One of the best things about writing about gin is that surprises lurk around every corner. Last month, I spoke about a serendipitous tweet that introduced me to the excellent Warner Edwards Gin and something similar happened this month; this time, with a craft distillery in Scotland who make a gin called GILT.
GILT Single Malt Scottish Gin is made by the same folks who are behind VALT Single Malt Vodka, which I tried at the first Boutique Bar Show in 2007 at Brick Lane (coincidentally, on the same day as a Tube strike) and, I must say, tasting the vodka left an impression on me; it’s very good.
The VALT distillery is in the Vale of Leven near Loch Lomond. Like their vodka, GILT gin uses 100% malted barley in its base spirit. The malted barley mash bill is the same that could be used to make Scotch whisky. Bottled at 40%ABV it contains a mix of nine botanicals:
#1 On its own
Nose: Juniper, hints of vanilla and grain. Ever-so-slightly acidic.
Taste: Dry juniper upfront, followed by coriander and then some notes of malt and hops. In the middle, there are some toffee-vanilla notes, followed by citrus, spice and a light, liquorice sweetness. The finish is fresh, with lots of citrus and orange in particular.
#2 Gin & Tonic
This is something different for a Gin & Tonic: there are some great earthy and bitter, bark-like notes. It’s good and fresh, with some sweeter citrus notes and subtle hints of cardamom coming through, too. The finish is particularly dry. This is reminiscent of the excellent FEW Gin from Illinois, which has a similar grain-heavy, slight creamy underlying character.
The barley and creamy notes of the gin’s base work well with some of the vanilla and herbal notes of the vermouth. I used my standard 4:1 Medium-Dry ratio for this cocktail, but this tastes much wetter than that so, if you like your drink dry, then you might need to tinker a bit. Hints of anise, cardamom and chocolate also appear at the end, concluding a well-rounded and pleasant drink.
Quite a smooth and creamy Negroni, with a fair dose of vanilla coming through. That said, it’s not sickly. There are some orange notes, too, before the bitter-sweet finish of the drink, which is long and bitter, with just a hint of spicy, almost gingery, warmth.
#5) Old Fashioned
A natural match for this gin. The whisky character that hides in the background of the juniper spirit lends itself well to the mix of sugar and bitters, providing the warmth that you would usually associate with this drink, along with slight malt, vanilla and barley notes. The botanical mix, especially the spice notes, work well with the bitters.
I really enjoyed experimenting with GILT gin and I shall, no doubt, mix some other cocktails with it, too. I have enjoyed gins with a white whiskey base, like FEW, before and it is good to see what is effectively a gin with a “new-make Scotch” base as a counterpart (this is rather sloppy and inaccurate terminology wholly on my part; but I think that it “paints a picture” of the gin’s style). The Old Fashioned is superb, as is the Negroni.
GILT Single Malt Scottish Gin is available for around £30 for 70cl from drinkon.com.
Botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Lemon, Orange, Orris, Liquorice, Cardamom, Cassia