Cocktails with… Pierde Almas +9 Botanical Gin

Yesterday I had the great pleasure to hear Jonathan Barbieri from Pierde Almas Mezcal discuss the finer points of his Mezcal range at an excellent tutored tasting at Amathus, Soho. Whilst the Mezcals were fascinating and delicious it was the last product of the day that caught my attention.

Pierde Almas +9 Botanical Mezcal (Gin) has caused some discussion between myself and my good friend of http://www.theGinIsIn.com (America’s Gin Reviewer) as to whether a product that doesn’t call itself gin be a gin, does the inclusion of juniper in any botanical spirit automatically make it gin?

Pierde Almas Mezcal +9 Botanicals Gin

The question was resolved when I asked the distiller himself, who answered that it was a gin but that US regulation state that a product can only be classified in one drinks category thus a spirit cannot be a gin-mezcal or mezcal-gin.

The Pierde Almas Gin uses a double distillation of Espadin as a base, nine classic botanicals are then steeped in the spirit for 24 hours before distillation. Some botanicals are also suspended above the spirit in a mesh bag; “like a big tea-bag, but made from a hair net” in the top of the still (gin head) forming a rudimentary version of vapour infusion.

The nine botanicals are:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Orange
Orris
Cassia
Star Anise
Fennel
Nutmeg

The gin is bottled at 45.0% ABV and uses a slow distillation that results in a daily production of around 20 litres.

The Taste

Own
nose: smoke and citrus, with some savoury elements reminiscent of roasted peppers. As it opens up piney juniper and fennel come forward as well as a little sweet jammy citrus.

taste: A very smooth spirits, characteristic of the Pierde Almas Mezcals, the flavours of the Espadin comes through to start with a hint of vanilla. There is then unmistakable juniper in the middle; rich piney with a hint of resin. This is followed by some sweeter notes from the herbs such as the anise and fennel and there is a long dry finish with a little angelica, fennel and the residual character of the spirit base. It would be all to easy for the mezcal flavours to take over but, for me, there is a sense of harmony between the base and the botanicals.

Gin & Tonic
A very unusual gin and tonic very smoky but with bright and fresh botanical flavours. The choice of tonic would be important here and for best results I think perhaps embracing the herbal nature of something like Fevertree Mediterranean or 1724 would be worthwhile. In addition I think the extra attention given when mixing a fine Gin Tonica with the aroma and flavours that goes with that serve and its thoughtful garnishes would be worth the extra effort. This is not a typical Gin & Tonic and may not appeal to the ardent traditionalist, however I think it is smashing.

Pierde Almas Jonathan and DTS

Martini
Delightful the chilled down gin is softened and allows some of the more delicate sweet spice notes to come through such a creamy vanilla, which works well with the dry vermouth. There is a little saltiness and a touch of smoke. This is a drink that will appeal to traditionalists and newbies alike.

Negroni
Fantastic nose smoky agave and wider mezcal notes mixed with juniper, fennel and anise. A rich and smooth Negroni will a charming interplay between the smoky mezcal notes and the bitterness of the Campari. However, the gin notes of the drink are not simply defined by the gin’s base and there is certainly plenty of the juicy citrus along with angelica and the botanicals noted on the nose. I’ve never had anything like it, simply delightful and a new favourite.

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… Langley No:8 Gin

Langley#8 Gin

The Langley Distillery near Birmingham is a well-respected and established gin producer, making gins for brands such as Broker’s and Martin Miller’s, but, until last year, had no gin whose name reflected its own heritage. That was until Langley No:8, a gin made using a mix of 8 botanicals that is distilled in the copper pot still, Constance. The base spirit is English grain and the gin is bottled at 41.7% ABV.

Langley Gin Bottle

On its own
Nose: A rich, fruity nose with bright citrus and rich herbal notes intermingled with hint of rose.
Taste: Some juniper to start, then coriander and some sweet spice notes – cassia, for instance. This then moves onto a brighter citrus note and a dry, lightly floral finish.

Gin & Tonic
Lots of lemon and even a hint of sherbert make this a refreshing drink, great served with lots of ice and a lemon garnish. Simple, but easy to drink and accessible to all.

