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.

Cocktails with… Pinckney Bend’s White Corn Whisky – with a special rested bonus!!

Another one of the treats as a result of DBS’s recent trip to Kentucky was a bottle of Pinckney Bend Corn Whiskey. The Pinckney Bend Distillery, located in New Haven, about 60 miles due west of the Gateway to the West (St. Louis), produce a range of small batch, craft spirits. DBS reviews their gin last year here.

Pinckney Bend is the namesake of a bend in the Mississippi River that was a notorious navigational hazard to ships on the river; a settlement sprung up at that geographical point, but has since been abandoned. The finer details of the story can be found here.
The area has been associated with quality distilled spirits since 1806, when the explorers Lewis & Clark visited the area.
Seeing the range of spirits made at Pinckney Bend, I wanted to quickly look up the official differences between the various types. The following definitions (summarised by me) come from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Vodka” – alcohol that has been distilled (or distilled and then treated or filtered) “as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color”.

“Whisky” is an alcoholic distillate made from a fermented mash of grain produced under 190 proof and bottled at no less than 80 proof. It must taste, smell and generally have the characteristics “generally attributed to whisky”. Unless it’s corn whisky, it needs to be stored in oak containers.

“Bourbon whisky” can’t come off of the still at more than 160 proof and must be produced from a mash consisting of 51% or more corn grain. It must be stored in charred new oak containers and has to be 125 proof or under when doing so.

Like Bourbon, “corn whisky” can’t be more than 160 proof off of the still, but must be produced a mash of at least 80% corn grain. It doesn’t have to be stored in oak, but if it is, it must be under 125 proof when stored. Charred wood can’t be used to store or treat it.

So now that we know exactly where corn whiskey sits, let’s give Pinckney Bend’s version a try!

PinckneyBendWhiteCornWhiskey

On its own
Nose: Light, but vibrant notes of corn (like unpopped popcorn) and vanilla.
Taste: This has an interesting texture: the flavour swings between plain, clean alcohol notes and sweeter ones of corn. The finish gradually builds and is comforting, long and warm. At the very end of the finish, there’s a refreshing, dry bitterness that reminds me of black coffee; there’s no sickly, cloying corn notes here!

Old Fashioned (using Bitter Truth’s Jerry Thomas Bitters)
Light and sweet, with a lovely and wholly unexpected note of banana, like that of warm banana bread or banoffee pie. The flavour is creamy, but with a herbal lift at the end. Like the whiskey on its own, there’s a long, slightly dry finish with hints of dark chocolate. The creamy corn/banoffee note appears faintly, but recurrently on the finish. Without a doubt, this is now one of my favourite cocktails.

White Manhattan
[50ml Pinckney Bend Corn Whisky, 10ml Dolin Dry Vermouth]
This has the freshness of a Vodka Martini, but with weightier notes of wood and vanilla, making it more akin to a Gin Martini, only without any other distracting botanical flavours. Refreshing, strong and to the point.

Manhattan
[50ml Pinckney Bend Corn Whisky, 25ml Red vermouth]
The vermouth definitely takes centre-stage in this cocktail: from the outset, there are bold, dry herbal notes, followed by a long, smooth finish of subtle corn, interspersed with spice and a tannin-like note that reminded me of black tea. This would be a great way to showcase a particularly nice dry vermouth.

with Ginger Ale
Very refreshing, with a neat crispness to it that reminds me of cucumber. Not too sweet. I think this would work particularly well with some fresh lemon, and would make a lovely afternoon drink to sit back and relax with.

plus… Pinckney Bend “Rested” Corn Whiskey

The Distillery have trialled resting their corn whiskey in barrels (for under one year) We’re lucky to have a small sample – here are my notes.

Nose: Light hints of musky books and sweet honey. Vanilla throughout, with notes of sweet, caramelised corn at the end.
Taste: Invigorating and very warm at the end. There are strong notes of wood (with lots of character and body to them, like a good quality Bourbon), followed by a warmer version of the corn note from before. There’s nothing sweet or sickly about the corn note; it’s a deeper corn flavour. The wood and corn notes are well-balanced and followed by a slight muskiness on the finish.

