Cocktails with…. BRUTE Ultra-Dry Gin

Gin is an interesting thing; a spirit category that is in a constant state of flux with a wide range of flavour profiles covered by the plethora of products available. Recently, the category has been arguably energised by the growing trend for fruitier, sweeter gins, but at the same time gin is generally defined by one thing: the juniper berry.

The Return of the Juniper?

Brute Ultra Dry Gin

A number of distillers are rediscovering the juniper berry and making it the focus of their new products – such is the case with today’s gin: Brute, Ultra Dry Gin.

Bottled at 48.0% ABV, the gin is packed full of juniper and is described as “Extremely Juniper-y” on its label. To produce this juniper-focused flavour profile, it is made using a combination of pot- and cold-distilled juniper.

The Taste

On its own

Nose: Pow! Full, fresh, and unabashed juniper. Green, piney resinous. This. Is. Gin.

Taste: For the high ABV, this gin has a pleasant texture that is clean and smooth with a gradually-building, peppery juniper flavour. There’s a rich oiliness to the spirit and, despite the intensity, there is a nuanced complexity; in addition to a spectrum of juniper and pine notes there are hints of smoky cedar, a little vanilla spice, and even a spot of zesty grapefruit.

Overall, this is a great, juniper-forward gin with a rather garden-like flavour full of floral and spiced complexities. Plenty to explore.

Gin & Tonic

Wowzers! This is a powerful drink. The dry juniper and slightly bitter pine flavours works well with the quinine in the tonic. Garnish-wise, I think that something a little sweeter, such as lemon or orange, would complement it well. That said, you could double-down and go for grapefruit peel, too.

Gin & Soda

This is an exceptionally light and refreshing serve: very crisp, clean, and revitalising. It works particularly well with a lime garnish and is a really nice way to enjoy the gin.

Martini

I enjoyed this in a 5:1 stirred Martini and it was superb. Rich and oily with a nuanced complexity that is a true celebration of juniper. An obvious choice for a three-olive garnish which pairs really well with the drinks texture.

Negroni

The clean, green resinous of the gin works superbly with the other ingredients, whilst the gin’s character presents itself with a flint-like crispness. This has a great intensity of flavour and the bitter finish lingers on and on and on, accompanied by a hint of pine jelly. One for hard-core Negroni fans.

Improved Snowgroni

Based on a recipe from Waitrose Drinks magazine that has been re-balanced to incorporate Campari.

[1 part Brute Gin, 1 part Red Vermouth, 1 part Campari, 2 parts Advocat]

Combine ingredients and stir to create the Snowgroni Mix.

Taking an iced glass, add one part Snowgroni mix and 3-4 parts sparkling lemonade.

The gin makes a great base for this cocktail, resulting in a deliciously flavoursome drink that is less resinous and piney than the others in this review; nonetheless, the gin does hold its own against the bitter-sweet Campari and creamy Advocat.

In Conclusion

Brute is superb. It has a fantastic intensity, but not at the expense of complexity or elegance.

 

Brute Ultra Dry Gin is available for around £30 for 70cl from Master of Malt.

Gin of the Year 2019 Results

Craft Distilling Expo’s
Gin of the Year Competition Results

The Craft Distilling Expo (26th-27th September 2019) is pleased to announce the results of the 7th annual Gin of the Year competition. Over 70 gins were entered from a variety of countries.

New for 2019, the competition added a panel for (non-gin) botanical spirits, in recognition of this growing section of the market and how its popularity helps to reduce the dilution of gin as a category.

