Master of Malt Single Estate Origin Gins – Part II

Holmes was stumped so Watson looked it up on MasterofMalt.com and found the bottle contained a delicious array of botanicals!

In Part One, I tasted the Origin Range of Single Estate Gins from Master of Malt on their own, in their pure juniper form, but what about the little vial that accompanied each bottle?

This contains a mixture made using a number of other popular gin botanicals, such as coriander and cardamom, which can be added to the juniper spirit to make a multi-botanical gin. I mixed each of the four varieties of gin with their vials (all of which are the same strength and made using the same botanicals; I also mixed them to the same quantities).

So what did they taste like?


1) BULGARIA – VELIKI PRESLAV


i) On its own
Nose: Juniper, coriander, and a touch of cardamom.
Taste: This seemed quite viscous and strong (alcohol-wise); there is also a touch of saltiness, which is followed by some sweetness. The predominant flavour of fresh juniper is followed by big and spicy notes of green cardamom. All wrapped up nicely with a long, delicious finish.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Quite sweet for a Gin & Tonic – almost sherbety – this also had notes of lemon, cardamom and vanilla. Some will probably prefer a drier drink, although I found that the sweetness levels improved with a little ice-melt, making it more refreshing and bring out more of the nutty cardamom.

iii) Martini
Clean and crisp, although it seems quite strong in terms of ABV. Lots of green cardamom notes. This chills well and is nice and spicy.

iv) Negroni
An impressive Negroni: oodles of flavour with a strong juniper and citrus presence. Textbook.


2) NETHERLANDS – MEPPEL


i) On its own
Nose: Spicy juniper and coriander, salt and pepper.
Taste: The juniper is strong and prominent amongst the other botanicals, although there is  a notable liquorice sweetness, citrus, vanilla and a touch of cardamom. A complex, balanced gin with a long finish.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Fresh and crisp with juniper, citrus and cardamom, along with a touch of coriander. Refreshing, this provides everything you could want from a Gin & Tonic.

iii) Martini
Very clean and raising to the appetite, with equal measures of juniper, citrus and spice. This was certainly complex, but not overwhelmingly so; it will compete with the best of its contemporaries.

iv) Negroni
A clean and soft Negroni; bittersweet and easy to drink with all of the characteristics that aficionados look for, plus a good deal more. A pleasure to drink.


3) ALBANIA – VALBONE


i) On its own
Nose: Clean and not aggressive, with citrus (lemon & lemon verbena) and some juniper.
Taste: Quite savoury, with some saltiness and a hint of tomato, I think this would work well in a Red Snapper. A good finish of dry juniper.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Creamy, with a little sweetness that’s followed by a bitter, earthy juniper flavour that works well with the quinine. Cooling and quite light, making it the height of refreshment.

iii) Martini
Smooth, easy to drink and spicy with coriander, cardamom and liquorice. Again, a dry finish.

iv) Negroni
A very straightforward Negroni that will please, but not wow. It has a good balance, but the gin presence could be stronger.


4) ITALY – AREZZO


i) On its own
Nose: Quite gentle, with a mix of citrus, biscuits, nuts and juniper, finishing with spicy cardamom.
Taste: A good, solid gin with a generally good balance, although it leans a little towards cardamom (not that I’ll complain about that!). This gin is one for fans of Plymouth/Sacred/Boodles, plus many other folks, too. Very good, indeed.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Easy to drink, although the gin is a little lost behind the tonic. That said, the drink is delightful and refreshing; it would just be nice if you could taste more of the gin (maybe just add an extra splash?).

iii) Martini
Exceptionally smooth, with hints of anise and coriander. There’s some citrus, but it’s by no means overpowering. I think it would work well with an olive garnish.

iv) Negroni
Full of flavour, this is a rather spicy Negroni that will please fanciers of cardamom as this flavour takes centre stage. Despites having such prominent flavour in its midst, the balance of the cocktail is good and it is refreshing. It has so much flavour that I think I’d drink it ungarnished.

In Conclusion
It is amazing what a difference the source of juniper makes to the overall flavour of gin and I hope that Master of Malt do many more events like this so that others can get a chance to taste them first hand (although, of course, you can buy them from the site too!).

My favourite of the four was easily the one made using juniper from the Netherlands, which, for me, outperformed the others in almost every cocktail. It was so complex that I preferred it without the extra botanicals and so will be drinking the rest of bottle as is.

Many thanks to everyone that has made this article possible and I look forward to Macedonia (I have heard intriguing things!) and Kosovo.

Also, watch out for our review of the Master of Malt Summer Fruit Cup (good name, eh?).

But wait! There’s more….

Ben and his Cask

As a final touch to our tasting at the Juniper Society, Ben presented us with a 50 litre barrel and asked us what our favourite of the four gins was. The majority chose the Netherlands Gin (a choice with which I agreed). We were then told that it was to be mixed in an Negroni (for aging in that very barrel) and proceeded to be asked whether we wanted to use just the juniper spirit on its own or the multi-botanical mix. A huge majority voted for the unadulterated Netherland Juniper on its own.

Mrs B and I add to the cask

Mrs B and I add to the cask

We all got a chance to pour in some of the ingredients and sign the cask and were then given a little stub (we have 00006 and 00007), which entitles us to a glass of the 1 Year Old Negroni at the Juniper Society’s third birthday in 2013. The barrel is now proudly displayed on the bar at Graphic.

Master of Malt Origin Gins are available at £34.95 a bottle (71cl) from  their website.

Special thanks to Ben, Cat and Rhyan of Master of Malt, Adam & Sarah of The Juniper society and zack and his team at Graphic Bar.

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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.

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