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… Encyclopedia Britannica Gin 1902

For my recent research into Old Tom Gin, I have visited the British Library to inspect some manuscripts first hand. Whilst looking at the 1902 version of Encyclopedia Britannica, I came across a recipe for gin. Given the ubiquity of the book, it is likely that the recipe represents something that is typical of the time.

After giving the recipe to a distiller friend, I was fortunate enough to taste a sample of gin made to this century-old recipe; here are my findings.

On its own
Nose: Complex and rich, with hints of chocolate wafers and brandy spice, plus just a touch of citrus. Unique.
Taste: This has a superb texture with a richness that is normally associated with high-end aged spirits. Strong notes of coriander come through, with a bright, citrus spice that is followed by hints of menthol pepper and resinous juniper. In the middle, there is a rich creaminess of sweet vanilla and notes of chocolate with a definite cakey element to them, making the flavour reminiscent of pain au chocolat.

Gin & Tonic
This gin works surprisingly well, with malty coriander and a citrus sweetness to it. There are definitely some elements of genever with bready, grain notes that are quite subtle, but noticeable. The finish, which lasts for a long time, has a dry bitterness to it.

Martini
Very clean, like a shard of ice, this is cooling with a little sharpness. This cocktail is just what a Martini should be – surprisingly so, given the high amount of coriander in the mix, but very good nonetheless.

Negroni
Very floral upfront, with vanilla, citrus, and the flowery spice notes of coriander shining through. There’s then a little sweetness from the vermouth, before a partnership of intensity between the gin and the Campari. The finish is a lovely mix of earthy bitterness and juicy fruitiness.

In Conclusion
It is fascinating to try a recipe that has been widely published in such a mainstream book as the Encyclopedia Britannica. What was equally fascinating was its less than typical flavour profile and how it was, in many ways, closer to some modern contemporary gins, whilst, at the same time, having more than a whiff of genever about it. Perhaps this is an early genever?

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Cocktails with… Old Sport Dry Gin – from Greece!

Bottled at 42.0% ABV Old Sport Gin is made at the Callicounis Distillery, situated in Kalamata on the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece. The gin is made using:

Juniper
Angelica
Coriander
Lemon
Bitter Orange
Orris
Liquorice
Cardamom
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Rosemary

And Mastiha, a local botanical. Mastiha is the resin of the Mastic trees native to Chios, a Greek island off the east coast of Turkey. Mastiha has a pine and cedar flavour when chewed.

Old Sport Gin Greece FINAL

On its own
Nose: A sweet nose with hints of liquorice, caraway, and coriander.
Taste: Old Sport is a relatively sweet gin with complex spice notes: caraway, fennel, anise, liquorice, cassia, and nutmeg. These flavours are all followed by a little pepper, orris, and dry, herbal notes. There’s a touch of juniper and angelica on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
Herbaceous, with some maltiness and sweet spice: cassia, fennel, anise, cardamom, and nutmeg. This exotic flavour profile then makes way for a more traditional, dry finish of juniper and angelica. Complex and refreshing.

Martini
This cocktail has a good level of salinity that makes the drink rousing to the appetite. This is followed by a delicate mix of ginger, anise, and cinnamon. This has great food-matching potential.

Negroni
Soft, with notes of cinnamon spice and sweet anise. This is a sweeter-than-usual Negroni with a little citrus bitterness on the finish.

In Conclusion
It is rather unusual to find a gin from Greece, and it is something that I have been waiting for about ten years. Thankfully, Old Sport did not disappoint. Its rich, spicy notes make it a fun companion for a selection of small tapas-like snacks such as olives or seasoned nuts, as well as a great way to try slightly different versions of tried-and-tested cocktails. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic.

Cocktails with… Whittaker’s Gin

Today’s review has a special focus on one distillery: Harrogate Distillery and their award-winning gin brand, Whittaker’s. The distillery was started by Jane and Toby Whittaker in 2015 and is based in Nidderdale, Yorkshire. Whilst only two years old, the distillery has already released an exciting selection of gins.

Whittakers Gin FINAL

Whittaker’s Original (42.0% ABV)

A classic and smooth gin made with neutral grain spirit and a botanical mix that includes:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Lemon
Hawthorne Berries
Bilberries
Bog Myrtle
Garden Thyme

On its own
Nose: An intense, botanical nose that bursts forth from the glass. There is a vibrant mix of juniper and pine notes, from juicy berries and crisp pine needles to fragrant notes of blossom.
Taste: This gin has a lovely, dry flavour with just a touch of sweetness at the end. It has an excellent texture: very smooth with minimal heat – just enough to to add boldness to the flavour profile. Rich and complex juniper notes are complemented by citrus, warm spice, and then fruity berry notes that add both that slight sweetness and also a little tartness and zing. The finish is long and lingering. All-in-all, this is a classic gin that has its own distinguishing flair – delicious!

