Cocktails with… Malawi Gin

There are a few gins made in Africa, but it is rare for them to reach the shores of the UK. Those that do usually have to be hunted down in specialist food shops, but Malawi Gin has a UK importer and I think it’s great that it does.

Malawi Gin was first produced in 1965 and is bottled at 43% ABV. It is made by Malawi Distilleries Ltd. in Blantyre, Malawi.

1 Malawi Gin Final

On its own
Nose: A faint sweetness with a hint of chocolate and creamy coconut, along with a floral note of rose and lime.
Taste: This is a very smooth, velvety spirit. It is accessible, with a restrained yet discernable botanical character. There are notes of soft rose to start, followed by juniper, coriander, and then a creamy lime note on the middle and finish.

Gin & Tonic
Light and elegant hints of lime, vanilla, and coconut: fresh, refreshing, and very juicy. This would be wonderful to cool you down on a hot afternoon. This is a Gin & Tonic that will please everyone, but especially fans of rum.

MGT - Malwai Gin Tonic - served Evans style; lemon and lime garnish.

MGT – Malwai Gin Tonic – served Evans style; lemon and lime garnish.

Martini
Another smooth drink with a creamy texture. It works especially well with a twist of lime peel as a garnish. There are hints of creamy juniper, plus an array of floral notes on the finish.

Negroni
Again, smooth and creamy, with the gin’s characteristic coconut notes coming through. The citrus combines well with the vermouth and Campari to create a tart, slightly bitter finish.

In Conclusion
Malawi Gin is an accessible gin with a smooth texture an unusual coconut and lime character. It might not be for ardent traditionalists, but it certainly makes some lovely drinks, including a refreshing and delicious Malawi Gin Tonic.

Cocktails with… Shortcross Clover Gin

One exciting trend developing in the gin industry is the rise of limited edition, seasonal or gypsy (as the Gin Foundry refer to it) gin varieties. This idea has been empowered by the increase in the number of small distilleries who have the flexibility and freedom to take on these small projects.

The craft Gin Club have been one of those leading the charge on this with a few exclusive editions featuring in their monthly gin club.

One of these were Shortcross Clover edition, bottled at 46.0%ABV this is a similar gin to their original release but the botanical balance has been adjusted to emphasise the Wild Clover which is foraged from the distillery estate.

1 Shortcross Clover Gin

On its own
Nose: Resinous and leafy with some floral citrus notes.
Taste: There is a light sweetness upfront. Notes of cassia and ginger followed by crisp coriander and citrus, and a touch of floral herbaceousness. The finish is crisp and leafy, with note of pine that linger for several minutes.

Gin & Tonic
This drink has the perfect balance of dry, refreshing crispness and sweet complexity. It is a very subtle Gin & Tonic that reveals its layers as you sip. Green, leafy notes make way for some herbal and spice notes, that – combined – remind me of heather. A complex and delicious drink.

Martini
Another delicate, but distinctive drink with a delightfully clean and smooth character, and a discernable, complex spice. Simply great.

Negroni
A super-smooth Negroni: soft and elegant. The clover adds a slight sweetness, but it is subtle; it just takes the edge off of the drink. Sit back, sip, and relax.

Peter Cushing
Soft and lightly sweet to start, the gin’s flavours soon sweep to the fore with floral notes and lemon, followed by more weighty herbal notes and a pleasant, soft rootiness. Juniper comes through strongly afterwards, with warm, but dry ginger notes increasing, especially on the finish.

In Conclusion
I think Shortcross Clover edition is a great example as to how even a tweak to the botanical balance can significantly adjust the flavour profile. Sometimes a little change can be as fascinating as a big one. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic & The Peter Cushing.

Cocktails with… Beefeater Crown Jewel – 2015 Release

Sometimes it is when something is gone that we miss it most. Such was the case with Tanqueray Malacca, which was met with a mixed response when it was first released, but achieved legendary status once it was discontinued, leading to its resurrection a few years back.

There is perhaps one other discontinued gin that has such cult status, especially amongst bartenders: Beefeater Crown Jewel. This gin was launched in 1993 for duty free/travel retail. It was made using the classic nine Beefeater botanicals, plus grapefruit, and was bottled at 50% ABV.

Beefeater Crown Jewel 2016.jpg

The original gin was discontinued in 2009, shortly before the release of Beefeater 24, which. in a nod to Crown Jewel, also has grapefruit in its botanical mix.

Fast forward to 2015, and Beefeater Crown Jewel was re-released, available to the on-trade and at the Beefeater Visitor Centre. It is described as being an exact recreation of the original.

On its own
Nose: Upfront, there is bright and zesty citrus: grapefruit and soft, tangy orange.
Taste: Surprisingly soft for a 50% ABV spirit, this is creamy with soft citrus notes. The gin starts out refreshing before growing more balanced with notes of liquorice, coriander, and juniper. There’s a long, lingering finish with a light stalkiness and citrus zest.