In Conclusion
Yet again, I find myself being very impressed with a corn whiskey; in particular how well it works in a wide range of cocktails. My favourite was undoubtedly the Old Fashioned. The “Rested” Corn Whiskey is also rather exciting – perfectly combining the subtle and sweet corn notes with more weightier wood notes – and something to keep an eye out for.

- Mrs. B.

 

A Tasting of Tomatin Scotch

TomatinScotch

Once again, it’s that wonderful time of year when shops may have leftover Christmas stock in the form of whisky miniatures – a fantastic way to explore different whiskies without spending a fortune.

One of the sets that I received as a gift over the holidays was one containing three whiskies from the Tomatin Distillery, which is based on the edge of the Monadhliath Mountains, near Inverness, Scotland. The distillery site has history dating back to the 15th Century, but was formally set up in 1897.

TomatinCollection.

The gift set contains a 50ml bottle of each of their 12, 15 and 18 Year Old whiskies (which is quite a recent line-up, as the 15 Year Old was only introduced in 2009).

TomatinYr12..

#1) Tomatin 12 Year Old (40%ABV)

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This whisky was introduced in 2003 and has been aged in 1st or 2nd fill American Oak casks, before being finished in sherry butts (for a minimum of six months).

Nose: Bread, yeast and oat cakes, with a little sea air and sherry, too. Mainly a surprisingly pleasant combination dough and oat cakes, though.

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Taste: Strong, savoury flavours from the outset; whilst its very smooth, even if you hold it in your mouth for a while, the flavours are potent and there’s a good warmth to it. The main flavours are of light wood and oat cakes, but there’s an intriguing, slightly bitter finish which is more vegetal.

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TomatinYr15

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#2) Tomatin 15 Year Old (43%ABV)

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Introduced in 2009, the 15 Year Old has been aged in refill American Oak casks.

Nose: Light and distinctly creamy (just a touch of salted caramel or toffee), with malt, barley and wisps of smoke. There’s a breadiness to the creaminess, but nothing heavy.

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Taste: Again, wisps of smoke amongst a backdrop of clean, white wood and light citrus (mainly orange, but with hints of lemon). The flavour is quite “raw” at points, but there’s no burn. The finish is quite heavy on notes of hops and malt, with hints of chocolate.

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TomatinYr18.

#3) Tomatin 18 Year Old (46%ABV)

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Introduced in 2006, this whisky is non-chill filtered and aged in refill American Oak casks, before being finished in Spanish Oloroso sherry butts.

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Nose: Lighter, softer and sweeter, but also stronger on the alcohol. Again, I get notes of faint sea air and the kind of fresh, slightly tart, dry fruitiness that you would get from a dry sherry. It finishes with notes of oats.

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Taste: Savoury and fresh, with a toffee-like mouthfeel that follows an initial burst of savoury notes. This has a surprisingly short flavour, which is predominantly made up of tart, dry sherry notes, and a lighter, sweet woodiness with highlights of dried fruit towards the end.

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In Conclusion
Whilst none of these whiskies were to my own personal tastes, I’m glad that I’ve tried the range and think that my Dad will be quite partial to the 15 Year Old, which was also my favourite of the three. This little gift set is an excellent, good-value way to try them (you can purchase it from The Whisky Exchange for around £17.25).

- Mrs. B.

Drinks from the Vault – A look at Beefeater Crown Jewel and Beefeater Wet

I recently came into the possession of two bottles discontinued of Beefeater Gin.

Beefeater Crown Jewel

The first was Beefeater Crown Jewel, this gin was launched in 1993 for the Duty Free market, although some specialist shops in the UK occasionally sold it. It was based on Beefeater’s standard mix of 9 botanicals, plus grapefruit.  Additionally, it was bottled at 50% ABV.

With introduction of Beefeater 24 in 2009, Beefeater Crown Jewel was discontinued. It is worth noting that Beefeater 24 still contains grapefruit as an additional botanical, as well as two types of tea.

On its own
Nose: Pine, initially, then some savoury notes, a hint of orange and some other zesty citrus.
Taste: Powerful in flavour and alcoholic strength, this is pretty classic start, but, in addition to its sheer intensity, the main difference between this and original Beefeater is the long finish of grapefruit; this is a simple variation, but a great one and one that should add a new dimension to cocktails.

