Cocktails with… Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin

I first heard about Gilpin’s Extra Dry Gin when it won Silver at the IWSC in 2011, but further details were more of a mystery, so imagine my delight when I found a bottle in the Gin Collection of the modern Gin Palace, Graphic Bar, Golden Square. I then discovered Gilpin’s brand new website and found out that they were going to be at the Juniper Society on Monday 16th April 2012.

Gilpin’s Extra Dry Gin is made at Thames Distillers and is designed to be a gin that is extra dry in style. As a result, it doesn’t contain any of the more naturally sweet botanicals, such as liquorice or star anise, and uses bitter orange rather than the sweet variety. The botanical mix also includes two other citrus peels, sage and – uniquely – Borage (leaves). This last botanical is of particular interest to us at SummerFruitCup, as it is our logo and also an essential ingredient in a classic Fruit Cup.
The water for the gin come from Holy Well Spring in Cartmel in the English Lake District, Gilpin’s Dry Gin is bottled at 47%ABV.

Here is a full list of botanicals:


1) OWN
Nose: Sweet, with some warmth, spicy vanilla, cucumber peel and pine.
Taste: Very soft and smooth to start, with a slight, marmalade-like sweetness and a jammy pluminess. The end was dry, with lots of juniper and the finish was quite fresh and of moderate length. Very clean and easy to drink for a 47% spirit.

2) GIN & TONIC
This was a zingy and dry Gin & Tonic with a substantial burst of citrus and some more complex, fresh, herbal notes towards the end. I think that the likes of Fevertree or Schweppes will work better with this than Fentimans or 6 O’Clock, as, otherwise, you’re in danger of having too much citrus. Clean and refreshing and very quaffable for a 47% gin.

3) MARTINI
Dry, crisp and refreshing. Quite smooth, with a hint of oiliness, but plenty of flavour and a little alcoholic power. A very pleasant, dry cocktail with a touch of sage and a slightly bitter finish. A high-end Martini.

4) NEGRONI
A very dry and pretty bitter drink with a really depth of flavour. Sweet herbal to start and then a very intense dry dark bitterness. Memorable and one for the bitter fans.

5) FRUIT CUP
The gin really comes through, adding an extra layer of flavour to the drink in comparison to most pre-made fruit cups. There’s a good amount of sweetness, with a refreshing, yet full, flavour and a pleasant citrus chord.

6) SWEET MARTINI
Another very clean and smooth drink; the sweet vermouth contrasts well with the dryness of the gin, the result being a Sweet Martini that is dryer than many. There were some good herbal notes, citrus and a crisp, refreshing finish courtesy of the borage.

7) GIN COLLINS
Fresh and fizzy, this reminded me of a boozy lemonade. Surprisingly, the gin seems a little overwhelmed by the sugar and lemon. I found that the best way to improve this drink was to add an extra dose of gin (typically not something to complain about); this makes the drink more balanced, but still not spectacular.

Gilpin's Gin Tonica with willow Water Ice!

8) Matthew Gilpin’s Gin Tonica
I recently spoke to the driving and founding force behind Gilpin’s Gin, Matthew Gilpin, to ask him for his recommended serve for a Gin Tonica; here it is:

Fill a Balloon Glass Full of Ice
60% Gilpin’s Westmorland Gin
40% Fevertree Original Tonic
Slice of Lemon Garnish

I was lucky enough to be able to make my ice out of Willow water, which is sourced at the same place as the water used to make the gin.

This was certainly a strong drink, but the fruity, juicy elements of the gin really came through, as did some of the more earthy, herbal elements and the distinct freshness of the borage. The best way to describe it would be BURSTING; I think it is excellent and a rather pleasant way to round-off a Friday afternoon.

In Conclusion
Gilpin’s Gin is an excellent addition to the gin market and is a new favourite of mine. Its main asset is that it’s very dry, whilst retaining a fresh character with a crisp citrus element. My favourite drink was easily the Martini, although there was a host of other tasty drinks, too.

