Cocktail with…. Burnt Faith British Brandy Batch 001

The British have a long- standing history with brandy – reflected in the fact that some of the terminology for brandy is in English: VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) – but in recent years, the number of British distilleries producing brandy, and grape brandy in particular, has been few and far between.

Burnt Faith Brandy House, based in Walthamstow in North-East London, is the UK’s first and only dedicated brandy distillery. I recently purchased a bottle of their first release and whilst I’m sure many collectors will keep their bottles sealed, I for one wanted to try it! Batch 001 is distilled on a Charnetais still from a mixture of four grape varieties: Trebbiano, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscat Blanc.

The spirit is then matured in a variety of barrels such as ex-American Bourbon casks which had previously held Spanish brandy, as well as ex-Pineau des Charentes, ex-Cognac, and ex-Cherry Liqueur barrels.

The Taste

On its own
Colour: Deep amber
Nose: Creamy vanilla notes to start, joined by oak, berry-fruit, butterscotch, and a little dark, bruleéd sugar on the finish.
Taste: Soft with slight floral, fruity notes: apricot and strawberry with a touch of plum. This moves on to brown sugar and a hint of spice before a dry finish with lingering notes of Biscoff coffee biscuits.

Brandy & Soda
This drink has a gentle sweetness to it with notes of brown sugar and light, fruity grape and apple towards the finish. It reminds me of a fruit pie: slightly buttery, but overall very refreshing.

Horses Neck
The richness of the ginger goes notably well with the brandy, giving this serve hints of ginger syrup sponge, whilst the lemon adds a pleasant brightness. Another refreshing, but flavoursome drink.

On any given day, this is one of my favourite cocktails; it’s so accessible and delicious. Thankfully, Burnt Faith works really well in it, thus passing the real test for a brandy designed for mixed drinks. This Sidecar is rich, succulent, and inviting, as well as being elegant and sophisticated.

This cocktail brings out a lovely smokiness from the brandy, as well as some cherry notes. It’s really delightful – pulling the Sazerac into another dimension – well-balanced in terms of bitterness and sweetness, smoothness, and alcoholic bite – well worth a try.

Brandy Old Fashioned
A well-finessed Brandy Old Fashioned with the sweetness and spice of the brandy complementing the bitters. This has good flavour integration and is very sippable. With the addition of sparkling lemonade (a.k.a. a Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned), the drink does become sweeter, but nonetheless remains thirst-quenching and accessible.

Fine à l’Eau
A relatively light drink that is exceptionally drinkable in a long, light way – perfect for summer. The sugar and wood notes come to the fore and it’s pleasant to sip, but perhaps the brandy doesn’t quite have the complexity (in comparison to a Cognac) to quite pull this off, yet. Having said that, ultimately, that’s not a fair comparison and this is still a tasty drink. Colour me confused!

Champagne Cocktail
Rich, fruity notes of fruitcake with a touch of prune atop notes of cherry and stone fruit. There are also hints of vanilla and cinnamon that work well with the dry wine.

In Conclusion
I was very impressed with the first release of Burnt Faith Brandy and delighted with the complexity and versatility that such a young spirit offers. The future is exceptionally promising and I, for one, am excited to see it.

Burnt Faith Brandy is available for £36 for 70cl and it is bottled at 40.0%. It s available from their website.


Cocktials with… Wessex Distillery’s Limited Edition Lemon & Rose Coronation Gin

Following on from their excellent Platinum Jubilee Gin release in 2022 (which didn’t last long in our house), Wessex Distillery have released a Coronation Gin. Bottled at 40.0% ABV, the gin features signature botanicals of lemon and rose. Since the last release, the distillery has also been awarded “Gin Producer of the Year” by IWSC, so a huge congratulations to them.

Given how much I enjoyed the last gin, I was very excited to try this when they kindly sent me a bottle.

