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… McQueen Gins

McQueen Gin is made at the Trossachs Distillery in Callander, Scotland and is made using locally-sourced juniper. McQueen have really embraced the idea of the Signature Botanical Gin; that is a gin flavoured purely through distillation (aka London Gin) that has a signature botanical or flavour. This kind of gin has been on the rise in the last year or so; McQueen are spot-on-trend with their new range of four gins.

The flavours of their signature gins will rotate, depending on seasonality and popularity, and supporters of McQueen will get to have their say, too. So far, most other Signature Botanical Gins have been confined to flavours of a single botanical, but McQueen have taken it a step further with this selection…

The Taste

McQueen Mint Chocolate Gin

McQueen_ChocMint 260416
On its own
Nose: A soft, milky chocolate mixed with juniper and light, leafy notes.
Taste: A great mix of gin flavours and the signature chocolate mint. Juniper and coriander upfront upfront, followed by the subtle, but discernable dusky chocolate, finishing up with notes of fresh mint leaves. The combination of chocolate and mint lingers on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
Unusual, with dry botanical notes and juicy juniper upfront. This is surprisingly close to a classic Gin & Tonic, but, as you sip, notes of dusky cocoa powder chocolate and light, green mint emerge. The finish is refreshing and of fresh mint.

Martini
Subtle and smooth with good gin flavour, plus the crisp flavour of mint chocolate. The finish takes on the character of spice and menthol pepper from the gin.

Negroni
I’m surprised that the chocolate mint comes through as much as it does in this cocktail; the usual dry botanical and complex herbal notes appear before the dry chocolate and leafy mint appear.

McQueen Smokey Chilli Gin

McQueen_Chilli 260416
On its own
Nose: Fruity, with smoky spice appearing in the background, reminiscent of chilli flakes.
Taste: Luscious fruit and citrus upfront, with plump juniper and aromatic coriander notes afterwards. Towards the end, there is a woody, dry chilli flavour with a subtle smokiness to it. This savoury flavour gradually builds on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
Intense, with great notes of crunchy, fresh pepper, a tiny hint of chilli heat, and a touch of savoury smokiness. Refreshing, delicious, and exactly what you would expect.

Martini
Fresh bell pepper with a hint of florality. These notes are followed by a touch of juniper and violets, then the light, smoky warmth of the chilli. Complex and an excellent pre-dinner cocktail choice.

Negroni
The extra smoky, chilli, and paprika notes integrate really well with the vermouth and Campari, adding depth to an otherwise classic Negroni.

McQueen Sweet Citrus Gin

McQueen_Citrus 260416
On its own
Nose: Citrus and vanilla, with floral coriander and lemongrass.
Taste: Very oily with lots of citrus mixed with creamy vanilla and then the sweetness of honeydew melon. This has a pleasant combination of sweetness and zestiness.

Gin & Tonic
This is a gentle Gin & Tonic, but one full of citrus flavours. The citrus is lightweight, complex, and not overpowering, however; it reminds me of lemons, oranges, and grapefruit, with a slight aromatic floral note to it.

Martini
Very smooth and citrusy, this is something of a cross between a gin and a vodka Martini. I think it would make an interesting substitute for the vodka in a Vesper.

Negroni
This gin makes a soft Negroni – the sweet citrus mellows it nicely and provides a well-rounded finish with a restrained level of bitterness.

McQueen Mocha Gin

McQueen_Mocha 260416
On its own
Nose: Chocolate orange, moving onto creamy vanilla and notes of dark roasted coffee.
Taste: Silky – almost fluffy in texture – with citrus and dark chocolate flavours upfront. This fades into notes of coffee beans and then juniper and coriander. The finish has lots of dry, bitter, dark chocolate notes.

Gin & Tonic
This drink has an enticing nose, full of chocolate and exotic spice. It has a full-bodied flavour of coffee and chocolate, as well as a very subtle chilli spice, like that of chilli chocolate. The drink is dry throughout. Surprising, but tasty and great fun!

Martini
Very dry with complex notes of coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. These – usually sugary – flavours have a much more restrained sweetness in this cocktail. There are also notes of juniper and coriander on the finish, along with more dusky chocolate and coffee.

