Cocktails with Genius Navy Strength Gin

A few weeks back, I reviewed Genius Gin from Texas, courtesy of a sample provided by Aaron from TheGinIsIn.com (America’s Gin website). Today, I am reviewing Genius Gin Navy Strength after the folk at Genius Distillery were kind enough to send me a bottle.

Genius Gin Navy FINAL

On its own
Nose: Clean, with a little sweetness that comes from the can base spirit; it is almost reminiscent of a white rum. There is also a little creamy spice, followed by dry citrus.
Taste: A full flavour, with a rich mouthfeel. Initially, there’s a thick, creamy sweetness, which moves to some of the more traditional gin flavours: juniper, angelica and coriander. There is then a touch of spice, before a powerful, long and lingering, dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
A flavoursome Gin & Tonic, with coriander and some sweetness, as well as hints of nut, almond and fresh, crisp pear. A powerful and very refreshing drink – lime would be my choice of garnish. Lovely.

Martini
A smooth and silky Martini with a little sweetness but then also some dry fruit and nuttiness that provides a slight hint of bitterness. There are also some earthy herbal elements which I think means the gin could easily lend itself to an olive garnish, although both lemon peel or a Dickens serve (no olive or twist) work well, too. The botanical flavours are there, but this is certainly less intense than a Martini made with a very traditional gin like Tanqueray. Pretty good stuff.

Negroni
A powerful drink, with the extra ABV providing a bolder botanical flavour that has plenty of juniper and citrus, as well as some dark chocolate and intense, bitter, herbal elements towards the end. The finish is long, dry and lingering.

Gimlet

A clean drink with plenty of vanilla and lime – clean, crisp and a lovely example of a more contemporary twist in the Gimlet – smooth without being overly cloying.

In Conclusion
Genius Navy Gin is a great example of how the ABV can impact upon the flavour of a spirit and is a good illustration of the different characteristics that a Navy Gin can add to drinks when mixing. My favourite drink was the Negroini.

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Cocktails with… Corsair Gin (from Kentucky)

CorsairTitle This gin should be of particular interest to anyone who is familiar with the excellent book, “Alt Whiskeys” by Darek Bell, as it is made by the author himself. The exact botanical make-up of Corsair remains undisclosed, but it does include the six stalwarts of gin botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Lemon, Orange and Orris. The spirit base of the gin is neutral grain spirit and the gin is make at Corsair’s Kentucky distillery (not the one in Tennessee). In addition to this American Gin, they make an Aged Gin and a Genever. CorsairGinBottle On its own

Nose: Buttery and herbal, with hints of gazpacho. In addition to pine, there are some herbal notes, such as thyme.

Taste: Really complex; a whole array of notes, including: tea, rosemary, mint, thyme, pickles, cucumber, broth, celery, vegetables, salad, soft bread. It is generally savoury, with a soup-like quality and juniper at the end.

Gin & Tonic

Juniper to start with, followed by a yeasty, bready finish. This is quite nice; a Gin & Tonic, but slightly reminiscent of a combination of white whiskey and tonic. There’s a good amount of bitterness and green, herbal notes.

Martini

This is probably the best way to drink the gin. It’s relatively clean and neutral, with some cardamom, as well a hint of tea and rosemary towards the end. This has the levels of smoothness usually associated with a Vodka Martini.

Negroni

OK, but the gin is less pronounced and almost lost in the mixture. The cocktail as a whole has a good balance and is pretty tasty all the same; it’s just that you can’t really appreciate the gin. A little  sweetness appears towards the end.

In Conclusion

Corsair Gin has a some interesting herbal and savoury notes to it, resulting in a spirit that lends itself well to certain cocktails (a Red Snapper seems an obvious example). Of those I tried, the Martini was my favourite drink.