The Taste

On its on
Nose: Solid, resinous juniper on the nose with zesty lemon and a little hint of rose.
Taste: A superb texture with notes of sweet rose and earthy angelica followed by the sparkle of pine needles. A more candied rose flavour then develops, before lingering lemon on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
An extremely crisp Gin & Tonic where the citrus really comes through. This is backed up by robust juniper notes and a gentle, floral wisp of rose. The combination works particularly well when garnished with a slice of lemon or lime. You could add some rose petals for a bit of a flourish, but they can make it difficult to drink.

A delicious Martini with a lovely oiliness that almost makes a garnish unnecessary; essentially the lemon is already built into the drink via the gin, but it is in no way overpowering. The rose is gentle, but pleasant, helping to lift the aromatics of the cocktail. The height of sophistication and elegance!

A well-balanced Negroni that has a pleasant bitter-sweetness and good integration of flavours. There is a touch of rose honey on the finish, so a garnish of a lemon wedge rather than the more typical orange might be the order of the day.

Gin Highball
This drink is essentially gin and sparkling water/soda water, but is exceptionally refreshing and really allows all of the nuances of this particular gin to come through: citrus, spice, a little earthiness – a fantastic thirst quencher, especially when garnished with lime.

French ‘75
A bright and zingy drink with the merest “kiss from a rose” in the background (Seal would be happy). The Coronation Gin adds just the right touch of decadence that a drink like this deserves. Delicious!

In Conclusion
This is a wonderful gin and even though I know some gin aficionados typically like something stronger than 40.0% ABV, the way the gin has been distilled means that it really does punch above its weight in terms of flavour, so ultimately the ABV just means you’re paying a bit less tax.

Even after the coronation, this gin is well worth seeking out and is perfect for summer celebrations. The Martini was my favourite of the drinks that I tried.

Wessex Distillery’s Limited Edition Lemon & Rose Coronation Gin is available for around £39.95 for 70cl from their website. You can currently get a discount, however: use KING10 for 10% off!

Many thanks to Jonathan and all the team at Wessex for supplying me with the bottle and congratulations on the big win!

Glass Onion – Drinks – A Knives Out Mystery


‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ is released today (23rd December) on Netflix. As big fans of the original ‘Knives Out’, Mrs. B and I watched it at the cinema last month and I was struck by how many drinks there are in the film. Don’t worry, no crucial plot points are revealed in this post – this is a spoiler-free zone – but this little guide will hopefully help you get in some supplies before watching the film (which is on a par to the original, if not better) so that you can have a more immersive experience.

Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig)

One of Benoit’s guilty pleasures is a pastis & water whilst enjoying a soak in the bath; his brand of choice is Ricard, but other popular brands include Pernod and, my personal favourite, Pastis 51.

Pastis is a French spirit that is flavoured with anise; it became popular after the spurious French ban on absinthe. It is prepared by mixing it with water so that it goes milky or cloudy – technically known as “louching”.

The spirit has a strong anise flavour and a slightly oily texture; it’s good as an aperitif and would certainly hold out (flavour-wise) to the intensity of Blanc’s cigars.

Another drink that pops up throughout the film is the fictional “Jared Leto’s Hard Kombucha”. Kombucha is a lightly alcoholic fermented tea, usually around 3% ABV, that is often presented as having a number of health benefits. Glass Onion’s fictional version is particularly alcoholic at 9% ABV and is drunk by most of the characters at some point, but, in addition, each of them have their own favourite tipple(s) (mostly consisting of brands owned by Diageo), which are showcased throughout the film:

Glass Onion Drinks- BACK ROW (L:R) Pastis, Cuban Breeze, Room Temp Pinot Girgio, Corona FRONT ROW: White Russian, Whisky and Soda, Bulleit Bourbon on the Rocks, Lagavulin 16.

Miles Bron (Edward Norton)Bulleit Bourbon on the Rocks

Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) – Cuban Breeze

The Cuban Breeze is a fun and fruity cocktail; you can adjust the amount of lime juice to tailor it to your preferred level of sweetness.

