Cocktails with… Darnley’s Spiced Gin Navy Strength Edition

Following on from the recent review of 6 O’Clock Brunel Edition comes another, high-strength and spicy gin – this time from Darnley’s of Scotland, who have released their spiced Navy-strength gin.

Bottled at 57.1% ABV, the gin is made using the same botanicals as the original Spiced Gin, but with an extra boost of juniper.

Darleys Spiced Navy Gin

On its own
Nose: Bold, plump juniper upfront, followed by notes of cumin and cardamom with a touch of ginger.
Taste: This is full of strong flavours, with a great oily texture that coats the tongue and has a light sweetness to it. A touch of liquorice is accompanied by warm spice: cinnamon, cassia, savoury cumin and aromatic cardamom.

Gin & Tonic
A plump and juicy Gin & Tonic that works particularly well with a wedge of orange as a garnish. The anise comes through, along with flavours of sweet cumin and hints of ginger and cardamom.

Martini
This makes a very strong Martini, as you might expect from the high ABV, but in a small, 1oz portion it is perfect as a small, but punchy pre-dinner cocktail. The spice is intense and works well with the flavours of the vermouth. Serve super-chilled; ideally, poured straight from the freezer.

Negroni
A pleasantly savoury Negroni with notes of cumin and caraway coming through, along with ginger. This gin gives the drink a light salinity, whilst also keeping the classic bitter-sweetness of the other ingredients in check.

With Cola
The exotic spice notes work especially well with the cola and the strong botanical flavours that come from the Navy-strength really stand up to the mixer. This is a great example of a Gin & Cola.

In Conclusion
I think Darnley’s Spiced Gin works particularly well at a higher ABV and the extra juniper gives the gin an added boost. My favourite drinks were the mini, yet potent Martini and – surprisingly – the gin mixed with cola.

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Cocktails with… Anchor Old Tom Gin

Anchor Old Tom Gin is made by Anchor Distillery in San Francisco – the same distillery that produces one of the first American gins that I ever tried (and still one my favourites): Junipero. Following a recent change to their range, however, my favourite now goes by the name Juniper San Francisco Strength (49.3% ABV) rather than Junipero Export Strength (46% ABV).

Anchor Old Tom was the first gin that the distillery had released for a number of years and was the result of a rather studious amount of research and development. Given that one of the classic Old Tom Gin cocktails, the Martinez, has been long associated (through fact or fiction?) with the town of Martinez, which is just 30 miles away, it is perhaps surprising that The Bay area has not produced an Old Tom before Anchor launched in 2014, but – nonetheless – I was eager to try this one.

The gin’s botanical mix includes some of the regulars (juniper, coriander, citrus), but they’re accompanied by others that add a little sweetness: star anise and licorice. In addition, the gin is sweetened, but not with sugar or honey, but stevia (a natural sweetener from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant species). It is bottled at 45.0% ABV.

On its own
Nose: A full nose of juniper, juicy pine, and a little woody angelica and spice.
Taste: This has a viscous texture that is smooth and fills the mouth. There are notes of juniper with black pepper and menthol upfront; this moves onto sweet liquorice and a touch of orris. There’s a sweetness, before more spice appears. The finish has a touch of sweet spearmint and pepper.

Martini
Whilst sweeter than many Martinis, it is by no means overly sweet. There are plenty of sweet, piney, sappy notes, as well as some menthol spice. Mellow and smooth.

Martinez
The sweet fennel and anise notes work really well alongside the herbal notes of the red vermouth. This is a very smooth cocktail with plenty of flavour.

Negroni
This Old Tom makes a very smooth Negroni with plenty of flavour coming through, as well as some extra sweetness. Finally, there’s a long finish of juniper and menthol.

In Conclusion
Anchor Old Tom Gin is a great addition to the range of Old Toms out there; it has a smooth texture, bold flavour, balanced sweetness, and a lovely interplay of herbaceous and spiced notes. My favourite drink was the Martinez.

Anchor Old Tom is available for around £41 for 75cl from Master of Malt

Cocktails with… 6 O’Clock – Brunel Edition

As a longtime resident of Portsmouth I’ve always had an affinity with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, perhaps Britain’s greatest engineer. Brunel is also of great importance to the city of Bristol, where the SS Great Britain and the Brunel Museum are both located.

