Cocktails with…. Gin Eva “La Mallorquina” (Olive) Gin

Sometimes you come across a gin that is both such a simple idea and so well-executed that you wonder why no-one has done it before. Today’s featured gin is definitely one of those: Gin Eva’s Black Label “La Mallorquina” Olive Gin.

Produced at the Gin Eva Distillery on the island of Mallorca (Majorca), the gin is bottled at 45.0% ABV and is made using juniper, La Mallorquina olives, and coriander seeds.

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The La Mallorquina olive, a mutation of the Empeltre variety, is only found on Mallorca, so the use of this botanical gives a nice terroir aspect to the gin in addition to great flavour.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Plump juniper and a touch of zesty coriander. Crisp, but eye-catching, with a gentle, green salinity from the olives.
Taste: The olives are right upfront: oily and creamy, just like eating the fresh, green fruit. Exceptionally inviting, this gin instantly transports you to a Mediterranean getaway. A summery zip of citrus follows, before a dry finish combining the harmonious flavours of pine and green olives. Amazing.

From the Freezer *NEW*
Served at an extra cool temperature, the gin develops a notably silky and luxurious texture. The olive flavours shine through with a slight oiliness and a pinch of pepper. I’ve given this to guests in a Martini glass and they would have sworn I’d given them a gently dirty Martini. Such complexity from a lone spirit – superb!

Gin Tonic
Deep flavours with the savoury olive really coming through, accompanied by a little oiliness. The drink is exceptionally refreshing and unlike any other Gin Tonic out there. In terms of garnish, I’m quite a fan of having this naked (that is, without any garnish) or with a bit of freshly-cracked black pepper.

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Martini
Clean, soft, and balanced with an absolutely fabulous texture: thick and lustrous. The wisps of olive flavours are layered delicately within the drink, adding a pleasant and complex green, savoury note. Best served in the Dickens style – without olive or twist.

Diamond Martini *NEW*
A Diamond Martini is made using gin served straight from the freezer. In this case, it produces a cocktail with a rich and luscious texture and a lovely interaction between the gin’s olive and juniper flavours and the vermouth’s herbal and woody notes.

Negroni
This is the most savoury and appetite-raising Negroni I have ever had; one glass of this and you’ll be ravenous! Simply superb. If you are a fan of a Negroni, this is a version that I can’t recommend enough – excellent and delightfully intense.

Gin & Soda
A clean and soft drink with the residual oiliness of the olives and a touch of salt singing through, too. Hints of dry juniper and zesty coriander appear toward the finish. Refreshing, flavoursome, and delightful.

Red Snapper *NEW*
The Red Snapper is a gin version of the Bloody Mary, which is perhaps one of the most popular savoury drinks there is. As such, you might imagine that an olive gin would work well….
you’d be right!
The gin adds great complexity from its olive notes, but the complexity of the other botanicals also shines through, too. Once you’ve had a Red Snapper with this gin, I’m not sure if any others will compete.

In Conclusion

I think that Gin Eva Olive is an exceptional and imaginative gin. It has an excellent texture and the flavours of the olives really shine through: bright and bold. It makes some incredible drinks, but my favourite was the Martini, with the Negroni a very close second.

Gin Eva Olive is available for around £49 for 70cl from Master of Malt.

Many thanks to Gin Eva for the use of their pictures.

Cocktails with… Hapusa Gin – from India

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Hapusa Gin is produced by Nao Spirits in India and is bottled at 43.0% ABV.

The gin use a base spirit made from wheat spirit and botanicals include:

Himalayan Juniper,
Coriander,
Cardamom,
Almond,
Ginger,
Turmeric,
Mango,
Gondoraj.

On its own
Nose: Green and resinous with oily pine notes accompanied by a hint of vanilla and mint, as well as hints of angelica and chocolate.
Taste: It is immediately noticeable how smooth this gin is; in particular, how smooth the texture of the spirit is. It’s not necessarily thick, but it is very silky. First up, there are notes of oily coriander and sweet spice. The middle is full of luscious, green leafy notes that add a real succulence to the gin as well as a distinctive brightness. The finish is full of cedar and citrus with a peppery spice – long and lingering.

