Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet 20 – Maple Gin

Last Tuesday, I received a copy of “GIN: A Global History” by Lesley Jacobs Solmonson. Despite this being an enjoyable read that was easy to dip in and out of, I quickly found myself distracted by the mention of a new (old) flavoured gin product: Maple Gin.

Produced around 1900 by the Buffalo Distilling Co. of Buffalo, New York state, it is described as:

“The Woman’s Friend”

Amongst its other many virtues, it is advertised that is will:

“prove a boon to every woman and a pleasant at all times.”


After reading this, I hot-footed it to the lab and set about making a recreation, Within two minutes, I had success; it turns out that Maple Gin is exceptionally easy to make. I simply added Canadain Maple Syrup to a good, flavourful London Dry Gin (Broker’s), using a 10:1 Gin:Maple ratio, and gave it a shake.

Own
Nose: Maybe predictably, juniper and maple.
Taste: This was very smooth, but quite sweet. There was an initial hit of maple syrup, then juniper and citrus follow. The finish had a delicious hint of pecans. This was very much like a liqueur or gin cordial in style.

Frozen
When the liquor was at a low temperature, the flavour of the gin came through more and the maple sweetness was more restrained. This was my favourite way to drink the Maple Gin; it  really is a top-notch gin liqueur.

Gin & Tonic
Odd and somewhat ghastly: bittersweet, with a real clash of flavours. Not recommended.

Martini
This was an interesting concoction, with the sweet gin and dry vermouth playing off against one another well. Using a nutty sherry rather than vermouth would, I think, work even better.

Hot Toddy
Given the sweetness of the gin, I found that no extra sugar was needed. The pecan-maple flavours were more subtle in this drink, coming through as a gentle and delicious finish.

Sweet Martini
This was a sweet and rich drink, almost like a Martini liqueur. The two ingredients work well together. One for the sweet-toothed Martini fans.

Alexander
I decided to use Mozart Dry Chocolate Liqueur for fear that mixing with Creme de Cacao would result in an all too sickly drink. The result was a delicious chocolatey, nutty drink with a hint of maple syrup and a rich complexity. Most certainly a dessert cocktail.

Cream Fizz
An interesting choice with some sweet and dry notes. I also agree with other peoples views that it a bit like a Maple Milkshake although my choice of gin was quite dry and so it is not quite so thick sweet and creamy.

In Conclusion
Of all of the flavoured gins that I have made, this was both the simplest to make and the tastiest; easily my favourite and I’ve already made a second batch!

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Ginger Gin – Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet XVIIII

Today, we look at another old favourite of the flavoured-gin world and one of the easiest to make at home. I previously visited this last year when I made some Autumnal Gin with Sipsmith. To make this at home, simply steep some chopped ginger root in a gin of your choice for about a week, or to taste. I use about one cup of ginger for each litre of gin.

Own
Nose: Juniper, wood, butter, and ginger.
Taste: This seemed quite perfumed, with some ginger towards the end. The balance of the spirit seemed slightly off and, to be honest, it was not that pleasant a drink on its own.

Frozen:
Quite nice and very smooth; spicy, with some creamy notes, but – overall – quite a clean taste.

Gin & Tonic:
A very odd drink, which reminded me a lot of alcoholic ginger beer, although there was definitely some juniper towards the end. Sadly, I thought that this drink would have a bit more intensity and pizazz. Using Fentimans Tonic way well sort this out, giving the drink a zesty boost of lemongrass.

Martini:
Ginger was the predominant flavour, but it had an interesting, malty quality to it, too. There was some fire, but this was quite modest towards the end. Some sweet vanilla and coconut notes, too.

Collins:
OK, but the ginger seems to be very easily lost. Lots of room for improvement.

Negroni:
This works and works well. It’s like a usual Negroni, with the bittersweet balance and dry juniper, with the addition of some spicy fire from the ginger. It’s a warmer Negroni and one that’s packed full of flavour; very nice.

Sweetened:
I wasn’t quite happy with the unsweetened version of this gin, so I thought I’d add a little sugar, as was the custom with cordial gins of times past. The result was quite pleasant, although more like a ginger liqueur than a gin. The sugar also brought out some other spice notes, with a pleasant fire at the end.