[25ml Vodka, 25ml Amaretto, 75ml Pineapple Juice, 5-10ml Fresh Lime Juice]

Add the ingredients to an ice-filled glass and stir gently, before garnishing with fresh mint and a straw.

The drink is very fruity and succulent with just enough sourness to balance out the sweet nuttiness of the amaretto: very quaffable and could easily creep up on you, booze-wise.

Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) – Bulleit Bourbon on the Rocks

Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe) – Whiskey & Soda

The specific whisky used is not named, but Andi’s drink is served with ice in a tumbler. The subtitles spell it “whiskey”, but I don’t think we can read too much into that. My guess is that it’d be something like Johnnie Walker (fitting with the representation of the Diageo portfolio in the film), most likely Johnnie Walker Black label.

Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn)Room Temperature White Wine (Pinot Gris)

I’m not sure what to make of this one: personally, I like my white wine cold and refreshing! At room temperature, my Pinot Grigio was okay, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was somewhere where my host had simply neglected to chill the wine. I feel myself (philistine as I may be) reaching for the ice bucket in order to finish the glass….

Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.)Lagavulin 16

A classic Islay single malt scotch with a lovely, strong, smokey character, this is a firm favourite of other fictional characters such as Ron Swanson (as well as myself!). Although, I have to say, I can’t see myself polishing off a whole bottle – or even half of one by myself – in an evening!

Peg (Jessica Henwick)Ketel One Vodka (specifically from a Red Solo Cup or the bottle)

Whiskey (Madelyn Cline) Don Julio Tequila

Derol (Noah Segan)White Russian (Ketel One and Kahlua) and Corona Beer

Merry Margaritas – Cocktails for Christmas

I’m rather a fan of a Christmas Margarita. I don’t recall why it started as a tradition in our household, but I remember making my very first on Christmas morning nearly 20 years ago and I’ve rarely missed it since. Sometimes it’s had to be lemon juice rather than lime, but it’s always been fresh.

The recipe has varied slightly over the years, but as someone who likes the simple life (and an equal parts Martini), I tend to use an amount of tequila that equals the combined quantities of juice and liqueur.

50ml Tequila Blanco

25ml Fresh Lime

25ml Orange Liqueur

To make, simply shake with ice and strain into a glass. I like my Margarita served “up” (without ice) in a stemmed cocktail glass, although a wine glass will do.

A selection of orange liqueurs tried in a Margarita

Your choice of orange liqueur will certainly make a difference to the final drink; as I had a few on hand, I thought I’d try them out in my Christmas Day Margarita recipe to see how they varied.

Grand Marnier – A richer orange flavour comes through, along with woodiness and floral flavours. It makes a more luxurious drink, but the lime notes seem to be less zingy and the drink lacks the crisp refreshment that many of its fans adore.

Mandarine Napoleon – The lime is rather subdued, as is the drink’s characteristic tartness, but the agave character of the spirit does come through more and the floral mandarin complements it nicely. This wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is still a lovely, elegant drink.

Cointreau Rogue – This produces a very typical and classic Margarita. The orange shines through well, complementing the lime and adding a slight zestiness reminiscent of shredless marmalade.

Cointreau Noir – Delightfully elegant. It is crisp, it is sweet, it is slightly salty and there is a lovely ripple of dark chocolate running through the whole thing – very much a high-end Margarita.

Cointreau Blood Orange – This blood orange liqueur has a slightly musty character to it, which means that it clashes a tad with the other ingredients. Not recommended, but can be rescued with a splash of regular Cointreau.

Cognac Ferrand Yuzu Curacao – An exceptionally fun alternative. This has a delightfully creaminess to it, followed by notes of candied peel and delicate floral hints of rose and jasmine, all before a clean, almost lemon-curd-esque tartness. A balanced dessert of a Margarita if there ever was one – sensational!

Margarita with Ferrand Yuzu Dry Curacao

For those who like to try something a little different, I’ve also come up with some festive variations on the Margarita.