Negroni
Superb – all of the complex bittersweet and herbal notes that you would expect from a Negroni are here, but overlaid with an elegant flavour of silky coffee and chocolate.

Dancing Cows Lymington Gin

As a one-time resident of the New Forest National Park, it has often puzzled me that no distillery has opened up shop there in the seven years of the UK’s distilling renaissance. As such, I was very pleased to hear about Dancing Cows Lymington Gin, which is distilled in the Forest town of Lymington.

Dancing cows Lymington gin - FINAL

Bottled at 43.0% ABV, the gin is made using a mix of nine botanicals: juniper, coriander seeds, angelica root, angelica seeds, orris root, bitter orange peel, cardamom, fresh lemon zest and sweet almonds.

After distillation a distillate of hops is added along with a post-distillation infusion of juniper berries, for that extra burst of flavour.

On its own
Nose: Green and herbaceous: mint, rosemary, and some light hop notes.
Taste: Clear citrus notes are followed by light spice, then menthol pepper and piney juniper, all followed by the herbal zest of hops. Complex and engaging.

Gin & Tonic
This is a crisp and dry Gin & Tonic, with bitterness on the finish from a combination of the quinine and the hops. It’s especially good with a lime garnish, although the distillery’s suggestion of a lime and pink peppercorn garnish sounds great and I’ll update this when I’ve tried it.

//- Update! -// Gin Tonica (with lime & pink peppercorns)
Bright and refreshing – the lime adds a pleasant zing, whilst the pink peppercorns complement the hop flavours. Clean, delicious, and a great pre-dinner drink choice.

Dancing Cows Gin - Gin Tonica

Martini
This has a lovely complexity to it, with velvety notes of vanilla and spice, then some leafy, herbal notes: coriander and juniper. The finish is dry, but oily in texture.

Negroni
A thick and oily Negroni with a good level of flavour and a strong and long-lasting bitterness. The hops notes from the gin work particularly well with the Campari.

In Conclusion
I enjoyed the complex and intense flavours of Dancing Cows gin and appreciate distiller embracing a variety of technique to create their gin. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonica – superb!

Keep an eye for our review of Dancing Cows aged Gin later this week.

Dancing Cows Gin is available for around £30 for 700ml from Brewers Direct

Cocktails with… Malawi Gin

There are a few gins made in Africa, but it is rare for them to reach the shores of the UK. Those that do usually have to be hunted down in specialist food shops, but Malawi Gin has a UK importer and I think it’s great that it does.

Malawi Gin was first produced in 1965 and is bottled at 43% ABV. It is made by Malawi Distilleries Ltd. in Blantyre, Malawi.

1 Malawi Gin Final

On its own
Nose: A faint sweetness with a hint of chocolate and creamy coconut, along with a floral note of rose and lime.
Taste: This is a very smooth, velvety spirit. It is accessible, with a restrained yet discernable botanical character. There are notes of soft rose to start, followed by juniper, coriander, and then a creamy lime note on the middle and finish.

Gin & Tonic
Light and elegant hints of lime, vanilla, and coconut: fresh, refreshing, and very juicy. This would be wonderful to cool you down on a hot afternoon. This is a Gin & Tonic that will please everyone, but especially fans of rum.

MGT - Malwai Gin Tonic - served Evans style; lemon and lime garnish.

MGT – Malwai Gin Tonic – served Evans style; lemon and lime garnish.

Martini
Another smooth drink with a creamy texture. It works especially well with a twist of lime peel as a garnish. There are hints of creamy juniper, plus an array of floral notes on the finish.

Negroni
Again, smooth and creamy, with the gin’s characteristic coconut notes coming through. The citrus combines well with the vermouth and Campari to create a tart, slightly bitter finish.

In Conclusion
Malawi Gin is an accessible gin with a smooth texture an unusual coconut and lime character. It might not be for ardent traditionalists, but it certainly makes some lovely drinks, including a refreshing and delicious Malawi Gin Tonic.

