About DTS

partial to a martini? to a smoke-hazed gin joint & a perfect tipple poured with the style, swank & skill of a true aficionado? …then pull up your stool to the bar, prepare to stock up your cocktail cabinet & get ready to drink it all in as we introduce you to a stitch in times’ resident barman… David T. Smith is a drinks enthusiast currently residing in the U.K. a long-time fan of tasting & exploring various types of alcohol, he has a fascination for vintage spirits and cocktails, in particular their heritage & origins; this was strengthened last year when he presented a talk and accompanying monograph on the Martini. it was as a result of his research of this topic that he was introduced to drinks paraphernalia, & he is now the happy owner of a colourful collection of bottles, books, and gadgets from a wide range of eras… an avid believer in the validity and variety of personal opinion, particularly in the subjective area of tasting, he enjoys hosting tasting sessions for friends, constantly challenging them to find their own favourite tipple. in addition to all of this, he is also interested in economics, three-piece suits, board games & keeping alive the art of engaging in enjoyable conversation with a good glass of port whilst surrounded by pipe smoke… www.summerfruitcup.com Thanks to Analiebe for writing this rather flattering blurb for me.

Cocktails with… Bombay Sapphire Distillery Laverstoke Mill Edition

I was recently at the grand opening of the Bombay Sapphire Distillery in Laverstoke Mill, coverage of which can be found here. As a parting gift, each attendee was given a bottle of Bombay Sapphire Distillery Laverstoke Mill Exclusive Edition. This is packaged in a bottle inspired by the distillery’s intertwining glasshouses and, like those glasshouses, was designed by Heatherwick Studios. This bottling is additionally noticeable as glass stopper replaces the usual screw cap.

Bombay Sapphire Laverstoke Mill Edition

As if that wasn’t enough, the liquid inside, whilst containing the same classic ten Bombay Sapphire botanicals, is bottled at 49.0% ABV, compared with the usual domestic versions, which are bottled at 40.0% ABV for the UK and 47.0% ABV for the USA.

On its own
Nose: Dry juniper, coriander, and light pepper spice. Less citrus and nuttiness than the 40% ABV.
Taste: Lots more of the woody spice notes come through, such as orris and liquorice, which add a very subtle sweetness. The citrus notes are less forward. Despite the extra ABV, the liquid is smooth in texture and viscous, with a full mouthfeel.

Gin & Tonic
Delicious. A lot of the citrus of the gin comes through, which is more subtle when it is tasted neat. There is also a lovely juiciness, even without a garnish, which complements the complex herbal and woody notes. Clean and refreshing.

Martini
Bombay Sapphire was the gin that switched me from vodka to gin martinis, back in the Blue Room at Vinopolis, so it was great to have a new edition from this new home. The higher ABV gives the drink the clean and piercing power that I expect from the very best martinis.

Negroni
A symphonic harmony between the flavours of the gin and the other ingredients. The botanical flavours shine through well, with particularly intriguing notes of spice and pepper on the finish.

In Conclusion
Whilst the stunning bottle and packaging would be reason enough to want this bottle on your shelf, I was also impressed by the liquid inside: the spirit is more complex, dry and less citrusy than the standard UK domestic expression. My favourite drink was the Martini.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery Launch – Laverstoke Mill

Yesterday saw the grand opening of the Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire. Since the creation of Bombay Dry in 1960, Bombay Sapphire in 1987, and Bombay Sapphire East in 2011, the gins have lacked a home base that would allow people, both trade and public, to visit.

Across the world, there has been a rise in “Destination Distilling”; that is, the idea of a distillery being something more than a production facility, becoming an attraction for tourists to visit.

Plymouth Gin has been open for the public to tour since 1985 and has had it’s present visitors centre since 2007, Beefeater opened their centre earlier this year, and income from visitors is now an integral part of the business plan for most new distilleries.

Bombay Sapphire’s new home for their distillery and visitors centre is in North Hampshire and has come after years of works and million of pounds of investment.

The Glasshouses (Mediterranean and Tropical) growing specimens of all of the botanicals in Bombay Sapphire. They are heat from the excess heat from the stills.

The Glasshouses (Mediterranean and Tropical) growing specimens of all of the botanicals in Bombay Sapphire. They are heat from the excess heat from the stills.

