Cocktails with… Shortcross Cask Aged Gin

The sub-category of gin that is Aged Gin has really matured (sorry couldn’t resist) over the last few years. I remember doing a tasting back in 2011 when all that we could pull together were about a dozen varieties and that probably represented about 80% of what was available on the planet at the time.

Today, there are more than 200 varieties on the market, including a wide range of limited editions. Distillers have also started to experiment with barrels beyond the standard ex-bourbon, with a variety of different woods and finishes being used, such as Tequila, Applejack, and Islay Scotch.

Wine casks also have a lot of potential, whether that be fortified wine, such as port, sherry, vermouth, or madeira, or not. Shortcross Gin from the Rademon Estate Distillery is aged in an ex-wine cask.

1 Shortcross Aged Gin

Bottled at 44% ABV, Shortcross Cask Aged Gin is aged for around 3 months (essentially until it’s ready) in ex-Bordeaux oak casks.

On its own
Nose: Buttery and luxurious with a hint of fresh lemon curd, followed by vanilla and oily, resinous juniper.
Taste: This has an excellent, silky texture and wonderful flavours of cedar mixed with vanilla oak and rich wine notes. There are then some dry juniper, citrus, and a lingering spice on the finish.

Frozen
Thick and viscous with rich raisin, fruit, and floral notes. These are followed by rich, creamy vanilla and a hint of very light sour cherry. The finish is pleasant and dry; complex and delicious.

Gin & Tonic
A fruity Gin & Tonic with woody spice notes. Rich fruit notes upfront are followed by a mellow and cosy palate, before a crisp finish.

Peter Cushing [Shake 2 parts Shortcross with 1 pt Ginger Wine]
Light and revitalising. Vibrant fruity notes to start, with hints of lemon. This gradually fades into gentle, but warm notes of vanilla, ginger, and a light, but complex woodiness. The gin comes through on the finish – and builds more on the palate with each sip – with soft notes of juniper, spiced vanilla, and more woody pine notes.

Sweet Martini
Amazing – this takes on a slightly fluffy texture when shaken, with rich, sherry-like fruit notes. Mellow and well-balanced, this is a delicious cocktail.

Negroni
A complex, resinous, and intense drink, this is extra bitter with a sweet lift at the end. It also has a slight acidity and lots of woody, resinous notes.

Old Fashioned
The bitters really work well alongside the Aged Gin in this cocktail, which is well-integrated and easy to drink, with a pleasant, woody softness to it.

Suze Cocktails – Equal Parts Gin, Dry vermouth and Suze

Suze Original aka The White Negroni
This has a pleasant, bitter nose, with light citrus and gentian root. These come through on the palate, too, which is bitter from the start and becomes more so over time. Light and refreshing, it is herbal with a rooty bitterness that lasts on the finish.

Suze Agrumes
This version is similar, but richer in texture; there is less of a rooty bitterness, which has been replaced by a more full-bodied flavour. There is a more pronounced lemon note at the start, which, combined with the herbal notes of the drink, is reminiscent of honey & lemon lozenges. The finish is less well-defined, but still bitter and lasting.

Suze Fruits Rouges
At the beginning, there is a very tart, herbal berry flavour, with cherry notes being prominent. This smooths out to a more herbal finish; the cherry flavour remains, along with light, medicinal notes.

In Conclusion
Shortcross Aged Gin is a shining example of how a matured gin should be done: there is an elegant interplay between the flavour of the botanicals and those of the wood. The use of wine instead of ex-bourbon casks makes for a richer, fruitier, and more engaging gin that does not suffer from some of the overly sweet Christmas spice notes of some others.

We tried this in a whole array of wonderful cocktails, but my favourite was the Old fashioned or sipping it neat from the Freezer.

 

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.

Star wars Cocktails – Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Continuing our celebration of Star Wars Day here are some cocktails for Episode VI…

EPISODE  VI – RETURN OF THE JEDI

Creatures in the desert, the Emperor’s new groove and the planet of the teddy bears…

Jabba Jumble

Jabba Jamboree Cocktail Episode VI Star Wars Drinks - FINALInspired by the drinks that R2-D2 serves on Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge, this cocktail is easy to make up in large batches and pre-chill, making it particularly good to share with friends if you’re having a Star Wars viewing party today.

Recipe – Serves 6
30ml White Rum, 30ml Midori Melon Liqueur, 120ml Milk
Mix together in a bottle and chill in the fridge, pour into small shot glasses to serve.

