Gin1495 – Discovering the World’s Oldest Gin recipe

GIN1495 TITLE

Many gins pride themselves on the provenance and history of their recipes; such examples include: Greenalls/Bombay Dry (1761), Haymans Old Tom (1860s), and Diplôme (1945). As great as these spirits are, their antiquity pales in comparison to the gin I tried on Tuesday, which is based on a recipe first written over 500 years ago.

Gin 1495 is a grape-based gin made using a recipe that was discovered by Philip Duff after it was referenced in an out-of-print book on Jenever. Philip followed this lead, discovering that the text from a 1495 cookbook from a merchant’s house in the East Netherlands, a part of the collection of Sir Hans Sloane, and that the manuscript itself was housed in British Library.

GIN1495 - PHILLIPDUFF

Philip Duff – an the first clue to tracking down the ancient recipe.

In collaboration with spirits experts and historians, Dave Broom, David Wondrich and gaz regan, and with the knowledge, experience, and facilities of Jean-Sébastien Robicquet, founder of EWG Spirits & Wine, the team set about recreating a gin from the recipe.

Botanicals used in the gin include: nutmeg (which, in 1495, was worth more than its weight in gold), ginger, galangal, seed (grains) of paradise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, sage, and juniper. The spice trade was not yet well-established, with the East India companies not being founded until 1600 and 1602. As such, the spices would have come from an individual trader travelling the silk route. The recipe states to use one part botanicals to nine parts wine distillate.

GIN1495 - BOTANICALS

The botanicals used in the gins

Distillation of spirits, which became recreational some time between 1351 and 1495, relied heavily on wine as a spirit base; this was due to the greater simplicity in making spirit from grape. Tensions, hostility, and wars across Europe meant that the availability of quality grapes declined, and so local distillers switched to making their spirit from local grain.

Whilst the exact variety of grape used originally is not known, it is likely that it would have been Ugni Blanc (other, less likely, options include Folle blanche and Colombard) and thus that is what is used in the re-creation gin.

Two varieties of Gin 1495 have been released: the Verbatim, a recreation as close to the original as possible; and the Interpretatio, which is inspired by the original recipe, but also includes botanicals that are available today, but were not then.

GIN1495 - MANUSCRIPT

A specially commissioned hand-drawn replica of the original text

The Taste

Gin 1495 #1 Verbatim (42.0% ABV)
Nose: Dry nutmeg and sage. Herbal, with a touch of pine and plenty of spice, including aromatic cardamom, ginger, clove, and some waxy, woody notes.
Taste: Very bold flavours and exceptionally dry (it was explained that the only sweetness in a European diet at the time would come from honey). There are notes of pine needles and other green, herbal notes, as well as hints of dark treacle. The spirit is sappy and has a great depth of flavour.
Adding a touch of water, the gin louches (goes cloudy) due to its high oil content, and the oily texture is more pronounced. There is a long, lingering finish with a touch of salty brine and menthol pepper notes from the grains of paradise.

Gin 1495 #2 Interpretatio (45.0% ABV)
This version was made using more juniper, citrus, and the addition of angelica.
Nose: Big, strong juniper with a slightly oaty note. Pine with citrus, and some sweet, spicy notes.
Taste: Plenty of anise and fennel-like notes upfront, then a fair bit of clovey citrus. There is a funky forest-floor element, too, although this is not unpleasant and mixes well with the gin’s berry and violet notes. The angelica root adds dryness to the juniper flavour.
The texture is full and oily, with spice coming through at the end: cardamom and ginger, with some more cloves. This intense spice lingers on the finish.

GIN1495 - BOTTLES

The gins are packaged in book-style presentation boxes and only 100 sets were produced. These are not for sale, but will be donated to various museums, spirits collections, archives, and gin institutions around the world, including the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Diageo Archive, and the gin archive at Laverstoke Mill.
In association with The Gin Guild, one set will be auctioned (details below), with the proceeds going to The Benevolent: a charity for members of the drinks community in times of need.

In Conclusion

The 1495 Gin project is one of the most exciting things to have happened in the World of Gin and this altruistic motivation is to be applauded. It was a privilege to be able to attend the launch and experience and taste the two gins.
As a final thought, I am intrigued by the similarity between the character of a gin made from a 500 year old recipe and some of the modern and contemporary “Alpine Gins” being released by new small distilleries in Germany, Austria, and across Europe. Sometimes history really does repeat itself.

www.gin1495.com

Gin 1495 Auction Process
Bids must be made via the dedicated e-mail 1495GINBID@gmail.com. All bids must be made in pounds sterling and sent along with a name and contact telephone number. Bidding closes on 1st December 2014.

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… One Key Gin

Generally, the thing that attracts and excites me most about a gin is likely to be something about how or where it is produced. Also, whether it made using a particularly intriguing process or titillating botanical. Is it the first juniper spirit that I’ve tried from its country or state of origin? But occasionally, what attracts me the most is the bottle.