Laverstoke Mill operated as a paper mill from 1719 to 1963. From 1725, it held the sole contract for the production of the Bank of England’s banknote paper, at one time providing the paper for over 100 countries and colonies in the British Empire. In the second half of the 20th Century, however, the mill closed and fell into disrepair, until it was discovered as a potential location for a new distillery.

The new Bombay Sapphire Distillery had its grand opening on 17th September 2014 and I was lucky enough to be able to attend.

Distillery and Glasshouse

The Distillery in the background, toprical glasshouse to the right and designer Thomas Heatherwick in the foreground

As we arrived, the most striking feature was the glistening River Test, which runs through the site, surrounded on both sides by centuries-old mill buildings, all newly refurbished.

After some welcome drinks, including the delicious “Laverstoke”, including the non-alcoholic one that I picked up by accident, I was whisked upstairs to have a chat with Valarie Brass Global Brand Director for Gin at Bacardi Global Brands. This was a great chance to discuss some of the bigger picture aspects of Bombay Sapphire and the key focuses of Bombay Sapphire: “Creativity”, “Beauty” and “Expression”. There was obvious excitement about have a place to “bring to life key principles” and to “talk about what we believe in” something that I can imagine was quite difficult before such a large and growing brand had a dedicated base.

Mediterrean Glasshouse

An Orange Tree Inside the Mediterranean Glasshouse

The highlight of the evening was the unveiling of the two glasshouses: one tropical, and one mediterranean in climate. These were designed by Heatherwick Studios and are heated by the residual heat from the stills. Even though I had seen designs and 3D models of them, I nonetheless wasn’t quite prepared for how spectacular they were. The chance to see so many classic gin botanicals all growing together was fascinating.

The "secret bar" which will be Sam Carter's new "office" about 10 minutes after this picture was taken it was packed wall to wall.

The “secret bar” which will be Sam Carter’s (at the bar) new “office” about 10 minutes after this picture was taken it was packed wall to wall.

After this excitement I decided to slip off to the “secret bar” (Empire Bar) which was being tended by the distillery’s in-house senior brand ambassador Sam Carter. This bar doubles as a training facility for a variety of guests, trade and bartenders. Up here I had a mix of Bombay Sapphire, Pink Grapefruit Juice and Vanilla Syrup – the grapefruit and vanilla producing a chocolate flavour in addition to their own character – a phenomenon known as “Transmogrification” – something I consider a Sam Carter signature.

After that joint started jumping (see picture) I went in search of further adventure and found another bar inside one of the old vaults where the finished banknote were kept. This came complete with the original cast iron grate door at the entry. Here I was treated to an Aviation cocktail and a pleasant chat with gin experts Geraldine Coates and Patience Gould where we also had a sneaky sip of Bombay Dry at the new ABV.

Bombay Sapphire Laverstoke Mill Edition

No Bombay Sapphire event would be complete without one of their glamorous gift bags, and this event did not disappoint. In addition to some fine barware we got a bottle of the rare Laverstoke Mill Edition of Bombay Sapphire – beautifully packaged but for me, even more excitingly, bottled at an unusual 49%ABV. See here for tasting notes.

All-in-all I had high hopes for the distillery and my expectations were exceeded; an opening on this scale will never happen again and so it was great to be part of it. The distillery itself opens to the public in October and for me it is a must for gin fans and a great visit for anyone who is a fan of botany, stunning scenery or historic architecture.

For more details check out their website. Later this year National Geographic will be screening a documnetary about the creation of the distillery.

Bombay Sapphire Family

A New Home for the Family.

Cocktails with… Sipsmith Sipping Vodka

When I first went to the Sipsmith Distillery (October 2010), they had released two products: a gin and a vodka. Their gin has gone from strength-to-strength and is now available in the USA. Back then, the vodka was barley-based, like their gin, and had an indulgent flavour of cream and vanilla.

Fast forward to 2014, and Sipsmith have just released a wheat-based “Sipping Vodka”. This comes at a time when more spirits are being marketed, at least in part, as being just as tasty on their own as when mixed.

As such, I tried the vodka neat at a variety of temperatures.

Sipsmith Sipping Vodka

On its own
At room temperature
Nose: Light and clean, with some light spice and a hint of vanilla, as well as toasted cereal.
Taste: A rich and viscous texture, this is a clean spirit with notable character from the base. There are also notes of spice, including anise and fennel, before a little warmth on the finish.