Frozen
Very thick and viscous; very smooth, but the flavours remain intense: juniper, citrus, angelica, coriander and then a zesty finish with some marmalade sweetness. Very, very pleasant to sip.

Gin & Tonic
This has a zesty nose and is very dry, indeed. It’s refreshing, with plenty of citrus and the grapefruit coming through at the very end. I quite like it; served ice-cold, it is rather delightful.

Martini
Very intense and exceptionally cold; simply, excellent. It has a marvellous, sweet and citrusy finish. This is one of the best Martinis out there and I’m surprised that I have only just discovered it. Brilliant.

Negroni
An exceedingly intense Negroni; for some, this will be absolute bliss. The extra citrus from the grapefruit comes through the drink like a knife and gives you a pow in the kisser. The hard-core Negroni fan will love this, as it turns the bitter-sweet balance and intensity up to 11. Superb.

In Conclusion
Beefeater Crown Jewel was made using only a small variation on the original Beefeater botanical mix, but it was a welcome feature of duty free for many years and a bartenders’ favourite. Now discontinued – and I have it on good authority that it won’t come back – it’s over; time to move on. Sad, but we’ll always have the memories.

Beefeater WET

Beefeater Wet, released in 1999 (and discontinued 2005), was designed to be a different style of gin – slightly sweeter and more fruity – than Classic Beefeater and, along with Tanqueray Mallaca (1997), they laid the groundwork for the new way of thinking about gin that eventually led to the rise of Contemporary-style gin. Interestingly, both of these gins were marketed in the US and, today, this is where this style of gin is most popular.

Beefeater Wet departed from the classic recipe with the addition of extra spice, pear essence and a little sugar. It is also bottled at 37.5%ABV, rather than the usual 40%ABV for the UK or 47%ABV for the USA.

On its own
Nose: Juniper upfront, and then some earthy notes that are followed by notes of freshly cut pear, with just a hint of oxidation. Unusual, but inviting.
Taste: Quite smooth and sweet, with the pear coming through again. This is particularly unusual and, given when it was released, I can see how it can be considered as one of the gins that paved the way to the wave of New Western or Contemporary style of gins.
With a little water, more coriander comes through and makes the drink fresher and the pear even more prominent with a final, soft, creamy citrus flavour.

Frozen
Sweet and silky, silky smooth. There are hints of marzipan and pear, as well as some vanilla creaminess and a finish of piney juniper. Pretty good and rather liqueur-like.

Gin & Tonic
Beefeater Wet was created for the US market, where Gin & Tonics take a backseat to other gin drinks, and, as such, this doesn’t work that well. I used Schweppes EU, which is typically more generous to a gin than the UK version or the even sweeter US variety, and it still pretty much overpowered the gin, even at a 2:1 ratio. The gin comes through more on the finish with notes of pear drops and marzipan. That said, after a little ice melt it does become more refreshing (as long as you like the taste of tonic).

Martini
Good, but, even with my standard amount of vermouth, it is a rather wet Martini with a fair bit of sweetness and the flavour of fruity, spiced pear. This is very different, and not at all classic in style, but it will appeal to some.

Negroni
Beefeater Wet makes quite a sweet Negroni, but one that is particularly smooth. The fruity pear comes through on the finish, especially. Whilst this isn’t as intense or powerful flavour-wise as many Negroni fans would like, it is, by no means, a bad drink.

In Conclusion
I had tried Beefeater Wet before (in 2007) and, to the best of my recollection, it was “not that great”.  Five years on, my palette has developed and I thought I’d give it another go.

I was surprised at how much of the pear came through and that the flavour seemed pretty genuine. The gin is smooth, but you would expect that, given the lower %ABV and slight sweetening. Its freshness makes it great for long mixed drinks such as the Gin Collins.

I think that if this gin was released today, then it would enjoy a lot more success than it did, as palates have changed or, more precisely, a whole new generation of gin drinkers with different tastes have “joined the party” and with them comes a demand for the more contemporary products.