Classic Gin of the Year 2019
That Boutique-y Gin Company Gin Gin Panda (ATOM Brands)

Highly Commended – Classic Gin
Middle Kingdom Gin (Ginsmiths of Liverpool),
Sling Shot Gin (Lough Ree Distillery),
That Boutique-y Gin Company Summertide Gin (Cooper King / ATOM Brands)

Contemporary Gin of the Year 2019
Jacquard Gin (Strawhill Estate Spirits Company)

Highly Commended – Contemporary Style Gin
Acqueverdi Gin (La Valdôtaine),
Cuckold’s Revenge (Shed 1 Distillery),
Jolie Rouge Dry Gin (Hernö Distillery)

Flavoured Gin of the Year 2019
That Boutique-y Gin Company Squeezed Yuzu Gin
(ATOM Brands)

Highly Commended – Flavoured Gin
Casino Blend (Big Daddy Distillery Ltd (T/A Hubbards Gin)),
Da Hong Pao Tea Gin (Bimber Distillery),
Raspberry Gin (Warner’s Distillery)

Navy Gin of the Year 2019
Navy Gin (Brighton Gin)

Old Tom Gin of the Year 2019
Campfire Old Tom Gin (Puddingstone Distillery)

Highly Commended – Old Tom Gin
Gin Eva – Old Tom Gin

Signature Botanical Gin of the Year 2019
That Boutique-y Gin Company Smoked Rosemary Gin
(ATOM Brands)

Highly Commended – Signature Botanical Gin
That Boutique-y Gin Company Fresh Rain (ATOM Brands),
Giggle in the Ginnel (Shed 1 Distillery)

Botanical Spirit of the Year 2019
Cinnabar (Portsmouth Distillery)

All of the spirits were tasted blind. The gins were initially tasted on their own, with the top scoring spirits then moving through to a second round where they were tasted with Fever-Tree Tonic Water.

Fever-Tree Pre-mixed Gin and Tonics

Every year there seems to be a new “pocket of gin” that distillers and brands turn their attention to. This year, it’s time for the pre-mixed Gin & Tonic to grab the spotlight. 2019 has already seen releases from Sipsmith and Chilgrove (both very good) and now Fever-Tree have thrown their hat into the ring with three premixed (ready-to-drink) expressions.

Fever-Tree Premix

As the bottles’ labels describe them as “targeting picnic and party occasions”, I shall be chilling the bottles down and drinking directly from them, as you would if you were out-and-about.

All three products come in 275ml screw-cap glass bottles and have a strength of 6.3% ABV. They are currently selling for £2.75 each in Tesco (although at the time of printing they are part of their 4 for 3 deal). Here are my thoughts.

1) Premium Indian Gin & Tonic – with juniper-forward gin
This has a high level of fizz, which is always magnified by drinking from the bottle, and the juniper comes through well. This is followed by bright citrus and some lighter floral elements of rose. All-in-all, rather refreshing.

Ingredients: Carbonated Spring Water, Sugar, Gin, Citric Acid, Natural Flavourings including Quinine.
Energy per 100ml: 287kJ/69kcal

2) Elderflower – Fresh and Floral – with lightly floral gin
I actually prefer the more modest level of fizz of this one in comparison to the Indian Tonic. There are notes of sweet elderflower to start, with hints of rose and chamomile, too. This is less classic and, in a sense, less “ginny”, but then that’s to be expected when using a flavoured tonic. It is a really nice approximation of a gin and Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic – very good, indeed.

Ingredients: Carbonated Spring Water, Sugar, Gin, Elderflower, Citric Acid, Natural Flavourings including Quinine.
Energy per 100ml: 277kJ/66kcal

3) Refreshingly Light – with juniper-forward gin
Whilst noticeably lighter in flavour profile, this nonetheless has a decent amount of gin flavour, making it somewhat reminiscent of a mix of tonic water and soda water. Notably clean and crisp, this is, to my mind, the most refreshing of the bunch.

Ingredients: Carbonated Spring Water, Gin, Fructose, Citric Acid, Natural Flavourings including Quinine.
Energy per 100ml: 201kJ/48kcal (About a 30.0% reduction compared to the other two)

Overall I think the full range are of good quality and are helping to improve the overall reputation for pre-mixed gin and tonics. I found them a bit fizzy straight away but after a minute they are perfectly quaffable.Fever-Tree Premix

Hayman’s Gin and Tonic Glasses & Hopped Gin

Readers of Gin Magazine may have seen my recent article appraising a range of different Gin & Tonic glasses, looking at what worked and what could be done better. It was rather serendipitous, therefore, when the results of Hayman’s latest project arrived last week! Today, I’m taking a look at the Hayman’s Gin & Tonic Glass.