Gin Tonic
A clean and refreshing Gin Tonic with a pleasant earthiness that is clean and slightly bitter. It reminds me of how the early Gin & Tonics might have tasted in the 19th century. It has lots of light, floral berry notes and the flavour of cucumber peel appears just before its crisp, dry finish.

Martini
This has an excellent mouthfeel: it is exceptionally silky, with some savoury and a splash of salinity that, combined, bring to mind umami flavours. These are followed by great bold, crunchy green notes that make for a really substantial Martini; almost a meal in a glass. Spice notes appear towards the finish, bringing to mind celery, black pepper and cucumber sandwiches. This is certainly a drink that stimulates the appetite and leaves you wanting more.

Negroni
Initial flavours of bright, resinous and sappy pine make it feel almost as if the gin had been aged in juniper wood. The distinctive gin flavours cut right through the other ingredients and the spirit makes itself heard above the hub-bub of the Campari and vermouth. The finish has more delicate nuances of floral, black tea. For fans of juniper, this is a must-try.

Gin & Tonic (19th Century)
A simple mix of Hapusa Gin, lime juice, tonic syrup and still water inspired by the early Gin & Tonics that would have likely had very little sparkle. The result is a slightly earthier, bitter drink that works really well with the gin’s character, whilst the lime juice adds a pleasant liveliness. A great choice when looking for a drink sans gas.

In Conclusion
Hapusa really feels (and tastes) like a gin with one foot in the past and one in the future. Its crisp, earthy bitterness reminds me of gin’s medicinal origins, especially in a Gin Tonic, but the character is far more complex than many of the more traditional London Dry Gins. Hapusa has a unique, delicious character and it really is worth seeking  out.

Visitors to Junipalooza this weekend can visit – tickets available here.

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… Hernö First Craft Gin

Mrs B and I recently returned from a fantastic trip to Northern Sweden as guests of the lovely folks at Hernö Gin Distillery. Whilst visiting the distillery, Jon shared with us a gin made to this first ever recipe; the balance of botanicals is similar to that of their Artisan Gin with one variation: meadowsweet is replaced with almond.

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Meadowsweet Infusion and Dried Meadowsweet at Herno

Although meadowsweet has been used in other gins, such as Hendricks and Caorunn, it wasn’t until visiting the distillery in Dala that I really understood what it adds to a gin. Tasting a maceration of meadowsweet in alcohol, lots of lightly floral hay notes come through; slightly reminiscent of bison grass or holy grass vodka.

That’s probably enough of a focus on a botanical that is not even in this gin! Hernö First Craft’s botanical mix does include: juniper, coriander, lemon, black peppercorns, cassia, vanilla and lingdon berries and is bottled at 40.5% ABV.

Herno First Craft Gin

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Floral, oily notes with woody juniper and citrus, along with aromatic coriander.
Taste: Quite dry, but with rich citrus, floral, and spice from the coriander that I see as a trademark of Hernö’s gins. There’s also a creamy nuttiness with a hint of chocolate and marzipan. The finish is of light, dry, resinous juniper and a little citrus peel.

Gin & Tonic
Full of flavour, with rounded coriander notes and a slightly bready malt flavour. Then comes citrus and a little berry tartness. Clean and well-integrated.

Martini
A crisp, bright, and juniper-rich, resinous Martini. Clean, like a shard of ice. A pure delight of a drink with a long, dry, spicy finish.

Negroni
A resinous, yet smooth cocktail; a pleasant nuttiness comes through, with an underlying sweetness to it. This has a great texture and a good dose of bitterness on the finish.

In Conclusion
In comparison to their other gins, Hernö 2012 First Craft Gin is dryer in style, but still maintains the distillery’s signature character. Well-worth seeking out. My favourite cocktail was the excellent Martini.

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… Westwinds The Broadside Gin

Westwinds Distillery has been established for some years now and we have already reviewed their excellent Cutlass and Sabre Gins, so it was a pleasure to try a little “under-the-counter” sample of Westwinds Broadside Gin at Imbibe Live 2015, and even have a smaller sample for a more full evaluation.

Westwinds The Broadside is bottled at 58% ABV.