Picture of The One Key Gin Bottle Close

Picture of The One Key Gin Bottle Close

One Key Gin Bottle Key

The Key

One Key Gin Bottle Opening

Opening

Such is the case with One Key Gin. A bottle for which you need a special key to open. The gin is made in Slovenia, as such it is part of my World of Gin series. Bottled at 40.0% ABV botanical include Juniper, Coriander and Ginger.

The bottle is made of blue glass and contains a cask metal key in the bottom, a bit like an allen key or they keys train guards use to access their control panels. On this key is a Mars or Male gender symbol. This fits into a small one each

Opened

Opened

cap on top of the bottle, which bears a Venus or Female gender symbol (I know, but seriously it does!) which unscrews to allow you to pour the gin.

~

But what does One Key Gin taste like?

On its own
Nose: A light-touch nose, with notes of citrus, coriander and a hint of suntan cream.
Taste: Quite juicy and succulent to start, this is all about citrus: coriander, orange and lemon, although are some pleasant juniper notes at the end.

Gin & Tonic
Clean and straightforward, with plenty of citrus, followed by notes of juniper and coriander. Given its light citrus elements, I think this would work well in the Gin Tonica serve. Not complex, but still good.

Martini
Okay, but nothing special in fact, on reflection, this is sub-par. Lacking the defined and clean flavours of a Martini and actually a little difficult to drink.

Negroni
A simple, but adequate Negroni: bittersweet, with the same citrus notes as previously noted, but nowhere near as multidimensional as a Negroni can be.

In Conclusion

Despite how great the bottle is, the contents is a real let down and I think that is a great shame. The exciting packaging deserves better that said there is plenty of room for improvement. The gin is also rather difficult to pour out of the bottle.

One Key Gin is available from The Whisky Exchange for around £38 for 70cl.

Cocktails with… Goa Gin

GoaGinTitle

I keep a wishlist of gins that I am keen to try and, recently, one of those wishes was granted when I tried Victoria Oaked Gin, courtesy of the folks at the London Distillery Company, producers of Dodd’s Gin.

GoaGin FINAL

Another gin that has intrigued me for a while now and has also been on my wishlist is Goa Gin and, for a gin that I hadn’t tried, I knew a surprising amount about it. For instance, I knew that it was made by Thames Distillers, exclusively for the Spanish market; also, that it’s bottled at 47% ABV, contains 8 botanicals, and is packaged in a hexagonal, blue bottle, which is very similar, but not identical, to that of Tanqueray 10. I first saw the bottle when I visited Thames Distillers on the Gin Ramble.

GoaGinBots

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Juniper, but quite peppery, too. The cumin is strong, making this nose slightly reminiscent of Darnley’s View Spiced Gin. There’s a little vanilla, too.
Taste: Like the nose, the cumin spice is dominant on the taste; this is followed by juniper and some coriander. This gin is rather spicy, but not hot, and at the same time has a dry, savoury – almost salty – character throughout. This combination of characteristics reminds me somewhat of spiced/seasoned tortilla treats, such as Doritos. There’s also some cardamom sweetness in the middle and a little fiery ginger, too; I would imagine that this works well with the new Ginger and Cardamom Schweppes.

Gin Tonic
i) Schweppes Tonicá Originale
Very spicy, indeed – the cumin comes through very strongly and, if you don’t like curry spice, then this is probably not for you.

ii) Schweppes Cardamom and Ginger Tonicá
3

Martini
Another very spicy cocktail; there are definitely some curry notes, but they’re relatively well-balanced. The tortilla chip savoury characteristics also return and, as such, I think that this would be a perfect Martini to pair with Spanish tapas dishes.

Negroni
Cumin on the nose, followed by a rather spicy and savoury Negroni with plenty of cumin, caraway and cardamom. This drink is rather smooth, but with quite an intense bitterness at the very end. This is also slightly salty, which is unusual for this drink, but – overall – this is pretty good.

In Conclusion
Goa Gin is pretty good, like it’s spiciness and savoury notes; although I think it’s Scottish counterpart Darnley’s View Spiced has slightly better balance.  My favourite drink was the gin tonic with the Heritage Schweppes.

Cocktails with… Masons Yorkshire Dry Gin

MasonsGinTitle

Today is World Gin Day and so it’s fitting that today is the day that Masons Yorkshire Dry Gin is launched to the world. Masons Gin is based near Ripon in Yorkshire* and uses water from the local Harrogate Spring to cut the distillate ready for bottling, which is done at 42.0% ABV.

As Karl Mason is something of a Gin & Tonic aficionado, I decided to focus this review around this colonial drink; Karl even suggested some garnishes that he thought worked well in Gin Tonicas. But first, let’s try the gin on its own…

MasonsDryYorkshireGinBottle

Nose: Fennel and coriander, as well as a little leafy lemon.
Taste: A smooth spirit with some malty, grain notes reminiscent of gin made with a white whiskey base. This is followed by coriander mixed with some piney elements alongside some juniper. The flavour then moves onto some herbal notes such as fennel, liquorice and caraway; this combination of flavours both adds a little sweetness and gives the gin a long, lingering finish.