Today, I’m looking at a gin inspired by Brunel: 6 O’Clock Brunel Edition. Additionally, for every bottle sold, £1 will be donated to the SS Great Britain Trust’s new museum ‘Being Brunel’ which opens in 2018.

6 o clock Brunel Gin

The gin, bottled at 50.0% ABV, is made using the original 6 O’Clock Gin as a base and adds more juniper and six new botanicals:
Lemon
Cardamom
Nutmeg
Cumin
Cassia bark
Cubeb

On its own
Nose: Exotic spice, anise, caraway and cumin with a touch of ginger.
Taste: Surprisingly smooth for 50% ABV, with a light, sweet spiciness upfront that gradually makes way for notes of vanilla and lemon. Smooth and clean, there’s also a touch of juniper jelly and coriander before a final burst of black menthol pepper with a little lingering, green pine.

Gin Tonic
This makes a rather spicy Gin Tonic with plenty of cinnamon and ginger notes, making it somewhat reminiscent of a spiced sponge. Juicy fruit notes follow, with a little citrus peel before some cumin and a hint of dark chocolate. Overall, this is a dry, refreshing drink with wonderful notes of intercontinental spice.

Martini
The rich spiciness comes through well in this cocktail: there’s a little dry cinnamon followed by more savoury notes of cumin and ginger with just a touch of turmeric. Sweet citrus and cardamom notes then develop, before a slightly earthy finish.

Martini-on-the-Rocks
Given the slightly higher ABV of this gin, some drinkers may prefer the slightly more dilute Martini-on-the-Rocks. Fill a tumbler to the top with ice, add 35ml of gin and 10ml dry vermouth and garnish with an olive or lemon peel.

The herbal and spiced notes of this gin work really well with the slightly wetter drink and, in comparison to the Martini, more of the vermouth comes through, too.

Negroni
A bold and “crunchy” Negroni with bright notes of fresh celery stalks accompanied by the spices found in the other drinks. The finish is earthy and slightly resinous and really lingers on the tongue.

With Cola
The gin adds a savoury spiciness to this serve, with notes of paprika, turmeric and ginger. Mixed with the cola, the gin also provides a hint of chocolate, but – overall – the drink is not overly sweet and has a pleasant, fiery, dry spice to it.

In Conclusion
6 O’Clock Gin: Brunel Edition is a bold gin that is great for mixing; the additional botanicals make this a great twist on what was already a lovely gin. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic.

6 O’Clock Brunel edition is available from their website for £43 for 70cl.

Cocktails with… Gordon’s Pink Gin

In the past, I’ve written various times on the popularity of strawberry gin in Spain and I have long expected gins to follow suit in the UK, although it seems to have taken a few years for the first major strawberry gins to emerge. This is Gordon’s “Pink” Gin, which is pink in colour and has nothing to do with the old naval cocktail of the same name.

The gin is made using Gordon’s gin, along with strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants. It is described as having “natural fruit flavours and a subtle touch of juniper” and is bottled at 37.5% ABV.

Gordons Pink FINAL

On its own
Nose: Strawberries and cream with a tart hint of raspberry and the faintest whiff of earthiness.
Taste: Sweet upfront, with a flavour reminiscent of jelly and slooshy (slightly melted) ice cream. This develops into florid notes of blossom and blackberry. The finish has a subtle dryness and a little coriander.

Gin & Tonic
The berry notes really come through well, with juicy, sweet flavours of strawberry and raspberry and a hint of creaminess. There is a touch of dry juniper and angelica on the finish. This would work well garnished with strawberries or, if you’re feeling decadent, a sliver of vanilla pod.

Martini
A particularly perfumed Martini, sipping this cocktail is a bit like kissing a Great Aunt: the berry notes seem to merge with those of the vermouth to create a florid flavour that overwhelms the drink. This is definitely not the best way to enjoy this gin.

Negroni
This makes a rather sweet Negroni; the berry notes of the gin really come through and, if anything, the red vermouth and possibly even the Campari are the ones that are overpowered. An unusual take on this cocktail, which will not appeal to all, but is worth trying, especially for those that might have tried a Negroni once and found it way too bitter.

