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.

Cocktails with… Melbourne Gin Co. Gin

Today, I’m looking at another sample kindly provided by James. I haven’t been able to find out very much about this gin from the Melbourne Gin Co.; even in Australia, it is illusive. What I do know is that it is bottled at 42.0% ABV and each of its botanicals are distilled separately. These include: juniper, coriander, angelica, orris, cassia, macadamia, sandalwood, honey lemon myrtle, organic navel orange.

After distillation, the gin is proofed with Gembrook rainwater.

melbourne-gin

On its own
Nose: Light, with citrus notes and a touch of piney juniper.
Taste: Smooth and light with lots of citrus. Easy to sip, the juniper in this is relatively dialled back. Accessible and easy to drink neat, I would say that this is a good, entry-level gin.

Gin & Tonic
This makes quite a light Gin & Tonic that is simple, but tasty, and relatively refreshing, with lots of woody, earthy angelica. I would recommend using a light-touch tonic water.

Martini
A clean, but very straight-forward Martini: smooth, with clear notes of vanilla and citrus. This is pleasant and drinkable, but nothing special.

Negroni
A solid Negroni with notes of citrus, pine, and angelica, followed by a little more juicy citrus and a bitter finish. Middle-of-the-road, but good.

In Conclusion
The Melbourne Gin Co. Gin is a well-made gin in the style of the lighter, contemporary gins. It made a solid and enjoyable Negroni, which was my clear favourite of the drinks that I tried.

Cocktails with… Kangeroo Island Spirits’ Wild Gin

KIS Wild Gin is made by Kangaroo Island Spirits in South Australia and is one of four gins produced by the distillery. The Wild Gin uses a different juniper berry to the usual Juniperus Communis; namely, the native “Myoporum Insulars” aka Common Bobbialla or Blueberry Tree. These berries are slightly larger than those of Communis.

Kangeroo Island Spirits Wild Gin FINAL

On its own
Nose: Lemon shortbread, coriander, vanilla, and cream, as well as bright, zesty lime.
Taste: This is a smooth spirit with plenty of flavour: there is a pleasant smokiness upfront with some savoury, salty spice, as well as a touch of resin. Fresh and bright with a good level of flavour and balance.

Gin & Tonic
Good notes of cardamom and a cavalcade of spice: vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and coriander, followed by juniper and citrus. The finish is dry and zesty with a touch of wood smoke.

Martini
Lime bursts forward to start, alongside a smoked spice – think paprika, but a tad sweeter. There are also notes of cinnamon, anise, and cardamom. All-in-all, this is a complex drink with a really great silky texture – delightful.

Negroni
KIS Wild Gin makes a tremendous Negroni that is packed full of lime zest and creamy vanilla, plus a chord of spice – ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom – that works well alongside the Campari and vermouth. Finally, there is a long, mid-bitter finish.

In Conclusion
Kangaroo Island Spirits’ Wild Gin is a great example of the exciting gins coming out of Australia and how a distillery can put locally-sourced botanicals to good use in their gin. My favourite drink was the Negroni.

Cocktails with… Shetland Reel Gin

FINAL Shetland Martini

I first met Stuart of Shetland Reel Gin at the 2014 Distilling Expo in London. I have to admit, I was excited when he told me about his plans to make gin in the Shetlands, so it was great to recently get a chance to try the product and it was certainly worth the wait.

Shetland Reel Gin is made at the Saxa Vord Distillery on the island of Unst. It is bottled at 43.0% ABV and its botanicals include: juniper berries, coriander seeds, orris root, cassia bark, and citrus peel.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: A delightful flutter of leafy green notes, followed by crisp juniper, then coriander, citrus and spice. Wonderfully inviting; holding great promise for the flavour.
Taste: A little sweetness to start, which parts ways for an array of fresh leafy and piney notes, as well as some dryness from angelica. Then you get a little aromatic spice from the coriander, which hangs around right until the finish. This is a very smooth and refreshing spirit – it’s really very nice to sip.

Gin & Tonic
A lovely fresh and slightly soft Gin & Tonic: very easy to drink, with some delightful, fresh leafy and floral notes, before a dry finish. This is a Gin & Tonic that will appeal to both traditionalists and gin converts alike. Simply delicious.

Martini
Excellent – truly first class. It has all of the crisp and dry elements that you would expect from a Gin Martini, but with a delicate, fresh flourish that adds a refreshing flair. There are also notes of spice, with angelica, juniper, and a leafy succulence add depth and complexity.

Negroni
This makes a fresh Negroni with light, fresh leafy notes, as well as some spice, pepper, and anise. The gin’s flavours are upfront, followed by sweet vermouth notes and then the bitterness of the Campari. All of the flavours of the ingredients come through well, creating a lovely drink.

In Conclusion
Shetland Reel Gin not only comes from the UK’s northern-most distillery, but it is also delicious and – at the end of the day – that is what is really important. It mixed well in all of the above drinks, but my favourite had to be the Martini.

