilla.

From the Freezer
Served straight from the freezer, this gin has a pleasant thickness: a richer and more viscous texture. More of the dry notes of the gin come through and there’s a lovely finish of vanilla and berries with a slight sweetness, almost reminiscent of an Eton Mess. Very sippable and very tasty.

Over Ice
This is another pleasant way to sip the gin and a little ice melt certainly gives the spirit a silky texture. There’s dry spice upfront with notes of cinnamon, cassia and vanilla, before a slight zing of citrus, a hint of tart berry, and then a dry juniper and angelica finish.

Gin & Tonic
Another lovely drink. The blueberry jamminess and vanilla add a confectionery element and helps the gin break through past some of the more cloying elements of some tonics. The rest of the flavour is wonderfully dry, with a lovely citrus finish fresh of lemon and orange.

IMG_3969

Gin Tonica
Beautiful: the grapefruit and vanilla combine to create a chord of chocolate notes that complement the complex flavours of the gin superbly. Engaging, unusual, and certainly one to convert anyone to the Spanish style Gin Tonica.

Martini
Creamy and slightly sweet, with hints of berry, vanilla, and anise. Still, this is very clean and has a dry finish, although an initial, light, confectionery element sets this apart and makes it just as suitable as a post-dinner drink as an aperitif. Even Mrs B. (not usually much of a Martini fan) described this as “very drinkable”.

Negroni
This cocktail has a lovely flavour with plenty of chocolate and vanilla notes, before a dry and bitter finish with more earthy dark chocolate. It’s a smooth Negroni, which is in some ways smoother and lighter than many others, but, at the same time, it maintains the bitterness that you would expect from the drink.

French ‘75
Sibling Gin adds a subtle, but noticeable berry creaminess that works very well with the champagne. For this particular drink, I would dial back a little on the lemon juice so that the gin can come through a little more.

Berry Muddler
[Muddle half a small handful of raspberries and blueberries in the bottom of a tumbler, add ice and 50ml of Sibling Gin. Stir and sip.]
A simple drink that’s as a sippable as a fruit smoothie. The blueberry works well with the blueberry and vanilla notes from the gin, and the raspberry adds a nice tartness that works well alongside the dryer botanical notes.

Sibling Gin is available to purchase from the Sibling Gin website for around £32 for 70cl.

Cocktails with… Beefeater 24 Gin – Quintessentially British Gift Pack

Following my recent review of the new Beefeater London Garden (Distillery Exclusive Edition) and the bonus tasting notes of the 40% and 47% Classic Expressions, I have now reviewed all of the Beefeater range (at least of the 21st century) except for Beefeater 24. So it was rather fortuitous when an unexpected bottle arrived last week!

1 Beefeater 24 2014 FRONT

 

But this was no ordinary bottle of Beefeater 24 this was the new ‘Quintessentially British’ limited edition gift pack, designed by the winner of the 2013 Beefeater 24 Inspires competition, Glenn Hin, which will be sold at the Beefeater visitor centre and distillery in Kennington, London, priced at £56. Hin’s design evokes images of the quintessential British summer; with secret gardens, sophisticated summer parties, cocktail glasses, tennis rackets all portrayed in the packaging.

Beefeater 24 builds upon the original 9 Beefeater botanicals and to that adds Sencha Tea, Green Tea and Grapefruit and is bottled at 45.0%ABV.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Rich, with plenty of citrus, including lots of orange, as well as some light, floral notes. Overall, a delicate and intriguing aroma.
Taste: The most notable feature of this gin, at least initially, is its rich, full and smooth texture. The taste consists of a mix of citrus and floral notes, as well as a touch of spice and a dry finish of juniper, angelica, and a touch of tea. This is a rather sippable gin and, as you explore its flavours, more of the delicate and subtle tea notes become apparent. Well-worth more than one visit.

Gin & Tonic
A bright and very dry Gin & Tonic with sweetness towards the end, followed by a lovely bitterness on the finish. It is a drink that I enjoy most when it is ungarnished, in order to better appreciate the more delicate notes of the gin. Refreshing, delicious and rather juicy.