In Conclusion
In the end, I think that Ginger Gin has potential, but my recipe needs tweaking. I found that, once bottled, the gin starts to lose some of its flavour, so a longer/more intense steeping program is needed. I think that some additional citrus peel would make the flavour a bit sharper, too.

The other potential route to go down would be to try making more of a cordial gin or liqueur. If I was trying this, I would add brown sugar, spices and maybe some orange.

Of course, the other – and, in my opinion, the best – alternative would be to try both! I’ll keep you updated with the results of my experiments.

Raider’s of The Lost Cocktail Cabinet XVIII – Passionfruit Gin

Anyone who has been following the Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet series will know my fondness for T.E. Carling’s ‘The Complete Book of Drink’ and today’s lost ingredient was, again, inspired by an entry in that book: Passionfruit Gin.

This was relatively easy to make. I took the insides of two passionfruit, which I put in a jam jar and topped up with 300ml of gin (for this experiment, I used Broker’s Gin). After leaving to sit for a week, this was strained, bottled and ready to taste.

Own
Nose: Fresh and fruity, the passionfruit is immediately noticeable, along with a hint of sweet jamminess and that sweet tomato smell that always reminds me of passionfruit. A reasonable reflection on the fruit.
Taste: Initially, quite tart, almost sour, with a hint of malty vanilla. This is followed by the fruitiness of the passionfruit. The entire taste is very dry with a touch of tannin on the finish.

Tonic
This is a tropical G&T with lots of succulent fruity flavour, whilst retaining the same slight, dry bitterness that you’d expect from a regular Gin & Tonic.
Mrs. B thought it was really nice: very fresh, with a bright and invigorating fruit flavour. Very refreshing, it has a distinctive fruitiness that tapers off to a bitter finish.

Martini
An odd mix of jamminess and dry herbal notes play out before a very creamy finish with a slight maltiness. Full of flavour, but with a definite crispness, this is not your typical Martini.

Collins
Fresh and fruity, the lemon works well with the deeper exotic fruit notes of the passionfruit lifting the drink and making it lighter and more refreshing.

Negroni
Woah most odd! Funnily enough some mint/basil flavours come through. A juicy jamminess of the finish that tastes just like Passionfruit. This is a very smooth and light Negroni but it’s just so unusual I’m not sure if I like it or not.

In Conclusion
I quite like the Passionfruit Gin but I think it lends itself more to long drinks rather than the more intense Martinis and Negroni. Gin & Tonic was our favourite drink.

Grapefruit Gin – Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet XVI

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.Two of the flavoured gins that we first looked at were recreations of the Gordon’s Lemon and Orange Gins from the 1930s. More recently (in the last 30 years), however, Gordon’s (in the US)   made a Grapefruit (and a Spearmint) flavoured gin in the late 80 – 90s. This is the same period in which Beefeater was making three citrus-flavoured varieties; orange, lime and lemon.

My gin was made by adding the zest of a grapefruit to 250ml of gin and leaving it for a week (in hindsight this was too long!).

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Own
Nose: Dry, with notes of juniper and zesty grapefruit peel.
Taste: Very intense: zesty and tart with a good dose of bitterness, too; not for the faint-hearted.

Gin & Tonic
This was rather good and the best of all of the citrus flavoured gins that I have tried. It was very fresh and refreshing, and there was a real grapefruit twang at the end, too. This would be a good G&T for those who like a little bitterness in their life.

Martini
Very citrus-y, so no twist needed here. It was quite bitter, too, as well as being clean and crisp. This will really appeal to fans of grapefruit and/or cocktails with zing.

Gin Blade
Another simple cocktail: simply a gin shaken with ice.
The shaking lengthens and aerates the gin, curbing the grapefruit’s zestiness slightly and allowing you to enjoy the flavours of the underlying gin a little more. This chilled serve also makes for a more refreshing drink.

Pink Gin
I added an extra dose of bitters and the gin favour is quite strong. The result is a herbal and citrus bitterfest. If you like the like of campari and other bitter herbal liqueurs then you will probabaly like this. It leaves a really zing on your tongue.