Cocktails with… Strane Uncut Gin – 75.3%ABV – World’s Strongest Gin

As a writer on gin, I am often asked one of two questions: “What is your favourite gin?” and “Have you considered making your own gin?”.

The answer to the second one is no and the reason is that I like being independent and able to chat to distillers without them worrying about disclosing commercial sensitivities to a competitor. But, if I were to make a gin, I think it would be one that was really strong – beyond the Navy Strength of 57.1% ABV. As a spirit that is often mixed, I believe that a strong gin has unique mixing potential.

Strane Uncut Gin 75.3 FINAL

Fortunately, Swedish distillers Smögen Whisky AB have done the hard work for me, having released their Uncut Gin in the UK: a gin that is bottled at 75.3% ABV. This exceeds the ABV of any other commercial gin, with the closest unaged comparisons being Blackwoods 60 and Finsbury 60 (both 60.0% ABV) and the aged Alembics Caribbean Cask (65.6% ABV).

The Smögen Whisky AB distillery is located in Hunnebostrand. In addition to the Uncut Gin, they make Strane Merchant and Strane Navy Strength. The idea for the Uncut comes from the fact that their gins are made from a blend of three separate botanical distillations, which are blended together before proofing (i.e. undiluted). The resulting liquid was described by distiller Pär Caldenby as, “ too good to hold back” and so limited quantities are bottled at the uncut, off-the-still strength.

On its own
Nose: Lemony citrus upfront, with some juniper pine notes that are well-integrated with hints of spice and herbal notes, with just a touch of menthol and plump juniper berries.
Taste: Despite its high ABV, the spirit is surprisingly shippable: there is citrus up-front, followed by some woody spice, orange peel, vanilla, and a hint of coconut. The finish is a little perfumed with orange blossom and freshly-cracked coriander seed, mixed in with a little resinous spruce, light menthol pepper, and pine blossom.

If you did want to drink this neat, then I’d suggest a single serving of a half oz measure served in a mini Glencairn glass – lovely.

Frozen
This serve adds viscosity and intensity; it has very strong flavours. It’s excellent served this way, but one downside is that it probably makes the spirit very smooth and easy to drink and so, in some ways, makes it harder to savour than when you sip it at room temperature (when it’s easier to take your time over it).

Gin & Tonic
A strong Gin & Tonic in terms of alcohol, but especially in terms of flavour: it is strong and piney, with citrus and coriander notes, too. A bold, but straightforward Gin & Tonic that makes an excellent choice for the first drink of the evening. Textbook.

Martini
Probably the most powerful Martini that I have ever had. It really packs a punch, but isn’t hot and does not burn. It’s so packed full of flavour: juniper, angelica, coriander, citrus, spice, herbal and floral notes – all the key flavours associated with gin are here and integrated very well together. Superb.

Negroni
As you would expect, Uncut produces a bold and flavoursome Negroni; a cocktail that delivers some powerful flavours and is not for the faint hearted. As a lover of the Negroni, I think this is super: it is piney and juicy, plump with fruity notes and some deeper, herbal flavours, before the anticipated bitter finish. Watch out, though, this is very easy to drink, so I would suggest having one delicious (but small) serving.

Gin Soda
Very, very crisp and leafy with hint of cucumber peel, coriander, and fresh citrus, followed by some pine and floral notes. This is a lovely way to enjoy the gin, because you can lengthen it significantly without losing any of the gin’s character. It works well at a 5:1, 6:1, 7:1, or even up to a 10:1 ratio of gin to soda water.

In Conclusion
Strane Uncut is certainly a unique gin and one I would recommend trying; not only is it an experience, but it tastes very good, too.

Strane Uncut Gin is available for around £59 for 50cl from Master of Malt.

Cocktails with… Cotswolds Gin

2014 was a bumper year for the opening of craft distilleries in the UK, but one that made quite a splash when it opened and continues to be talked about today is the Cotswold Distillery in Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire.

Cotswolds Gin BOTTLE

The distillery is in a picturesque setting and shows that the concept of “destination distilling” has really arrived in the UK.* They currently make a gin, are putting new-make spirit in barrels for whisky, and are planning a range of distillery exclusives. Today, I’m taking a look at their gin.

On its own
A bold dry gin, with juniper up-front followed by an interwoven mix of citrus and coriander. This adds a fresh zest and floral spiciness to the middle of the gin. The spiciness from the coriander then leads to some deeper notes of menthol pepper and hints of hedgerow berries, all mixed in with a floral flourish. The finish is crisp, dry pine and lavender. This is a flavoursome spirit with a clean and smooth base thats leaves you with a gentle glow.

From the Freezer
The gin changes in two ways when served from the freezer: it is both much more viscous and has louched. The flavours seem to be more focused towards the dry juniper, angelica, and coriander notes, and the more floral and herbal elements, such as bay leaf and lavender, are suppressed a little bit. The finish is very long and dry, with a hint of menthol pepper that’s reminiscent of cubeb or grains of paradise.