Smooth and creamy, with a subtle, but pleasant hint of melon; it tastes a little like a melon milkshake. The rum comes through on the finish, along with a herbal chocolate note courtesy of the bitters.

Sanctuary Moon

Sanctury Moon Cocktail Episode VI Star Wars Drinks - FINALLeafy and herbaceous, and reflective of the forest, this is a variation on Jörg Meyer’s cocktail from 2008, the Basil Smash.

Recipe
50ml Herbal Gin (St George’s Terroir), 25ml Lemon Juice, 15ml Sugar Syrup, 100ml Soda Water

Bright, fresh scents of mint and rosemary on the nose. The flavour is light and dry, with a lovely note of green basil, rosemary, juniper, and the revitalising zing of fresh lemon juice. There’s even a tiny hint of fennel at the end of the finish. Rustic and refreshing.

I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This

I've Got a Bad Feeling About This.... Cocktail Episode VI Star Wars Drinks - FINALThis is perhaps the most famous phrase in the Galaxy, uttered by a variety of characters, humans and droid alike. The recipe for this may give a feeling of trepidation, but the results are delicious.

Recipe – Serves 2
15ml Vodka, 15ml Gin, 15ml White Rum, 15ml Dark Rum, 15ml Tequila, 15ml Bourbon, 15ml Triple Sec/Orange Liqueur, 15ml Apricot Liqueur, 15ml Sugar Syrup, 45ml Lemon Juice, 240ml Cola

This drink has a little over a double measure of alcohol per person, so enjoy sparingly.

Notes from the cola are always at the centre of this, but other flavours creep in and out, including: warm spice and brown sugar, a fruity vanilla note, and a hint of sweet raisin. The finish is dry and woody, with additional wisps of the flavours of cocoa and tequila smoke. Surprisingly smooth; this one may charm you.

Star Wars Episode V Cocktails – The Empire Strikes Back

Continuing our celebration of Star Wars Day with cocktails for Episode V…

EPISODE V – THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Where we learn that you should NEVER come out of hyperspace early and things get a bit chilly, especially for Han Solo.

Hoth

Hoth Cocktail Episode V Star Wars Drinks - FINALHome of the Rebel base is the planet of snow and ice, Hoth. You’ll want a blanket whilst you drink this one.

Recipe
50ml Vodka, 25ml White Creme de Menthe (or a few drops of peppermint essence)
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and stir without ice, then carefully pour over a glass full of crushed ice.

Exceptionally – almost uncomfortably – cold, the vodka in this cocktail takes on a lovely viscosity, whilst the Creme de Menthe quickly makes itself known with striking notes of spearmint and peppermint. Pleasant, faint echos of the mint continue on the finish, along with hints of the underlying vodka.

Dagobah

Dagobah Cocktail Episode V Star Wars Drinks - FINALAnother planet that we see for the first time in Episode V is Dagobah, a swamp planet populated largely with indigenous wildlife. The film’s atmospheric scenes make it a great inspiration for cocktails.

Recipe
35ml Herbal Gin (we really like Shortcross Wild Clover Edition), 10ml Midori, 120ml Cloudy Apple Juice)
Line a glass with the cucumber peel and fill with ice, before adding the gin and juice (it works better if they have already been mixed). Add ice and carefully pour the Midori down the side of the glass to create the “Midori sink”.

This drink is smooth and fruity to start, with a hint of sweet melon giving the apple juice an unexpected, slightly alien flavour. The cucumber garnish adds aroma, as well as a wonderfully atmospheric feel that there’s foliage (or some kind of creeping vine) in your drink – this one really matches its on-screen scenes well. Finally, the gin contributes a delicious, herbal complexity as the apple notes fade, and this builds with every sip. This is definitely Mrs. B’s favourite from the cocktails for Episode V.

Cloud City

Cloud City Cocktail Episode V Star Wars Drinks - FINALThe gas giant of Bespin is home to the floating mining colony of Cloud City. In addition to its purpose as a base to mine Tibanna gas, it was also a tourist attraction; imagine sipping one of these in one of its casinos.

Recipe
60ml Dry Gin, 30ml Blue Curacao, 30ml Lemon Juice, 15ml Egg White
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Exceptionally smooth, with the creamy froth from the egg white adding even more silkiness. The underlying cocktail has a welcome tartness to it, with an array of vibrant, revitalising citrus notes: first fresh orange, then more zesty lemon. A clean and refreshing drink.