Gin & Cola
Very sweet with lots of bright berry notes – mostly strawberry, but with a bit of raspberry, too. I fear this may be too sweet for many hardened gin drinkers, but that in itself doesn’t make it a bad drink. It will certainly appeal to those with a sweet tooth, being slightly reminiscent of a coke float made with raspberry ripple ice cream. Actually, the more I drink it, the more I like it – it’s unexpectedly indulgent!

In Conclusion
I think that Gordon’s Pink Gin is a much better product than many of the Spanish strawberry gins; it is less sweet and has a dryer profile, and the additional fruit notes add complexity. Whilst I don’t think it works in all classic gin drinks, it worked particularly well when mixed with tonic and cola.

Cocktails with… Peachey’s Norfolk Dry Gin

Cocktails with… Peachey Gin

Peachey Norfolk Dry Gin was created and is produced by Janet Peachey of Peachey’s Spirits. The gin is made in “Lucky”, a 30 litre stainless steel still from America, using a botanical mix of:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Lemon
Sweet Orange
Orris Root
Cardamom
Liquorice
Vanilla

The gin is bottled at 43.0% ABV.

Janet Peachy Gin (2).JPG

On its own
Nose: Light malt with aromas of coriander and lemon biscuits.
Taste: Ginger and cardamom at the start with a little hint of chocolate; this develops into bright and leafy notes of citrus. This is a complex gin that gradually unfurls on the palate like a flower in sunshine. Pleasantly balanced and lovely to sip on the rocks.

Gin & Tonic
Spicy and aromatic with plenty of coriander, cardamon and ginger. There’s a little sweetness before a zesty finish with a hint of juniper. Succulent and refreshing.

Martini
Citrus rich and leafy notes of lemon balm and lemon thyme are mixed with a little verbena. Then comes a twinkle of warm ginger, accompanied by aromatic cardamom and a little pine mixed with fragrant coriander on the finish.

Gin & Soda
Citrusy with notes of malt hops make this a deep and layered drink. Whilst it might be less piney than your average Gin & Soda, it is nonetheless very refreshing.

Negroni
A bold and punchy Negroni with the gin providing a multilayered array of leafy, herbal, citrus and spiced notes that really hold their own against the Campari. A lingering note of ginger spice is a pleasant addition to the Negroni’s typical earthy bitterness on the finish.

In Conclusion
Peachey Gin is a fresh and aromatic gin, full of pleasant citrus-spice notes. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic.

http://www.peacheysspirits.com
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Cocktails with… Griffiths Brothers Gin

The last gin we reviewed (a little while back – sorry folks!) was one from the Home Counties (Campfire Gin based in Tring, Hertfordshire). Today, we nip across the border to Buckinghamshire and the Griffiths Brothers of Amersham.

For those not familiar with Amersham, it is at the very top left of the Tube map, at the very end of the Metropolitan Line.

Griffiths Brothers Gin FINAL

The Griffiths Brothers make their gin in a rotavap named Roberta and it is bottled at 43.5% ABV. Here are its botanicals:

Juniper Berries
Coriander Seed
Angelica Root
Lemon Peel
Orange Peel
Orris Root
Grains of Paradise
Liquorice Root
Cassia Bark
Elderflower
Orange Blossom
Bay Laurel
Barberries

On its own
Nose: Bright and very citrus-y on the nose, with a hint of celery and black pepper, all followed by a touch of earthy, rooty liquorice.
Taste: Crisp leafy notes come through to start: bay laurel and the crisp crunchiness of celery. Then comes a symphony of citrus, from the zesty, pithy peel to the fragrant aromatics of the blossom. Additional crispness comes from the grains of paradise at the end, along with a lovely mouthfeel courtesy of the liquorice.

Gin Tonic
A delicious and delicate Gin Tonic with a very pleasant interplay between the gin’s citrus and leafy notes. It has strong flavours that stand up well to almost any tonic, creating a refreshing treat of a drink.

Martini
This cocktail has a lovely, light oiliness that provides plenty of flavour: delicate, floral citrus as well as hints of crunchy leaves, almost cucumber-esque. Then there’s a slight of peppery salinity before a touch of spice on the finish. I’d recommend garnishing this with a thin strip of cucumber peel.

