When it comes to gin, I always have my ear to the ground to find out about new products, in particular if they have something unique about them. Some have unusual botanicals, such as Gilpin’s, with its borage, whilst others are different in other ways: Nevada Distilling’s Gin, for example, uses an alcohol base that is a mix of three grains, and Port of Dragons Gin who, in addition to having some of the best packaging I’ve seen, have created a range of gins, using a sort of “A gin for every occassion” model.
Number Zero Gin has not only a curious name, but also a very unusual botanical; notably, quinine, the essential ingredient of tonic water. I was fascinated and eager to see how including quinine in the gin would affect the cocktails that it made.
Number Zero Gin (and Number Zero Rum) bill themselves as “Low-cost Premium”. This may seem contradictory, but I believe that it is possible to have a competitive balance of both quality and value for money. Examples of gins in a similar category are: Limbrey’s, Taurus and, of course, Plymouth.
Here is Number Zero’s own explanation:
“The concept aims to provide the general public with a special selection of the best recipes for the preparation of spirits from some of the most prestigious and oldest distillers.”
The product is a London Dry Gin and its botanicals include: juniper, coriander, angelica, iris, cinnamon, and cinchona (containing the quinine) from Peru.
Nose: Very light.
Taste: Smooth initially, with some sweet, floral notes, such as violet, a touch of citrus and some sweet earthiness, like liquorice. This then morphed into a more earthy, bitter taste with a hint of anise.
1) Gin & Tonic (using Schweppes)
This had some bitterness to it, along with a lot of floral aspects; a good dose of violet reminded me a little of a Camp David, but, after the sweet floral notes subside, a dry, earthy bitterness appears until the finish. Very unusual and one I’d like to try again for a fuller inspection.
Very crisp; the bitterness of the quinine really made itself known in this cocktail. There was also a touch of Violette towards the end. It’s rare that I think of colours when tasting drinks, but this one reminded me of purple and black. It was an intense Martini with an intriguing contrast between sweet floral and earthy bitter flavours.
Floral, fruity and slightly jammy. This drink was sweet and flowery to start with and then herbal and bitter towards the end. Unusual, but tasty.
This was sweeter and more flowery than the usual dryer Gin Crusta; the juniper was there, but less prominent. Nevertheless, the ingredients do work well with each other, with the citrus elements balancing out the sweeter aspects of the gin and maraschino.
5) GT Turbo
Very floral and bitter, this was exceptionally intense and crisp, and probably won’t appeal to everyone.
Number Zero was a natural match for this cocktail and fans of Creme Violette (I’m thinking of one New Yorker in particular!) will be pleased that the flavour really comes through without overpowering the cocktail. If you did want a little more crispness, I’d suggest upping the gin to lemon juice ratio from 4:1 to 3:1. On the finish, I also got a strong, earthy bitterness, courtesy of the quinine, which is unexpected, but nonetheless welcome.
7) Bramble (Suggested by Olivier of the Gin Blog)
This was a good suggestion. I used Boozeberries’ Blackcurrant Liqueur rather than straightforward Creme de Mure, which is a little more tart. This worked really well with the sweet, floral notes of the gin, creating a very fresh, juicy and tart Bramble. It was so fresh that you might even think that you had muddled blackberries in the bottom of the glass. An excellent combo.
8) Gin Tonica
This had a bitter, earthy start, courtesy of the quinine in both the tonic and the gin. Dry juniper notes followed, then the sweet, floral and citrus notes: lavender and violet, and, finally, the dry, slightly bitter tannins of the tea. This was really a rollercoaster of flavours that left me rather impressed. Mrs B described it as a “Perfect combination of a Gin & Tonic and iced tea”.
Number Zero is, without a doubt, a very unusual gin; it has divided the opinions of the various gin folk who have tasted it with me. That said, I do think that it has a profile unlike anything else and, as a result, works exceptionally well in certain cocktails. Their Gin Tonica is a fine example of the kinds of innovation currently going on with the classic G&T and is, quite simply, superb.