Merry Margarita (Christmas)

[60ml Tequila Blanco, 15ml Fresh Lime, 15ml Sweet Cream Sherry, 2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters]

Shake the ingredients with ice, before fine-straining into a glass. Serve with a twist of orange peel and a small square of Christmas cake on the side.

Merry Margarita

Candy Cane Margarita

[50ml Tequila Blanco, 25ml Lime Juice, 15ml Cointreau, 10ml Green Crème de Menthe]

Shake the ingredients with ice and fine-strain into a chilled, stemmed glass. Garnish with a mini candy cane and red cherry.

Candy Cane Margarita

Hot-buttered MargaritaHOT!

[20ml Reposado Tequila, 10ml Lime Juice, 10ml Grand Marnier, 5-10ml Sugar Syrup, Heaped teaspoon of butter, 60ml Boiling Water]

Stir the ingredients (except the butter and boiling water) without ice and then pour into a heat-proof glass. Top up with boiling water and then add the butter and gently stir.

The butter adds a lovely creaminess to the drink, but is neatly balanced out by the sweetness of the liqueur and syrup and the sharpness of the lime juice.

Hot-buttered Margarita

One Minute to Margarita (New Year’s)

[50ml Tequila Blanco, 25ml Fresh Lime, 25ml Cointreau Noir, 15ml Champagne]

Add all of the ingredients (except the Champagne) to a shaker with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a cocktail glass, before topping up with Champagne. For a gaudy garnish, tape a small cocktail sparkler to the side of the glass and light. Be sure to carefully remove and dispose of the sparkler once it has gone out and before drinking, or you might end up with a singed eyebrow or worse!!

One Minute to Margarita

Hopefully these Margaritas will fill you full of festive cheer – Merry Christmas from Summer Fruit Cup!

Booth’s Finest Old Dry Gin – Returns!!!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the website so it’d have to be something pretty special for my first post back and indeed it is, the return of Booth’s Finest Old Dry Gin. Booth’s is one of the oldest if not the oldest gin house that is still in operation today, founded in 1740 by Sir Felix Booth in London.

Booth’s Gin became increasingly popular during the 20th century and features in many Post-war films (look out for the hexagonal bottle). There were two main varieties Booth’s High and Dry, a classic style London Gin and Booth’s Finest Old Dry Gin which was also known as Booth’s House of Lord’s Gin.

This second variety of Booth’s was distilled in Clerkenwell, London and was matured in wooden casks which were, at least at one point, ex-burgundy casks and more commonly ex-sherry casks. This was sometimes known as a “yellow gin”, Booth’s discontinued theirs in the mid 1970s possibly slightly later. Noted drinks authors such as Anthony Haden-Guest, Kingsley Amis and David Embury, favoured yellow gin.

Unlike modern aged gins, Booth’s was (and is only) matured for a short period of time (typically weeks) the intention being for the wood to simply “kiss” the gin and help it to mellow, as such it is mixed like any normal dry gin.

There was an attempt to resurrect Booth’s in 2016 with a soft launch in New Orleans during the Tales of the Cocktail event of that year. But despite some international distribution not much became of the resurrection, perhaps in part as there was not much of marketing push and also possibly because there was a slight sulphur issue from the use of sherry casks.

The latest iteration appeared in July 2022 following the acquisition of Booth’s from Diageo by Sazerac company in November 2018. It is distilled in the UK, bottled at 43.0% ABV and matured in sherry casks – a the moment that’s about all I now.

~ But how does it taste? ~

Thankfully first up there are none of the slightly sulphury notes that I picked up on from the 2016 batch.

Colour: very pale straw
Nose: green resinous notes with pine blossom, cedar and pine, a touch of fruity florality
Taste: Clean texture, with a gentle touch of sweetness before some, floral, menthol spice, a touch of honey and a very mellow finish with a little sweet citrus.

With ice:
Some of the woody gingerbread notes come forward a bit more, the slightly higher ABV help the gin with any dilution there may be from the ice; some slightly dry tannic notes from the wood.