Cocktails with… Shortcross Clover Gin

One exciting trend developing in the gin industry is the rise of limited edition, seasonal or gypsy (as the Gin Foundry refer to it) gin varieties. This idea has been empowered by the increase in the number of small distilleries who have the flexibility and freedom to take on these small projects.

The craft Gin Club have been one of those leading the charge on this with a few exclusive editions featuring in their monthly gin club.

One of these were Shortcross Clover edition, bottled at 46.0%ABV this is a similar gin to their original release but the botanical balance has been adjusted to emphasise the Wild Clover which is foraged from the distillery estate.

1 Shortcross Clover Gin

On its own
Nose: Resinous and leafy with some floral citrus notes.
Taste: There is a light sweetness upfront. Notes of cassia and ginger followed by crisp coriander and citrus, and a touch of floral herbaceousness. The finish is crisp and leafy, with note of pine that linger for several minutes.

Gin & Tonic
This drink has the perfect balance of dry, refreshing crispness and sweet complexity. It is a very subtle Gin & Tonic that reveals its layers as you sip. Green, leafy notes make way for some herbal and spice notes, that – combined – remind me of heather. A complex and delicious drink.

Martini
Another delicate, but distinctive drink with a delightfully clean and smooth character, and a discernable, complex spice. Simply great.

Negroni
A super-smooth Negroni: soft and elegant. The clover adds a slight sweetness, but it is subtle; it just takes the edge off of the drink. Sit back, sip, and relax.

Peter Cushing
Soft and lightly sweet to start, the gin’s flavours soon sweep to the fore with floral notes and lemon, followed by more weighty herbal notes and a pleasant, soft rootiness. Juniper comes through strongly afterwards, with warm, but dry ginger notes increasing, especially on the finish.

In Conclusion
I think Shortcross Clover edition is a great example as to how even a tweak to the botanical balance can significantly adjust the flavour profile. Sometimes a little change can be as fascinating as a big one. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic & The Peter Cushing.

Cocktails with… Beefeater Crown Jewel – 2015 Release

Sometimes it is when something is gone that we miss it most. Such was the case with Tanqueray Malacca, which was met with a mixed response when it was first released, but achieved legendary status once it was discontinued, leading to its resurrection a few years back.

There is perhaps one other discontinued gin that has such cult status, especially amongst bartenders: Beefeater Crown Jewel. This gin was launched in 1993 for duty free/travel retail. It was made using the classic nine Beefeater botanicals, plus grapefruit, and was bottled at 50% ABV.

Beefeater Crown Jewel 2016.jpg

The original gin was discontinued in 2009, shortly before the release of Beefeater 24, which. in a nod to Crown Jewel, also has grapefruit in its botanical mix.

Fast forward to 2015, and Beefeater Crown Jewel was re-released, available to the on-trade and at the Beefeater Visitor Centre. It is described as being an exact recreation of the original.

On its own
Nose: Upfront, there is bright and zesty citrus: grapefruit and soft, tangy orange.
Taste: Surprisingly soft for a 50% ABV spirit, this is creamy with soft citrus notes. The gin starts out refreshing before growing more balanced with notes of liquorice, coriander, and juniper. There’s a long, lingering finish with a light stalkiness and citrus zest.

Gin & Tonic
Intense, with a bold botanical flavour that easily stands up against the tonic. The bright citrus note of the grapefruit is a great addition.

Martini
Sublime – soft and delicate, but with a confident, powerful flavour. Very smooth, silky, and sophisticated. The gin notes are more balanced and the citrus less prominent.

Negroni
Strong in terms of power and flavour intensity. This has a super-charged version of the normal citrus flair of Beefeater combined with the extra dose of grapefruit, which sings through and stands up extremely well to the Campari, making a punchy Negroni.

In Conclusion
It’s great to see this old favourite back. Smooth, but strong, the high ABV and bold, but balanced citrus notes make it a good choice for mixed drinks. I enjoyed it most in a Martini.

Cocktails with… Curios Spirit Company’s Cocoa Nib Vodka

When some people think of a flavoured vodka, they turn up their noses, haunted by bad memories of overly-sweetened spirits flavoured with essences such as “Cookies ‘n’ Cream” or “Cinnamon Bun”. Thankfully, there are distillers across the world who are changing things with the introduction of botanically flavoured vodkas, i.e. those where flavours are introduced via distillation instead of compounding, in a method similar to that used to produce gin.