Martini
Unusually, I garnished this with pomelo peel, but I think it actually works really well. This is a very classic, very clean Martini that has a good amount of botanical intensity; its flavours work particularly well with the citrus oils from the garnish.

Gentleman’s Martini
[50ml Langley No8, 15ml Dry Vermouth, 5ml Olive Water – STIR]
A rather savoury Martini with the olive flavours really coming through, using olive water rather than brine prevents the drink from being too salty. A clean drink with some good crispness and herbal notes.

Langley Gents Martini

Negroni
A good bitterness upfront, then some sweeter, herbal notes: wormwood and citrus peel, as well as sweeter herbs. There is a long, clean and bitter finish from the Campari, although it is a bright, crisp bitterness, rather than a dark, earthy one. Refreshing. This does work well when garnished with ruby grapefruit.

Langley Station Master
This variation on the Martini is superb, the drinks i made by pouring stirred-down gin into a glass that has been rinsed with Lagavulin 16 (or other smoky whisky). For extra pow! (should you need any) I can recommend pouring the gin straight from the freezer with no dilution at all.

Gimlet
A crisp and vibrant drink: the citrus flavours of the gin work well with the cordial, providing a good balance between sweet and tart. A good alternative to a pre-dinner Martini.

Cocktails with… Filliers Dry Gin & Tangerine Gin – from Belgium!

fillier gin title

Today, we are revisiting the SummerFruitCup World of Gin by adding another gin from a different country to the collection. We are not travelling too far, but we do need to nip over to the continent, to Belgium.

The product in question comes from Filliers Distillery, a distillery located on a farm near the River Lys in Bachte-Maria-Leerne, in the East Flanders, which was founded in 1880 by Karel Lodewijk Filliers. The distillery made and still makes a range of genevers, but, in 1928, third generation distiller, Firmin Filliers, came up with the recipe for Filliers Dry Gin 28. The 28 has a double meaning: not only does it represent the year in which it was created, but also the number of botanicals used in its production (in addition to juniper).

Filliers Dry Gin
Filliers Original
Nose: Soft, piney juniper upfront, which gives way to some sweet citrus and then moves onto almost raisin-like spice and a hint of nutty dark chocolate.
Taste: Very plump and luscious mouth-feel, with a rather juicy flavour. Like the nose, there’s sappy juniper upfront, with a hint of saltiness, which then changes into lively, floral citrus notes and coriander. The spice then kicks in, with a very long, dry finish of pine and a little spice. Clearly, this is a spirit made with care and the natural transition between the flavours as you sip is a mark of its quality.

Gin & Tonic
Delicious: a very pure Gin & Tonic, with both the gin and the tonic coming through well and providing crisp refreshment. The flavours are both defined and refined, with juniper, citrus and then some sweet spice. Very good and succulent. I personally like to serve this drink with a ruby grapefruit garnish.

Martini
Another great gin, right juniper as well as some spice, such as anise or fennel, and a citrus finish. This cocktail has a rich texture and is very satisfying to drink, with a sweet lift at the end. Certainly not to be missed.

Negroni
Near perfection as Negronis go – just right in terms of balance: the dryness of the gin, the sweet herbal flavour of the red vermouth and then the deeper, bitter, earthy notes of the Campari are in equilibrium with each other. This is certainly one for the hard-core Negroni fans, or, indeed, anyone who wants to see what all the fuss over this drink is about.

FilliersTangerine Bottle

Filliers Tangerine

This is a special, seasonal edition of the Dry Gin 28, made with tangerines from Valencia, which have been harvested exclusively between November and January.

Gin & Tonic
A clean drink with luscious, fruity tangerine flavours coming through, but not overpowering the drink. All-in-all, this is succulent and very refreshing. The
orange-like citrus notes work well with the tonic and, with a fresh citrus garnish, this would be even better. It works well with Schweppes and Fevertree,
but I’d steer away from the more citrusy tonics like Fentimans.

Martini
Superb. The flavours of many orange or other citrus gins are just too overpowering to make a good Martini, but Filliers Tangerine hits the spot, making a drink that’s smooth, crisp and zesty. Very enjoyable.