Star Wars Episode IV Cocktails

Continuing our preparation for Star Wars day, here are some cocktails for Episode IV…

EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE

Where we learn you can command the deadliest weapon in the galaxy in your slippers and that exhaust vents do not make the best architectural features.

Bantha Milk

Bantha Milk Cocktail Episode IV Star Wars Drinks - FINALWhat is that weird blue stuff that Luke drinks with Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen? It’s bantha milk (banthas are those buffalo-like creatures that the Tusken Raiders/Sand People ride on); oh and it’s blue!

Recipe
35ml White Rum or Coconut Rum, 15ml Blue Curacao, 70ml milk (semi-skimmed)
Shake ingredients with ice, then pour into a tall, ice-filled glass. Top with whipped cream.

Understandably milky, but still lightweight in texture, this cocktail has a gentle sweetness at the start, boosted by a light note from the rum, which takes on a chocolate-like flavour (much like the chocolate filling you get sandwiched between biscuits like bourbons). The whipped cream adds a touch of luxury and a real dessert quality. The finish is clean and dry, ensuring that it continues to be easy to sip.

The Peter Cushing

Peter Cushing Cocktail Episode IV Star Wars Drinks - FINALPeter Cushing already had a great deal of experience with monsters by the time he played the ruthless Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin aboard the Death Star in Episode IV. This cocktail, in honour of the gentleman and the actor, is made from completely vegetarian ingredients (he was a patron of the Vegetarian Society).

Recipe
50ml Shortcross Dry Gin, 25ml Stone’s Ginger Wine
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Smooth, but complex, with notes of juniper, coriander, and a light note of black pepper that integrate well with herbal notes and a gentle warmth from the ginger wine. The flavour develops more as you sip, with the ginger building and lasting, and adding a delicate and not overwhelming sweetness. Equally, the finish builds with notes from the gin, including a greener, herbal juniper flavour. Sophisticated and delicious.

Binary Sunset

Binary Sunsets Cocktail Episode IV Star Wars Drinks - FINALThe Skywalker homeworld is in the Tatoo binary star system in the Outer Rim Territories. The system’s two suns – Tatoo I and Tatoo II – appear in a poignant scene during which one of Star Wars’ great musical themes is played: Binary Sunset’.

This bi-glass drink is an adaptation of the two Tequila Sunrise cocktails from Dale DeGroff’s excellent book, ‘The Essential Cocktail’.

Recipe
Tatoo I – 30ml Blanco Mezcal, 80ml Fresh Orange Juice, 15ml Grenadine
Combine ingredients in a glass with ice and then slowly pour in the grenadine.

Smoky mezcal on the nose, which immediately continues onto the palate, before a flash of sweet red berries, then fresh orange juice. The mezcal then returns, starting out strong – almost like charred meat in its level of smokiness – and gradually softening to a fruity smokiness, like chargrilled pineapple.

Tatoo II – 30ml Reposado Tequila, 30ml Fresh Lemon Juice, 20ml Simple Syrup, 5ml Creme de Cassis, 5ml Grenadine
Combine ingredients in a glass with ice and then slowly pour in the Creme de Cassis and Grenadine.

Sharp and revitalising. Tart lemon notes at the start are almost sherbet-like in texture – very reminiscent, actually, of a lemon sherbet sweet. The tequila then appears, gradually building on the finish, where it mingles with the lemon notes and more tangy notes, this time blackcurrant notes from the Creme de Cassis.

Star Wars Episode III Cocktails

Coming this week is 4th May or, in America, May 4th (as in “May the 4th Be With You”), which makes it Star Wars Day. As such, I am creating some companion cocktails for each of the seven films. Today, we’re watching/drinking to Episode III.

EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH

Things go from bad to worse for Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi, and Democracy in the Galaxy…

The Wookiee

The Wookie Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALIn Episode III, we are taken to the Wookiees’ homeworld of Kashyyyk. This cocktail was inspired by the mighty, feisty, and loyal Wookiees and their forest-covered planet.

Recipe
50ml Oat-infused Brandy*, 120ml Cloudy Apple Juice
Add to ingredients to an ice filled glass and stir. Garnish with three fanned slices of ginger root.
*Infuse 50ml of brandy with 1 tsp of oats and 1/2 tsp of grated ginger root for 5 mins. Strain before using.

