Gin1495 – Discovering the World’s Oldest Gin recipe


Many gins pride themselves on the provenance and history of their recipes; such examples include: Greenalls/Bombay Dry (1761), Haymans Old Tom (1860s), and Diplôme (1945). As great as these spirits are, their antiquity pales in comparison to the gin I tried on Tuesday, which is based on a recipe first written over 500 years ago.

Gin 1495 is a grape-based gin made using a recipe that was discovered by Philip Duff after it was referenced in an out-of-print book on Jenever. Philip followed this lead, discovering that the text from a 1495 cookbook from a merchant’s house in the East Netherlands, a part of the collection of Sir Hans Sloane, and that the manuscript itself was housed in British Library.


Philip Duff – an the first clue to tracking down the ancient recipe.

In collaboration with spirits experts and historians, Dave Broom, David Wondrich and gaz regan, and with the knowledge, experience, and facilities of Jean-Sébastien Robicquet, founder of EWG Spirits & Wine, the team set about recreating a gin from the recipe.

Botanicals used in the gin include: nutmeg (which, in 1495, was worth more than its weight in gold), ginger, galangal, seed (grains) of paradise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, sage, and juniper. The spice trade was not yet well-established, with the East India companies not being founded until 1600 and 1602. As such, the spices would have come from an individual trader travelling the silk route. The recipe states to use one part botanicals to nine parts wine distillate.


The botanicals used in the gins

Distillation of spirits, which became recreational some time between 1351 and 1495, relied heavily on wine as a spirit base; this was due to the greater simplicity in making spirit from grape. Tensions, hostility, and wars across Europe meant that the availability of quality grapes declined, and so local distillers switched to making their spirit from local grain.

Whilst the exact variety of grape used originally is not known, it is likely that it would have been Ugni Blanc (other, less likely, options include Folle blanche and Colombard) and thus that is what is used in the re-creation gin.

Two varieties of Gin 1495 have been released: the Verbatim, a recreation as close to the original as possible; and the Interpretatio, which is inspired by the original recipe, but also includes botanicals that are available today, but were not then.


A specially commissioned hand-drawn replica of the original text

The Taste

Gin 1495 #1 Verbatim (42.0% ABV)
Nose: Dry nutmeg and sage. Herbal, with a touch of pine and plenty of spice, including aromatic cardamom, ginger, clove, and some waxy, woody notes.
Taste: Very bold flavours and exceptionally dry (it was explained that the only sweetness in a European diet at the time would come from honey). There are notes of pine needles and other green, herbal notes, as well as hints of dark treacle. The spirit is sappy and has a great depth of flavour.
Adding a touch of water, the gin louches (goes cloudy) due to its high oil content, and the oily texture is more pronounced. There is a long, lingering finish with a touch of salty brine and menthol pepper notes from the grains of paradise.

Gin 1495 #2 Interpretatio (45.0% ABV)
This version was made using more juniper, citrus, and the addition of angelica.
Nose: Big, strong juniper with a slightly oaty note. Pine with citrus, and some sweet, spicy notes.
Taste: Plenty of anise and fennel-like notes upfront, then a fair bit of clovey citrus. There is a funky forest-floor element, too, although this is not unpleasant and mixes well with the gin’s berry and violet notes. The angelica root adds dryness to the juniper flavour.
The texture is full and oily, with spice coming through at the end: cardamom and ginger, with some more cloves. This intense spice lingers on the finish.


The gins are packaged in book-style presentation boxes and only 100 sets were produced. These are not for sale, but will be donated to various museums, spirits collections, archives, and gin institutions around the world, including the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Diageo Archive, and the gin archive at Laverstoke Mill.
In association with The Gin Guild, one set will be auctioned (details below), with the proceeds going to The Benevolent: a charity for members of the drinks community in times of need.

In Conclusion

The 1495 Gin project is one of the most exciting things to have happened in the World of Gin and this altruistic motivation is to be applauded. It was a privilege to be able to attend the launch and experience and taste the two gins.
As a final thought, I am intrigued by the similarity between the character of a gin made from a 500 year old recipe and some of the modern and contemporary “Alpine Gins” being released by new small distilleries in Germany, Austria, and across Europe. Sometimes history really does repeat itself.

