Cocktails with Bummer & Lazarus Dry Gin

I recently reviewed the British Chilgrove Gin which was the first in the UK to be distilled using Grape Neutral Spirit so it was great to try a comparative product from California.

Bummer & Lazarus Dry Gin is distilled at the Raff Distillerie on Treasure Island, San Francisco, California. they also make an Absinthe (also base of grape spirit), and are working on a Rum Agricole and a Bourbon.

http://www.raffdistillerie.com/gin.html

Bummer & Lazarus Dry Gin – http://www.raffdistillerie.com/gin.html

The gin is named after two dogs that roamed the streets of San Francisco in the mid 19th century. The grape neutral spirit is sourced from 100% Californian grapes and this is then re-distilled with a selection of botanicals including:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Lemon
Orange
Orris
Cinnamon
Liquorice

The Taste

Own
nose: very very fruity; the base spirit is quite evident on the nose with orange and some broader chocolate notes as well as fennel and a touch of dry juniper.
taste: a very smooth texture, as you may expect from a grape spirit base. There is a rich plump fruitiness with coriander, orange and grapefruit citrus. A touch of coconut and a hint of pine precede a long dry fruity finish with a pleasant warmth.

Gin & Tonic
A very fruity gin and tonic full of plump grapes as well as crisp green apple and pear notes and a little sweetness – the drink is reminiscent of apple jelly or jam. For a garnish I think the crispness of lime contrasts well with the more confectionery elements of the gin.

Martini
As a diamond-method Martini I think this really works, lots of the pear and apple fruity notes come through as well as some sweetness followed by plump, luscious grape flavours. There is bright juniper, coriander, citrus and spice. A very clean and silky Martini with both the flavour and texture of the base spirit coming through.

Negroni
Very fruity with a smooth succulence courtesy of the grape spirit there are hints of pear and almond too, slightly reminiscent of a bakewell tart. After these flavours, the herbal elements of the vermouth become more pronounced followed by the herbal bitterness of the Campari. A full-bodied drink, with bitterness. Overall it is quite well-rounded.

 

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Cocktails with… Spirits Works Gin

Spirit Works Gin Title

I’ve often written about the renaissance of craft distilling in the US, but the availability of these products has always been rather limited. However, last week, a new gin brand arrived in the UK, being imported from America by GX Spirits.

That brand is Spirit Works, out of Sebastopol, north of San Francisco, California.

Spirit Works was founded by husband and wife team, Timo & Ashby Marshall. Timo originally hails from England, whilst Ashby is a native of the Pacific West Coast.

Their current range includes a gin, a vodka, and the only US sloe gin made in the traditional, English style.

SpiritWorksGin

Batch 004 from November 15, 2013 – you can check out when your batch comes from on the Spirit Works website.

The gin is made using an organic, Californian wheat base, which is milled, mashed, fermented and distilled on-site at the distillery. It is bottled at 43.0% ABV and contains a proprietary botanical blend of traditional and Californian botanicals, including:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Citrus
Cardamom

On its own
Nose: Juniper with hint of lemon and vanilla.
Taste: Juniper and spice up-front, which moves onto a stronger pine flavour intermingled with a sweet breadiness with a touch of fennel or caraway. There’s also bright citrus and a little pepper towards the end. A good, solid dry gin with a little transatlantic flair. Very nice to sip neat, on the rocks, or from the freezer.

Gin & Tonic
Fruity, with notes of vanilla and a dry, refreshing finish with a lot of flavour. Classic, with a creamy twist. I am reminded of jelly and ice-cream, but by no means in a bad way; the drink is not overly sweet and has a dry finish. My advice: try one.

Martini
This cocktail has a lovely interplay of flavours between dryness and crispness. The juniper is certainly there, as well as dry floral and citrus notes that work well with the vermouth, but be careful not to put too much in. Just before the finish there is a burst of plumy fruit, which stops the drink from becoming too arid. The finish is long, lingering and dry and, as it fades, you are more than inclined to take another sip.