Gin & Tonic
This is the sort of drink this gin was made for; it is ever so slightly woodier than some other gin and tonics I’ve had with yellow gin. As such I might be more inclined toward an orange or maybe lemon garnish to help balance the flavours.

Dry Martini
In old adverts Booth’s is often described as “the best for a Martini” or making “the perfect Martini” thankfully the new gin lives up to this reputation, the drink is delightfully resinous with lots of juniper and some cedar and pine. Crisp, refreshing, superbly smooth – sublime!

A very, very mellow with quite a lot of orange coming through, juicy and even slightly jammy in a marmalade sort of way. A gentle bitterness on the finish but overall superbly integrated and approachable.

Pink Gin
Rumour suggests that if the Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was to have a Pink Gin that Booth’s was her gin of choice.

I initially tried this with just gin and angostura bitters; the bitters goes well with the light woodiness of the gin, but for my money the drink is improved with the addition of a splash or two of still, ice-cold water; then each component really fits into place and the added dilution makes this a fine summer sipper.

Gin Highball
Very clean and very crisp and works well with a lemon garnish. The slightly pencil-like woody notes of the gin come through but in a very pleasant way. A refreshing way to enjoy the gin without the sugar of tonic water.

In Conclusion
It is great to see such an historic gin back on the market and it is already a firm favorite of mine. My favourite drink was the Martini.

Booth’s Finest Old Dry Gin is available now for around £35 for 70cl from Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange.

Postcards from Venice with NIO Cocktails

A lot of attention has recently been focused on ready-to-drink products, whether that be cans of spirits and mixers or pre-mixed cocktails. We’ve reviewed a small selection via our Instagram, but the products we’re reviewing today deserved a closer look.

NIO Cocktails (Needs Ice Only) have recently released a special set of four drinks entitled “Postcards from Venice”. The selection was created by Patrick Pistolesi in collaboration with Select Aperitivo, a classic liqueur that has been distilled in Venice since 1920. The cocktails not only provide a sense of place, but a sense of time: each cocktail focuses on a different period in the city’s history, from its founding in 421AD to the present day.

NIO Cocktails provide their ready-to-drink cocktails in small, square pouches (slightly smaller than a CD case) that each hold 100ml. These are easy to ship – in fact they are designed to fit through most letterboxes – and are equally easy to enjoy once they arrive at your home: simply fill a glass with ice, shake the pouch, tear the corner, and pour out the contents. In addition, no preservatives, colourants, or flavourings are used, which, for a pre-mixed product, is impressive.

Nio produce an exciting range of drinks that can be sorted by spirit type (vodka, gin, tequila, rum whisky, and non-alcoholic) and the cocktails available do change regularly, which keeps things fresh. There also a number of interesting collection boxes such as a selection of cocktails paired with chocolate and a collaboration with Singleton 12 Year Old.

But back to Postcards from Venice….

421 Laguna (13.6% ABV)

Inspired by the year that Venice was founded by “mainlanders fleeing barbarians after the fall of the Roman Empire”, this is a cocktail in the Americano style: a marriage of Select Aperitivo and Cocchi Vermouth Americano.

It has a deep complexity of flavour with just a touch of woody clove. A very gentle sweetness is well-balanced by an earthy bitterness. This is a great way to start an evening and a great way to start this feature – it’s perfect as an aperitif. For a longer, but equally delightful, drink, you could add a splash of sparkling water.

1104 Arsenale (21.4% ABV)

1104AD is a year that saw the founding of Vienna’s arsenal, a mix of the shipyards and armouries that was key to the city’s naval prowess. The drink uses Select Aperitivo, Bonollo Italian Brandy, Cocchi Americano Bianco, and Chazalettes Vermouth di Torino Extra Dry.

This is a pleasant drink – warming, but still refreshing – with a slightly sweet cosiness from the brandy. With it’s richer, darker, and more complex toasted sugar notes, it is very much an evening cocktail and, unusually for an aperitif-style drink, it’d say it would make a perfect nightcap.