My favourite way of drinking the Beefeater Wet was either straight from the freezer or in a Gin & Tonic.

Beefeater Gin's Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS

Beefeater Gin’s Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS

Limoncello – Volume Three of the Liqueur Library

If Italy had an equivalent to Swedish Punsch, Japanese Umeshu or British Sloe Gin, Limoncello would surely be the answer. Many Italian families have closely-guarded recipes and the creation and consumption of homemade varieties of this liqueur is an annual event.

Limoncello is a lemon flavoured liqueur, which is made by simply infusing lemon zest in un-aged alcohol, typically vodka (although some folks use Grappa), with added sugar. It’s exceptionally easy to make, which is probably why so many create it at home.

Limoncello goes by many names (and spellings), including: Lemoncino, Lemoncelloe and Limoncetto. These are all, essentially, the same product, although the term “Limoncino” is more common in Northern Italy and “Limoncello” is preferred in the South.

For those of you who don’t want to make it at home, there are plenty of commercial brands available, made in various countries, including Adnam’s in the UK.

Adnam’s Limoncello was originally released in 2011 and, due to its popularity, Adnam’s made another batch with an improved production method in 2012. It starts life as a batch of three-grain vodka (wheat, barley, oats), which is kept at 90% ABV whilst the lemon zest is infused; the higher strength spirit makes the extraction of the lemons’ aroma, flavour and colour fuller, quicker and easier. This maceration is left for three weeks, at which point the zest is removed and some sugar and water is added, bringing the ABV down to its bottling strength of 28% ABV.

The Taste

1) Own
Nose: Very fresh, with lots of strong, zesty lemon. Natural tasting, almost like a home-made variety.
Taste: Soft and very smooth; silky, with a touch of honey and lovely, fresh, zesty lemon citrus. Lemon-y tang at the end. All-in-all, a product that tastes authentic and far from artificial, just like some of the best home-made versions that I have had. Excellent.

2) Chilled
The liqueur becomes much thicker when chilled; this is how they often drink it in Italy. The flavours are more complex and an initial sweet floral aspect is followed by lush, zesty lemon and a touch of more bitter lemon at the end. Simply top-notch!

3) Over Ice
[50ml Limoncello, One Large Chunk of Ice]
I thought this was another lovely way to drink the liqueur. Interestingly, the sweetness seems to come through a little more. It is also very visually appealing, as the little torrents of melting ice create viscous ripples in the Limoncello. Most importantly, it tastes good.

Cream Cocktail

Cream Cocktail

4) Cream Cocktail
[20ml Gin, 20ml Limoncello, 15ml Cream – SHAKE]
A smooth and creamy lemon cocktail somewhat reminiscent of lemon cheesecake, tart au citron or lemon syllabub. Quite rich and very much a dessert cocktail to drink after dinner.

5) Collins
[25ml Gin, 25ml Limoncello, 100ml Soda Water]
This was a very crisp and refreshing cooler. For extra tartness, add a little (10ml or so) fresh lemon juice. Very light and easy to drink, this could easily be served by the jug or pitcher. There’s a sweet, creamy lift at the end, which pleasantly rounds off this delicious drink. One of the few ways to make Limoncello even more refreshing.

Limonata

6) Limonata
[40ml Citrus Vodka*, 10ml Limoncello, 20ml Lemon Juice, 10ml Sugar Syrup – SHAKE]
A refreshing and zinging drink, luscious and lovely. A hint of jammy citrus, touch of creaminess, spiciness care of the vodka and a sweet, lemon curd,  lift at the end. Really very good indeed, highly recommended.

7) Adnam’s Flyer
[30ml Adnam’s First Rate Gin, 10ml Limoncello, 5ml Creme de Violette – SHAKE]
A tasty little liqueur-like cocktail. The dry gin flavour was followed by the neat sweetness of the Limoncello and the floral creaminess of the Violette. Lovely as an after-dinner cocktail.

Tryst in Trieste

8) Tryst in Trieste
[20ml Orange Liqueur**, 20ml Scotch, 15ml Limoncello – SHAKE, then add 10ml Soda Water]
Soft, citrus-heavy nose. To taste, this was a most interesting combination: it had a sherbet-like mouthfeel throughout, with the smoky woodiness from the Scotch fading in after a few moments. The orange notes bridge the strong lemon and whisky flavours nicely. It ended with a lovely, neat, citrusy finish, making for a refreshing and light whisky cocktail.

