Cocktails with… Dà Mhìle’s Seaweed Farmhouse Botanical Gin

Today is Trafalgar Day and, as such, I thought it was fitting to feature a somewhat nautical gin; namely, Dà Mhìle’s Organic Seaweed Farmhouse Botanical Gin. This gin uses a cut down variation of the botanicals in their Original Gin and, after distillation, it is infused with seaweed from the Newquay coast, before being triple filtered.

Da Mhile Seaweed Gin Final Shell

Da Mhile Gin with the serving suggestion of sipping it from an oyster shell

On its own
Nose: Complex and intriguing, with floral hints of rose, as well as citrus, coriander, some dry juniper and pine notes, and salty leafy notes.
Taste: A very strong flavour, with the same note that are found on the nose. This is a mostly smooth spirit, with just a touch of warmth at the end. The bold flavours of the gin should make it a great candidate for mixed drinks. There is some pleasant spice elements on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
A very powerful drink. Notes of resinous pine and juniper, citrusy coriander, and some herbal notes towards the end, plus a hint of chocolate. Plenty of flavour and rather cooling.

Martini
Bright and powerful, with a great juniper hit, as well as some complex, leafy, slightly salty, green notes.

Negroni
A smooth and complex Negroni; again, the floral and salty green notes of the gin come through well and add character. This would be a good choice for those who like a Negroni with plenty of flavour.

Da Mhile Seaweed Gin Final Fish

A glass of chilled Seaweed Gin as a fine accompaniment to seafood.

Gimlet
Excellent and a great choice for Trafalgar Day. The tart lime works well with the green leafy notes of the gin and its fresh, slightly salty element.

In Conclusion
Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin is a bold and flavoursome spirit that, as it was designed to do, goes well with seafood. My favourite drink was the Gimlet.

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.

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.

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… 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.

Cocktails with Bummer & Lazarus Dry Gin

I recently reviewed the British Chilgrove Gin which was the first in the UK to be distilled using Grape Neutral Spirit so it was great to try a comparative product from California.

Bummer & Lazarus Dry Gin is distilled at the Raff Distillerie on Treasure Island, San Francisco, California. they also make an Absinthe (also base of grape spirit), and are working on a Rum Agricole and a Bourbon.

http://www.raffdistillerie.com/gin.html

Bummer & Lazarus Dry Gin – http://www.raffdistillerie.com/gin.html

The gin is named after two dogs that roamed the streets of San Francisco in the mid 19th century. The grape neutral spirit is sourced from 100% Californian grapes and this is then re-distilled with a selection of botanicals including:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Lemon
Orange
Orris
Cinnamon
Liquorice

The Taste

Own
nose: very very fruity; the base spirit is quite evident on the nose with orange and some broader chocolate notes as well as fennel and a touch of dry juniper.
taste: a very smooth texture, as you may expect from a grape spirit base. There is a rich plump fruitiness with coriander, orange and grapefruit citrus. A touch of coconut and a hint of pine precede a long dry fruity finish with a pleasant warmth.

Gin & Tonic
A very fruity gin and tonic full of plump grapes as well as crisp green apple and pear notes and a little sweetness – the drink is reminiscent of apple jelly or jam. For a garnish I think the crispness of lime contrasts well with the more confectionery elements of the gin.

Martini
As a diamond-method Martini I think this really works, lots of the pear and apple fruity notes come through as well as some sweetness followed by plump, luscious grape flavours. There is bright juniper, coriander, citrus and spice. A very clean and silky Martini with both the flavour and texture of the base spirit coming through.

Negroni
Very fruity with a smooth succulence courtesy of the grape spirit there are hints of pear and almond too, slightly reminiscent of a bakewell tart. After these flavours, the herbal elements of the vermouth become more pronounced followed by the herbal bitterness of the Campari. A full-bodied drink, with bitterness. Overall it is quite well-rounded.