Gin & Tonic
Beautiful resinous juniper upfront, adding a bright “sparkle” to this drink from the start. A little citrus follows, then the fruity notes of dried berries. A balanced and exceptionally refreshing drink.

Martini
This Martini is wonderfully bright, with beautiful pine and juniper notes – crisp and fragrant – that make the cocktail really sing. Dryer flavours follow, working well alongside the powerful juniper, before a touch of more fruity notes on the finish.

Negroni
Exceptionally smooth. Again, beautifully rich juniper notes come through, bringing with them hints of citrus and coriander. These are followed by a fruity tartness from the berries, which makes this an unusual Negroni, but are also a fantastic addition. Finishing up, this cocktail keeps its classic, mellow bittersweetness.

Whittakers Navy Gin FINAL

Whittakers Navy Strength (57.0% ABV)

A higher ABV version of their original gin with the same botanical mix, but a slight adjustment of the botanical balance.

On its own
Nose: Earthy, with a light, sweet florality.
Taste: Very resinous: the juniper absolutely bursts through in this gin, which helps to give you a full appreciation of the berry: from its lighter, floral notes all the way through to deep, soapy cedar.

With Fever-Tree Tonic
A particularly herbal Gin & Tonic with bready notes before a biscuity spice and hints of coriander. Jammy berry notes then develop, before a dry finish that makes this a bold and yet thoroughly refreshing drink.

Martini
Bold and very zesty, with bright, deep, and resinous notes of cedar and juniper. The floral finish is long and lingering, neatly balancing and complementing that juniper. This is a powerful example of a classic Gin Martini; one that should be served very cold and, because of its great sippability, enjoyed sparingly.

Negroni
A citrus and coriander-forward Negroni with a great level of zestiness. This has a perfect intensity of flavour and would make a good aperitif.

Whittakers Clearly Sloe Gin FINAL

Whittaker’s Clearly Sloe

A modern take on the sloe gin. Sloe berries are infused or macerated in the Whittaker’s Original Gin for six months, before the liquid is redistilled with a little liquorice. The resultant gin retains much of the character of the sloes, but none of the colour. Unlike most sloe gins, it is unsweetened.

On its own
Nose: A fantastic nose full of the rich, slightly tart notes of the sloe berry coming through, along with more jammy berry notes and an aromatic nuttiness.
Taste: Sloe berry comes through again on the palate, along with deep, resinous juniper notes. A little sweetness from the fruit followed, accompanied by a touch of marzipan. This is an absolutely superb spirit and a great example of a distilled sloe gin.

With Fever-Tree Tonic
The sloe berry flavours shine through: sweet and jammy with just a little tartness, followed by light, floral almond flavours and a fresh, citrus finish.

Martini
This is a superb cocktail that tastes just like an extra dry sloe gin: bold and resinous juniper to start, which develops into the bright stone fruit flavours of the berries. Delicious!

Negroni
The sloe berries really shine through in this cocktail – there is a lovely combination of the dry fruitiness and sweet almond & marzipan, all with a restrained bitterness. This is a totally different take on the Negroni, but a fantastic one.

In Conclusion

Whittaker’s have crafted a superb selection of gins with significant range, whilst keeping an apparent house-style. The imaginations of Toby and Jane really come through in their products and, whilst I enjoy all of the spirits, I always find myself drawn back to their original London Dry Gin.

If you want to try the full range, including their contemporary Pink Particular Gin, I can heartily recommend the gift pack of four 20cl bottles available on their website:
https://www.whittakersgin.com/shop/product/36378/Whittaker039-s-Gin-4-x-20cl-Gift-Pack/

Cocktails with… Le Tribute Gin

Le Tribute is produced by Destilierias MG, which is a family-run distillery that was founded in 1835. The distillery is located in Vilanova, a village in Catalonia around 30 miles west of Barcelona.

The gin, bottled at 43% ABV, is made by individually distilling botanicals and blending the distillates together.

The following botanicals are distilled with wheat spirit:

Juniper
Lime
Kumquat
Pink & Green Grapefruit
Tangerine
Cardamom
Sweet & Bitter Oranges

Also lemongrass, which is usually distilled with water, rather than alcohol. This is because the flavours and aromas are soluble in water; water also helps to keep the fresh character of the botanical.