Gin Buck
Rather nice; again, no extra citrus was needed, as this was even more zesty than a usual Gin Buck and, as a result, was very refreshing. Would be lovely for summer.

In Conclusion
As I mentioned previously I think I made and overly zesty and intense gin and as such this version worked best with long drinks, so the edge of the citrus bitterness could be curbed. As such my favourite drinks were the Gin & Tonic and Gin Buck.

Asparagus Gin – Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet XV

During our series of articles on Raiders of The Lost Cocktail Cabinet, an indispensable resource has been the website cocktaildb.com. This was the website that I was using whilst researching Mint Gin when I found the picture below.
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Yes, as the picture suggests, it is Asparagus Gin and it was made by FOLSOM ASPARAGUS GIN CO. of San Francisco. Further information on the company is very limited, although I did find out that it only existed from 1916-1918, so obviously the population of the Bay area were not that fond of this unusually-flavoured gin.
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This may seem like a very unusual flavour to use in liquor but the aperitif Cynar is heavily flavoured with Asparagus.
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In the spirit of experimentation, I decided to recreate this gin using my usual, simple method, i.e. by steeping some washed and cut (uncooked) asparagus spears in gin for about two weeks. I found it interesting at, during this period, the spears firstly sank, then rose to the surface and then sank again. Anyway, I digress… After leaving the asparagus spears in the gin for two weeks, I strained and bottled the results. So how did it taste?
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1) Own
Light green in colour, similar to green chartreuse.
Nose: It is unusual and, initially, I did gag reflexively, but – afterwards – I got a little saltiness and some starchiness, similar to potato rosti. The overwhelming smell, however, is that of fresh asparagus.
Taste:It does what it says on the tin: it tastes strongly of asparagus, with a little dry juniper at the back. It’s certainly savoury, with some definite saltiness. It also had a strong finish. Mostly due to the saltiness, I found it difficult to finish a glass, although Mrs. B found it “passable”.

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2) Tonic
I think this is the ultimate test for any gin. Surprisingly, this gin actually works in a G&T! If you put it with a more herbal tonic (1724 or Fevertree Mediterranean), it is even better! Fresh and savoury, with some spice, too. The asparagus comes through quite strongly, but it works well.
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3) Martini
An unbalanced mess, not recommended. Hard to stomach.
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4) Red Snapper
I’m not a big fan of Bloody Mary’s, but this is not bad at all; the asparagus works well with tomato and celery as they are all quite savoury. I must get a friend who is a big Snapper fan to try this.
Regular readers of our experiments may be surprised that we only tried 4 cocktails, but, in all honesty, some of these were pretty horrible. The one exception was the Gin & Tonic, which worked quite well. The Fag Co. Asparagus Gin lasted for only two years; maybe this was because, at that point in the early 20th Century, the Gin & Tonic was an almost unknown drink in the USA?

Pineapple Gin – Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet XIV

This flavour was inspired by a label that I came across recently, which dated from at least 60 years ago. It details a Pineapple Gin made by “Dinner at Eight” at the Distiller Distribution Corporation of San Francisco. This dates from a time when Gin makers all over the world were making a plethora of flavoured gins, ranging from the more sensible orange, lemon and Rue (a combination of orange and lemon) gins, to the rather weird mint, coconut and even asparagus gins!As with most of the flavoured gins I have made previously, this was made by steeping fresh pineapple in a jam jar of gin and leaving it for about a week before straining.

As the pineapple is naturally quite sweet, I added no sugar, although it would be perfectly acceptable to do so, if it was to your taste.

#1) Own
Nose: Fresh and fruity, especially the flesh of pineapple, with a hint of vanilla. Juniper and coriander then appear from the gin.
Taste:There was an initial fruit flavour of pineapple, followed by a slight creaminess and a bitter aftertaste from the gin. This was smooth, but more intense at the end. Being moderately sweet, I’m not sure you could drink vast quantities of it on it’s own.#2) Gin & Tonic
To start, this drink had a sweet juiciness that was followed by the dryness of the tonic. Actually, I think it works quite well; the freshness of the pineapple really comes through and contrasts well with the dryness of the gin and the tonic water. This is definitely a drink that I would have again.