Negroni
Lovely nose – some hints of vanilla and cinnamon, like homemade custard. The taste is even better, just superb – a lovely interplay of flavours between the spicy botanicals, dry botanicals, and its sweeter elements. Complex, intense and a delight to drink.

Spirit Works, Website, Twitter, Facebook, UK Distributor.

Cocktails with… No:209 Gin

There are lots of gins that are made in the USA, but – sadly – few of them make it over to the UK. One of the more readily available, and more popular, varieties is No:209 Gin from San Francisco.

No:209 Gin is bottled at 46% ABV and its botanical mix includes:

Juniper
Angelica Root
Coriander
Cassia Bark
Cardamom Pods
Bergamot Orange Peel
Lemon Peel

On its own
Nose: Juicy juniper, coriander, some sweetness and cardamom.
Taste: Initial flavours of coriander and spicy cardamom, moving to orange. Smooth to start, with a gradually-building strength and warmth, but no burn. Very tasty, with a lot of flavour. Rather classic in style, but with a self-confessed contemporary twist.

Martini
Excellent: very crisp and refreshing. There is a strong, spicy edge, especially on the finish. Cooling and very smooth, this is a really good drink.

Gin & Tonic
A rather classic, crisp and refreshing drink with an extra twist in flavour from the citrus boost and  green, spicy cardamom. Another classic drink with a contemporary slant and, frankly, a rather delightful one.

Negroni
The flavours of the cardamom work well with the other bittersweet characteristics of the Negroni and No:209 has plenty of these. There is a running theme to cocktails with this gin: that of classic styles with a contemporary twist and this is no exception. Another superb drink.

In Conclusion
I think No:209 is a good example of a Classic London style of gin that has been given a contemporary Californian (or, more generally, American) twist. The spicy cardamom is superb and my favourite drink for No:209 is always a Gin & Tonic.

Cocktails with… Junipero

The first American gin that I ever tried – even before the behemoth of Seagram’s Extra Dry – was Junipero and, with it, I experienced something a little bit different: a departure from the English Gins that I’d been used to. Since then, I’ve done my fair share of research and writing on the matter and, today, I turn to it once again, for a review.

Junipero was created in 1996 by Anchor Distilling. It is made by hand in the classic, “distilled dry gin” tradition in their distillery on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, USA. Bottled at 49.3% ABV, Junipero is made using a mix of over 12 botanicals. It recently won Double Gold – Best Gin in Show at the 2012 NY World Wine and Spirits Competition.

1) On its own
Nose: Juniper, coriander and sweet citrus.
Taste: Strong, fresh, green piney juniper, spicy citrus, and coriander. It is surprisingly smooth for its strength (49.3% ABV) and is in a classic style, but with a slight twist that makes it smoother, vibrant and more lively.

2) Gin & Tonic
Delicious! Classic juniper and citrus with an extra, zesty sweetness. Very smooth and easy to drink. A great mix, with very good balance; quite dry, but refreshing and simply superb.

3) Martini
One of the best Martinis out there and easily one of the smoothest. It has a rich, full and silky texture. Notes of juniper, coriander and citrus, with a little residual sweetness. At risk of waxing lyrical (maybe we’re past that), this is silk in a glass and at nearly 30% ABV it is a real treat which will appeal to aficionados and new converts alike.

4) Negroni
A Negroni with an extra dose of juniper. It has a balanced flavour, slight nuttiness and, overall, is rather excellent. With its hint of sweet spice, this would satisfy any Negroni adorer. Tip-top.

In Conclusion
I’ve been a fan of Junipero ever since I first tried it (nearly 8 years ago) and so it was good to revisit it and see that it is just as good as ever. I like it in a Gin & Tonic, but, for me, it’s at its best in a Martini.

Junipero is available for around £42 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange

Many thanks to Junipero and Coe Vintners for their help in this article.