Gin 1495 Auction Process
Bids must be made via the dedicated e-mail All bids must be made in pounds sterling and sent along with a name and contact telephone number. Bidding closes on 1st December 2014.


A Sneak Preview of Adnams Whisky

Today, in addition to being Repeal Day* in the US, is also particularly exciting for another reason: today is the day that Adnams, the Distillery behind Broadside beer and – a particular favourite of mine – Spirit of Broadside, unveiled their whiskies for the very first time.

Jonathan Adnams Introduces the new Whisky

Jonathan Adnams Introduces the new Whisky

Now, technically, whisky must be aged in barrels for three years and these have only had two years so far, so they are more “whiskies-in-the-making”, but that by no means lessens my excitement over trying them.

The enthusiasm and energy of the folks at the Copper House Distillery is infectious and the sheer range of handcrafted products that they’ve managed to produce in the last two years is amazing (including three vodkas, two gins, two absinthes, a sloe gin and a number of liqueurs). I’m particularly fond of how they combine the scientific processes and more creative side of microdistilling, as well as how they combine both of these with the historic traditions and local pride of Adnams Brewery.

But let’s focus a little more on the whiskies…

The Whiskies-In-The-Making

Adnams Distiller John McCarthy tells us a little more about the Whisky

Adnams Distiller John McCarthy tells us a little more about the Whisky

We have two whiskies to try: one is made with the same wash as Adnams Copper House Barley Vodka, using East Anglian barley, and is matured in French oak barrels; the other uses the same wash as Adnams Longshore Premium Vodka, using a combination of wheat, East Anglian barley and oats, and is matured in American oak barrels.

It’s worth noting again that these whiskies are made in their entirety at Adnams, including the base spirit and the grains are locally sourced. The combination of brewery and distillery means that they have everything they need to start from scratch and therefore not only build the flavour from the base spirit up, but also ensure the high quality of the spirit.

As their names, etc. will be finalised over the next year, I’ll refer to them for now by number.

AdnamsWhisky SingleMaltWhisky 1 – (43% ABV) – made with East Anglian barley; aged in New French oak
(Barrels have a medium+ toast excluding cask heads)

Nose: Lovely, warm barley notes, backed by a cosy, yeasty note that reminds of warm, rising bread dough, but with a distinct sweetness to it, like a very light syrup (rather than Golden Syrup or honey – more like the lighter syrup that you get on steamed puddings). Wonderfully different and comforting – just what I was hoping for!
Taste: Light and smooth, but with a good warmth towards the end. The oak comes through first for me, as a really fresh, white wood note, followed by the weightier barley notes. Light hints of that same, dough-like yeast – not at all overpowering – appear throughout, bringing back positive memories of the Spirit of Broadside, only lighter.
Finish; Warm, almost chewy wood, that’s ever-so-slightly sweet.

AdnamsWhisky 3GrainWhisky 2 – (43% ABV) made with wheat, barley and oats; aged in New American oak
(Barrels have a medium+ toast, this time including cask heads)

Nose: Warmer and more complex than No. 1. More savoury notes come into play, which I assume is down to the wheat and/or oats, and there are sweeter wood notes towards the end, much more like golden syrup.
Taste: Savoury, with a notable, heavy, creamy note at the start that has aspects of yeast flavour from No. 1. This interplays with more dry, savoury notes of wheat and sweetness from the wood and lasts for a good while.
Finish: A very long, persistent finish of charred wood.

These will be released in 2013 (at the age of 3 years). In 2014, two new varieties of whisky are scheduled to be released: an 100% Rye (yup, a full 100%) aged in Russian oak; and a fourth incarnation, which will be aged in ex-Bourbon casks.

In Conclusion
I had high expectations of these, but, in my opinion, Adnams have already outdone themselves, producing two whiskies with such personality and character. I eagerly await the remaining 365 days before they are finished and released; in particular, No. 1, with its smooth, but no-nonsense profile of barley, bread dough and lightly sweet wood; neither too sweet or savoury, but just right. Bring on 2013!

– Mrs. B.

* Prohibition was repealed back on 5th December 1933.

Limoncello – Volume Three of the Liqueur Library

If Italy had an equivalent to Swedish Punsch, Japanese Umeshu or British Sloe Gin, Limoncello would surely be the answer. Many Italian families have closely-guarded recipes and the creation and consumption of homemade varieties of this liqueur is an annual event.