Vodka Pimm’s – The Mystery of Pimm’s No.6 Vodka Cup



Frequent visitors to the site may have guessed that we’re both rather fond of Fruit Cup (Pimm’s and the like); rather fitting, given the site’s name. But one fruit cup that is often over-looked is one that is vodka, rather than gin, based*; I am, of course, talking about Pimm’s (No.6) Vodka Cup. This was the sixth variety of Pimm’s to be introduced; for those who may not be familiar with the varieties, here is a quick rundown of all those that have, at some point, been available:

No.1 – Gin (1840 – Present)
No.2 – Scotch Whisky (1851 – 1970)
No.3 – Brandy (1851 – 1970)
No.3 – As a variant of the original with added spices (2005 – Present)
No.4 – Rum (1935 – 1970)
No.5 – Rye Whiskey (1964 – 1970)
No.6 – Vodka (1964 – 1970, then 1970 – Present)

The No.6 Cup was added to the line-up in the UK at the same time as No.5 (Rye); the latter had previously has a successful launch in Canada. This was a time when international business was booming and Pimm’s wanted to tap into the American Whisky and Vodka market.

When the business was sold in to Distilling Company Ltd.** in 1969, some pretty serious “rationalisation” took place and all but the most popular No.1 Cup were discontinued. No.6 is interesting in that it was a favourite of the wife of the chairman of the new company and so she persuaded him to restart production, albeit in very limited quantities. As such, the production of No.6 only stopped for a few months at the most.

Originally, Pimm’s No.6 was known simply as a “Vodka Sling”, just as No.1 was known as a “Gin Sling”. However, today, it is described (on the label) as a “Vodka Cup” and any allusion to its numerical designation has been renegated to the back of the label.

Like the other cups, the Original Pimm’s No.6 bottle suggested a garnish of lemon and borage or cucumber, whereas today it recommends lemon, orange, apple, cucumber and mint.

The Taste

The flavour of No.6 is less intense than the gin-based No.1, and not just because vodka is typically smoother and less flavorsome than gin, but also because the mix of herbs and citrus seems lighter in this version. I’d say it was a little sweeter and a touch syrupy, even when diluted 3:1 with lemonade.

When choosing a lemonade, I would steer away from anything too sweet; perhaps Fevertree Lemonade, which tends to be a bit sharper, would be a good choice. Despite these differences though Pimm’s No.6 Vodka Cup is still exceptionally refreshing and rather moreish.

*I did once come across another Vodka-based Fruit Cup.

** Distillers Company was then purchased by Guinness in 1986 and merged with another of their subsidiaries (Arthur Bell & Sons) to create United Distilling. in 1997 Guinness merged with Great Metropolitan to form Diageo the Pimm’s Brand came as well. Thus the brand is now owned by Diageo.

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Borage – A Traditional Garnish

Borage

A Traditional Garnish

This sunny Sunday, I found Mrs. B in the garden re-potting her borage plant, which has become something of Behemoth compared to the tiny seedling that she started with. It was whilst contemplating this that I remembered the very reason that she purchased the plant in the first place: Pimm’s.

Mrs. B’s Borage Plant

A look at one of the old Pimm’s bottles I have in my collection – from back in the day when six varieties were made – reveals that, not only did Pimm’s used to be 5%(ABV) stronger than it is today, but that the suggested garnish used to be lemon and borage; a far cry from the fruit salad advocated on the present-day bottles. Don’t get me wrong: I, too, can be a fan of nibbling on the variety of fruit pieces from my glass of Pimm’s (I draw the line at strawberries, though!), but the interesting thing about this more traditional garnish is how refreshing it is: it really does make a difference, helping to create a delicious, cooling and moreish drink.

You could be forgiven for thinking that a slice of lemon and a few leaves may not look as enticing as the cacophony of orange, apple, lemon, lime, mint and cucumber, but there is something to the comparative simplicity of the borage and the addition of a bright blue borage flower (one of the few edible plants which are truly blue) that makes the drink far from plain.


Although I am an advocate of both garnishes, it is worth noting that not everyone agrees. There is in fact an “Anti-Strawberry, Pro-Borage Pimm’s Pressure Group” on Facebook, the members of which seem very adamant in their claims and have even started up an on-line petition to remove strawberries from being part of the “suggested” garnish.

In conclusion, as with all drinks, you should drink it how you choose. I’ve even heard of someone having a roast chicken leg served in their Pimm’s (here I may definitely draw the line), but borage is certainly worth giving a thought (and taste!) to.

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