Le Tribute Gin Bottle FINAL

On its own
Nose: A wide array of citrus notes: lime, lemon, orange and then the blossom of tangerine or mandarin intermingled with a touch of vanilla.
Taste: A clean and smooth spirit with a finely tuned character and delightful citrus notes: this has a complex symphony of flavours, but the citrus does not overpower the other botanical notes such as juniper, coriander or angelica. This is a superb example of how a gin can be taken in a new, contemporary direction without losing the core of what gin is about.

Le Tribute Gin with Le Tribute Tonic
So vibrant, so fresh, so citrusy – this drink is so bright and exciting that there is really no need for a garnish at all. It is as if the gin has a “built in garnish”, it is that flavoursome. A succulent and refreshing Gin & Tonic with subtle spiced notes and no cloying finish at the end. Simply sublime!

Gin & Tonic
This makes a zesty and crisp Gin & Tonic, even when paired with a more basic tonic water than the one specifically designed for the gin. This pairing is not as a good as the bespoke one, but is nonetheless very good, with lots of lingering, but refreshing citrus notes.

Le Tribute GinTonic FINAL

Martini
A beautifully fresh and zesty Martini: crisp and invigorating flavours of lemon, lime and orange, before a lightly floral note of pine blossom with a hint of plum-like jamminess at the end. Rich, intriguing and rather yummy.

Negroni
A delightful Negroni: the complex array of flavours in the gin really lifts the drink, giving it a real liveliness, whilst the sweet, floral jammy notes like those of kumquat and tangerine add a fruitiness that takes the edge off of the bitter Campari. A lovely drink to sip on a terrace before dinner.

With Cola
This is one of the best Gin & Colas that I have ever had: the bright citrus notes are brought forward, giving the drink a beautiful vibrancy, full of lively zesty notes and a crisp, clean finish. Exceptionally refreshing – a must try!

Le Tribute Tonic Bottle FINAL

The Le Tribute tonic water bottles, just as attractive as the gin bottle.

In general we don’t talk too much about packaging on here, but with Le Tribute, the beauty of the bottle has to mentioned, although it largely speaks for itself. It might sound bizarre, but it’s a real joy to pour from this bottle and have it beside you as you sip. Everything is high quality, especially the copper-look cap. What is really exciting, though, is that the quality of the spirit inside the bottle is as good as the quality of the bottle.

In Conclusion
I think that La Tribute is superb gin – one of the best I’ve tried in the last 12 months. It has a great brightness and zest; whilst being packed full of citrus is remains balanced enough to be easily discernible as a gin. All of the drinks were superb, but I think the Gin & Tonic was my favourite.

Cocktails with… Darnley’s Spiced Gin Navy Strength Edition

Following on from the recent review of 6 O’Clock Brunel Edition comes another, high-strength and spicy gin – this time from Darnley’s of Scotland, who have released their spiced Navy-strength gin.

Bottled at 57.1% ABV, the gin is made using the same botanicals as the original Spiced Gin, but with an extra boost of juniper.

Darleys Spiced Navy Gin

On its own
Nose: Bold, plump juniper upfront, followed by notes of cumin and cardamom with a touch of ginger.
Taste: This is full of strong flavours, with a great oily texture that coats the tongue and has a light sweetness to it. A touch of liquorice is accompanied by warm spice: cinnamon, cassia, savoury cumin and aromatic cardamom.

Gin & Tonic
A plump and juicy Gin & Tonic that works particularly well with a wedge of orange as a garnish. The anise comes through, along with flavours of sweet cumin and hints of ginger and cardamom.

Martini
This makes a very strong Martini, as you might expect from the high ABV, but in a small, 1oz portion it is perfect as a small, but punchy pre-dinner cocktail. The spice is intense and works well with the flavours of the vermouth. Serve super-chilled; ideally, poured straight from the freezer.

Negroni
A pleasantly savoury Negroni with notes of cumin and caraway coming through, along with ginger. This gin gives the drink a light salinity, whilst also keeping the classic bitter-sweetness of the other ingredients in check.

With Cola
The exotic spice notes work especially well with the cola and the strong botanical flavours that come from the Navy-strength really stand up to the mixer. This is a great example of a Gin & Cola.

In Conclusion
I think Darnley’s Spiced Gin works particularly well at a higher ABV and the extra juniper gives the gin an added boost. My favourite drinks were the mini, yet potent Martini and – surprisingly – the gin mixed with cola.

Cocktails with… Anchor Old Tom Gin

Anchor Old Tom Gin is made by Anchor Distillery in San Francisco – the same distillery that produces one of the first American gins that I ever tried (and still one my favourites): Junipero. Following a recent change to their range, however, my favourite now goes by the name Juniper San Francisco Strength (49.3% ABV) rather than Junipero Export Strength (46% ABV).

