Cocktails with… Limbrey’s London Dry Gin

On Saturday, Mrs. B and I had the luck to be invited to this year’s “Taste of Christmas Festival”. There were plenty of drinks-related stands there and we were fortunate enough to sit in on a De Luze Cognac and a Botran Rum tasting with Distillnation. Another stand of great interest was that of Limbrey’s London Dry Gin. Having chatted to him on the telephone, it was a treat to finally meet Sean Limbrey, the man behind the bottle.
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Limbrey’s London Dry Gin is a very new product. Compared to the makers of the plethora of “Boutique Gins” that have been released in the last couple of years, the man behind Limbrey’s, Sean Limbrey, has taken a rather different approach to gin. Moving away from the use of unique or exotic botanicals and luxurious packaging, he’s produced a gin that sits in the sub-£20 price range. With striaght-forward, easily recyclable bottle, which sits inside a plastic sleeve.
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Speaking to the gin’s cretaor there is a bit of counter-culture going on, there are two designs of sleeve for the bottle. My current favourite is the sleeve with a banker being squeezed of his money by the giant fist of the Gin genie.* Also currently available is the “Shouty Mouth” which is a reference of feeling against the nanny state and CCTV. When asked about the packaging Sean said:
“The designs are meant to have a point that resonates with the drinker in a humourous satirical way that also looks attractive and ties in with the Limbrey’s gin brand of being – created, distilled, and bottled in London.”
My understanding is that sleeves will change from time to time, similar in someways to the Absolut Limited Edition Packaging.
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When I spoke to Sean, he told me about his enthusiasm and pride that Dry Gin is very much a British drink and that, in creating a gin, he wanted to stoke the fires of that pride by creating a product that could be drunk in a more simple or traditional way; basically, on it’s own or in very simple gin cocktails.He advocates keeping Limbrey’s Gin in the freezer and enjoying it neat as an accompaniment to food; this is quite similar to how some eaux de vies are drunk on the continent.
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He also spoke about the fact that, for many consumers, mixing cocktails at home is not practical and that many mixers are either too sweet or too expensive. As a result, he is an advocate of simple cocktails with simple ingredients. Mrs. B and I enjoyed a Gin and Cranberry and a Gin and Pink Grapefruit (I didn’t even think I liked Grapefruit), which were both tasty and refreshing.

Limbrey’s Dry Gin is the first gin to be approved by the Vegetarian Society, it is bottled at 37.5% ABV, it’s made at Thames Distillers, in London, and contains four botanicals:

Juniper

Coriander

Angelica

Winter Savory

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1) Own
Mr Limbrey had told me that his gin was very smooth, but as I hear this a lot, I was genuinely surprised at how smooth the gin was. I’m sure that the 37.5%ABV helps with this, but, in fairness, some of the roughest gins that I have tasted have also been bottled at this strength.
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nose: very classic-style iof nose with juniper and coriander a little earthiness something like angelica and a touch of pepper.
taste:The first thing you notice is how smooth he gin is, even holding it in your mouth for 30 second produces only a slight warmth. Initial flavours of fresh juniper, more green than piney, there is some sweetness toward the end which is accompanied by lemon and coriander.
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2) Frozen
This has a good, strong, classic gin character, with juniper, coriander, and citrus. It has a nice texture: silky, with a bit of sweetness; it’s very smooth and easy to drink. As smooth as a good quality flavour, but with more flavour..

3) Over Ice
Very pleasant, not how I usually drink gin but I can see how this could work. In addition to the juniper some of the more floral notes of the gin come through a little more.

4) Gin & Juice
i) Orange
Fresh and crisp a slight citrus and juniper dry twang comes through as does a little sweet spice. A pleasant quencher.
ii) Cranberry
A really nice combination dryness of the gin is a great match for the dryness of the cranberry and the gin can still be appreciated. It’s surprising that more people don’t drink gin andd cranberry juice.
iii) Pear
A bit of an odd conversation this one, I think the pear is a bit too sweet for the gin and actually it’s difficult to taste that the gin is there. This may be great for some but I like to taste my juniper.

iv) Apple
Other than Bison-grass Vodka I’ve always struggled to find a good cocktail using apple juice. This is actually quite good, initially you get the sweet succulent apple juice and this si then followed up by the more intense dry juniper of the gin.

v) Pomegranate
Not bad and quite refreshing although some might find it a tad sickly, with a dash of lemon juice the drink becomes much more balanced.

vi) Pink Grapefruit
Pink Grapefruit and gin and usually quite good partners and this is no exception. the bitterness of the grapefruit works very well with the dryness of the gin. This giving you a refreshing and bracing drink.

5) Peter Cushing
Why Peter Cushing? Well, first off, I’m a great fan of his films and secondly, he was a patron of the Vegetarian Society and Limbrey’s is the first gin that has been approved by the Vegetarian Society. My aim was to create a drink that was simple and accessible, with a touch of sophistication.

2 Parts Gin, 1 Part Ginger Wine

This is quite nice and works well being made using a number of different methods: with the gin being poured straight from the freezer, served on the rocks, or shaken with ice and then strained. The latter version makes a smoother drink that’s a little more dilute.

