Cocktails with… Darnley’s View Spiced Gin

I’d heard a little about a new gin project from Wemyss Malts, the folks that brought us Darnley’s View Gin, and so I was very pleased when, last week (on our second anniversary), I received a bottle of Darnley’s View Spiced Gin.

This is a small batch London Dry Gin with added warming botanicals. I’m sure this will come into its own during the Autumn and Winter months, but, with the rainy British weather this weekend (just in time for the combined sporting extravaganza of The British Grand Prix, Wimbledon Final and Chap Olympiad), I’m sure that it’s equally welcome in glasses across the country today.

Darnley’s View Spiced Gin contains the following 10 botanicals:



The gin is bottled at 42.7% ABV, which is slightly stronger than the original Darnley’s View; the additional strength is said to bring out the flavours of the spicy botanicals a little more.

On its own
Nose: Dry and spicy, with ginger, cinnamon and maybe even a hint of turmeric. Complex and unusual.
Taste: Wow – this is a really spicy gin! It momentarily blew my mind! First off, the classic notes of juniper and citrus appeared, but then the flavour deviated down the spice route, with warm, savoury, spicy notes, such as cumin, ginger and even a touch of paprika or chilli. These flavours are well balanced and this drink really is very different to any other gin that I have tried.

I previously mentioned the seasonal attractiveness of the gin, but, in the spirit of innovation, I wanted to try it in a variety of seasonal cocktails.


Summer

1) Fruit Cup
I’ve experimented a lot with Fruit Cups, but I’ve never really gone down the spicy and savoury route (a missed trick there!), but with Darnley’s View Spiced, this drink really delivers. It was cool and refreshing, with a long, warming spiciness towards the end. As such, it is probably more of an Autumn drink than a Summer one.

2) Gin & Tonic
The savoury, spicy notes are slightly more subdued in this drink, but nonetheless work well with the tonic, creating a very unusual, but refreshing drink. I tried this without garnish and I’ll have to experiment a bit more before coming to a final conclusion on what’s best to use; I think lemon or lime would work best. It may also be interesting to try it alongside a more herbal tonic, such as 1724 or Mediterranean.


Spring

3) Collins
This was quite a refreshing drink, but the clean and relatively neutral flavour didn’t seem to go particularly well with the spicy elements of the gin; perhaps some adjustment is needed, but, using my standard recipe, this was not the best way to enjoy the gin.

4) Dry Martini
This made a very smooth & spicy Martini. I mixed it using a 5:1 ratio and, although a lot of the flavour came through and there was certainly potential there, as it stands, the drink still needs some work and seemed unbalanced and slightly sickly. I’d be keen to try it in a Sweet Martini.


Autumn

5) Gin Buck
Overall, this had a good mix of refreshment and spicy warmth, making it great if we get an Indian Summer; with a savoury spiciness somewhat reminiscent of food from the subcontinent, this drink couldn’t be more fitting. The flavour of the gin comes through well and the lime adds a zesty bite.

6) Negroni
In this cocktail, you get the classic bittersweet mix of a Negroni – crisp and refreshing – plus an extra kick of spice, as if someone has added a pinch of something from a bag that has made its way across the Ottoman Empire. I’m a fan.


Winter

7) Gin Toddy
This was a very warm and intensely tasty gin toddy; exactly the sort of warming drink that you need of a Winter’s evening or after a walk on a wet Saturday afternoon like today. No extra spice is needed and there is a unique, fiery kick that you don’t get in most toddies.

8) Ginger Old fashioned*
A light nose of ginger and juniper was supported by hints of savoury spice and salt. To taste, it was wonderfully dry for an Old Fashioned and had an initial flavour of dry juniper that was immediately followed by lots and lots of spice, finishing off with a flash of warm ginger. Different, but delicious, especially if you usually find Old Fashioneds a little sweet.

~

9) Sweet Martini
A very herbal and intense drink with plenty of sweet and savoury spicy notes. Very complex and rather rousing to the appetite. Much better than the dry version.

In Conclusion
I think that Darnley’s View Spiced Gin is a great innovation and really adds something new to the ever-expanding gin market. It works better in some Classic cocktails more than others, but it nonetheless has a lot of potential, especially in the creation of new drinks.

Of those that we tried, our favourites were the Fruit Cup and both of the Winter drinks.

*An old fashioned made with King’s Ginger instead of sugar syrup and Spanish Bitters

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Evan Williams Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur

This week saw the annual Distill Spirits Show in London and, as ever, a highlight of the show was the Eaux de Vie stand, where you can always find a plethora of vodkas, gins, whiskies, rums (we tried some excellent ones from Eaux de Vie’s own Mezan range), liqueurs and a host of other drinks.

One item that quickly caught my eye, however, was a new product from Heaven Hill. Followers of Whispers of Whisk(e)y may recall that we have previously reviewed two of the other Evan Williams branded whisky liqueurs: their honey and cherry varieties.

The new variety builds on the success and popularity of these previous liqueurs and comes at a time when more and more American liqueurs are arriving on the market, with Jim Beam Honey having just launched and Jack Daniels Honey imminently about to hit UK shelves. We were fortunate enough to be able to try a sample of the first bottle to land in the UK. What was this new flavour?

Evan Williams Cinnamon is a mix of extra-aged Evan Williams Bourbon with natural, hot cinnamon flavour and is bottled at 35% ABV. Given the popularity of fiery, cinnamon flavours in the US (I quite like the Red Cinnamon Tic-Tacs), I was keen to see how it tasted and to get DBS thoughts, too.