Limoncello is a lemon flavoured liqueur, which is made by simply infusing lemon zest in un-aged alcohol, typically vodka (although some folks use Grappa), with added sugar. It’s exceptionally easy to make, which is probably why so many create it at home.

Limoncello goes by many names (and spellings), including: Lemoncino, Lemoncelloe and Limoncetto. These are all, essentially, the same product, although the term “Limoncino” is more common in Northern Italy and “Limoncello” is preferred in the South.

For those of you who don’t want to make it at home, there are plenty of commercial brands available, made in various countries, including Adnam’s in the UK.

Adnam’s Limoncello was originally released in 2011 and, due to its popularity, Adnam’s made another batch with an improved production method in 2012. It starts life as a batch of three-grain vodka (wheat, barley, oats), which is kept at 90% ABV whilst the lemon zest is infused; the higher strength spirit makes the extraction of the lemons’ aroma, flavour and colour fuller, quicker and easier. This maceration is left for three weeks, at which point the zest is removed and some sugar and water is added, bringing the ABV down to its bottling strength of 28% ABV.

The Taste

1) Own
Nose: Very fresh, with lots of strong, zesty lemon. Natural tasting, almost like a home-made variety.
Taste: Soft and very smooth; silky, with a touch of honey and lovely, fresh, zesty lemon citrus. Lemon-y tang at the end. All-in-all, a product that tastes authentic and far from artificial, just like some of the best home-made versions that I have had. Excellent.

2) Chilled
The liqueur becomes much thicker when chilled; this is how they often drink it in Italy. The flavours are more complex and an initial sweet floral aspect is followed by lush, zesty lemon and a touch of more bitter lemon at the end. Simply top-notch!

3) Over Ice
[50ml Limoncello, One Large Chunk of Ice]
I thought this was another lovely way to drink the liqueur. Interestingly, the sweetness seems to come through a little more. It is also very visually appealing, as the little torrents of melting ice create viscous ripples in the Limoncello. Most importantly, it tastes good.

Cream Cocktail

Cream Cocktail

4) Cream Cocktail
[20ml Gin, 20ml Limoncello, 15ml Cream – SHAKE]
A smooth and creamy lemon cocktail somewhat reminiscent of lemon cheesecake, tart au citron or lemon syllabub. Quite rich and very much a dessert cocktail to drink after dinner.

5) Collins
[25ml Gin, 25ml Limoncello, 100ml Soda Water]
This was a very crisp and refreshing cooler. For extra tartness, add a little (10ml or so) fresh lemon juice. Very light and easy to drink, this could easily be served by the jug or pitcher. There’s a sweet, creamy lift at the end, which pleasantly rounds off this delicious drink. One of the few ways to make Limoncello even more refreshing.


6) Limonata
[40ml Citrus Vodka*, 10ml Limoncello, 20ml Lemon Juice, 10ml Sugar Syrup – SHAKE]
A refreshing and zinging drink, luscious and lovely. A hint of jammy citrus, touch of creaminess, spiciness care of the vodka and a sweet, lemon curd,  lift at the end. Really very good indeed, highly recommended.

7) Adnam’s Flyer
[30ml Adnam’s First Rate Gin, 10ml Limoncello, 5ml Creme de Violette – SHAKE]
A tasty little liqueur-like cocktail. The dry gin flavour was followed by the neat sweetness of the Limoncello and the floral creaminess of the Violette. Lovely as an after-dinner cocktail.

Tryst in Trieste

8) Tryst in Trieste
[20ml Orange Liqueur**, 20ml Scotch, 15ml Limoncello – SHAKE, then add 10ml Soda Water]
Soft, citrus-heavy nose. To taste, this was a most interesting combination: it had a sherbet-like mouthfeel throughout, with the smoky woodiness from the Scotch fading in after a few moments. The orange notes bridge the strong lemon and whisky flavours nicely. It ended with a lovely, neat, citrusy finish, making for a refreshing and light whisky cocktail.

9) Suffolk Sour
[30ml Vodka, 15ml Limoncello, 15ml Cherry Brandy, 15ml Lemon Juice – BUILD]
A tart and crisp drink, with the initial tart citrus followed by the richer flavours of the cherry. A sweet vanilla from the Limoncello then comes into play. The balance works, but the sour outweighs the sweet. Very tasty.