1 Beefeater 24 2014 Pop up

Martini
This makes a very clean Martini with a little spice and a touch of saltiness. The main, bold flavours are floral citrus; again, plenty of orange, but some grapefruit, too, leading onto a long, clean, and dry finish.

Negroni
A very classic Negroni. This gin really hold its own against the other ingredients. Flamed orange or a simple orange peel twist are typical garnishes for this cocktail, but this version already contains sufficient notes of rich, slightly bitter orange marmalade. So much so that I would argue that a Beefeater 24 Negroni is best enjoyed naked; that is, without garnish.

Over Ice
I’ve always thought that Beefeater 24 is a rather sippable gin and when served over ice it becomes even more refreshing. Served with a wedge of orange or lemon (or even both, what I like to call the “U.D.” serve), it’s rather continental and sophisticated. Superb; if you think “You can’t sip gin neat!”, try this.

1 Beefeater 24 2014 GinTea

Gin & Tea
A great drink, the trick to perfecting it is to use fresh ice tea (to find out how to do this check out our guide here) and make sure the tea is not stewed. The result will then be complex and light with small hint of tanin, tartness from the lemon which adds freshness and sugar to balance. The gin provides a subtle but provocative base and is in harmony with the other ingredients.

In Conclusion

It was great to revisit Beefeater 24 and formally review it and I had forgotten how much I enjoy it and I have certainly found a new appreciation for it. The Gin & Tea was superb as was the gin served simply over ice.

Afternoon Tea Cocktails with Courvoisier VS Cognac

This week is National Afternoon Tea week and as such Courvoisier Cognac have come up with a suitable cocktail inspired by the British institution of Afternoon Tea or Tiffin. This in turn has encouraged me to come up with some of my own inventions. I gave myself three
criteria:

1) Use Tea in each drink
2) The cocktails are for the afternoon so they need to be light and not too alcoholic
3) Use Courvoisier VS in the drinks, as they were kind enough to send me a bottle for experimentation.

Here were the results:

1 Courvoisier Cranberry Cup Final

Courvoisier Cranberry Cup
Recipe: Brew one serve of fruits of the forest herbal tea, and chill, mix with 50ml Courvoisier VS, top with 50ml Cranberry Juice, serve
in a cup and saucer

A rich and very very fruity and jammy drink with a little warm complexity from the cognac. The intense and complex fruit aroma and flavours would make it a fun match for a classic scone smothered in jam and cream and perhaps the odd cucumber sandwich too!

1 Josephines Tea Final

Josephine’s Tea
Recipe: 25ml Courvoisier VS, 100ml Chilled Chamomile Tea, 10ml Lemon Juice, 10ml Triple Sec
Named after Napoleon’s wife Josephine, it is a variation on a Collins.
There is a nice tartness from the lemon followed by a mellow sweetness from the triple sec, chamomile and cognac. The complexity of the Courvoisier and the complex floral notes of the chamomile pair well together to make and invigorating, long afternoon drink.

1 Green Napoleon Final

Green Napoleon
Recipe: 25ml Courvoisier VS, 75ml Green Tea, 2 squeezed lime wedges, 10ml Sugar Syrup – Fresh Mint
Method: Add the cognac, mint leaves, lime into a glass and stir, add green tea and fill with crushed ice. Garnish with mint springs.

Similar to a very light Mojito which is lengthened with the green tea, given the lower ABV it is good to use the bolder flavours of a cognac rather than a light rum. The leafy elements of the green tea work well with the crisp mint with the lime adding a refreshing tang. A complex drink but one that is not too intense for the afternoon. Key Lime Pie anyone?

1 Earl of Cognac Final

Earl of Cognac
Recipe: 25ml Courvoisier Cognac, 1 Earl Grey teabag, 75ml Soda Water, 2 Orange wedges
Method: In a large wine or gin tonic glass add the cognac an Earl Grey tea bag and allow to infuse for 2 minutes. Remove tea bag, fill glass with ice and add soda water before garnishing.