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On its own
Nose: Floral citrus, quite zesty and fragrant. It really “pops” out of the glass and is rather enticing.
Taste: Rich and juicy, reminding me of plum jam. There is a little sweetness, but there is also a great complexity in its fruit flavours, from the luscious flesh to the slightly drying skin and even a touch of nuttiness from the stones. The flavour profile then moves towards more classic gin flavours with notes of juniper and citrus.

Gin & Tonic
The fruity elements of the gin come through well, with the sweetness of jam and the bitterness of marmalade neatly combined. This is followed by some dry, leafy juniper that works really well alongside the tonic water.

Martini
This has a lovely, thick and velvety texture, big flavours, and a real buzz from the higher ABV. There are notes of sweet liquorice and more juicy, jammy fruit, all followed by crisp, leafy, and juniper flavours. Excellent.

Negroni
A full and powerful nose, before the gin bursts through like a lively firework! When it comes to flavour, it is fuller and more rounded than many; at the same time, it is mellow and soothing like a cosy cuddle. It has a light sweetness with a deep juniper flavour and plumy fruit in the background. The finish is crisp, like fresh salad or cut mango. An absolutely fantastic Negroni – a must try.

In Conclusion
Westwinds Broadside takes a bold and fruity spin on the Navy Strength category whilst staying true to the gin’s heritage, embodied by the plump and juicy character of the spirit. My favourite drink was, undoubtedly, the Negroni.

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… Pierde Almas +9 Botanical Gin

Yesterday I had the great pleasure to hear Jonathan Barbieri from Pierde Almas Mezcal discuss the finer points of his Mezcal range at an excellent tutored tasting at Amathus, Soho. Whilst the Mezcals were fascinating and delicious it was the last product of the day that caught my attention.

Pierde Almas +9 Botanical Mezcal (Gin) has caused some discussion between myself and my good friend of http://www.theGinIsIn.com (America’s Gin Reviewer) as to whether a product that doesn’t call itself gin be a gin, does the inclusion of juniper in any botanical spirit automatically make it gin?

Pierde Almas Mezcal +9 Botanicals Gin

The question was resolved when I asked the distiller himself, who answered that it was a gin but that US regulation state that a product can only be classified in one drinks category thus a spirit cannot be a gin-mezcal or mezcal-gin.

The Pierde Almas Gin uses a double distillation of Espadin as a base, nine classic botanicals are then steeped in the spirit for 24 hours before distillation. Some botanicals are also suspended above the spirit in a mesh bag; “like a big tea-bag, but made from a hair net” in the top of the still (gin head) forming a rudimentary version of vapour infusion.

The nine botanicals are:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Orange
Orris
Cassia
Star Anise
Fennel
Nutmeg

The gin is bottled at 45.0% ABV and uses a slow distillation that results in a daily production of around 20 litres.

The Taste

Own
nose: smoke and citrus, with some savoury elements reminiscent of roasted peppers. As it opens up piney juniper and fennel come forward as well as a little sweet jammy citrus.

taste: A very smooth spirits, characteristic of the Pierde Almas Mezcals, the flavours of the Espadin comes through to start with a hint of vanilla. There is then unmistakable juniper in the middle; rich piney with a hint of resin. This is followed by some sweeter notes from the herbs such as the anise and fennel and there is a long dry finish with a little angelica, fennel and the residual character of the spirit base. It would be all to easy for the mezcal flavours to take over but, for me, there is a sense of harmony between the base and the botanicals.

Gin & Tonic
A very unusual gin and tonic very smoky but with bright and fresh botanical flavours. The choice of tonic would be important here and for best results I think perhaps embracing the herbal nature of something like Fevertree Mediterranean or 1724 would be worthwhile. In addition I think the extra attention given when mixing a fine Gin Tonica with the aroma and flavours that goes with that serve and its thoughtful garnishes would be worth the extra effort. This is not a typical Gin & Tonic and may not appeal to the ardent traditionalist, however I think it is smashing.

Pierde Almas Jonathan and DTS

Martini
Delightful the chilled down gin is softened and allows some of the more delicate sweet spice notes to come through such a creamy vanilla, which works well with the dry vermouth. There is a little saltiness and a touch of smoke. This is a drink that will appeal to traditionalists and newbies alike.