Lemoncello & Whisky Cocktail

Lemoncello & Whisky Cocktail

10) Limoncello & Whisky
[Recommended by Adnams Head Distiller John McCarthy. 2 parts Scotch, 1 part Limoncello, Ice – STIR]
This was another lovely, light dessert cocktail. It had a refreshing, zesty freshness, with the sweet, cream citrus of lemon curd complementing the drier, woody notes of the whisky. This creamy sweetness – just like that of a lemon tart, reappears on the finish. Very pleasant, indeed.

In Conclusion
I’ve been drinking Limoncello for a quite a few years and must have made my own at least ten years ago, but I’ve never really drunk it much in cocktails. Today’s tasting makes me think that I’ve missing out.

My favourite drinks were the Limonata and the Collins, as well as sipping the liqueur chilled on its own.

Adnams Limoncello is available for around £20 for 50cl from Adnams.

* I used Stolichnaya Citros.
** I used Grand Gala.

Cocktails with… Adnams’ Spirit of Broadside


Today, I’m taking a look at Spirit of Broadside from the Adnams Copper House Distillery. This is unlike anything I have tried before, being an “eau de vie de biere”; Adnams take their Broadside Beer (6.3% ABV) and distill it, before maturing the result in heavily toasted Russian oak barrels for a year. The result is a most intriguing spirit, bottled at 43% ABV.

Broadside Beer was originally produced to honour the tercentenary of the Battle of Sole Bay in 1672, the first naval battle of the Third Anglo-Dutch War, which took place near to Southwold, the home of Adnams. Appropriately, Spirit of Broadside will be released on the 340th anniversary of the same battle.

A bottles of Broadside Ale and the Spirit of Broadside

A bottles of Broadside Ale and the Spirit of Broadside

Spirit of Broadside
The nose was – strangely – both like and unlike a whisky. There were lots of malty notes and a warm sweetness, like a heavy fruit cake. On top of this was a rather pleasant scent that reminded me of the inside of a brand new car, and a woody spiciness with touches of marzipan and cardamom.

The taste was smooth and woody from the outset, this spirit really caught me off-guard; its flavours all worked remarkably well together, presenting dark wood notes in a fashion completely different to any whisky I’d ever tried before. Underlying the wood were soft malt notes and those of hops served to neatly soften the overall flavour and ensure that it was unique and savoury. It also had a good warmth to it, which gradually built up on the aftertaste.

Old Fashioned
Made with Spirit of Broadside and Ridley’s Victorian Hops Bitters (a specialist product from Neil Ridley at, I was initially wary of this cocktail, thinking that the hops would overpower everything else, but I had no reason to worry. The nose was faint, fruity and woody, with the sweetness and hops coming through more than when the Spirit was served neat. To taste, it was very soft and smooth to start, with the warm, woody notes of the Spirit slowly getting stronger. The hops, rather than overpowering the other flavours, seem to support them, producing a really delicious Old Fashioned and one that is in my top three of all time.

A close up of the Spirit of Broadside Bottle

Rob Roy*
The hops were even more subtle in this nose, which was instead somehow dominated by fresh citrus and doughy gingerbread. Yet again, I was impressed at how well the Spirit mixed, producing a balanced and flavourful cocktail. Sweet lemon faded into soft, light oak, with the gentle taste of the hops appearing on the aftertaste.

In Conclusion
In case it didn’t come across in my review, I really liked Spirit of Broadside and was even more impressed by it given that I’m not, typically, a fan of beer. This, however, is a versatile and tasty product that I would definitely recommend to Scotch drinkers as something that’s a little bit different, whilst containing a whole host of familiar flavours, all very neatly woven together. We’ll definitely be experimenting with a few more cocktails, if I don’t drink the entirety of our supply in Old Fashioneds in the meantime!

– Mrs. B.

* There was some debate whether we should call this a Rob Roy or Manhattan but given my preference for the former, that’s what we went for.

Special thanks to Alice and Neil for their help.

Cocktails with… TWO Adnams Gins!

Adnam’s are well-known for their Real Ales (Broadside is a favourite of both my father and brother-in-law), but, more recently, they have ventured into the world of distilling.