Haymans Bumper Tonic Box

A long tall glass, similar to a hi-ball or Collins glass, it has a slight concave in the middle, which makes it easier to hold, and has a solid bottom and a thin lip. The glass is inspired by a 19th Century design found in the family archives.

In my experience, everyone has their favourite type of glass: copa, tumbler, hi-ball; people tend to love one or two and hate others. Personally, I’m quite a fan of all of those previously mentioned, but the Hayman’s glass is the best version of a hi-ball glass that I’ve come across and is simply a delight to drink from.

Not only does it allow the flavour and aromas of the drink to burst forth, it also has a luxurious, “special occasion” feel to it, aided by the elegant decoration, including a subtle “H” so that you know that it’s Hayman’s.

I’ve given this glass to various guests over the past week or so and it’s been a hit with all of them, which reflected my own experience: when I first opened the box, I pretty much didn’t drink out of anything else (except for tea) for 24 hours.

Hayman’s Gin and Tonic Glasses are available for a very reasonable £6 a glass (+p&p) from the Hayman’s Website.

But wait there’s more….

Hayman’s Hopped Gin

A new limited edition gin from Hayman’s, this is a Bartender Release made in collaboration with Jordan Sweeney of the Wigmore Tavern at the Langham Hotel in London. Jordan won the “Hayman’s True Taste Competition 2018” and the prize was a five-day distilling apprenticeship with Master Distiller Christopher Hayman and Distiller Sam Pembridge.

Haymans Hopped Gin

During this time, Jordan created this gin at Hayman’s. It is made using a base botanical mix of the ten classic Hayman’s botanicals, to which he added Golding and Fuggle Hops and Grapefruit Peel. Hops used to be a very popular ingredient in gin and were often used in the fabled Hollands Gin of old.
On its own
Nose: Citrus and chocolate with light hopped notes. Elegant and fragrant.
Taste: An excellent texture: so thick and viscous with a hint of oiliness. Once again, there are notes of chocolate and citrus – in particular grapefruit – then the flavour of fresh, green hops develop, followed by black pepper and resinous juniper.

Gin & Tonic
Soft and citrusy with the occasional whisper of hops that adds a green, leafy complexity and a light bitterness to the drink, all of which pairs well with the tonic. A wedge of ruby grapefruit is an obvious garnish choice here.

Martini
A particularly elegant way to enjoy the gin; it’s almost as if it’s a Martini served in a glass that has had a beer schnapps rinse. It has great body and harks back to the early days of the Martini.

Negroni
A punchy Negroni that’s full of character. The hops really power through the other ingredients, adding intensity and depth to the cocktail’s bitterness. Nonetheless, there is a lovely synergy and balance between the ingredients. Definitely a Negroni for the hard core fans.

Salty Dog
A great, but simple combination. The ruby grapefruit really brings out the floral hoppy notes in the gin, creating a refreshing drink with a gentle kick. Just superb.

Hayman’s Hopped Gin is available from the Hayman’s Website priced at around £39 for a 70cl bottle.

Cocktails with…. Gin Eva Olive Gin

Sometimes you come across a gin that is both such a simple idea and so well-executed that you wonder why no-one has done it before. Today’s featured gin is definitely one of those: Gin Eva’s Black Label “La Mallorquina” Olive Gin.

Produced at the Gin Eva Distillery on the island of Mallorca (Majorca), the gin is bottled at 45.0% ABV and is made using juniper, La Mallorquina olives, and coriander seed.