Negroni
Fantastic nose smoky agave and wider mezcal notes mixed with juniper, fennel and anise. A rich and smooth Negroni will a charming interplay between the smoky mezcal notes and the bitterness of the Campari. However, the gin notes of the drink are not simply defined by the gin’s base and there is certainly plenty of the juicy citrus along with angelica and the botanicals noted on the nose. I’ve never had anything like it, simply delightful and a new favourite.

Cocktails with… One Key Gin

Generally, the thing that attracts and excites me most about a gin is likely to be something about how or where it is produced. Also, whether it made using a particularly intriguing process or titillating botanical. Is it the first juniper spirit that I’ve tried from its country or state of origin? But occasionally, what attracts me the most is the bottle.

Picture of The One Key Gin Bottle Close

Picture of The One Key Gin Bottle Close

One Key Gin Bottle Key

The Key

One Key Gin Bottle Opening

Opening

Such is the case with One Key Gin. A bottle for which you need a special key to open. The gin is made in Slovenia, as such it is part of my World of Gin series. Bottled at 40.0% ABV botanical include Juniper, Coriander and Ginger.

The bottle is made of blue glass and contains a cask metal key in the bottom, a bit like an allen key or they keys train guards use to access their control panels. On this key is a Mars or Male gender symbol. This fits into a small one each

Opened

Opened

cap on top of the bottle, which bears a Venus or Female gender symbol (I know, but seriously it does!) which unscrews to allow you to pour the gin.

~

But what does One Key Gin taste like?

On its own
Nose: A light-touch nose, with notes of citrus, coriander and a hint of suntan cream.
Taste: Quite juicy and succulent to start, this is all about citrus: coriander, orange and lemon, although are some pleasant juniper notes at the end.

Gin & Tonic
Clean and straightforward, with plenty of citrus, followed by notes of juniper and coriander. Given its light citrus elements, I think this would work well in the Gin Tonica serve. Not complex, but still good.

Martini
Okay, but nothing special in fact, on reflection, this is sub-par. Lacking the defined and clean flavours of a Martini and actually a little difficult to drink.

Negroni
A simple, but adequate Negroni: bittersweet, with the same citrus notes as previously noted, but nowhere near as multidimensional as a Negroni can be.

In Conclusion

Despite how great the bottle is, the contents is a real let down and I think that is a great shame. The exciting packaging deserves better that said there is plenty of room for improvement. The gin is also rather difficult to pour out of the bottle.

One Key Gin is available from The Whisky Exchange for around £38 for 70cl.

Cocktails with… Big Ben Indian Gin

BigBenGinTitle

Having picked the low-hanging fruit in the World of Gin, things have been a bit quieter recently in my quest to taste a gin distilled in every country in the world. However, today, I can finally tick off one of the countries at the top of my list – India.

Big Ben Deluxe “London Dry Gin” is made by Mohan Meakin Limited, a company that was founded in 1855 and which also owns the Solan Brewery. The gin is “blended with triple distilled alcohol” and bottled at 42.8% ABV. One website refers to it as being “(An) Ideal drink for ladies”.

Big Ben India Gin Bottle

On its own
Nose: juniper, pine quite oily as well as a bit of citrus and bark quite subdued.
Taste: juniper certainly with quite a lot of pine which builds and mixes with lemon and a little vanilla quite a lot of warmth at the end, slightly harsh but overall not bad. A very traditional style reminiscent of some of the old vintage gins I have tried from the 1970s. One for the traditionalists. Leaves a piney tingle on your tongue.

Gin & Tonic
Pretty average, with a little sweetness in the middle. The finish, however, is very long and dry. This gin actually works much better with a tonic syrup and soda water (as opposed to a premixed tonic water) and I recommend using a lime garnish or maybe even adding a dash of orange bitters.

Martini
Quite a light Martini, with plenty of lemon and some lavender. Far more complex and floral than I would have expected, given how it tasted on its own, and really rather good.

Negroni
A pretty standard Negroni, but one that ticks the basic boxes and has a good, strong, bitter finish with notes of piney juniper. This gin highlights all of the different aspects of this drink, whilst still playing an equal part alongside the vermouth and Campari.

In Conclusion
It was very exciting to finally try a gin from India and this very classic, slightly subdued version is exactly what I would expect. The gin isn’t made with an Indian palate in mind or inspired by their cuisine it is styled around the expectation of a classic London Dry Gin. Reasonably priced and equally mixable.