1725 Le Calli Di Casanova (11.1% ABV)

A reference to Venice’s (and perhaps the world’s) most famous adventurer and seductionist.
This drink is made using Select Aperitivo and Bols Creme de Cacao.

The creme de cacao adds a dash of decadence, but it is kept in balance by the acidity of the other ingredients. In some ways, it is reminiscent of a jammy Negroni; all in all, it has an elegant equilibrium of flavours. It’s something of a dessert cocktail, but reserved in its sweetness. Lovely!

2021 Cannaregio (12.5% ABV)

Bringing the collection right up to the present day, this final cocktail combines Select Aperitivo, Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, and Pommé Roner Liqueur.

Rich and appley, with a lively tartness and raspberry notes, too. This is exceptionally thirst-quenching, but – even so – you are tantalisingly drawn back for more after each sip. It is slightly Sour-like in style, but far more complex than any Sour I’ve ever had – superb.

In Conclusion

Overall, all of these cocktails were truly exceptional. The complexity and integration of the flavours were stunning, although this is what I’ve come to expect from NIO. It was great fun to share the selection with Mrs. B and there was enough in each pouch for us to enjoy a small glass each. I heartily recommend trying these and eagerly look forward to the next curated release from NIO Cocktails.

I paid £29 (including delivery) for the four cocktails and, as a treat, I thought it was well worth it. I make a lot of cocktails at home, but I couldn’t make these, and both serving and enjoying them was incredibly easy.

The “Postcards from Venice” cocktail selection box is available from NIO Cocktails for £29 (inc. delivery) for 4 x 100ml.

A Two-minute Challenge in the Run-up to World Gin Day

Classic Gin Drinks

A Two-minute Challenge in the Run-up to World Gin Day

Whilst there are thousands of tasty gin drinks, there are probably three real classics: the Gin & Tonic, the Martini, and the Negroni.

The great thing is that everyone has their own take on these drinks; whether that be a favourite gin, a preferred method of making it, and/or a garnish that particularly finds favour. This year, why not share this with the gin community as we all celebrate World Gin Day?


It’s simple: create a two-minute video and upload it to your favoured platform with #worldginday and the relevant hashtag from the list below. Each drink will feature on different day in the run-up to World Gin Day.

Gin and Tonic – #wgdgandt (Tuesday 9th June 2020)

Martini – #wgdmartini (Wednesday 10th June 2020)

Negroni – #wgdnegroni (Thursday 11th June 2020)

Here are some examples:





Cocktails with…. Gin Eva “La Mallorquina” (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 seeds.


The La Mallorquina olive, a mutation of the Empeltre variety, is only found on Mallorca, so the use of this botanical gives a nice terroir aspect to the gin 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 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 combining the harmonious flavours of pine and green olives. Amazing.

From the Freezer *NEW*
Served at an extra cool temperature, the gin develops a notably silky and luxurious texture. The olive flavours shine through with a slight oiliness and a pinch of pepper. I’ve given this to guests in a Martini glass and they would have sworn I’d given them a gently dirty Martini. Such complexity from a lone spirit – superb!

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.


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.

Diamond Martini *NEW*
A Diamond Martini is made using gin served straight from the freezer. In this case, it produces a cocktail with a rich and luscious texture and a lovely interaction between the gin’s olive and juniper flavours and the vermouth’s herbal and woody notes.

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.

Red Snapper *NEW*
The Red Snapper is a gin version of the Bloody Mary, which is perhaps one of the most popular savoury drinks there is. As such, you might imagine that an olive gin would work well….
you’d be right!
The gin adds great complexity from its olive notes, but the complexity of the other botanicals also shines through, too. Once you’ve had a Red Snapper with this gin, I’m not sure if any others will compete.

In Conclusion

I think that Gin Eva Olive is an exceptional and imaginative gin. It has an excellent texture and the flavours of the olives really shine 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 £49 for 70cl from Master of Malt.

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

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.


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.


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.