A really easy cocktail to make but one with plenty of flavour, I was inspired by the Spanish Gin Tonica but I use sparkling water in a nod to the idea of lengthening cognac to bring it back down to wine-strength. A clean and very refreshing drink with a little wood warmth from the cognac and floral complexity from the tea, as well as a light touch of tanin. The orange works well with the Earl Grey’s bergamot and adds an extra zest.

1 Ginger Zinger Final

Ginger Zinger
Recipe: 25ml Courvoissier VS, 10ml Red vermouth, 75ml Ginger Tea
A herbal and complex drink with the warmth of the ginger being a natural match to the cognac and the herbal red vermouth working well with the ginger root and other spices of the teas. A little more intense than the other drink but sometimes you do need a little extra umph!

Making Ice Tea

For those who prefer a non-alcoholic tea drink, I shall share my simple method to make ice tea.

Making Ice Tea

1) Fill a large heat-proof jug with 500ml boiling water – add your tea bag of choice (I like Earl Grey)
2) Allow the tea bag to infuse for 4-5 minutes then remove
3) Add ice, wait for 3 minutes
4) When cold, pour ice tea into a glass and sweeten / add citrus to tatse (I personally don’t add any sugar)

Courvoisier VS is available for around £22 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange as well as supermarkets and liquor stores worldwide.

 

 

 

 

 

Cocktails with… Hotel Chocolat’s Cocoa Gin

There are flavoured gins and cordial gins, the first being a spirit with a bold secondary flavour (after juniper), and the second being a sort of gin liqueur. Today’s review is of Hotel Chocolat’s Cocoa Gin. I am always a bit wary of such products (another example being the Earthworm Gin); little information is often provided on the product and they come in unusually small and expensive bottlings.

Hotel Chocolat’s Cocoa Gin is described as, “Small batch artisan gin infused with cocoa shells”. The back label states that it is “A classically cool and crisp English Dry infused with the flavours of our St. Lucian cocoa estate – Roasted cocoa shells, crushed macadamia nuts and lemon zest with juniper, coriander, minneola, and angelica.”

Cocoa Gin

The term “infused” is interesting, as the gin tastes like a distilled product. My guess is that it may be a blend of distillates or distilled via a vapour infusion basket. It is bottled at 42% ABV.

On its own
Nose: Lots of citrus – coriander, and some orange or mandarin notes – as well as a dark, nutty chocolate.
Taste: This is a gentle spirit bursting with a pool of citrus oil; unusual, but not unpleasant. The chocolate is quite subtle, but gradually builds after a few sips, along with some slightly buttery, nutty notes. This is a very contemporary style of gin, with strong notes of floral citrus and coriander.

Gin & Tonic
Nuts and chocolate on the nose, but a very citrusy taste. This may be a bit “out there” for many gin fans (there isn’t much juniper, for example), but it is nevertheless quite refreshing.

Martini
Lots of citrus with some dry chocolate notes, too, and a nutty finish. This is certainly a contemporary Martini, but still a very tasty one.

Negroni
Fragrant coriander and citrus mix with dry cocoa on the nose. It has a fragrant and juicy flavour, with a strong bitter-dry finish. There is a real “POW!” to this drink, but it is more perfumed than a more traditional Negroni, and far more zesty, too.

In Conclusion
Cocoa Gin is a very contemporary style of gin, but has a complex and intense flavour and stands up well to use in mixed drinks. I think the gin itself was very good although it could perhaps have a heavier chocolate focus and so fans of cocoa may be disappointed, fans of gin however will likely be delighted with the spirit. My favourite was the Martini.

Cocktails with… Pierde Almas +9 Botanical Gin

Yesterday I had the great pleasure to hear Jonathan Barbieri from Pierde Almas Mezcal discuss the finer points of his Mezcal range at an excellent tutored tasting at Amathus, Soho. Whilst the Mezcals were fascinating and delicious it was the last product of the day that caught my attention.