Negroni
The orange comes through from the gin and works exceptionally well with the Campari and vermouth. The gin’s leafy notes add a fantastic additional depth to the drink.

In Conclusion
Griffiths Brothers is a flavoursome gin with a pleasant interplay between a range of citrus and crisp, leafy notes. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic.

Whispers of Whisk(e)y returns… Johnnie Walker The Adventurer

Today’s review, which comes after far too long a break, takes a look at another whisky: one from the Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club Collection, a series inspired by the journeys of those who took Johnnie Walker across the world. Available via travel retail, you might have spotted these as you explored the whisky sections of Duty Free shops.

DTS and I first encountered The Adventurer before a trip to America a couple of years ago and we were a little confused at its store placement: very much apart from the other Explorers’ Club whiskies and with little information available on it. Intrigued, we bought a bottle. That was a few years (and bottles) ago.

johnnie-walker-adventurer-final

On its own

Nose: A saline, almost briney smokiness to start, with notes of tobacco, dry wood chips, and echoes of pineapple. Lovely spiced notes build up over time.

Taste: Very soft on the tongue, but with more force of flavour on the palate afterwards. There is a pleasant smokiness, before lasting notes of dry, not tart pineapple, light wood, and chilli, then sweeter spice with more smoke on the finish. A lovely dram that, personally, I think is perfectly halfway between the Red and Black Labels.

Rob Roy

Pleasantly dry, but the Rosso comes through well. Wisps of smoke are followed by lots of complex herbal notes. The finish remains lovely and dry, with notes of dark liquorice and a hint of berries. Finally, there is a clean, light, and woody smokiness.

Old Fashioned

The Adventurer makes an unusually sharp, almost bitter Old Fashioned that makes a wonderful aperitif. Subdued honey notes are followed by the smoke and spice. Like the Rob Roy, its finish is very dry, but full of smoky flavours, along with a little lime and vanilla.

Whisky Soda

Exceptionally dry, this is a refreshing, grown up drink. The soda water lengthens the whisky well, without masking any of its flavours. To start, there is dry vanilla, before a flash of sweeter smoke, then more charred notes that linger on a refreshing, woody finish.

Whisky Ginger

Again, this works well, but produces a much sweeter drink than the others. It is creamy, too, with lots of vanilla and just a dash of smokiness – more than you’d get with the Red Label, but not as much as with the Black Label. The finish is long, with solid notes from both the ginger and the whisky’s oak notes.

 

It is worth noting that the Explorers’ Club Collection covers a broad price range, but The Adventurer is the cheapest, at around £32 for a litre in Duty Free. It can be found for around £40-45 in the UK. Given the combination of price point and the international theme of the collection, we decided to try a few additional, unusual long drinks alongside our normal line-up.

with Coconut Water

This is an unexpectedly brilliant, refreshing drink. The coconut water adds the extra sweetness and creaminess that The Adventurer holds back on, resulting in smooth notes of pineapple and light coconut that fade into smoke, dry apple, and oak on the finish. Exceptionally easy to drink, especially in warmer weather.

with Ting

These flavours, again, go surprisingly well together – there is bright, vibrant, citrus (lemon and grapefruit) that flows seamlessly into the light smokiness of the whisky. The finish has notes of vanilla and pineapple, and a continued stream of smokiness.

with Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola

Intrigued at how well some of these combinations were turning out, we decided to try The Adventurer up against one of my favourite (and most flavourful) soft drinks: Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola. The result? A tasty drink with great structure and body. Not too sweet, there’s a dry woodiness to start, that is quickly swept up in the complex, herbal flavours from the cola. The Adventurer’s smokiness appears on the finish – soft to start, but gradually increasing – and works very well with the more medicinal notes of the mixer.

In Conclusion

The Adventurer is a great addition to the Johnnie Walker line-up. With its light texture, but combination of distinct smokiness, dry pineapple, and spiced notes, it makes for a whisky that is both easy to sip – sitting midway between the Red and Black Labels in taste – and works exceptionally well in mixed drinks. A firm favourite in our household.

— Mrs. B.