Gin & Tonic
Intense, with a bold botanical flavour that easily stands up against the tonic. The bright citrus note of the grapefruit is a great addition.

Martini
Sublime – soft and delicate, but with a confident, powerful flavour. Very smooth, silky, and sophisticated. The gin notes are more balanced and the citrus less prominent.

Negroni
Strong in terms of power and flavour intensity. This has a super-charged version of the normal citrus flair of Beefeater combined with the extra dose of grapefruit, which sings through and stands up extremely well to the Campari, making a punchy Negroni.

In Conclusion
It’s great to see this old favourite back. Smooth, but strong, the high ABV and bold, but balanced citrus notes make it a good choice for mixed drinks. I enjoyed it most in a Martini.

Cocktails with… Curios Spirit Company’s Cocoa Nib Vodka

When some people think of a flavoured vodka, they turn up their noses, haunted by bad memories of overly-sweetened spirits flavoured with essences such as “Cookies ‘n’ Cream” or “Cinnamon Bun”. Thankfully, there are distillers across the world who are changing things with the introduction of botanically flavoured vodkas, i.e. those where flavours are introduced via distillation instead of compounding, in a method similar to that used to produce gin.

Curio Peruvian Cocoa Gin Botanical Vodka

Today’s spirit is an example of just such a botanical vodka. Curio Cocoa Nib Vodka is made by infusing vodka with Peruvian cocoa nibs; this mix is then distilled to capture the cocoa flavour. The result is a dry and genuine flavour. The spirit, which is bottled at 40% ABV, is produced by Curio Spirits Company at their distillery in Mullion, Cornwall. They also make a rather tasty Rock Samphire Gin.

On its own
Nose: Dry, dusky chocolate that reminds me of pure, powdered cocoa. There is then some light nuttiness and a little zest.
Taste: The fuller character of the cocoa is revealed on the palate: it has an indulgent and silky texture; quite creamy, but with a distinctive, deep chocolate note that is followed by a touch of warmth and a richness on the finish. Clean and smooth, this has evident potential for both drinking neat and mixing.

Frozen
This has a fantastic, thick and luxurious texture. The complex cocoa notes follow, with a mix of dark bean, creamy vanilla, and a buttery oiliness. The finish is lovely and creamy. Served from the freezer, this really captures the character of cocoa.

Vodka Tonic
This drink works well with a hearty tonic such as Schweppes, but really shines through with something like Fever-Tree, making a long, refreshing drink that is interwoven with nutty cocoa bean notes. The recommended lime garnish complements these chocolatey flavours well.

Martini
This makes a full-bodied and silky Martini that is chocolatey, but nonetheless dry enough to be served as a pre-dinner drink.

Curio Cocoa Nib Vodka - Chocolate Soda Float

Chocolate Soda Float
[Combine 25ml Cocoa Vodka, 75ml Chilled Soda/Sparkling Water – Add a Scoop of Ice-cream (we used Cornish Clotted Cream Ice-cream]
A fresh and dry drink that gradually sweetens as the ice-cream melts. The combination of vodka and soda gives the drink crispness, whilst the ice-cream adds balance. For a sweeter version, you could easily add a splash of chocolate sauce or use cola instead of soda.
soda.

In Conclusion
Curio Spirits’ Cocoa Nib Vodka captures the delicious and authentic flavour of cocoa nibs and the dry style makes it both very pleasant to sip neat and a versatile mixing ingredient. Although I really enjoyed the Soda Float, this was just pipped to the post by sipping the vodka straight from the freezer.

Curio Cacao Nib Vodka is avaialble for around £24 for 70cl from Master of Malt.

Cocktails with.. Palmer’s Gin 44%ABV

Langley’s Distillery, the distillers behind such hits as Martin Miller’s, Brokers, and Hammer & Son Old Tom Gin, have made Palmer’s Gin on their own account for a number of years, although it has been less well-known than some of these other products. The gin is named after the Palmer Group, the owners of Langley Distillery.  

Palmers44.jpg

2016 sees a relaunch of Palmer’s Gin with a new bottle and an increase in ABV from 40%-44% ABV. It is made using a combination of ten botanicals.

On its own
Nose: Chocolate and lemon, with a touch of earthy pine.
Taste: This is a classic gin with an engaging flavour profile; there is a good interplay between notes of citrus and chocolate, the former being of lemon and orange, making it almost reminiscent of a jaffa cake. After this, dry, more resinous botanicals come through, with a pleasant oiliness and a touch of black pepper.

Gin & Tonic
Excellent – so light and refreshing. Lots of crisp citrus and juniper notes followed by a clean, lightly bitter finish. Delicious.

Martini
A clean crispness makes this another refreshing and light cocktail, but with plenty of character. This would be a great choice for a pre-dinner drink, particularly when dining al fresco.

Negroni
Lively and jammy, with delightful hints of full shred marmalade. The finish is clean, with notes of dry, crisp juniper from the gin and the bitter Campari. Superb!