Pierde Almas +9 Botanical Mezcal (Gin) has caused some discussion between myself and my good friend of http://www.theGinIsIn.com (America’s Gin Reviewer) as to whether a product that doesn’t call itself gin be a gin, does the inclusion of juniper in any botanical spirit automatically make it gin?

Pierde Almas Mezcal +9 Botanicals Gin

The question was resolved when I asked the distiller himself, who answered that it was a gin but that US regulation state that a product can only be classified in one drinks category thus a spirit cannot be a gin-mezcal or mezcal-gin.

The Pierde Almas Gin uses a double distillation of Espadin as a base, nine classic botanicals are then steeped in the spirit for 24 hours before distillation. Some botanicals are also suspended above the spirit in a mesh bag; “like a big tea-bag, but made from a hair net” in the top of the still (gin head) forming a rudimentary version of vapour infusion.

The nine botanicals are:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Orange
Orris
Cassia
Star Anise
Fennel
Nutmeg

The gin is bottled at 45.0% ABV and uses a slow distillation that results in a daily production of around 20 litres.

The Taste

Own
nose: smoke and citrus, with some savoury elements reminiscent of roasted peppers. As it opens up piney juniper and fennel come forward as well as a little sweet jammy citrus.

taste: A very smooth spirits, characteristic of the Pierde Almas Mezcals, the flavours of the Espadin comes through to start with a hint of vanilla. There is then unmistakable juniper in the middle; rich piney with a hint of resin. This is followed by some sweeter notes from the herbs such as the anise and fennel and there is a long dry finish with a little angelica, fennel and the residual character of the spirit base. It would be all to easy for the mezcal flavours to take over but, for me, there is a sense of harmony between the base and the botanicals.

Gin & Tonic
A very unusual gin and tonic very smoky but with bright and fresh botanical flavours. The choice of tonic would be important here and for best results I think perhaps embracing the herbal nature of something like Fevertree Mediterranean or 1724 would be worthwhile. In addition I think the extra attention given when mixing a fine Gin Tonica with the aroma and flavours that goes with that serve and its thoughtful garnishes would be worth the extra effort. This is not a typical Gin & Tonic and may not appeal to the ardent traditionalist, however I think it is smashing.

Pierde Almas Jonathan and DTS

Martini
Delightful the chilled down gin is softened and allows some of the more delicate sweet spice notes to come through such a creamy vanilla, which works well with the dry vermouth. There is a little saltiness and a touch of smoke. This is a drink that will appeal to traditionalists and newbies alike.

Negroni
Fantastic nose smoky agave and wider mezcal notes mixed with juniper, fennel and anise. A rich and smooth Negroni will a charming interplay between the smoky mezcal notes and the bitterness of the Campari. However, the gin notes of the drink are not simply defined by the gin’s base and there is certainly plenty of the juicy citrus along with angelica and the botanicals noted on the nose. I’ve never had anything like it, simply delightful and a new favourite.

Cocktails with… Liverpool Organic Gin

I have been waiting, since the start of the renaissance of Craft Distilling in the UK, for more and more cities to have their own regional distilleries. As such, it was great to hear more recently about Liverpool Gin, which launched at the end of 2013, and to have a chance to meet founder John O’Dowd at the Guild Ginposium in June.

Liverpool Organic Gin is made at the Liverpool Organic Brewery near Bootle toward the north of the city. It is bottled at 42% ABV and exclusively uses organic base spirit and botanicals.

Liverpool Gin Bottle FINAL

On its own
Nose: Intriguing and engaging, with lots of bright, floral citrus from the combination of peel and coriander, followed by dry, leafy herbs and a touch of savoury.
Taste: Slightly malty citrus, which reminds me of homemade lemon shortbread, then there is a hint of milk and a touch of coconut. After this, the profile becomes dryer, with a herbal leafiness and the floral notes of angelica, before then a touch of fresh, sappy juniper.

Gin & Tonic
This has a light louche and a whole lot of citrus, which literally bursts forth from the drink, making it very lively, indeed. Accompanying this is a slight lemon maltiness or biscuit-like flavour, which reminds me of lemon shortbread. This is a great thirst quencher, even without a garnish, and I look forward to see how different garnishes work in it.