Dry ginger on the nose, then a delicious, smooth, lightweight fruitiness: it has an almost tropical, but not too sweet flavour, reminiscent of coconut water. This fades to a more creamy, tart flavour of cloudy apple juice and a softness from the oats. The warmth of ginger and woody cinnamon increase on the finish, leaving me craving apple crumble.

The Emperor Palpatine

The Emperor Palpatine Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALFrom Senator to Supreme Chancellor to Emperor, Palpatine is the Francis Urquhart/Underwood of the Galaxy. This drink is a variation on the Emperor Cocktail (with Unicum) from the excellent Kindred Cocktails.

Recipe
30ml Campari, 20ml Red Vermouth, 5ml Orange Curacao
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

From the moment you bring the glass towards you, there is a strong nose of orange and sweet red fruit. The initial taste has a smooth, regal nature to it, full of silky flavours from the red vermouth, but the palate is quickly absorbed by a rich bitterness from the Campari, highlighted by hints of bitter orange. A perfect fit for this cocktail’s namesake.

The Mustafar

Mustaphar Cocktail Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALFor the final cocktail of Episode III, we take some inspiration from the fiery, Outer Rim planet of Mustafar.

Recipe
30ml Chilli Vodka (I think the St. George Spirits’ Green Chile Vodka is the best that money can buy), 10ml Smoked Vodka (optional), 60ml Carrot & Orange Juice
Add to an iced glass and gently stir. Garnish with chilli flakes and a small red chilli.

Rich, warm, genuine notes of chilli, swiftly followed by creamy, savoury notes of carrot and then the fresher, brighter notes of orange juice; neither of the latter are too strong, though, so it stays both savoury (and slightly reminiscent of soup) and refreshing. The chilli returns on the finish, along with a hint of charred smokiness. A delicious twist on a Bloody Mary that works extremely – if surprisingly – well.

Star Wars Episode II Cocktails

Coming this week is 4th May or, in America, May 4th (as in “May the 4th Be With You”), which makes it Star Wars Day. As such, I am creating some companion cocktails for each of the seven films. Today, we’re watching/drinking to Episode II.

Episode II – Attack of the Clones

In which we see: the beginnings of the stormtrooper, a galactic colosseum, and possibly the worst on-screen chemistry of any cinematic couple.

Jawa Juice

Jawa Juice Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALThe Jawas – those rapscallions from the desert planet, Tatooine – appear in a number of the Star Wars films, but with so much inspiration for drinks in Episode IV, I’ve fitted them in here.

Recipe
30ml Coffee vodka (or a 50/50 mix of cold coffee and vodka), 90ml Cola.
Add ingredients to an ice-filled glass and garnish with two honeydew melon balls.

Smooth, slightly sweet and herbal cola flavours are lifted by lovely notes of black coffee, dark chocolate, and sweet vanilla wafers. On the finish, the light fruitiness of the honeydew comes through, nicely complemented by the other flavours and making the drink a refreshing cooler.

Kamino Float

Kamino Float Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALKamino is the water planet from which the clone army originates. Unsurprisingly, given that its inspiration is a planet covered by sea water, this cocktail is blue and, sticking with the aquatic theme, it has a scoop of cream added to make it a “float”. *groan*

Recipe
25ml Vanilla Vodka, 15ml Blue Curacao, 100ml cream soda
Add the vodka and curacao to the glass, top up with cream soda and then add a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

The creamy vanilla of the cream soda is strong at the outset, then gradually fades to a zingy, refreshing note of sherbet-like citrus. Very tasty and the perfect colour to accompany the tranquil, then stormy scenes on Kamino.

Count Dooku

Count Dooku Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALPortrayed by the wonderful Sir Christopher Lee, Count Dooku is a character that I don’t think we get to see enough of. This drink has a slightly red colour – a nod to Dooku’s lightsaber – and the Italian vermouth is a reflection of Lee’s Italian heritage.

Recipe
20ml Scotch whisky, 20ml Bourbon whiskey, 10ml Red Vermouth, 5ml Cherry Brandy
Add ingredients to a mixing glass and stir with ice; strain into a Martini glass.

This is a complex, herbal, and bitter cocktail that would make a great aperitif. It starts with dry notes of cola, red currants, and cherry, with a gradually increasing herbal bitterness somewhat reminiscent of a Negroni. After a few sips, however, it takes on more of a creamy, bourbon character. The finish is of smooth vanilla oak, but it nonetheless keeps its refreshing, bitter edge.