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… 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.

 

Cocktails with Sun Liquor Gins – from Seattle, USA

Hedgetrimmer GIn Title

Seattle is a hotbed of distilling at the moment, with gin-making distilleries scattered throughout. One that was a mere stone’s throw from our hotel was Sun Liquor (another being Copperworks). Sun Liquor has a bar attached to their distillery, where they currently make two gins, a vodka, and two rums.

Today’s focus is on the unusually named Hedgetrimer Gin. Why Hedgetrimer? My understanding is that the flavours of the gin somewhat evoke the scents and flavours of a hedgerow, with its mix of leafy green herbal and rich fruit notes.

The gin is bottled at 42.0% ABV and is made using a mix of 9 botanicals. The base spirit is in-house using unmalted (non-GMO) organic wheat. The spirit is twice distilled in Scottish copper pot stills and, after the initial distillation, the botanicals are rested for 24 hours.

The nine botanicals include:
Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Fresh lemon peel
Fresh orange peel
Grains of Paradise
Sarsaparilla root
Cannonball watermelons rind

On its own
Nose: Soft pine juniper, a little saltiness and other savoury, herbal notes such as black pepper. Then coriander and fresh citrus.
Taste: Plenty of coriander followed by angelica, pine and citrus. This has a smooth, creamy texture, with warmth towards the end. A pretty classic gin with good balance.

Gin & Tonic
The Hedgetrimer Gin & Tonic is, as you might imagine from the name, piney and zesty. It’s quite a classic style, with a good amount of dryness, but refreshing, too, and the gin stands up well to the tonic. Lemon would be my garnish of choice.

Martini
A smooth Martini, with lots of juniper. This is a really good example of a dry Martini with lots of flavour; after the dry juniper and pine, there is a little citrus and spice.

Negroni
A simple and straightforward Negroni, but one that ticks all of the boxes. Smooth, with a bitter-sweet finish.

GunClub Gin Title

The gin is bottled at 50.0% ABV and is made using a mix of 13 botanicals. The base spirit is made in-house using unmalted (non-GMO) organic wheat. The spirit is twice distilled in Scottish copper pot stills and, after the initial distillation, the botanicals are rested for 48 hours.

Botanicals include:

Juniper Berries
Coriander Seed
Angelica Root
Fresh Orange Peel
Orris Root
Cassia Bark
Birch Leaves
Fresh organic Cranberries

Gun Club Gin Bottle

 

On its own
Nose: A crisp nose of juniper and lime.
Taste: Bold in flavour and with little burn, this has notes of angelica and juniper, followed by sweet spice, such as cassia, and then some floral notes: violet and hibiscus. The dry finish is of coriander and bright and zesty citrus.

Gin & Tonic
Bold flavours, with plenty of spice, especially cassia and cardamom. This is followed by dry, citrus and juniper, plus softer angelica notes. Definitely a punchy, quaffable, and delicious drink!

Martini
Superb – everything I look for in a Martini: powerful and chilling, and a cocktail that that really wakes you up. There’s a symphony of botanical flavours with a good juniper solo, a citrus and herbal chorus, and a finish that lasts, just like a great tune that’s stuck in your head. Excellent.

Negroni
A very solid Negroni, although maybe a little sweeter, spicier, and creamier than many others. There’s a good bitterness on the finish, making this a first-class Negroni with flair.

Cocktails with… Chilgrove Dry Gin

Having recently returned from Seattle, where I spoke on the use of different base spirits in gin production, it was fitting that the first
gin that I tried back home had an interesting base. In fact, it is the first British-distilled gin to use grape spirit as its base.

Chilgrove Gin bottle final

Bottled at 44.0% ABV, Chilgrove Dry Gin is a London dry Gin made at Thames Distillers and uses a mix of 11 botanicals:

Juniper
Coriander Seed
Angelica Root
Sweet Orange
Bitter Orange
Orris Root
Liquorice Root
Grains of Paradise
Lime
Savory
Wild Water Mint

On its own

Nose: Ripe, fruity and floral. The luscious elements of the grape come through, along with a little sweetness and warm spice.

Taste: A very clean and smooth spirit; the different character that the base provides is evident from the outset. Notes of juniper, angelica and coriander come through, with bright citrus and then some mint and menthol notes on the finish, both from the Grains of Paradise and the water mint. There’s a long and lingering finish of mint and pine. This is a complex gin and a good example of harmony and distinctive botanical flavours. Excellent.

Gin & Tonic

Pure and clean, with the flavours of the gin coming through and the citrus peels, especially lime, adding to the drink, making it cooling and crisp. This is a great example of why the Gin & Tonic is such a popular drink – delightful.

Martini

A smooth and rich Martini that’s rather plump thanks to the grape base. It’s easy to drink and works well with a bit more vermouth (medium to medium-dry). A good appetite-raiser.