From the fridge
At a lower temperature, the spirit changes flavour with richer, slightly jammy, fruity notes, as well as an increase in warmth and spice, too.

From the freezer
Drinking straight from the freezer produces a very pure and clean flavour, as if it were from a crystal-clear shard of ice. This is a pleasant way to enjoy the spirit, with a great texture and a light character.

With ice
Thick in texture and pure in taste, although, as a result, some of the flavour is slightly curbed, replated with a little more creaminess comes through. Very, very clean – almost water-like.

Martini
Superb – truly textbook: clean, crisp, and smooth with residual character. This is equally good with a lemon twist or an olive, although my preference would be for the former.

Vodka & Tonic
This is a great drink with a lovely crispness and power from the alcohol, whilst still being easy to sip for simple refreshment.

In Conclusion

Whilst, as I mentioned I was a fan of old Sipsmith’s Barley Vodka, I think the Sipping Vodka is a great addition to the range and it more complex and sippable (funny that) than many other vodkas. Sipsmith Sipping Vodka reaches the pleasant balance between smoothness and drinkability and character. I liked it chilled and neat but was also very impressed with the vodka tonic.

 

Sipsmith Sipping Vodka (40.0%ABV) is available for around £29 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange.

Cocktails for dinner with Zubrowka Polish Vodka

I was recently approached by Match.com to come up with some Polish-inspired cocktails for their website. Now, one of my favourite Polish spirits is the bison-grass flavoured vodka, Zubrowka, which is quite widely available and accessible, even to the newest vodka drinker. I decided to use Zubrowka as the basis for a series of cocktails that can accompany different stages of a romantic meal, which can be found below.

~Aperitif~

Zubrowka AperitifBison Fizz

[20ml Zubrowka, 80ml of Dry Prosecco - Add vodka to a flute glass and top up with Prosecco]

This is a drink that makes a great first impression: there’s bright apple pie to start, with a mix of dry and sweet flavours, before it subtly develops to focus on the flavours of the wine. The dryness of the prosecco makes it raising to the appetite, so it is a good choice as an aperitif. This accessible drink is great for a special occasion.

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~Main meal~

Zubrowka Main CourseZubrowka Soda

[25ml Zubrowka, 50ml Apple Juice, 50ml Soda Water - Build in a tall glass with ice and garnish with a lemon wedge]

A very simple drink with an ABV of around 8% ABV, putting it on a par with many wines. This is a light and refreshing cocktail with hints of confectionery apple crumble and a touch of caramel. It’s a pleasant drink and makes a good accompaniment to a main course.

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~Dessert~

Zubrowka DessertAlexsy

[30ml Zubrowka, 50ml Single Cream, 1 tsp Chocolate Syrup - Shake]

A variation on the Alexander cocktail, this is a very indulgent, dessert-like drink. There are some light spice and dry fruit notes coming from the vodka, which mix well with the cream and chocolate flavours. All-in-all, this is somewhat reminiscent of an alcoholic chocolate milkshake.

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~After Dinner~

Apple-Honey Punch

[30ml Zubrowka Vodka, 1 tsp honey (I used the new apple-flavoured variety from Rowse), 100ml warm apple juice]

Method: Add vodka and honey to a heat-proof glass. Warm apple juice in the microwave (around 60 seconds on high). Add apple juice to other ingredients and stir until the honey has dissolved.

This is a warming honey and apple drink with lots of spice from the vodka and a tart, apple fruitiness from the juice that is countered by the sweetness of the honey. A well-balanced, warming, and tasty drink.

Zubrowka After Dinner

Zubrowka Liqueur

An alternative to this drink is the Zubrowka Polona liqueur. This is a blend of vodka and herbs which is then sweetened and aged in oak casks. Whilst this isn’t the easiest product to find in the UK, I have seen it available in various Polish food stores (which is where I got mine from). It is a rich and intense liqueur with notable flavours of almond, honey, and maple, as well as cherry and apricot stone fruit. Finally, there’s a hint of freshly-brewed tea and some woody oak.

Köld Cocktails

When it comes to home cocktail mixing, simplicity is key and if there are too many ingredients (particularly obscure ones) in a drink, then people simply won’t make it. So forget the Yuzu liqueur and the Lavender & Earl Grey syrup and let’s focus on the other end of the scale: pre-batched or bottled cocktails.

