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… 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.

Cocktails with… Gordon’s Castle Gin

Gordons Castle Gin FINAL

Gordon’s Castle Gin is inspired by the walled garden at Gordon Castle estate in Moray, Scotland, although it is made at the Timbermill Distillery in London. As a result, its botanicals include: mint, lavender, and gooseberries. The gin is bottled at 43.0% ABV.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Juniper, coriander, citrus, and an earthy spiciness with a hint of nutty chocolate.
Taste: This gin has a smooth texture. There is a touch of vanilla, followed by juicy citrus, juniper, and a little menthol pepper on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
Just like the gin served neat, this is another classic drink: dry and fresh, with a hint of citrus. The notable dryness is accompanied by a pleasant crispness, whilst the gin works well with no garnish either lemon or lime would work well, I think I’d go with the former.

Martini
Clean and crisp, with a dry finish. This has a whole array of luscious, fruity, leafy elements, plus a touch of herbaceousness. Again, classic and very good.

Negroni
Simple, but very, very bitter, with lots of earthy notes. This is incredibly intense, with some vegetable notes somewhat reminiscent of asparagus. Overall, this is bold, with good flavour integration.

In Conclusion
Gordon’s Castle Gin is a classic gin with a little extra dryness and a touch of bitterness, as well as some pepper menthol notes that help it to stand out from the crowd. It is very mixable, indeed, and without a doubt the extra-bitter Negroni was my favourite.

Cocktails with… Ford’s London Dry Gin

When new gins are launched these days, they often use obscure or local botanicals, or are made in new, small, independent distilleries, but today’s featured gin is different: Ford’s Gin is made using classic botanicals sourced from around the world and is made at the Timbermill Distillery (Thames Distillers) – producer of many a fine gin.

Fords Gin FINAL

The gin is the brainchild of spirits industry veteran, Simon Ford, and is part of range of spirits from The 86 Co. that includes Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Cana Brava Rum and Tequila Cabeza.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Classic, straight-forward juniper, coriander and citrus.
Taste: This is a clean spirit with a pleasant mouthfeel; it is a very classic style of gin, with a small leaning towards citrus. There is a good intensity of flavour and it ticks all of the boxes for the gin traditionalist.

Gin & Tonic
A fine standard of drink, but plays it safe: another one for the traditionalist. It is a touch cloying when mixed with Schweppes, so I would suggest using Fevertree.

Martini
A clean, crisp Martini, with lots of pine and citrus, followed by a zesty tingle and a clean finish.

Negroni
Ford’s Gin produces a solid Negroni: smooth and fruity, with a little sweetness and a herbal, bitter finish. Perfect flavour integration makes this really quite excellent.

In Conclusion
If you bemoan gin “losing its roots” and the rise of bubblegum and coconut gins, then Ford’s is for you: it has bold, classic flavours that are sure to please both hardened traditionalists and 19th century Imperial Officials.

Cocktails with… Entropia Gin with Ginseng and Guarana

Entropia Gin is made by Entropia Liquors in the Galicia region on the north-west tip of Spain (the bit north of Portugal). The company make a Gin Pure, using botanicals that include juniper, coriander, orange, lemon, and liquorice, but today’s featured gin is made using almond and hibiscus, too. After distillation, the gin is infused with guarana and ginseng, which gives the gin its colour. Both gins are bottled at 40% ABV.

EntropiaGin FINAL

On its own
Nose: Juniper, as well as some darker resin notes. There are also tannins reminiscent of sweet black tea, bergamot, and Earl Grey. Complex, with sweet, lingering spice.
Taste: Juniper mixed with the tannin tea notes, plus some citrus. The tea adds some woody notes reminiscent of aged gin, with vanilla and oak towards the finish, alongside some plump, fruity citrus.

Gin & Tonic
Entropia Gin works well with tonic: its tea elements and floral character are highlighted by tonic water, bringing something new to the table. This is a drink full of complex flavours and is wonderfully thirst-quenching.

Martini
A very pleasant and sweet Martini. The herbal tannin notes associated with tea work especially well in this cocktail. There is also a little fruitiness in the middle and malty oak towards the end. A deliciously different Martini, both in flavour and colour: a pale gold.

Negroni
Rather viscous and thick, this is quite a good cocktail; there is intensity from the juniper and pine, as well as a touch of lemon and tea. Sweeter than a normal Negroni, this is a different take on the drink.

In Conclusion
I think that Entropia is a shining example of the new styles being released by Spanish distilleries.
It is in a contemporary style, but doesn’t lose what it means to be a gin, and introduces some exciting, new flavours that work really well in gin cocktails.