Negroni

This is a clean Negroni that allows the Campari the finish say with a clean-cutting finish and the mint and Grains of Paradise mingling in a menthol pepperiness to these flavours. It is smooth, succulent, moreish and one a Negroni fan would crave for. Garnish with a twist of pink grapefruit peel.

French ’75

Excellent flavour with a spicy pepper note, and menthol towards the end. There are also strong notes of juniper and lively lime, which complement the bitters and lemon juice well. A truly celebratory drink!

In Conclusion

Chilgrove Gin is a great example of how the base spirit of a gin can make a big impact to the final flavour and an exemplary use of grape spirit. Beyond this, it’s a great gin, the botanical flavours are well-defined and can be easily picked out, whether you are sipping the spirit neat, on the rocks, or even in a Martini. In addition, it mixes well in a variety of cocktails; my favourite drink was the Negroni, although it also has great potential as the base for a Fruit Cup.

 

Ebb + Flow Gin

A few years back, during my second (and Mrs B’s first) trip to New York, I got to try Sound Spirits’ Old Tom Gin with Aaron Knoll of TheGinIsIn. This was part of our on-going United States of Gin project, sharing the best of gin distilled in the 50 states of America. We were both impressed with the Old Tom and, in fact, Aaron states that it is one of the best that he has had; a sentiment that I can appreciate.

Until recently, however, I had never tried their unaged flagship gin, so I was excited when an opportunity to do so presented itself. Ebb + Flow Gin is made by Sound Spirits in Seattle (the city’s first Craft Distillery since Prohibition), who, in addition, make: Ebb + Flow Vodka, Sound Spirits Aquavit, Depth Cacao, Depth Menthe and Depth – Vow of Silence Herbal Liqueur.

Ebb & Flow Gin FINAL

Bottled at 47.0% ABV, Ebb + Flow Gin is made using a base spirit of malted barley and neutral grain spirit.

Ebb + Flow Gin – On its own
Nose: Pine, sweet spice and lime, reminding me a little of homemade key lime pie.
Taste: Earthy upfront, with coriander. The flavour then move onto some sweet spice, cassia and vanilla, then a dryer note, before a burst of lime and hint of lemon on the finish.

Ebb + Flow Gin & Tonic
Lots of spiced lemon, with flavours of vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom; there is then a lively lime note towards the end. Rather delicious and just the sort of gin you want in a Gin & Tonic. I also think that this gin has great potential for the Spanish Gin Tonica serve. Superb.

Ebb + Flow Martini
Very good: intense and clean in flavour, with notes of juniper, citrus, and then an array of spices, including cardamom, that complement rather than overwhelm the gin. Served diamond-style (where the gin is poured straight from the freezer, so no ice is needed), this is exceptional – exactly my sort of thing.

Ebb + Flow Negroni
Plenty of juniper and then some more spicy and herbal elements (like cardamom), a little sweetness from the red vermouth and the earthy bitterness of the Campari. This gin, however, appears to have a trump card up its sleeve: the final flavour is that of bitter citrus oil – I mostly get lime. This really sets this Negroni out from the crowd. Superb!

Cocktails with… Pinkster Gin

Several companies have experimented with making coloured gin over the last five or so years, with shades including yellow, pink, blue, green, orange and purple. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems that the focus on the colour gets in the way of having a spirit that distinguishes itself in terms of flavour, leaving the gins open to accusations of superfluous gimmickry.

Given this precedent, I was intrigued to have a chance to taste and mix with a bottle of the pink-hued Pinkster Gin early on in 2014, having heard some positive reviews from friends and colleagues.

Pinkster Gin Bottle FINAL
Pinkster Gin is made at Thames Distillers in Clapham, London and is bottled at 37.5% ABV. The gin uses a recipe of five distilled botanicals and then, post-distillation, is infused with raspberries; this adds both flavour and colour to the spirit.

The Taste

On its own
Colour: Rose pink
Nose: Dry juniper and angelica, followed by a rich, jammy raspberry note.
Taste: This is quite a “plump” gin, in that it seems like a pretty classic, dry gin to start with, with notes of juniper and coriander, but the character then changes as the jammy, fruity sweetness of the raspberries enter, stage right. The finish is clean and dry. An unusually sippable gin.

Gin & Tonic
A rather suppable, pretty classic Gin & Tonic, with the raspberries adding texture and flavour toward the end. Neither the sweetness, nor jamminess of the fruit throw the drink out of balance. I think that the suggested garnish of fresh raspberry and mint leaves has great potential.

Martini
This cocktail has a notable, pale pink colour. The flavour of the raspberries is a little more subtle than in other drinks, just adding a touch of juiciness to the finish. All-in-all, this is a clean and crisp Martini with a fruity twist at the end.