Curio Peruvian Cocoa Gin Botanical Vodka

Today’s spirit is an example of just such a botanical vodka. Curio Cocoa Nib Vodka is made by infusing vodka with Peruvian cocoa nibs; this mix is then distilled to capture the cocoa flavour. The result is a dry and genuine flavour. The spirit, which is bottled at 40% ABV, is produced by Curio Spirits Company at their distillery in Mullion, Cornwall. They also make a rather tasty Rock Samphire Gin.

On its own
Nose: Dry, dusky chocolate that reminds me of pure, powdered cocoa. There is then some light nuttiness and a little zest.
Taste: The fuller character of the cocoa is revealed on the palate: it has an indulgent and silky texture; quite creamy, but with a distinctive, deep chocolate note that is followed by a touch of warmth and a richness on the finish. Clean and smooth, this has evident potential for both drinking neat and mixing.

Frozen
This has a fantastic, thick and luxurious texture. The complex cocoa notes follow, with a mix of dark bean, creamy vanilla, and a buttery oiliness. The finish is lovely and creamy. Served from the freezer, this really captures the character of cocoa.

Vodka Tonic
This drink works well with a hearty tonic such as Schweppes, but really shines through with something like Fever-Tree, making a long, refreshing drink that is interwoven with nutty cocoa bean notes. The recommended lime garnish complements these chocolatey flavours well.

Martini
This makes a full-bodied and silky Martini that is chocolatey, but nonetheless dry enough to be served as a pre-dinner drink.

Curio Cocoa Nib Vodka - Chocolate Soda Float

Chocolate Soda Float
[Combine 25ml Cocoa Vodka, 75ml Chilled Soda/Sparkling Water – Add a Scoop of Ice-cream (we used Cornish Clotted Cream Ice-cream]
A fresh and dry drink that gradually sweetens as the ice-cream melts. The combination of vodka and soda gives the drink crispness, whilst the ice-cream adds balance. For a sweeter version, you could easily add a splash of chocolate sauce or use cola instead of soda.
soda.

In Conclusion
Curio Spirits’ Cocoa Nib Vodka captures the delicious and authentic flavour of cocoa nibs and the dry style makes it both very pleasant to sip neat and a versatile mixing ingredient. Although I really enjoyed the Soda Float, this was just pipped to the post by sipping the vodka straight from the freezer.

Curio Cacao Nib Vodka is avaialble for around £24 for 70cl from Master of Malt.

Cocktails with.. Palmer’s Gin 44%ABV

Langley’s Distillery, the distillers behind such hits as Martin Miller’s, Brokers, and Hammer & Son Old Tom Gin, have made Palmer’s Gin on their own account for a number of years, although it has been less well-known than some of these other products. The gin is named after the Palmer Group, the owners of Langley Distillery.  

Palmers44.jpg

2016 sees a relaunch of Palmer’s Gin with a new bottle and an increase in ABV from 40%-44% ABV. It is made using a combination of ten botanicals.

On its own
Nose: Chocolate and lemon, with a touch of earthy pine.
Taste: This is a classic gin with an engaging flavour profile; there is a good interplay between notes of citrus and chocolate, the former being of lemon and orange, making it almost reminiscent of a jaffa cake. After this, dry, more resinous botanicals come through, with a pleasant oiliness and a touch of black pepper.

Gin & Tonic
Excellent – so light and refreshing. Lots of crisp citrus and juniper notes followed by a clean, lightly bitter finish. Delicious.

Martini
A clean crispness makes this another refreshing and light cocktail, but with plenty of character. This would be a great choice for a pre-dinner drink, particularly when dining al fresco.

Negroni
Lively and jammy, with delightful hints of full shred marmalade. The finish is clean, with notes of dry, crisp juniper from the gin and the bitter Campari. Superb!

In Conclusion
Palmer’s Gin is a well-balanced spirit that is a delight to drink. Very classic, but the chocolate-citrus flair sets it apart. My favourite drink was the Martini.