39459527545_deecae4223_o.jpg
The La Mallorquina olive, a mutation of the Empeldre variety of olives, is only found on Mallorca, giving a nice Terroir aspect to the spirit in addition to great flavour.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Plump juniper and a touch of zesty coriander. Crisp, but eye-catching, with a gentle, green salinity from the olives.
Taste: The olives are right there, upfront: oily and creamy, just like eating the fresh, green fruit. Exceptionally inviting, this gin instantly transports you to a Mediterranean getaway. A summery zip of citrus follows, before a dry finish of pine and green olives. Amazing.

Gin Tonic
Deep flavours with the savoury olive really coming through, accompanied by a little oiliness. The drink is exceptionally refreshing and unlike any other Gin Tonic out there. In terms of garnish, I’m quite a fan of having this naked (that is, without any garnish) or with a bit of freshly-cracked black pepper.

40908243155_d72026b277_o

Martini
Clean, soft, and balanced with an absolutely fabulous texture: thick and lustrous. The wisps of olive flavours are layered delicately within the drink, adding a pleasant and complex green, savoury note. Best served in the Dickens style – without olive or twist.

Negroni
This is the most savoury and appetite-raising Negroni I have ever had; one glass of this and you’ll be ravenous! Simply superb. If you are a fan of a Negroni, this is a version that I can’t recommend enough – excellent and delightfully intense.

Gin & Soda
A clean and soft drink with the residual oiliness of the olives and a touch of salt singing through, too. Hints of dry juniper and zesty coriander appear toward the finish. Refreshing, flavoursome, and delightful.

In Conclusion

I think that Gin Eva Olive is an exceptional and imaginative gin with an excellent texture and the flavours of the olives really shining through, bright and bold. It makes some incredible drinks, but my favourite was the Martini with the Negroni a very close second.

Gin Eva Olive is available for around £56 for 70cl from Master of Malt.

Many thanks to Gin Eva for the use of their pictures.

Cocktails with… Hapusa Gin – from India

Hapusa Gin FINAL.jpg

Hapusa Gin is produced by Nao Spirits in India and is bottled at 43.0% ABV.

The gin use a base spirit made from wheat spirit and botanicals include:

Himalayan Juniper,
Coriander,
Cardamom,
Almond,
Ginger,
Turmeric,
Mango,
Gondoraj.

On its own
Nose: Green and resinous with oily pine notes accompanied by a hint of vanilla and mint, as well as hints of angelica and chocolate.
Taste: It is immediately noticeable how smooth this gin is; in particular, how smooth the texture of the spirit is. It’s not necessarily thick, but it is very silky. First up, there are notes of oily coriander and sweet spice. The middle is full of luscious, green leafy notes that add a real succulence to the gin as well as a distinctive brightness. The finish is full of cedar and citrus with a peppery spice – long and lingering.

Gin Tonic
A clean and refreshing Gin Tonic with a pleasant earthiness that is clean and slightly bitter. It reminds me of how the early Gin & Tonics might have tasted in the 19th century. It has lots of light, floral berry notes and the flavour of cucumber peel appears just before its crisp, dry finish.

Martini
This has an excellent mouthfeel: it is exceptionally silky, with some savoury and a splash of salinity that, combined, bring to mind umami flavours. These are followed by great bold, crunchy green notes that make for a really substantial Martini; almost a meal in a glass. Spice notes appear towards the finish, bringing to mind celery, black pepper and cucumber sandwiches. This is certainly a drink that stimulates the appetite and leaves you wanting more.

Negroni
Initial flavours of bright, resinous and sappy pine make it feel almost as if the gin had been aged in juniper wood. The distinctive gin flavours cut right through the other ingredients and the spirit makes itself heard above the hub-bub of the Campari and vermouth. The finish has more delicate nuances of floral, black tea. For fans of juniper, this is a must-try.

Gin & Tonic (19th Century)
A simple mix of Hapusa Gin, lime juice, tonic syrup and still water inspired by the early Gin & Tonics that would have likely had very little sparkle. The result is a slightly earthier, bitter drink that works really well with the gin’s character, whilst the lime juice adds a pleasant liveliness. A great choice when looking for a drink sans gas.