In Conclusion
Palmer’s Gin is a well-balanced spirit that is a delight to drink. Very classic, but the chocolate-citrus flair sets it apart. My favourite drink was the Martini.

 

Cocktails with… Cotswolds 1616 Gin

Last month saw the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. As such, throughout this year, various events have taken place across the UK and the world, remembering the bard’s life and work. The world of gin is not immune to this commemoration; the Cotswolds Distillery have recently launched a special aged gin to mark the occasion.

1616 Cotswolds Barrel Aged Gin.jpg

Cotswolds 1616 Gin is created in the style of a 17th Century aged genever. Its botanicals include:
Juniper
Coriander
Angelica root
Orange peel (dried)
Caraway
Nutmeg
Cassia
All spice

It is made using the same base spirit as their single malt whisky, so far more of the base character comes through. It is aged in American oak ex-red wine casks.

On its own
Nose: Freshly baked fruit loaf with dark, spiced fruits and a hint of candied peel, as well as dark chocolate chips and vanilla.
Taste: This gin has a luxurious, thick texture that fills the mouth and a light, cosy warmth to it. There are oily citrus notes to start, then the base notes come through, adding a touch of chocolate and a hint of breadiness akin to marble rye bread. This is followed by dark, vine fruit notes and a gentle lift of cedar and oak.
Finish: Dry, with notes of juniper and an array of complex, spiced notes: a combination of baking spices and deeper, peppery, menthol, mace-like notes, which linger for several minutes after sipping.

Frozen
Quite ale-like – the rich malt notes really shine through, making it almost reminiscent of a beer schnapps – with the lingering citrus pine of juniper and dry, fruity wine notes. Unusual, but quite fascinating.

Sweet Martini
Delicious; more complex and less dry than many Sweet Martinis, with a soft and smooth texture and some juicy wine and mellow malt notes. Really very good.

Old Fashioned
Possibly my favourite way to drink this spirit. It has all of the engagement and subtlety of a whisky Old Fashioned; a drink full of nuance from the malt, cereal base, and the aromatic botanicals. Light spice and wood notes from the wine casks come through on the finish.

With Soda
Superb: fresh and complex with hints of anis and grape, followed by woody spice and a crisp, dry finish. There is also a very light vanilla sweetness – delightful.

Negroni
Delightful and soft with that rich and warming bready character from the base spirit singing through. The woody, slightly tannic notes from the wine barrels are also an excellent match to the Campari and Red Vermouth – very tasty indeed.

Star wars Cocktails – Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Continuing our celebration of Star Wars Day here are some cocktails for Episode VI…

EPISODE  VI – RETURN OF THE JEDI

Creatures in the desert, the Emperor’s new groove and the planet of the teddy bears…

Jabba Jumble

Jabba Jamboree Cocktail Episode VI Star Wars Drinks - FINALInspired by the drinks that R2-D2 serves on Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge, this cocktail is easy to make up in large batches and pre-chill, making it particularly good to share with friends if you’re having a Star Wars viewing party today.

Recipe – Serves 6
30ml White Rum, 30ml Midori Melon Liqueur, 120ml Milk
Mix together in a bottle and chill in the fridge, pour into small shot glasses to serve.

Smooth and creamy, with a subtle, but pleasant hint of melon; it tastes a little like a melon milkshake. The rum comes through on the finish, along with a herbal chocolate note courtesy of the bitters.

Sanctuary Moon

Sanctury Moon Cocktail Episode VI Star Wars Drinks - FINALLeafy and herbaceous, and reflective of the forest, this is a variation on Jörg Meyer’s cocktail from 2008, the Basil Smash.

Recipe
50ml Herbal Gin (St George’s Terroir), 25ml Lemon Juice, 15ml Sugar Syrup, 100ml Soda Water

Bright, fresh scents of mint and rosemary on the nose. The flavour is light and dry, with a lovely note of green basil, rosemary, juniper, and the revitalising zing of fresh lemon juice. There’s even a tiny hint of fennel at the end of the finish. Rustic and refreshing.

I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This

I've Got a Bad Feeling About This.... Cocktail Episode VI Star Wars Drinks - FINALThis is perhaps the most famous phrase in the Galaxy, uttered by a variety of characters, humans and droid alike. The recipe for this may give a feeling of trepidation, but the results are delicious.

Recipe – Serves 2
15ml Vodka, 15ml Gin, 15ml White Rum, 15ml Dark Rum, 15ml Tequila, 15ml Bourbon, 15ml Triple Sec/Orange Liqueur, 15ml Apricot Liqueur, 15ml Sugar Syrup, 45ml Lemon Juice, 240ml Cola

This drink has a little over a double measure of alcohol per person, so enjoy sparingly.

Notes from the cola are always at the centre of this, but other flavours creep in and out, including: warm spice and brown sugar, a fruity vanilla note, and a hint of sweet raisin. The finish is dry and woody, with additional wisps of the flavours of cocoa and tequila smoke. Surprisingly smooth; this one may charm you.