9) Suffolk Sour
[30ml Vodka, 15ml Limoncello, 15ml Cherry Brandy, 15ml Lemon Juice – BUILD]
A tart and crisp drink, with the initial tart citrus followed by the richer flavours of the cherry. A sweet vanilla from the Limoncello then comes into play. The balance works, but the sour outweighs the sweet. Very tasty.

Lemoncello & Whisky Cocktail

Lemoncello & Whisky Cocktail

10) Limoncello & Whisky
[Recommended by Adnams Head Distiller John McCarthy. 2 parts Scotch, 1 part Limoncello, Ice – STIR]
This was another lovely, light dessert cocktail. It had a refreshing, zesty freshness, with the sweet, cream citrus of lemon curd complementing the drier, woody notes of the whisky. This creamy sweetness – just like that of a lemon tart, reappears on the finish. Very pleasant, indeed.

In Conclusion
I’ve been drinking Limoncello for a quite a few years and must have made my own at least ten years ago, but I’ve never really drunk it much in cocktails. Today’s tasting makes me think that I’ve missing out.

My favourite drinks were the Limonata and the Collins, as well as sipping the liqueur chilled on its own.

Adnams Limoncello is available for around £20 for 50cl from Adnams.

* I used Stolichnaya Citros.
** I used Grand Gala.

Cocktails with… Lubuski Gin

I got a chance to try Gin Lubuski last year, but, as there was only a little left in the bottle, I only got a sip. Last week, however, someone very kindly sent me some more, enabling me to write a full review.

Gin Lubuski is the best selling gin in Poland (with a 56% market share), with the American gin, Seagram’s, coming in second (23%) and Gordon’s way behind with only 2%. Gin Lubuski was first created in 1987 and is still made to the same recipe. It is distilled from grain, bottled at 40% ABV and contains the following botanicals:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica Root
Citrus peel
Liquorice
Cassia bark
Bitter almonds
Cardamom
Cinnamon
Star anise
Cumin
Calamus (Myrtle)
Marigold flowers
Bay leaf

Lubuski also make a lime-flavoured gin and a premixed Gin & Tonic that’s sold in an aluminium bottle.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Juniper, floral notes (rose), coriander, and marmalade-like citrus.
Taste: Black pepper spiciness, floral juniper, which was quite dry and accompanied by floral notes of coriander, violet, lavender and rose. The finish was dry and peppery and of a long-medium length.

Gin & Tonic
This made a very juniper-heavy Gin & Tonic, with a good levels of spicy, citrus and slightly soapy coriander and citrus peel. It was very refreshing and relatively traditional, although there were some rarer herbal and floral notes, too. Very tasty.

Martini
Herbaceous, with some bitter notes and hints of sage and fennel. This was followed by a characteristic juniper dryness, but it had good balance and levels of complexity, with notes of spicy coriander and floral honey. Overall, very good and pretty classic, although I would say that it was, arguably, herbal enough to sit in the “Eastern European style”.

Negroni
This made quite a sweet Negroni to start, followed by a pronounced bitterness; unfortunately, I’d say that the balance is a bit off. The drink is quite juicy and easy to drink, but doesn’t have that classic bitter/sweet mix.

As I’m aware that gin can be consumed differently in different countries, I decided to take a few of the recipes for my review from Gin Lubuski’s website.

Gin & Coke
Definitely an interesting combination; this almost tasted non-alcoholic. The herbal and floral elements of the gin mixed well with the cola (I used CocaCola Classic) to create a taste similar to a more old-fashioned or curiosity style of cola. There was a hint of dry, bitter juniper at the end, making this actually rather tasty.

Gin & Grapefruit
The gin added a great herbal note to this drink, making the flavour of the juice much fuller. At the same time, the spirit also rounded off any sharp bitterness from the grapefruit. This was a refreshing, yet comfortable, drink; very nice, indeed.