Martini
A drink that has the clarity and purity of a vodka Martini, but the complex flavour of a gin one. There are some lovely bright and juicy citrus elements that shine through, as well as a little biscuity spice and floral coriander before a long, dry, slightly perfumed finish.

Liverpool Gin Tonica

Gin Tonica with Watermelon
Fantastico! This is a drink that truly engulfs the senses, being visually attractive, with an engaging aroma and delightful taste. The watermelon adds a beautiful freshness to the drink and the watermelon complements it in a way that no other garnish could – simply inspired.

NEGRONIS

After speaking to John and discussing his fondness for the Negroni, I decided to try out a few different methods of mixing this particular cocktail.

Classic Negroni
This is a full-textured Negroni that really fills your mouth with a luscious texture. The citrus and floral coriander came through strongly, and the gin certainly holds its own against the strong flavours of the Campari and vermouth.

Frozen Negroni
Pre-bottling and chilling a Negroni in the freezer results in a thick and viscous drink. The lower temperature helps to compensate for the lack of dilution by take the edge of the alcohol. This version is full of bold flavours, with all of the ingredients coming through well. There is a good amount of floral citrus from the gin, followed by a dry bitterness.

Shaken Negroni
The shaking airates the drink, filling it with tiny air bubbles that make it appear cloudy; this also gives the drink a lighter, almost “fluffy” texture. With some gins, I think that shaking a Negroni would throw-off the balance of flavours, but with Liverpool Organic it works quite well. As a point of difference, I’d serve this in a cocktail glass without ice, rather than a tumbler

Stirred Negroni
Well-stirred, this drink is exceptionally cold and smooth, and just seems more “streamlined” than the shaken version. Rich and luscious, it slides down easily and is altogether rather morish. For my money, I’d choose stirring over shaking 4 times out of 5.

In Conclusion
Liverpool Gin has bold and well-defined flavours and will appeal to gin fans, especially those who enjoy a fair bit of citrus freshness. The strong botanical flavours make it perfect for mixing in a variety of drinks, but the ABV of 42% means that it is still quite accessible for sipping neat.

My favourite drink was the Gin Tonica with the watermelon and my favourite Negroni was the Classic, followed by the Stirred.

 

Cocktails with… Geranium Gin 55% ABV.

Geranium55Title

On Wednesday, I was a part of a slightly unconventional launch of a new gin. Not only did it take place in a pub in Guildford, but it was attended by folks who had just spent the day judging spirits.

The spirit in question was Henrik Hammer’s Geranium 55. Bottled at 55% ABV, this is a stronger version of his classic Geranium Gin (44.0% ABV). The desire for a stronger gin came about when Henrik was looking for a version that could really stand up well to heavy mixing, whether this be in a wetter Martini or longer drinks. As an additional point to note, Henrik’s home in Denmark is at 55 degrees latitude.

Geranium 55 uses the same 10 botanicals as the classic version, however it is made using 20% less geranium to stop it from becoming too perfumed at the higher alcoholic strength.

Geranium55

On its own
Nose: Fresh and fragrant, with punchy juniper followed by aromatic coriander, fruity citrus, and the sweet, jammy, floral notes of geranium.
Taste: The spirit fills the mouth with a rich texture and is surprisingly smooth given the ABV. Juniper and pine come through strongly, along with a little spice early on. This is followed by notes of citrus and coriander. Finally, there is a rich, succulent fruitiness and jammy notes of geranium.

Gin & Tonic
Fan-dabby-dosy! This drink is superb: jammy, with a faint hint of turkish delight, and bursting with luscious, juicy, floral notes. With a long, clean, and dry finish, this is nigh-on perfection!

Martini
A strong and powerful Martini with punchy, piney juniper, dry angelica and citrus, as well as a subtle, jammy geranium note. There’s also a delightful freshness on the finish..

Negroni
Just superb: the complexity of the gin stands up well to the bold flavours of the vermouth and Campari. It’s a potent drink, but with a delightful freshness, making it the perfect pre-dinner cocktail.