Cotyswolds Louche

Cloudy Gin & Tonic
A pleasantly ethereal looking drink, with wisps of clouds in the liquid that are well complemented by the pink grapefruit and green bay leaf. As a drink, this is a very cooling concoction, with the various botanical aspects of the gin coming through well in an array of herbal and floral notes. The final impression is one of dry, fresh and crisp juniper and citrus.

Cotswolds Gin GINTONIC

Martini (Diamond)
Poured straight from the freezer into a vermouth-rinsed glass, this is visually quite attractive: it is viscous and almost white, like liquid ice. To taste, it is very dry, with fragrant notes and an intriguing piney mix of juniper and lavender, as well as a little citrus and some menthol notes towards the end.

Martini (stirred)
A clean Martini: smooth and soft to start, then the alcohol gradually builds, which gives you that wake-up lift that makes Martinis a great first-of-the-evening drink. This cocktail is more subtle than that made using the diamond method and more of the herbal and floral notes come through.

Cotswolds Gin DIAMOND MARTINI

Gin & Soda
Like the Gin & Tonic, this louches (goes cloudy), but, as we’ve already established, this doesn’t matter. I used a 1:5 ratio of gin to soda, so it’s quite a light drink, coming in at about 7% ABV. This makes it a lovely cooler for a sunny summer’s afternoon. Because of the intensity of the botanicals flavours, the gin is not washed out and you can still appreciate its character.

Negroni
Dry, bitter and relatively tart, Any sweetness comes from an interesting dark marmalade note. This makes for a very intense Negroni and the gin stands up well to the other bold flavours. Whilst I really like this drink, I would recommend it to the advanced Negroni drinker – someone that really likes a jolt from their red drink.

In Conclusion
I’ve enjoyed mixing with Cotswolds Gin, with its bold flavours. I think it is good that the distillery embraces the fact that it louches; this actually leads to some additional inspiration and creativity when mixing. My favourite drink was the Gin & Soda, as few gins can make one that has so much flavour.

Cocktails with… Mombasa Club Gin

There are a number of gins that are produced in the UK, but are then directly transported and so are not available for purchase in their country of origin. Mombasa Club is one such gin, which is produced by Thames Distillers and is exported to Spain.

Mombasa Club is bottled at 41.5% ABV .

There is also a Mombasa Club Reserve, which is bottled at 43.5%ABV.

photo

Mombasa Club Gin – thanks to Nicholas for the picture

 

On its own
Nose: Bright juniper and spice, with cumin and dry cinnamon.
Taste: This is a spiced gin, but not one that is too intense or deviates too far from gin’s classic style. A well-rounded spirit with dry notes of juniper, angelica, and a little citrus coriander.

Gin & Tonic
A lovely Gin & Tonic: refreshing, airy, and rather classic, but with dry spice in background; in particular, cumin and ginger.

Martini
Delightfully clean and smooth, with notes of juniper, citrus, and a pleasant spiced element. Again, ginger, cinnamon, and cumin come through; subtle, but notable.

Negroni
This makes for a cocktail with a good, strong flavour. It is dry, but has a little, subtle spice to it, which is followed by a powerful finish. There’s a fair bit of bitterness, but it’s accompanied by a pleasant freshness.

In Conclusion
Mombasa is a full and spicy gin that adds great character to the drinks that is mixed in, as well as a smooth freshness. My favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic.

Cocktails with… Lakes Distillery Gin – distilled in the Lake District

There are a number of gins that draw inspiration and affinity from the Lake District but are, sadly, not actually made there. After all, when it comes to gin, it is where the botanicals are distilled that defines where a gin is from.

The Lakes Distillery is based in Bassenthwaite Lake, Cumbria and they currently sell a vodka, a gin, and a blended whisky. Whisky production has begun on site and we’ll see what that’s like after a few years of maturation.

Lakes Gin FINAL

The Lakes Gin is bottled at 43.7%ABV and its botanicals include: juniper, bilberry, heather, and meadowsweet. The distillate is proofed to bottling strength using water from the River Derwent.

The Taste

Own
Nose: Good, solid botanical notes: juniper, coriander, angelica and citrus, with a little herbal note at the end.
Taste: Thick in texture, this has a very classic flavour profile, although with a smoother and more integrated flavour than many. Whilst the juniper is still prominent, the flavours are fresher and less sappy, making the spirit more accessible.

Gin & Tonic with Fever-Tree
A light and citrusy Gin & Tonic, best served with plenty of ice. Straight-forward and easy to sip, this is thirst-quenching and refreshing.

Martini
This gin makes a smooth and clean Martini with hints of spice, juniper, and angelica. It works particularly well with a lemon twist and has something of the purity of a Vodka Martini, only with the complex flavour of gin botanicals.

Negroni
This is a silky smooth Negroni with some light vanilla and spice. There’s also a gentle bitterness at the end, but, overall, the drink is unusually clean and smooth. Very accessible to the Negroni newbie.

In Conclusion
It’s great to finally have a gin that has been produced in the Lake District and, given how popular the area is to visitors, I’m sure the business will do well. The gin works well in many mixed drinks and will appeal to the new and established gin drinker alike. It’s been a long time waiting for an authentic Lake District gin, but it was well worth the wait.