Classic Gin Tonic (Fevertree)
Excellent – full of flavour, with some malty notes and the juniper, it is very rounded and comforting, almost “cuddly”. Then, you get some great fennel and liquorice on the finish. This is definitely something different. My suggested serve for this would be to use plenty of ice and a nice wedge of fresh lemon.

MasonsDryYorkshireGin1938GinTonic

1938 Gin Tonic
This is a Gin Tonic as Served at Shepheard’s in Cairo in April 1938. Take a rickey glass, rub the inside with the peel of a lime. Pour in a jigger (35ml) of Masons Yorkshire Dry Gin, add ice cubes, a slice of lime or lemon, and fill with Fevertree Indian Tonic Water.

As covered by Twitter: @summerfruitcup

The drink allows the gin to come through especially the anise/fennel/liquorice giving it a slightly sweet start. This is then balanced out by the juniper and coriander as well as the lime peel and ganrish. As the ice melts and the drink get a little cold it improves even more. Very refreshing and a nice dry crisp finish. Overall @YorkshireGin makes a tasty GT but it is not your usual fair, good for those seeking something less pedestrian. Good stuff 1938 AD.

Karl’s Suggested Garnishes – All with Fevertree Tonic

MasonsDryYorkshireGinAppleAnise

Gin Tonica (garnished with star anise and apple)
Tasty stuff, with the crispness of the apple and the anise bringing out the fennel and liquorice notes of the gin. Fresh and crisp and, for extra bite, you can munch on the tangy apple. A fine Gin Tonica for a lazy Saturday afternoon; lively, but not too intense and relatively light.

MasonsDryYorkshireGinOrangeCardamom

Gin Tonica (garnished with orange peel and cardamom pods)
If you want a fragrant Gin & Tonic, then this is superb. I really like how the orange complements the flavours of the gin and the spice of the cardamom works well with the fennel/liquorice notes of the gin. This is superb, vibrant and refreshing.

Gin Tonica (garnished with red grapefruit)
A simple, but very effective garnish, with the rich, zesty citrus juiciness working well with the character of the gin. Crisp and refreshing.

MasonsDryYorkshireGinRedGrapefruit

As lovely as all of these drinks are, how can you test a gin without trying it in these two classics?

Martini
A good, solid drink with juniper, citrus and some malty, grainy notes, coriander and the some sweet fennel notes, too. There’s a long glow of flavour with a little warmth on the finish. Bold and classic with a slightly contemporary edge, but plenty to keep you interested as you drink, and wanting another.

Negroni
This is another good drink: the fennel/anise/caraway notes work well with the Campari and vermouth, almost giving the drink an impression of an absinthe rinse around the glass. It has a good bitter-sweet balance, with a full flavour, rich texture and lasting finish.

*It is currently actually made under contract in Cambridgeshire by the English Spirit Company, but that is only whilst the Yorkshire distillery is being built.

Cocktails with… Butler’s Gin

ButlersTitle

With what is perhaps the beginning of a renaissance in artisanal gin distilling in the UK, it is exciting to speak to someone who is not only doing their own distilling, but also coming to the industry from a wholly different angle.

Such was the case when I first spoke to Ross Butler of Butler’s Gin. Ross started out by wanting to create a product that reflected his character and, as a part of this, he wanted to start off debt-free, purchasing raw materials only when an order came in. When I spoke to him, Ross spoke of the trade-off between time and money and how he had decided to invest time in his product rather than borrowing money. It seems to have paid dividends, as Butler’s Gin is now due to launch in the USA and the EU next month. Given that he only sold his first bottle of gin on 22nd February 2013, this is remarkable.

Butler’s Gin is made in Hackney and takes a London Dry Gin, which is made to Ross’  specification and recipe, which he then infuses with various botanicals kept in muslin bags, a bit like over-sized tea bags. The infused botanicals include lemongrass and cardamom.

ButlersGinBottle

On its own

Nose: A dry, berry juniper with liquorice root, allspice, ginger/cardamom and lemongrass.

Taste: A measured, classic start of juniper and coriander, followed by some sweeter, spiced notes such as ginger, cassia and cardamon. This is all rounded off with a long finish of lemongrass.

Gin & Tonic

A clean gin and tonic with juniper, plenty of spice from the cardamom and citrus from the lemongrass. My tonic recommendation would be Fevertree and maybe Schweppes; however I would steer clear of eFentimand or Waitrose own-brand as they are too citrusy.

Martini

All of the crisp juniper and citrus that you would expect from a Martini, but with the added character of cardamom, spice and then the dry grape character of the vermouth. Full of flavour and pretty classic, if you are talking about the Martinis of the ‘30s and ‘40s rather than the ultra dry drinks of the ‘50s and ‘60s, but that’s just how I like it.

Negroni

The bold flavours of this gin work well in a Negroni; it’s exceptionally flavourful, with some dark chocolate spice coming through, along with a finish of cardamom and citrus.