In Conclusion
Hapusa really feels (and tastes) like a gin with one foot in the past and one in the future. Its crisp, earthy bitterness reminds me of gin’s medicinal origins, especially in a Gin Tonic, but the character is far more complex than many of the more traditional London Dry Gins. Hapusa has a unique, delicious character and it really is worth seeking  out.

Visitors to Junipalooza this weekend can visit – tickets available here.

Cocktails with… Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla

Flavoured and fruit gins are all the rage at the moment. With many distilleries focusing on berry-flavoured or pink-coloured gins, it’s nice to see Tanqueray do something different by making an orange gin.

In the early 20th century, orange gin was one of the most popular flavoured gins of its time and orange-flavoured varieties of genever, brandy and whisky were also available. Tanqueray’s sister brand, Gordon’s, produced an orange gin all the way from 1929 to 1988.

The new Tanqueray Gin goes a bit further than the orange gins of old by embracing both distillation and infusion to add orange flavour. It also uses orange blossom in addition to citrus peel to produce a deeper, more complex orange flavour. The recipe was inspired by notes and recipes from the notebook of Charles Tanqueray himself.

Bottled at 41.3% ABV, Flor de Sevilla is flavoured with seville orange and orange blossom in addition to the traditional Tanqueray botanicals.*

Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla bottle FINAL

On its own
Colour: Rose gold
Nose: Soft, earthy juniper with angelica and the delicate floral notes of violet and orange blossom, followed by hints of orange and chocolate.
Taste: This gin has a thick texture and silky sweetness before the sparkling flavour of bitter orange appears on the palate – crisp and clean, with a well-balanced level of citrus. The orange blossom gives the orange-citrus character great depth and complexity with a little backing of coriander, lemon and lime.

Gin & Tonic
This drink is quite sweet as Gin Tonics go, but works particularly well with pepper-flavoured tonic or Fever-Tree Mediterranean. It has a very floral finish that lingers for a good while after drinking.

Martini
Flor de Sevilla makes a Martini that is rather reminiscent of a marmalade Martini with a smooth creaminess and a little vanilla. It is very well-rounded with a lingering finish of bitter orange. A fresh cocktail that would make a lovely pre-dinner drink.

Negroni
This gin is a superb match for the flavours of the Campari and red vermouth; the orange adds a fantastic zestiness and the floral notes add a lovely complexity to the drink. No garnish needed!

Gin Soda
Incredibly fragrant with hint of neroli and marmalade bursting forth from the glass.The drink also has a charming, golden-amber glow to it. Taste-wise, there is plenty of succulent orange along with a hint of vanilla and cinnamon spice, before a dry, zesty finish.

Gin & Cola
A great combination: the bright, zesty orange comes through and the floral elements work well with the botanical flavours of the cola. Neat flavours of orange oil and juniper linger on the finish.

Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla - Landing Strip

Landing Strip cocktail

Landing Strip
30ml Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla
30ml Dry Gin
30ml Brandy
STIR

The orange flavour of the gin works exceptionally well with warmth of the Cognac, making me think that, along with a little lemon juice, Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla could be a wonderful ingredient in a Sidecar variation – how sophisticated!

With bubbly
The citrus and floral flavours of the gin made me think that it would likely work well with sparkling wine. A measure of Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla, topped up with Prosecco yields a pleasant drink, although I thought the combination was a touch on the rich side. Tanqueray themselves suggest a 50/50 mix of Prosecco and soda water and the result is simply spot-on – fantastic for afternoon sipping.

In Conclusion
Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla has brought the orange gin of old right up to the 21st century, dusted it off and significantly improved it. The spirit is nuanced and complex with plenty to explore. My favourite drink was drinking it with soda water – straightforward to put together, but absolutely superb.

Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla is available for around £30 for 70cl from Master of Malt, 31 Dover, and The Whisky Exchange.

*The label also states that it uses other natural flavourings and colourings.