This will be the penultimate article this year on the marvellous creations of Master of Malt; 2011 saw the launch of their excellent Handmade Cocktails and this year has seen them release:
Origin Single Estate Juniper Gins, Navy Strength Gin, Summer Fruit Cup, Leap Year Cocktail, Maple Whisky and many many others.
Today, I shall be looking at Cream Gin. Such gins were popular in the Gin Palaces of the Victorian Era and can be seen in pictures of bars of the time (see below); although the exact contents and process of making the gin is not 100% clear, it was probably gin mixed with cream and sugar and left in barrel to soften the spirit’s harshness (as discussed between creators Ryan and Ben here).
From the Master of Malt site:
“The Cream Gin has been cold-distilled using fresh cream as a botanical (the equivalent of 100ml Cream per bottle), to capture the fresh flavour of the cream in a perfectly clear spirit. Because the cream is never heated during the distillation process, no ‘burnt’ or ‘off’ flavours end up in the finished product. Cream Gin has the same shelf-life as any other distilled spirit.”
#1) On its own
Nose: Juniper upfront, along with a little coriander.
Taste: Juniper, black pepper and some coriander. A little cream towards the end, but it’s quite subtle; it is with time, as you continue to drink it, that the creaminess builds up and you can really appreciate the distinguishing features of this gin. It also really opens up with water.
#2) Gin & Tonic
Very fine, with some vanilla and a touch of cream; very refreshing, with citrus and coriander. Very good, indeed.
A strong, crisp and cooling Martini with a creamy finish, in part due to the vermouth, in part due to the gin. Quite simple, but smooth and pleasant.
Very good – extremely smooth and silky, helped by a good amount of creaminess from the gin. There’s still a good bitter-sweet balance, as well as a slight hint of nuts. Different, but good.
#5) Sweet Martini
Another sweet, herbal, creamy drink that’s very good. Comforting and invigorating and very, very smooth.
#6) Ramos Gin Fizz
Due to some miscalculations regarding the quantities in my drink, I ended up with a pint of Ramos Gin Fizz, but that was fine with me, because it was rather delicious: a great mix of citrus and cream, much like a syllabub or tart au citron. The gin adds a little dry juniper, but also contributes to a more silky and buttery finish. Very good.
Really lovely: the combination of flavours go together exceptionally well, producing a rich and creamy, but not too sickly, cocktail. This drink is really a natural match for the gin.
#8) French ‘75
This starts off as a pretty standard French ‘75, but concludes with a creamy, almost buttery finish. Softer and less dry than many.
#9) Bottom Button*
[25ml Cream Gin, 25ml Creme de Cacao Brown, 25ml The King’s Ginger – SHAKE]
Quite sweet, but simply blissful, with the cream from the gin, the chocolate of the Cacao, and the herbal warmth of the ginger, all whilst the dryness of the juniper adds a bit of balance. Sumptuously superb!
#10) Cream Gin & Cola (from the Worship Street Whistling Shop)
[50ml Cream Gin, 150ml Coca Cola – Optional Vanilla-Salt Rim)
I didn’t have vanilla salt, so I dabbed some vanilla essence around the rim of the glass and used ordinary salt instead.
It is quite common for gin in Africa to be drunk with Coca Cola (something of a status symbol in itself) and this is a common way for Uganda Waragi to be drunk. Even without the vanilla salt, I think that the drink works well, but the garnish adds that extra flair. The vanilla works well with the gin and cola, reminding me of Coca Cola Vanilla, which was once available in the UK. Whilst this drink is, on the face of it, simply gin and coke, it actually has many layers and is worth trying.
I always applaud any innovations in gin, especially those inspired by history, and Cream Gin is an excellent example of just such an innovation. Although it worked well in some of the classic cocktails, I think that the variations and creations tailored to this rather unusual spirit work best (see #9 and #10).
*Named in recognition of Edward VII (the King of King’s Ginger), who started the fashion of a gentleman keeping the bottom button of his waistcoat unfastened. Also, in reference to chocolate buttons.