#3) Martini
You may recall that I didn’t think much of the Coconut Gin Martini. Well, I think even less of this one; the sweet, juicy fruitiness was ruined by the vermouth and vice-versa. As such, I think this Pineapple Gin would only work in a Churchill Martini, i.e. one with no vermouth in it!

#4) Collins
Pleasant, crisp and refreshing, like a standard Gin Collins, but with the additional tropical twist of the pineapple. Despite being a very subtle twist, it is definitely still there.

#5) Old Fashioned
This cocktail worked really well, with the bitters adding a level of complexity and sophistication to the drink. The pineapple became more subtle than it was in some of the other drinks and I really liked it.

#6) Alexander
I thought that this would have worked better than it actually does. The pineapple came through strongly, but, when mixed with the cream and chocolate, it became rather too sickly.

#7) Singapore Sling
Essentially, this tasted like a short version of a Singapore Sling. As there is less dilution, it is easier to taste the individual ingredients; the cherry and the Benedictine come through more, but the dominant flavour is still pineapple. As a result, this would be a nice alternative for those who might find the long drink a touch sickly.

Mint Gin – Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet XIII

The second oddest Flavoured Gin that I have come across (the oddest one will be featured in two weeks time) is flavoured with mint. This seems to date at least from the 1930s when Old Mr. Boston used to make a bright green version. In the 1980s, Gordon’s were making a Spearmint Gin and, today, Baffert’s still make a mint version of their Classic London Dry Gin.

My homemade mint gin was simply an infusion of mint and gin, although the colour is not solely from the mint. As the infusion contains no chemical to fix the colour colour, it would quickly turn brown and as the old Mr. Boston was obviously dyed it seemed authentic enough to follow their lead.

I’ve not tried the Baffert’s Mint and I know a chap in the USA who once tried the Spearmint Gordon’s and found it repulsive, so I wasn’t too hopeful regarding the results of my experiment. My biggest concern was that the mint would be overpowering, but how did it turn out in actuality?

Frappe

Frappe

#1) Own
Nose: Primarily leafy mint, sweet peppermint and pine.
Taste: Smooth, but not too sweet. Initially, there was the characteristic flavour of mint, followed by the gin and breath-mint on the finish. This had a long finish, but – overall – was not that great on its own.

#2) Frappe
Cool and crisp, with the menthol making it seem even cooler. This put me in mind of Hercule Poirit’s favourite tipple, Creme de Menthe, a drink that was also favoured by Emille Largo, the Spectre No2 from Ian Fleming’s Thunderball. That said, this drink was definitely more complex and subtle than the Creme de Menthe liqueur, with a distinctly dry finish provided by the juniper.

Collins

Collins

#3) Mint Collins
The mint flavour is relatively subtle in this long drink, and it gives the drink a crisp coolness that makes it quite refreshing. It had a very pleasant green colour and would be good after a meal or during a hot summer.

#4) Mint Gin Cocktail (from Cocktail DB)
1oz Mint Gin, 1oz White Port, 1/2oz Dry Vermouth
This was a very odd combination; the sweet bit was followed by the dryness of the fortified wines. There wasn’t much synergy, however; the whole drink was one big clash of flavours, really. Not recommended.

Alexander

Alexander

#5) Mint Alexander
I really like the colour of this drink: a delicious pistachio green. I like the drink even more; chocolate, mint and cream are well-established companions and that is showcased really well here. A hint of chocolate is picked up by a hint of mint, followed by a creamy, but not heavy, finish, leaving you all ready for your next sip. A nutmeg garnish finishes the drink off nicely.
My only wish is that I’d discovered this before Christmas.

#6) Martini
This made a very dry and crisp drink. I quite liked it; in particular, the way in which it seemed to cleanse the palette. Like the gin on its own, this seems like a dry and more complex version of a Creme de Menthe. That said, I quite like it, but could only really see myself having one at the end of a meal.

Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned

#7) Old Fashioned
In contrast to the Alexander, this had an unappealing colour, being a sort of muddy green. That said, the flavour makes up for it somewhat: the sugar and mint worked nicely together and the bitters added a bit of bite, as well as some complexity. If you like the flavour of mint, this may be a drink for you. All-in-all, it was much better than I would have expected.

#8) With tonic
An intriguing mix and an unusual colour. You get the dryness of the juniper and tonic first, followed by a relatively strong mintiness. The Gin & Tonic is a classic drink, but perhaps not when the gin is mint flavoured. It is worth noting that in the days when Mint Gin was introduced to the US, mixing gin with tonic was not a popular choice for the gin-drinking public, so this is unlikely to have been how these gins were drunk.

Coconut Gin – Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet XII

2011 saw the introduction, not without controversy, of a Coconut & Grapefruit Gin going by the name of Hoxton. Many gin aficionados have raised a cynical eyebrow at the use of this “taste of paradise” in a gin, but a recent perusal of an old cocktail book shows that coconut flavoured gins go back at least to the 1930s. As such, I thought I’d recreate one.
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As my supermarket was out of whole, fresh coconuts, I had use a little tub of pre-packed coconut pieces, still with the skin. After giving them a rinse, I added the coconut pieces to a jam jar and then topped up with gin. It took a while for the flavour to come out and so I had leave it three weeks; I then fine-strained and bottled it.
#1) Own
Nose: A slightly cloudy white colour, it had hints of juniper, coriander and nutty coconut on the nose.
Taste: Moderately sweet (although it contained no extra sugar), smooth and well-rounded. The predominant flavours were of coconut ice and juniper, but, thankfully, it is not too sweet.
I was dubious at how well it would work, but in the end I was very happy with the flavour. Even Mrs. B. (who hates coconut) thought it was “passable”.
#2) With Tonic
An odd mix; the coconut came through well, reminding me a bit of the Hoxton & Tonic. Overall, this was fresh and sweet, but, even so, this won’t be for everyone.

#3) From Freezer
Very sweet; it’s interesting how much the low temperature brings out this sweetness. This is followed by the strong coconut flavour and dry juniper; overall, it is a bit sickly. It is a bit thick, too, and has a tendency to freeze completely. Not recommended.

#4) Collins
Very refreshing; citrus and sugar notes are a good complement to the gin. The coconut flavours are there, but sit quite subtly in the background, being felt most on the finish.

#5) Alexander
Quite rich, with a strong dry note from the gin towards the end and a finish of chocolate and coconut. Very much a pudding or desert cocktail, this was, as you might have guessed, somewhat reminiscent of a Bounty Chocolate Bar. The more I drink this, the more I like the idea of coconut gin; it seems a perfect fit for this drink.#6) White Lady
In this cocktail the coconut is mostly lost, but there is a slight hint of it underneath the lemon juice. A mellow drink and a bit creamy; not bad, but not the best use for the gin.#7) Martini
Dry vermouth and coconut are not great partners. This drink is one almighty clash, although the soft coconut ending improves it ever so slightly. All-in-all. I would suggest avoiding this one.
One big benefit of using the coconut gin in cocktails is that you can add the flavour of coconut without having to add coconut cream or rely on sickly-sweet coconut liqueurs. As a result, you can create a drink that both tastes of coconut and is dry.
My favourite drinks were the Collins and the Alexander.