Gin & Cranberry
A dry yet herbaceous drink the dry cranberry being a good match for the flavours of the juniper. With plenty of ice it is rather refreshing with a floral lift at the end.

Lubuski Martini
I’ve included this as:

(a) it is the only Martini suggestion on the Lubuski website

(b) when looking up the gin on their distributor’s website, I noticed that they also look after a vermouth brand: Totino, who produce the following varieties of vermouth: Rosso, Blanco (white-sweet), Tropical, Cherry and Peach (the last three are, obviously, flavoured vermouths). Noticeably, there’s no dry vermouth in their catalogue, but this is not uncommon for Eastern European brands.

Equal parts Gin and White Sweet Vermouth

This wasn’t a typical Martini, but, as the Blanco is a bit sweeter than usual, the drink is more palatable than if you used a regular dry. The vermouth brought out more of the gin’s citrus notes, although the bitter herbal and sweet floral notes remain.

In Conclusion

Once again, I have been impressed by an international gin. Whilst it is not as herbal as some others, such as the Czech Rudolph Jeinek, it is more herbal than your standard London gin. I found that it was best enjoyed simply with mixers, whether that be tonic, grapefruit juice or even cola!

Special thanks to Seva for the sample.

Apricot Brandy – Volume Two of the Liqueur Library

Apricot Brandy is a spirit infused with apricot flesh and kernels and added sugar. Originally, brandy was used as the spirit, but, today, that is not necessarily the case, with the liqueur potentially being based on neutral grain spirit or vodka.

Apricot Brandy is also the term for Apricot Eaux-de-Vie (i.e. spirit distilled from apricots), but it is very unusual for a cocktail recipe to call for this type and so this is not the focus of today’s post.

Apricot Brandy has been appearing in cocktail books since at least the beginning of the 20th Century, with brands such as Bols, Garnier and DeKuyper being specifically mentioned in books. By the mid-1930s, books tended to include several cocktail recipes calling for this ingredient.

The 1862 edition of Jerry Thomas’ “How to Mix Drinks” or “The Bon Vivant’s Companion” provides recipes for Apricot Water and Apricot Ratafia (forebearers of modern Apricot liqueurs), as well as Brandy Apricots, but this seems to be more of a means of preserving the fruit than a way to produce liquid for consumption. Thomas does, however, use Peach Brandy in a number of cocktails.

Abricota was another Apricot Liqueur (although seldom made with brandy) and Garnier made Abricotine, which included the flavour of almond in addition to apricot.

DeKuyper XO Apricot Brandy

DeKuyper XO Apricot Brandy follows on from the success of their XO Cherry Brandy and is designed to be “one of the finest Apricot Brandies in the world”. In terms of ingredients and its bottle, it is, indeed, luxurious.

The liqueur uses untreated apricots from Turkey for extraction, as well as extracts of some famous apricot varieties: Rouge the Roussillon and the Bergeron from France. The apricots are blended with 10 year old Grande Champagne Cognac (Charente) and a Single Cask Pot Still Rum from Guyana.

DeKuyper XO Apricot Brandy is bottled at 28% ABV.

1) On its own
Nose: Rich, jammy apricot, which reminds me of fresh apricot jam, plus a little hint of vanilla and hints of wood at the end. Superb.
Taste: The flavour immediately fills your mouth: a great, fresh, succulent and jammy apricot, almost as if you have the flesh of the fruit in your mouth. After this, there’s the light flavour of grapes and a hint of oak from the underlying brandy. Sweet, but not too syrupy, this had a silky smooth texture; it had the viscosity, sweetness and fruitiness of a liqueur, but combined with a dryer, more complex flavour of a fruit eaux-de-vie on the finish. I also thought this had more personality and depth than your average Apricot Brandy.

2) Coronation Variation
[40ml Italian Vermouth, 40ml Dry Vermouth, 30ml Calvados/Applejack, 10ml Apricot Brandy. Stir.]
This was a drink with a few different personality traits: warm, tart apple from the Calvados, bittersweet herbal notes from the vermouth, and an apricot jamminess from the Apricot Brandy. All of these flavours were perfectly balanced in this drink, creating a smooth, easy-to-drink cocktail with a lot of character.