I first found out about Adnam’s new products at the Crabbies Evening earlier this year; I’m glad that I’ve finally had the opportunity to spend some time with the two gins they make and appreciate them in full

.How are the gins made and how do they differ?

Adnam’s Copper House Gin uses their Barley Vodka as the spirit base, which is distilled from East Anglian Malted Barley. The Adnam’s First Rate Gin is based on their Longshore Vodka, which is distilled from a mix of three local grain: wheat, barley and oats.*

On top of having 7 botanicals in addition to those of the Copper House Gin, First Rate is also a finer cut of the three grain spirit used to make it. This is the very middle or heart of the distillation run, which contains fewer impurities. This spirit is then re-distilled with the 13 botanicals.Here are the results of my tasting experiments with Adnam’s Copper House Gin and Adnam’s First Rate.

Adnam’s Copper House

1) Own
The nose is savoury, predominantly of rosemary. To taste, it is rather smooth, with notes of juniper and coriander. The flavour is straight-forward, but perhaps a little lighter than many London Drys, with a distinctive warmth at the end.

2) Martini
More intense and simpler than the Martini made with their First Rate Gin, this also had a slight biscuit-y nose. It was also not as smooth as the First Rate version. There were strong juniper and earthy herbal notes, as well as some floral ones and a bit of citrus. Overall, this was quite nice.

3) Gin & Tonic (*)
This tasted of cinnamon and cardamon, and was fruity and spicy; citrus comes through more after the initial flavours. Fresh and delicious; simply, excellent.

4) Gimlet
The gin really holds its own against the sweet lime cordial in this drink. It’s clean with some spice and tart lime, but my overriding thought was that it was very, very clean, almost like a cross between a Martini and Gimlet.

5) Dog’s Nose
I had not tried this before and I used Adnam’s Broadside Ale. The gin comes through in a subtle way and seems to smooth out the ale a bit. A touch of juniper is a nice touch. Quite a bracing drink, though.

6) Gin Bump
Lovely, fresh and intensely herbal; the gin works well alongside the ginger in this drink.

7) Alexander (*)
Rather delicious: the juniper and chocolate blend really well together, creating a drink that is neither too sweet, nor too rich.

8 ) Negroni (*)
Rather pleasant; this was quite sweet with a bitter finish. In fact, the bittersweet elements of the Negroni seem somewhat exaggerated, which some may really like. It seems a touch syrupy for my liking, though.

Adnam’s First Rate Gin

1) Own
The nose is of juniper and light vanilla; slightly reminiscent of creamy bubblegum. To taste, it was very silky, with notes of cardamon and spice, but a little light on juniper. This was more complex than the Regular, with a stronger taste and a finish of cinnamon and liquorice.2) Martini (*)
This was flavourful, with a strong nose and a taste of vanilla. There was also some dry juniper and anise. The finish was long and of herbal and vanilla flavours. Rich and smooth, with minimal burn.3) Gin & Tonic
This drink was very strong on the cardamon and citrus. Packed full of flavour, it was very intense and pretty good.4) Gimlet (*)
Pretty good; any sweetness is well-balanced and there is some spice (including cardamon). Very fresh and crisp, with some lovely juniper notes on the finish. Again, there is some very strong cardamon notes (but these suit me nicely).

5) Dog’s Nose (*)
This adds a nose of juniper and cinnamon to the ale. In terms of taste, there was less juniper than in the version made with the regular gin and there was also a lot more cardamon. This spice seems to go rather well alongside the ale, adding another dimension to it.

6) Gin Bump (*)
This tasted of cardamon, vanilla and ginger and was light, creamy and a touch florid. This drink actually tastes weaker, in terms of alcohol, then the version made with the regular gin, despite the First Rate being 8%ABV stronger.

7) Alexander
Creamy and more sweet than the version made with the regular gin. The juniper was lost, but was replaced by cardamon and cinnamon. I thought that this was more like a pudding and richer than many Alexanders; sadly, this also means that it was a bit sickly.

8 ) Negroni
Quite spicy and pretty herbal, and, in terms of alcohol, pretty strong, too. The middle is quite sweet and the finish is bitter with a healthy dose of juniper. Overall, this was a bit sweeter than most Negronis, but this is sure to appeal to some palettes.

*As far as I know, this is the only gin to be even partly based on oat spirit.
(*) Denotes my favourite of the two gins to have in this cocktail.