Cordial Médoc – Raiders of The Lost Cocktail Cabinet

It’s been a little while since we’ve had a Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet, but I thought that this week’s featured ingredient deserved a post, especially as it appears to be on the cusp on vanishing for good; I’m talking about Cordial Medoc.
This was a brandy-based liqueur from the Médoc region on the West Coast of France, just north of Bordeaux. In addition to the brandy, a variety of fruit, spice and sugars were added. According to the CocktailDB.com, it was once held in “extremely high regard”. Here are my thoughts.
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#1) Own
Very smooth initially, followed by some gradually building warmth. It had a grape nose with a little burnt sugar and then some fruity jamminess and herbal elements. It was relatively sweet and a bit syrupy at the end, reminding me a little of a Wisconsin-style Brandy Old-fashioned.
On a second tasting, the complexity of the underlying spirit seems to come through a lot more.
On a third tasting, a bit more honey came out and there was a slight resemblance to Drambuie.
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#2) Lotus Blossom
Shake with ice and strain
1/3 dry gin 1/3 Cordial Medoc  1/6 French vermouth  1/6 fresh orange juice
Quite pleasant; you can easily appreciate each of the ingredients in this drink. Initially, I got the flavour of the Medoc, followed by the herbal dry vermouth, the fresh orange juice and a long, fine juniper finish from the Gin (I Used Hereford Dry).
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#3) Montigni
Shake in an iced cocktail shaker & strain
3/4 oz Cordial Medoc 3/4 oz cream 1/2 oz Cognac 1/2 oz orange curacao
Delicious, like a top-notch cream liqueur. There were some chocolate notes, which are perfectly mixed with the fruit from the Medoc, coming across like chocolate-covered strawberries. Exceptionally smooth, but full of flavour. Simply superb.
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#4) Flying Fish Cocktail
Stir in a mixing glass with ice & strain
1 3/4 oz gin  3/4 oz Cordial Medoc  1/4 oz maraschino liqueur  1 dash peach bitters*
Sweet and floral and rather tasty. Rather cordial-like, I think this would make a rather pleasant after-dinner drink. Smooth, the Gin stops it from being too sweet and sickly. Once again, there is a slight Drambuie-like character to this.

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#5) Katinka Cocktail
Stir in a mixing glass with ice & strain
1 1/2 oz gin  1/2 oz Cordial Medoc  1/2 oz green Chartreuse  1 dash Angostura bitters
A dry and herbaceous cocktail, with some fruity elements, some syrupy sweetness and then a menthol bitter twang at the end. This was a complex drink and rather bracing, but boy, does it make you hungry! (It would make a fine aperitif).
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#6) Cordial Midoc Sour
Shake in iced cocktail shaker & strain
1 1/2 oz Cordial Medoc  1 oz fresh lemon juice  Add orange slice, cherry
Very tasty, being smooth, with a rich sweetness that starkly contrasts with the fresh, crisp lemon juice. An invigorating way to enjoy the cordial.
*The bottle of Peach bitters was kindly loaned to me by Mr. Hartley of The Candlelight Club.
Special thanks to CocktailDB.com, where I found most of these cocktail recipes.

 

Cocktails with… Boord’ s Old Tom Gin

I first tried Boord’s Old Tom Gin before the modern renaissance of the spirit which was kick-started by Hayman’s releasing and Old Tom Gin some years back. Having done some elementary research on gin, I remember being suprised at the time that there was still Old Tom Gin available but I was a little dissapointed when I tried it as it seemed to taste like ordinary dry gin.

Half a decade and 200 different gins later I decided to revisit the gin to review. Whilst performing some research before our tasting of 10 Old Tom Gins I had a conversation with the production manager of Boord’s in Missouri, USA. He told me that their “Old Tom” is just part of the branding (matching their cat and barrel logo) and that is not a reflection of the style of gin in the bottle.* Currently Boord’s two strengths of “Old Tom” Gin and another Extra Dry Gin. They did once make a Golden Gin that was sweetened with sugar and bottled at 50%ABV but it has now been discontinued.

On with the tasting.

Own
nose: juniper, coriander, citrus
taste: slight sweetness initally, then some burn then very strong flavours of juniper and realtively weaker cirtus, coriander and angelica. One taster commented that it had some similarities in character to Tanqueray and Plymouth.

Gin & Tonic
Quite powerful with a kick. Juniper and some citrus; quite nice but a touch cloying, this could be solved by using another tonic water. This drink was very, very dry at the end.

Martini
Full of flavour and rather bold. Quite dry with juniper and a biter of spice. Some slightly maltiness and some sake like quality. Unusual hearty and although it doesn’t have the smooth, clean crispnessof a typical Martini I quite liked it.

*To be clear Boord’s Old Tom is not, nor do Boord’s claim that is, a gin in the Old Tom Style.