Negroni
An excellent Negroni – intensely bitter, with a great zestiness from the tangerine and some bitter citrus oils coming through that work particularly well alongside the Campari. Rather bracing, but brilliant at the same time.

Filliers Tangerine Comet
[1oz Orange Gin, 1oz Lillet Blanc, 2 Dashes Maraschino, STIR]
This is a great drink and one of my favourites to make using orange/tangerine gin. The citrus of the gin works well with the citrus of the Lillet and the wine gives the drink a lovely, lively freshness. The maraschino adds a little depth and some extra sweetness, too. Perfect for an aperitif.

In Conclusion

Both of these gins are superb, not just in terms of their fine packaging, but the great flavours and craftsmanship evident in the spirits. The dry gin makes a fantastic Negroni and is very much an example of a premium gin. The tangerine is rich and luscious and works superbly, both on its own and when mixed.

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.

Boodles is Back – Cocktails with The British Gin

BoodlesGinIsBackTitle

For a long time, I have been a big fan of Boodles Gin and, when I first started getting into gin, I remember that Boodles was available from places like Gerry’s in Soho, and I certainly drank a fair bit of it. Unfortunately, it then became increasingly difficult to obtain and my only sources were relatives returning from the United States, but nonetheless I still had a supply.

 At this time, the brand was owned by Pernod Ricard, although it was actually made by Joanne Moore at the Greenalls Distillery. I thought it was a shame that a brand with such heritage and a close association with the likes of Churchill and Ian Fleming, who were members of Boodle’s Club (where the name of the gin comes from), had been left to languish.

BoodlesGinBottle

Things changed in 2012, when the New Jersey based company, Proximo, purchased the brand and set about planning to relaunch it. Although not properly launched until July this year, there are a few sneak previews going on, such as Ginstock tomorrow for World Gin Day.

 Boodles Gin dates back to 1845 and is named after Boodle’s Gentleman Club in St. James’s, which, in turn, was named after their head waiter, Edward Boodle. It is bottled in the UK at 40% ABV and is made at the Greenalls Distillery in Warrington using neutral grain spirit, a carter-head still (similar to that used to make Bombay Sapphire) and contains nine botanicals:

BoodlesGinIsBackBots

The Taste

Own
nose: juniper, coriander (adding a citrusy note) backed up by some leafy herbal tones.
taste: Sweet to start with cassia, cinnamon and caraway notes, this moves towards the rich herbal notes of the rosemary and sage and the dry piney juniper and coriander come through at the end. Smooth throughout with just a small lift of warmth at the very end. Very accessible and even better served chilled.

Gin & Tonic
Good, clean, crisp and refreshing. The gin chills down really nicely and works well with schweppes leaving a long dry slightly bitter finish. Not too intense and pretty classic but perfect for a hot day

Martini
Good solid flavour and surprisingly potent for a gin at 40%ABV (I think this is a good thing as a Martini needs a little power). Good balance of flavour with a good range of botanicals coming into play, dry juniper, citrus coriander and then some of the herbal spice notes (although these are relatively subtle). I quite like this without any garnish but I think a lemon twist would work well too.

Negroni
Good full flavour, very smooth but not over-complex. Easy to drink and enjoy. I recommended it with a twist (or slice if you’re feeling juicy) of red grapefruit.

WorldGinDayEve GinTonicFriday Boodles

Gin Tonica
Absolutely superb, the sage brings out the herbal note and the lemon thyme does something similar but also adds a little crispness and zest as the gin has not citrus botanicals. The Lemon peel adds colour and fragrance. I didn’t twist the peel because I didn’t want it to overpower the drink.

In Conclusion
I think it’s great that Boodles is back and this gin is very mixable and makes some great drinks, my favourite was the gin tonica. Although the gin has been reduced in strength to 40% ABV in the UK it is still bottle at 45.2% ABV in the USA. And although I like the 40% version the 45,2% ABV still remains of the 489 different that gins I have tried my all-time favourite.

Boodles Gin is available from Gerry’s of Soho for around £27 for 70cl.