3) Empire
[60ml Dry Gin, 20ml Calvados, 20ml Apricot Brandy. Stir. Garnish with a cherry.]
Another Calvados and Apricot Brandy cocktail; not that this is much of a surprise, given how well the two work together. There is a stone-fruit aspect to the Calvados and its dryness balances well with the sweeter Apricot Brandy. To try and keep this great dry/sweet balance, I decided to use a homemade cocktail cherry. This was a neat cocktail, where the importance of each individual ingredient is well felt. Lovely!

Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Cocktail

Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Cocktail

4) Milwaukee Cocktail
[40ml Rye Whiskey, 10ml Apricot Brandy. Stir. Garnish with a green cherry.]
This is a simple cocktail, but one where the Apricot Brandy is particularly important; although they are in equilibrium with one another, the brandy really brings out the fruity notes in the whiskey. Although I’m not 100% sure of the significance of the green cherry, I have been amused by the double-take of friends to whom I have served this cocktail.

5) Colonel Cocktail
[30ml Bourbon, 10ml Apricot Brandy, 10ml Grapefruit Juice, 5m Sugar Syrup. Shake.]
The flavours of the bourbon and the Apricot Brandy are very complementary of each other and I think that further investigation into this pairing would be beneficial; perhaps a Bourbon Old Fashioned with the Apricot Brandy in place of the sugar syrup?

Rich and fruity, this is delicious and rather rousing to the appetite.

Aviation variation

6) Aviation Variation
[40ml Dry Gin, 10ml Lemon Juice, 5ml Maraschino, 5ml Apricot Brandy. Shake.]
The drink starts off with the usual flavours you would expect from an Aviation, sweet and tart with a refreshing edge, but where the flavours would usually move on to the sweet floral lift courtesy of the creme de violette you are met with some deep, jammy fruity notes form the apricot as well as a touch of almond which works well from the cherry stone fruit flavours of the Maraschino.

7) Apricot Crush
[25ml Apricot Brandy, 50ml Soda Water, a dash of Lemon Juice.]
This is a good way to lengthen the drink without masking the finer flavours of the liqueur. The dash of lemon juice stops the drink from becoming too sweet. Very refreshing, but with that rich apricot jamminess constantly in the background. Delicious.

Spruce Goose Cocktail

Spruce Goose Cocktail

8) Spruce Goose
[35ml Dry Gin, 20ml Cocchi Americano, 5ml Apricot Brandy, 2 dashes Dandelion & Burdock Bitters. Shake.]
This is a dry Martini with a touch of sweet jamminess from the Apricot Brandy. The choice of Cocchi Americano gives you some more bitterness and also a bit more citrus than regular vermouth. The Dandelion & Burdock Bitters help to pull the drink together with hints of wintergreen and hint of the classic British soft drink.

9) Charlie Chaplin
[20ml Gin, 20ml Apricot Brandy, 20ml Lime Juice. Shake.]
For me, this was reminiscent of a White Lady, with a similar tartness and a clean, citric edge. How it differs is that underlying the drink is a deeper sweetness with hint of apricot jam and almond. I thought it was delicious and particularly well-suited as an aperitif.

Charlie Lindburgh Cocktail

10) Charlie Lindbergh
[50ml Dry Gin, 40ml Lillet Blanc, 5ml Apricot Brandy, 1 dash of Orange Bitters. Stir.]
This is a wet Martini with an added complexity from the Apricot Brandy. Without this and the bitters, it would be rather dull, but these allow its development into a very notable drink. When mixing this particular cocktail, I think it’s important to ensure that your Apricot Brandy isn’t too sweet.

In Conclusion
I’ve enjoyed having a look at this liqueur and the cocktails that you can use it in. I found that using a fine product like DeKuyper XO Apricot Brandy made a huge difference to the more sophisticated cocktails. From my research, I was also intrigued at how many of the drinks that I mixed seemed to be inspired by events of the 20’s and 30’s, a period of history that I have something of an affinity to.

My favourite drink was the Coronation Variation, although the Apricot Brandy was just as delicious on its own.

DeKuyper XO Apricot Brandy is avaialble for around £30 for 50cl from The Whisky Exchange.