Anchor Old Tom was the first gin that the distillery had released for a number of years and was the result of a rather studious amount of research and development. Given that one of the classic Old Tom Gin cocktails, the Martinez, has been long associated (through fact or fiction?) with the town of Martinez, which is just 30 miles away, it is perhaps surprising that The Bay area has not produced an Old Tom before Anchor launched in 2014, but – nonetheless – I was eager to try this one.

The gin’s botanical mix includes some of the regulars (juniper, coriander, citrus), but they’re accompanied by others that add a little sweetness: star anise and licorice. In addition, the gin is sweetened, but not with sugar or honey, but stevia (a natural sweetener from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant species). It is bottled at 45.0% ABV.

On its own
Nose: A full nose of juniper, juicy pine, and a little woody angelica and spice.
Taste: This has a viscous texture that is smooth and fills the mouth. There are notes of juniper with black pepper and menthol upfront; this moves onto sweet liquorice and a touch of orris. There’s a sweetness, before more spice appears. The finish has a touch of sweet spearmint and pepper.

Martini
Whilst sweeter than many Martinis, it is by no means overly sweet. There are plenty of sweet, piney, sappy notes, as well as some menthol spice. Mellow and smooth.

Martinez
The sweet fennel and anise notes work really well alongside the herbal notes of the red vermouth. This is a very smooth cocktail with plenty of flavour.

Negroni
This Old Tom makes a very smooth Negroni with plenty of flavour coming through, as well as some extra sweetness. Finally, there’s a long finish of juniper and menthol.

In Conclusion
Anchor Old Tom Gin is a great addition to the range of Old Toms out there; it has a smooth texture, bold flavour, balanced sweetness, and a lovely interplay of herbaceous and spiced notes. My favourite drink was the Martinez.

Anchor Old Tom is available for around £41 for 75cl from Master of Malt

Cocktails with… 6 O’Clock – Brunel Edition

As a longtime resident of Portsmouth I’ve always had an affinity with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, perhaps Britain’s greatest engineer. Brunel is also of great importance to the city of Bristol, where the SS Great Britain and the Brunel Museum are both located.

Today, I’m looking at a gin inspired by Brunel: 6 O’Clock Brunel Edition. Additionally, for every bottle sold, £1 will be donated to the SS Great Britain Trust’s new museum ‘Being Brunel’ which opens in 2018.

6 o clock Brunel Gin

The gin, bottled at 50.0% ABV, is made using the original 6 O’Clock Gin as a base and adds more juniper and six new botanicals:
Lemon
Cardamom
Nutmeg
Cumin
Cassia bark
Cubeb

On its own
Nose: Exotic spice, anise, caraway and cumin with a touch of ginger.
Taste: Surprisingly smooth for 50% ABV, with a light, sweet spiciness upfront that gradually makes way for notes of vanilla and lemon. Smooth and clean, there’s also a touch of juniper jelly and coriander before a final burst of black menthol pepper with a little lingering, green pine.

Gin Tonic
This makes a rather spicy Gin Tonic with plenty of cinnamon and ginger notes, making it somewhat reminiscent of a spiced sponge. Juicy fruit notes follow, with a little citrus peel before some cumin and a hint of dark chocolate. Overall, this is a dry, refreshing drink with wonderful notes of intercontinental spice.

Martini
The rich spiciness comes through well in this cocktail: there’s a little dry cinnamon followed by more savoury notes of cumin and ginger with just a touch of turmeric. Sweet citrus and cardamom notes then develop, before a slightly earthy finish.

Martini-on-the-Rocks
Given the slightly higher ABV of this gin, some drinkers may prefer the slightly more dilute Martini-on-the-Rocks. Fill a tumbler to the top with ice, add 35ml of gin and 10ml dry vermouth and garnish with an olive or lemon peel.

The herbal and spiced notes of this gin work really well with the slightly wetter drink and, in comparison to the Martini, more of the vermouth comes through, too.

Negroni
A bold and “crunchy” Negroni with bright notes of fresh celery stalks accompanied by the spices found in the other drinks. The finish is earthy and slightly resinous and really lingers on the tongue.

With Cola
The gin adds a savoury spiciness to this serve, with notes of paprika, turmeric and ginger. Mixed with the cola, the gin also provides a hint of chocolate, but – overall – the drink is not overly sweet and has a pleasant, fiery, dry spice to it.

In Conclusion
6 O’Clock Gin: Brunel Edition is a bold gin that is great for mixing; the additional botanicals make this a great twist on what was already a lovely gin. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic.

6 O’Clock Brunel edition is available from their website for £43 for 70cl.