6) Gin & Tonic

OK so I’ve broken rule about tossing out the tonic but I still think a good way to measure a gin is by how it mixes with Quinine water. The makes a very smooth and easy to drink gin and tonic, refreshing and pretty quaffable. The only character that really comes through from the gin is the juniper and so whilst it is a good drink it’s perhaps not the best way to appreciate the gin.
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7) Martini
Lovely, clean and crisp; the flavour was predominantly of juniper, with a tiny touch of cream. This is a great gin to use to make a Diamond or Naked Martini.

8) Negroni
Smooth, with a growing crescendo of flavour that peaks at the end with a crisp and intense bitterness. It was more bitter than many Negronis, with a more pronounced juniper note at the end. That said, despite it being more bitter, it was one of the few Negronis that Mrs. B has ever said she quite liked.

9) Pink Gin/Gin & Bitters
I’ve been a bit economical with the original Pink Gin recipe and so I’ve extended this note to cover a range of Gin & Bitters. All drinks used 25ml of Gin from the freezer and 3 drops of the respective bitters.

i) Angostura
This made a simple drink that was very clean and smooth, with the bitters adding some character and a sweet, spicy finish.

ii) Orange
The orange is quite prominent in this drink, but works well to bring out the citrus characteristics of the gin, especially the coriander seed. Some characteristics, such as texture of orange liqueur, but without any excessive sweetness.

iii) Peychauds
This made a very pink Gin & Bitters, with predominate flavours of anise and angelica. It was more herbal and complex then the others that I have tried and had a little more warmth at the end.

*Interestingly this is apparently quite popular with merchant/investment bankers.

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About DTS

partial to a martini? to a smoke-hazed gin joint & a perfect tipple poured with the style, swank & skill of a true aficionado? …then pull up your stool to the bar, prepare to stock up your cocktail cabinet & get ready to drink it all in as we introduce you to a stitch in times’ resident barman… David T. Smith is a drinks enthusiast currently residing in the U.K. a long-time fan of tasting & exploring various types of alcohol, he has a fascination for vintage spirits and cocktails, in particular their heritage & origins; this was strengthened last year when he presented a talk and accompanying monograph on the Martini. it was as a result of his research of this topic that he was introduced to drinks paraphernalia, & he is now the happy owner of a colourful collection of bottles, books, and gadgets from a wide range of eras… an avid believer in the validity and variety of personal opinion, particularly in the subjective area of tasting, he enjoys hosting tasting sessions for friends, constantly challenging them to find their own favourite tipple. in addition to all of this, he is also interested in economics, three-piece suits, board games & keeping alive the art of engaging in enjoyable conversation with a good glass of port whilst surrounded by pipe smoke… www.summerfruitcup.com Thanks to Analiebe for writing this rather flattering blurb for me.

5 thoughts on “Cocktails with… Limbrey’s London Dry Gin

  1. ‘Broken the rule’, hm. What a rule! If a gin can’t be enjoyed with tonic, it’s not a gin. Some sort of odd junipery spirit mayhaps, but no gin. ;) Alright, alright, I’ll shut up.

    Despite not being best served with tonic, I think this is an excellent idea. I hope he exports. The alcohol taxes in this rather insane country means the jump from 37.5 to 40% is actually rather large price wise. The only problem is that every 37.5% spirit is seemingly specifically engineered to taste like a mixture of petrol and piss. It sounds like this gin could be a welcome exemption from that rule.

    Everyone says that spirits under 40% are crap, and that they need to be between 43 and 47% to retain flavors – I don’t know. Alex Kammerling made a flavorful 33% spirit, did he not?

    • Thanks for the comment, you make some really good points. I mean if it tastes good and it’s value for money 37.5% or 47.5% it doesn’t matter. Like I said on Friday, with Berkeley Sq., ti’s possible to make a gin taste stronger than it actually is.

      I think there is an association between 37.5% and lower quality gin; mainly because gins using cheap ingredients to make a very cheap product (under £10) will opt for the lower alcohol because it help them keep the price low. Of course this is NOT always the case, such as with the above gin.
      I’m sure many of us have had gin at the other end of the proof scale that we’d rather not drink again.

      Regarding the tonic I think the marketing is all about getting people to thinking about gin a bit differently; a cry of Toss the Tonic, will no doubt drop a few monocles into some glasses but I know you, I and many others will mixing it how we like regardless!

  2. I think we’re seeing a trend on the market of gins trying to push new ways of drinking gin. Which I suspect is the result of several market studies which determined that folks who hate gin, actually hate tonic, and have just never had gin any other way (thank you vodka martini craze). I suspect we’re going to see a whole lot more of this kind of marketing.

    Gin + fruit juice is the kind of mixology that middle-America likes. Working class folk in cities without cocktail bars, without top-notch bartenders.Again, not that there’s anything wrong with this approach- just that I suspect it to become more commonplace.

    Up until Limbrey’s manifesto, the only other “gin” to come right out and say “ditch the tonic” was Nolet- which is definitely looking at a completely different market.

    But anyway, i’m intrigued by the sound of Limbrey’s. At 75 proof they could be doing for gin, what Southern Comfort does/did for whiskey- a somewhat less threatening and more accessible entry level gin: suitable for college parties, and young burgeoning drinkers growing into future gin connoisseurs.

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