Negroni
A soft and succulent drink, which is not a bad way for a Negroni novice to first approach the cocktail. Despite this accessibility, there are still an array of interesting flavours for the ardent Negroni fan, although the character is more subtle and less punchy than versions made using some other gins.

On the Rocks
This a good way to enjoy both the colour and the flavour of this gin, with lots of botanical notes presenting themselves, including juniper, coriander and angelica, all of which complement the berry notes and touch of leafiness in the gin. Another accessible way to drink gin neat.

In Conclusion
I expressed some concerns over some coloured gin early on in this article, but Pinkster is, amongst others, one of the exceptions. I like the balance of its flavours and the gin definitely fills a gap in the market for a fruity gin that is not overly sweet or sickly. I particularly like serving it with ice or in a Gin & Tonic.

Burns Night – What To drink with Haggis, Neeps and Tatties – with Drambuie

Today is Burns Night, but apart from the obvious dram of neat Scotch, what other drinks can you enjoy before, during and after your Burns Night dinner?

BEFORE DINNER

Burns Night Cocktail Drambuie Rusty Robby BurnsRUSTY ROBBY BURNS

This is inspired by The Bobby Burns from J.R. Sheridan’s cocktail bible, ‘How to Mix Fancy Drinks’, first published in 1901. It’s also something of a hybrid of a Rusty Nail and a Rob Roy.

15ml Drambuie
30ml Dewar’s Blended Scotch Whisky
15ml Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Method: Stir well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Rich, herbal flavours from the outset, with some lighter wood notes and sweet vanilla from the whisky, too. There’s also a refreshing burst of almost bitter, but rich fruitiness from the vermouth. Dry spice notes, including powdered cinnamon and cloves, lead to a medium-long finish of wood.

DURING DINNER

Burns Night Cocktail Drambuie Highball DrinkDrambuie Highball

10ml Drambuie
15ml Lemon Juice
25ml Dewar’s Blended Scotch Whisky
150ml Ginger Ale
Method: Build in a highball glass with ice.

Vibrant and full of flavour, with notes of lemon sherbert that are followed by a slightly more bitter note of fresh lemon juice and herbs sweetened with honey. The Scotch comes through towards the end, with a light, but distinct woodiness and dry vanilla. The lemon reappears on the finish, and is refreshingly dry.

3

3

AFTER DINNER

Burns Night Cocktail Drambuie Old Fashioned DrinkA Dram Old Fashioned

10ml Drambuie
3 dashes Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)
50ml Dewar Scotch
Method: Stir and strain.

This is a slight variation on an Old Fashioned, with the sugar cube being replaced by the sweetness of the Drambuie, which also adds some complex herbal notes that complement the bitterness. The flavours of the Scotch come through, too, and are accented by the other ingredients. A pleasant drink to finish the meal off with.

 

 

Cocktails with… Filliers Barrel Aged Gin

I have written a fair bit about yellow gin recently and I’m very excited that more varieties seem to be coming to the market. Followers of the site may also recollect my article on Filliers Dry Gin from Belgium, including my rave review of it mixed in a Negroni with Martini Gran Lusso – a simply superb drink.

As such, it was wonderful to see the two subjects – yellow gin and Filliers – come together in Filliers Barrel Aged Gin. Bottled at 43.7% ABV, this is made using the same recipe as the Filliers Dry Gin 28, but it is aged for around 4 months in ex-Cognac
barrels.

Filliers Barrel Aged Gin Bottle - Yellow Gin

The Taste

On its own
Colour: Very pale straw yellow.
Nose: Juniper, citrus, coriander and a little cinnamon and wood; quite light.
Taste: A lovely, thick texture with the classic gin flavours such as juniper, angelica,
coriander and citrus upfront, followed by more mellow notes of vanilla, nutmeg
and oak. The finish is long and dry. This is a great example of a classic
yellow/aged gin, with a good balance between the gin and the wood.

Dry Martini
A good, bold-flavoured Martini with crisp juniper and citrus and then a more mellow finish of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla from the wood. This is an excellent example of what a traditional yellow gin Martini should be.

Sweet Martini
A lovely flavour, with a great mix of sweetness, herbal and spiced notes. The finish is good and dry, with just a little citrus. My suggested garnish would be a cherry or orange twist.

Frozen
The chill improves the texture without the gin losing its character; very viscous and silky. There are some good, crisp notes to start, a warm and comforting middle with a little light spice – like cinnamon sugar – and some light wood notes, followed by a long, dry, slightly bitter finish.

Negroni
Full of strong, bold flavours, with some very bitter, woody, herbal notes, too. The aged gin works really well with the vermouth,
which brings a rich mouthfeel and complexity. An excellent aperitif after a long day.