United States of Gin will return in… Cocktails with… Ridge Distillery Silvertip American Gin from Montana

Cocktails with… River Rose Gin from Iowa

Image from TheGinIsIn.com

Image from TheGinIsIn.com

If you are looking for a gin from Iowa (the the state to join the Union), then I suggest you take a trip to LeClaire on the Mississippi River, where, fittingly, the Mississippi River Distilling Company make not only a gin, but River Pilot Vodka and River Baron White Whiskey. They also make a bourbon and a rye whiskey.

River Rose is a fictional 1920s lady who is the granddaughter of the River Baron (whom the bourbon is named after).

River Rose Gin is made from a corn-based spirit and contains 12 botanicals.

1) On its own
Nose: A touch of caraway, lots of orange, coriander seed and a leafy hint of lemon.
Taste: Caraway and creamy lemon, followed by a more floral citrus. Bitter and dry juniper pops up at the end, rather than the beginning, with a final fresh finish. This is a very pleasant drink to sip neat on its own.

2) Gin & Tonic
Grainy, with a fair bit of anise and cardamom, followed by a sweet breadiness and sweet liquorice. This is a very different sort of Gin & Tonic, mostly because of its sweetness; I think that a tonic like East India would work well with it, counteracting this. Not a bad Gin & Tonic, but your choice of mixer and garnish would make all the difference.

3) Martini
Lots of flavour: mostly caraway and lemon, it reminds me somewhat of a caraway vodka I had once from France. Delightfully smooth and rather raising to the appetite (I had to have a little nibble of something afterwards), making it perfect for the cocktail hour.

4) Negroni
Initially, there’s a lot of anise, as if the Negroni glass had been given an absinthe rinse (now there’s an idea!). In addition to this spice, there was also some cardamom. This is a very well-balanced drink and gained the greatest endorsement of all – Mrs. B. (usually a loather of Campari) was rather keen on it. River Rose, you have outdone yourself!

In Conclusion
this was really great gin, it brought a lot of character to each oft he drinks. Some pleasant floral and herbal notes and it makes a fantastic Negroni, if you can find a bottle of this I would recommend it.

us gin tag

Cocktails with… FEW American gin from Illinois, USA

FewTitle

There are a lot of Gins made in the US and there are lot of Gins made in the UK, but, sadly, there are relatively few US gins available in the UK; most come through the lovely folks at Eaux de Vie, but there is a new US spirits importer intown: Ginuine Spirits, headed up by Michael Vachon.

Ginuine Spirits have just brought five excellent products over to the UK: a Bourbon, a Rye Whiskey, a White Whiskey, a Gin and a  Navy-Strength Gin. Given its imminent landing on British soil, FEW American Gin seemed to be the perfect choice for the Illinois Gin in our United States of Gin Tasting.

FEW Distillery is based in Evanston, Illinois and the Master Distiller is Paul Hletko. As mentioned above, they make a variety of products and, additionally, produce limited editions of a rather tasty yellow/cask/aged Gin, which we tasted [here].

FEWGinBottle

FEW American Gin is rather unusual in that the spirit base is the same as their high corn white whiskey. 70% corn, 20% wheat, 10% 2 row malt. It is bottled at 40%ABV.

The Taste

1) On its own
Nose: Wheat, grain and bread (the base of the gin really comes through), followed by some pine, citrus and a touch of coriander.
Taste: Very soft and smooth initially and also quite sweet, with some liquorice. This is followed by pine and some floral notes, chocolate and coriander towards the end. This Gin has a very long finish, full of anise and liquorice. It’s something very different, but very tasty, too.

2) Gin & Tonic
A juicy and citrusy Gin & Tonic, with a fair hint of White Whiskey and corn coming through, but less juniper than many. It has a touch of sweetness, too, alongside some more liquorice. It’s definitely different, but well-liked by Mrs. B.

3) Martini
Crisp and powerful (given only 40%ABV), this is grainy, with just a hint of vanilla and a dry juniper finish. This is very different; unlike any Martini that I’ve had before, but excellent.