The Taste

Own
Nose: This starts with genuine, sweet cinnamon, reminding me of cinnamon swirls. Stay a moment longer, and you get a dryer, sharper cinnamon scent, like cinnamon balls (DBS calls it “the big American Red” cinnamon smell and says that it “brings back all of the good times” he’s had in the US; praise, indeed!). Towards the end, this develops into an almost medicinal, spearmintiness.
Taste: A little viscous, this had a substantial sweetness that made it exceptionally smooth. This is followed by a huge burst of very strong cinnamon flavour: real, fiery cinnamon that made my lips tingle. It sharpened on the finish, capturing that medicinal, spicy note and ensuring that it wasn’t too sugary on the finish.

Frozen
We froze some of the liqueur for a couple of hours and tried it again; the additional chill really lengthened the flavour profile and exaggerated its sweetness, making it taste just like a cinnamon swirl/roll. The syrupy nature and intense, icing-sugar sweetness lasted for much longer than the same tipple at room temperature or over ice. The sharper, spicier hint of cinnamon came in at the end.

With regards to cocktails, the drink naturally lends itself to winter warmers, but, with a UK summer release, I wondered how it could work in coolers; my recommendation would be to serve it over plenty of ice, mixed with ginger ale and some fresh citrus. Spicy, yet refreshing. Perfect for this summer heat.

 

– Mrs. B.

Cocktails with… Beefeater Winter

It seems that Beefeater have excelled themselves in gin innovation this year by launching not just one, but two seasonal varieties of their gin. Beefeater Winter follows their summer edition and, in addition to Beefeater’s normal botanicals, takes flavour from pine shoots, cinnamon and nutmeg. Given the very festive nature of this gin and Mrs. B’s new fondness for hot cocktails, in a new twist for “Cocktails with…”, one half of the drinks we tried were hot.

The COOLIES

#1 Gin & Tonic
We tried this in an icicle Gin & Tonic, using real icicles from a recent cold snap. I really enjoyed this drink, as I do normally with Beefeater, but it was only at the end that I could tell the two apart: Beefeater Winter has a much spicier nose.

#2 Martini
A good Martini; the extra botanicals in Beefeater Winter complement the vermouth well and, although the drink itself was stirred until ice cold, it seemed more warming than your average Gin & It.

#3 Gimlet
A subtle and smooth Gimlet; the gin balances out the lime cordial and is quiet until the end, when the winter spice comes through, followed by a little juniper bitterness.

#4 White Lady
Beefeater Winter produced a beautifully smooth White Lady, and, as with some of the other cocktails we tried, the difference between normal Beefeater is noticeable at the finish of the cocktail.

#5 Aviation
A crisp Aviation. Although it is quite nice, I preferred most of the other drinks.

#6 Bramble
The Bramble rather overpowers Beefeater Winter, with the Creme de Mure making it too sweet; the ingredients don’t seem to blend well.

Icicle Gin & Tonic (with real Icicles!) made with Beefeater Winter

The HOT Ones

#7 Mistletoe Mist
The cranberry and mint are well matched and the nature of the gin means that the flavour comes through without overpowering the drink. This hot and fruity cocktail is a nice alternative to most hot toddies and nogs, as it’s neither creamy nor based on honey.

#8 Hot Apple Gin
This smelt liked apple sauce and reminds me of home-made stewed apples. The warmth of the gin comes through, with a little spice and some apple freshness; it’s a good alternative to the standard hot gin toddy. Mrs B. says it reminded her of a hot apple pie.

#9 Hot Alexander
A hot version of the Original Gin Alexander, this was a punt, but I was pleased with how it worked out. The standard drink is usually served ice cold and so isn’t so great for the winter, but the hot version has a delicious creaminess and provides a good appreciation of the gin and its wintery notes.

#10 Gin Egg Nog
This was a hot variation of the recipe provided by Beefeater. It tasted a little like cake batter, with a flavour of the gin at the end. The gin works well, as it is not too overpowering, but provides some spice. The drink tastes a bit like custard, but, when you consider the ingredients, that’s not too surprising.

#11 Hot Gin Toddy
I think the garnish of cloves add something to the flavour and complements the Beefeater Winter well. This gin makes a very classic gin toddy.

#12 Bakewell
Tastes like a Christmas Bakewell tart: a little milky, with sweet almond notes, all finished off with a cherry garnish. Some juniper and spice at the end.

#13 Buttered Beefeater
Hot buttered rum, Beefeater style. This was incredibly indulgent and probably should take the place of a pudding. It tastes of caramel and butter, reminding me a tad of raw flapjack mix. Drinking it through a top of layer of whipped cream adds to the sweetness and the coolness of the cream contrasts nicely with the warmth of the drink. I used molasses sugar, which seemed to work better with the flavours of this particular gin.

Beefeater Gin's Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS

Beefeater Gin’s Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS

In conclusion, I think this is another great innovation and, although I think it works well in some of the cold drinks, it really shines in the hotties; with a bit of innovation and seasonal flair, you can find some perfect winter warmers to make with this gin.

After this review, it begs one question: in the future will there be other seasonal variants of Beefeater? Perhaps a spring or autumnal gin? Time will tell, but I for one would like to see them!

Available for around £18-£20 for 70cl from The DrinkShop & The Whisky Exchange.

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