I say bottled cocktails, but in this case I am really talking about cocktails that come in a pouch:

Kold Cocktails Selection
Köld cocktails are designed to be frozen before consumption and, after a short thaw, served in a glass as an alcoholic slush. Alcoholic “slush puppies” have been around for a while and I have reviewed some before; whilst tasty and refreshing, they have tended to be more of an alcopop-slush: often brightly coloured, rather sweet, and made using a variety of artificial flavourings.

In contrast, Köld specifically state that they use natural fruit ingredients and quality spirits and liqueurs in their products. Looking at their website, they generally seem to take a more genuine approach and, as such, I would hope that the cocktail should taste more like the freshly-made equivalent cocktail than a day-glo liquid in a crown cap bottle.

With this in mind, I set about trying Köld’s current three varieties, which are all packaged at 8.0% ABV and sold in 225ml pouches.

Kold Cocktails CosmopolitanCosmopolitan
There is a pleasant tartness from the cranberry and zesty lime, and both of these fruity flavours are fresh and genuine. As an overall drink, this has a good balance and is certainly recognisable as a Cosmopolitan; as a matter of fact, it’s pleasantly reminiscent of a homemade Frozen Cosmopolitan.

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Kold Cocktails MojitoMojito
The Mojito is a popular candidate for pre-mixed cocktails. In my experience, some are better than others, and the Köld version is certainly one of the better ones. There is a good amount of mint and lime, as well as a little sweet, woody warmth from the white rum. This is fresh and crisp, very easy to drink and quite excellent.

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Kold Cocktails Lychee MartiniLychee Martini
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Lychee Martini, but judging this drink on its own merits, I was impressed. There are plenty of the rich fruity, slightly floral flavours of the lychee coming through, alongside some hints of rose. This is a well-balanced and refreshing drink.

In Conclusion
The Köld cocktails are a good and well-made range, with genuine flavours that reflect the cocktails that they are based on. The ice slush helps to keep the drinks extra refreshing, making them perfect for a hot summer’s afternoon.

Ingredients List

Cosmopolitan
Water, Vodka, Orange Liqueur, cranberry Juice, Lime Juice, Natural Cosmopolitan Flavouring, Citric Acid – 78kcal per 100ml, 7.6g sugar per 100ml

Lychee Martini
Water, Vodka, Lychee Juice, White Grape Juice, Sugar, Natural Lychee Flavouring, Malic Acid, Cloudifier – 89 kcal per 100ml, 10.7g sugar per 100ml

Mojito
Water, White Rum, Lime Juice, Sugar, Natural Mojito Flavouring – 74 kcal per 100ml, 6.8g sugar per 100ml

Fentimans Wild English Elderflower

Below is a short review of a new soda released by Fentimans; unlike other elderflower varieties released in the last year, this is not a flavoured tonic water (with quinine), but rather an elderflower-flavoured soda. Its ingredients include: elderflower, pear, and fermented ginger. I found it noteworthy that it contains just over 6g of sugar per 100ml, which is about a third less than most other mixers such as ginger ale or tonic water (9g per 100ml).

Fentimans Wild English Elderflower Soda

On its own
Nose: Rich, fresh elderflower with a hint of fruity jamminess of elderberry.
Taste: Medium fizz. Very clean in flavour, with some sweetness, but thankfully it’s not too sweet. There are some subtle hints of spice, followed by a dry, floral finish. Overall, this is an excellent soft drink with good mixing potential.

with Warner Edwards Elderflower Gin
Quite a lot of spice comes through from the gin, as well as a deeper and richer elderflower note, which is nicely offset by the lightness of the soft drink. Add a wedge of lemon and the result is a very sippable, cooling drink with the flavour of early summer.

with Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin
A dryer drink than the one above, but by no means less tasty. It is almost as clean as a Gin & Soda, but with a slightly floral flourish from the elderflower. An excellent choice for a hot summer’s afternoon; but on a really sweltering day, I’d suggest dialing the gin back a tad to add to the drink’s refreshment.

In Conclusion
Fentiman’s Wild English Elderflower is a great addition to their range and works equally well as a soft drink and as a mixer, pairing well with gins and, for a slightly lighter drink, vodka.

Cocktails with… Sibling Gin

Sibling Gin Title

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.

1 Sibling Chilled FINAL

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.

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.

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.

1 Sibling Martini FINALMartini
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.

Sibling French 75

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.

B1 Sibling Gin Berries FINALerry 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.