4) Negroni
The FEW American Gin made quite a sweet Negroni, with a long, lingering herbal bitterness, liquorice, anise and a touch of the bitterness of treacle. It’s something different, with the whole flavour of the drink lasting for a long time. The base spirit of the Gin also comes through, adding grainy notes. A different breed of Negroni, but very good, nonetheless.

5) Old Fashioned
The sweet creamy vanilla notes of the gin really comes through and the base really lends itself to the drink (the FEW white whiskey makes an exception Old Fashioned). Flavourful with those familiar gin characteristics of juniper and coriander alongside some floral elements. Pleasantly the drink is well balanced and a chord is struck between the various tastes. Very good indeed.

In Conclusion
FEW American Gin is rather different to most other gins; a lot of this is down to the unique use of White Whisky as its base. This adds a light, grainy maltiness that adds a different dimension to the gin. In fairness, it may not be for everyone, but I think many will love it and it is certainly worth trying. My favourite drink (which was very difficult to choose) was the Old Fashioned and Mrs. B liked the Gin & Tonic.

FEW American Gin is available for around £32 for 750ml from The Whisky Exchange.

Cocktails with… Waterloo Gin (from Texas)

I know what you are thinking, “They make gin in TEXAS?”. Well, yes, they do, and pretty fine stuff it is, too. Waterloo Gin is made by the Treaty Oak Distilling Company of Austin, Texas. They started off their range by making a Plantation Rum and, in November 2011, they released a Gin, Waterloo Gin, which is described as:

“stay(ing) true to the traditional London Dry Gin style, while still making the gin’s Texas roots evident”.

Waterloo Gin is bottled at 47%ABV and contains 11 botanicals:

1) On its own
Nose: A sweet spiciness and juniper upfront, followed by a slight medicinal note and a fresh citrus towards the end.
Taste: Crammed full of flavours, with a little bit of sweetness. Fresh, fruity citrus and sarsaparilla (maybe sassafras) root are quite noticeable, but there is also some cardamom toward the end and a slightly bitter finish. Overall, this is sweet, spicy and generally delicious.

2) Gin & Tonic
This drink is pleasant, indeed; some juniper is followed by cinnamon and cardamom. There is also a little sweetness, which is accompanied by a hint of root beer. Pretty well-balanced and refreshing.

Waterloo Gin (Austin, Texas) at Waterloo Train Station (London, UK)

Waterloo Gin (Austin, Texas) at Waterloo Train Station (London, UK)

3) Martini
Bitter dark chocolate notes are accompanied by a strong burst of cardamom and then a clean citrus, with juniper being present throughout. This is superb and exactly my sort of Martini (I am a self-confessed sucker for cardamom*). The finish also has a zesty edge, which signs the drink off nicely.

4) Negroni
This cocktail was okay, but, sadly, the Gin seems a bit lost. The bitter-sweet balance is good, producing a good, standard drink, but it’s not outstanding. There’s a little sweetness towards the end. I would say that there are much better ways to appreciate this spirit.

In Conclusion
Waterloo Gin really does show that the Texans make excellent Gin and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. This Gin combines excellent flavours with traditional characteristics and a contemporary twist. I really like the addition of pecans in the botanical mix – it adds a unique character.

Cocktails with… Knickerbocker Gin (from Michigan)

Representing the 26th state, New Holland Distilling were kind enough to oblige us with a bottle of their gin from Michigan, Knickerbocker Gin. In addition to this, the Distillery also make two vodkas, three rums, six whiskies (including one co-distilled with Bill Owens, President of The American Distilling Institute) and, finally, a Hopquila – a kind of tequila that’s made from hops.

Knickerbocker Gin is bottled at 42.5% ABV, and contains a mix of 12 botanicals:

On its own
Nose: Vibrant: full of sweet cinnamon and savoury spice, herbs and a lift of cardamom, which balances out what would otherwise have been quite a heavy nose.
Taste: There’s lots of flavour here, too, making this more intense than a typical gin. Flavours of nutmeg and cinnamon are both strong, the latter being especially apparent on the finish. Juniper appears in the middle, but is surrounded by flavours that seem quite different and separate to it, despite the fact that they all work well together. Generally, this is quite spicy with a pleasant warm, dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
Another sweet and spicy delight, this reminds me a little of the Portobello Road Gin or the new Chase British Gin. Flavours of nutmeg, cinnamon and gingerbread are all strong, making this a good example of an autumnal Gin & Tonic; different, but very tasty with a dry finish. There’s more nutmeg at the end. To balance out the sweet spice, my recommended garnish would be both lemon and lime (or Evans style)

Martini
Very spicy, with lots of dry cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg. Not bad, but it is a bit odd; some folks will love it, others will hate it. I’m not quite sure which camp I’m in.

Negroni
Sweet and spicy (I guess you are starting to see a trend here); the Christmas spice combo reminds me of cinnamon whirls or the Cinnabon buns that you often get at breakfast for my American cousins. This is surprisingly soft for a Negroni and wonderfully smooth, but isn’t as bitter as many Negronis (it’s almost as if it were a dessert Negroni). Nonetheless, it’s a real pleasure to drink, with a bit of bitterness reminiscent of dark chocolate on the finish.

In Conclusion
Knickerbocker is one of a growing number of gins that chose to emphasise a sweet and spicy flavour profile, full of Christmas spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. This can make it a challenge to mix with, but, with a bit of imagination, this needn’t be a problem. The gin  lends itself particularly well to Autumn (Fall) or Winter cocktails, which is somewhere that gin is currently lacking.

My favourite drink was the Negroni.

Cocktails with… FEW American Gin from Illinois

Cocktails with… Back River Gin (from Maine)

Made by Sweetgrass Distillery and Winery in Union, Maine., Back River Gin describes itself as a:

“Gin made in the London tradition with a Maine twist, blueberries.  The combination of organic botanicals, Maine blueberries, and sea air give our gin its refreshing taste.”

I’m not sure if the sea air can really affect a gin (unless it’s aged), but I do know that Plymouth and Adnams Gins are both made by the sea and both produce excellent products.

Picture of Back River Gin from LeafMag

Back River Gin uses Neutral Grain Spirit as its base, contains a mix of seven botanicals and is bottled at 43%ABV.

1) On its own
Nose: Orange, lime and coriander. There’s also hints of lemon shortbread, grain and, finally, a hint of vanilla. There’s also a touch of powdered liquorice root that gives the nose an almost talc-like quality.
Taste: Heavy on the citrus, this has both orange and coriander notes that are accompanied by sweet anise. The flavour becomes smoother as you continue to drink, with juniper and a swirl of floral notes at the end.

2) Gin & Tonic
Very floral, with zesty citrus, hibiscus and a fair dose of lavender and pine. This isn’t Classic in terms of style and produces a Gin & Tonic that is far more perfumed than many others. The flavour of coriander leaf is prominent throughout.

3) Martini
This cocktail is full of strong and spicy cardamom, along with cilantro and cinnamon. These notes are dominant and the juniper definitely takes a backseat in this Martini. There’s some lavender towards the end, but the finish is mostly just more cilantro and dry cinnamon.

4) Negroni
This is a sound Negroni that has good balance and contains all of the aspects that a traditionalist would expect in the cocktail, but – sadly – has no “WOW” factor. Still, for fans of traditional Negronis, this won’t disappoint.

In Conclusion
This gin has plenty of citrus, floral and coriander notes and whilst the juniper is there it certainly takes a back seat. That said I think the gin could be good to converting reluctant gin drinkers to some of the classics.

My favourite drink was the Martini.

United States of Gin will return in…

Cocktails with… Knickerbocker Gin from Michigan