Cocktails with… Savier’s Artisan & Juniper Gin

After a chance encounter at the gin junction (the centre of London’s gin world), aka the Graphic Bar, Monday found myself and Mr Hartley attending a rendezvous on a roof terrace in Kings Cross. Byron of the Gabriel Collective brought along some beer and tequila from South Africa for us to try, as well as some gin from The Savier Spirits Company.

The two bottles of gin that we tried were exceptionally new (batch 001) and I think they may be the only bottles in the country (this often claimed, but in this particular case I’m pretty sure it was true).

Mr Hartley enjoys a glass of Savier Gin on a rooftop in Kings Cross

The Savier Organic Spirits Company is based in South Africa and they make a Cocoa Vodka, a Plain Vodka, an Artisan Gin, and a Juniper Gin. The gins are made to a secret recipe in the USA (maybe North Carolina*) and are then shipped over and bottled in South Africa. Both Gins have been certified organic for USDA National Organic Program by the C.C.O.F.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “What is a Juniper Gin?”. After all, surely all gins are Juniper Gins? Well, yes, all gin, by definition, has to taste of juniper, but the Juniper Gin is more than that: it is the product of macerating some of the Artisan Gin in fresh juniper berries. This produces a slightly cloudy drink, the colour of light cloudy apple juice.

Artisan Gin
Originally I thought this had quite a quiet nose, but gradually it seems to open up, particularly with the addition of water: notes of juniper, coriander and some herbs – perhaps fennel – are accompanied by a flavour that reminded me of salad or cucumber.

This was a very fresh gin and after few sips the cucumber became quite pronounced there was also a good portion of juniper. In this way it reminded me of both Miller’s and Hendrick’s Gin. There was a slight sweetness too, but the predominate taste was juniper; this is a gin that has slightly stepped away from the growing trend of creating sweet and floral gins.

This drink had notes of sweet citrus, juniper and pine. There was also some fennel or anis. It had a very fresh finish, with that slight hint of cucumber or green salad coming through at the end. Very refreshing; a great cooler.

The Artisan Gin Martini was really packed full of flavour: juniper, coriander and a fresh crispness at the end. Frankly, this is the best new Martini I’ve had in a while.

Gin Bump
The gin is still well-pronounced in the drink, with the same freshness as you get in the Gin & Tonic; the slight difference is that there is a touch of sweet ginger at the end. I used Waitrose Ginger Ale, which is not too sweet, but I think some of the sicklier brands of mixer would be too much alongside gin and would ruin the drink.

This was a moderately crisp, but rather smooth cocktail. The two dominant flavours were juniper and lime, which, for some gin traditionalists, is as it should be. For me, I think it makes an excellent drink, with the cucumber-like element adding a touch of freshness right at the end.

OK, pretty subtle and could do with a touch more flavour to my mind.
White Lady
Absolutely superb, citrus, juniper, sweet & tart and so beautifully rounded. One of the best I’ve had.

Very sweet initially, before the bitterness of the Campari approaches. For those that don’t like Campari, I fear that this one will not be for you, but if you like the flavour profile of a Campari Soda, with the sweet followed by bitterness, try this. As I continue to drink it, it grew on me and I think it was actually pretty darn good.

Juniper Gin
On its own, the Juniper Gin was quite subtle and, although there was additional juniper, it wasn’t over-powering. Overall, this was very soft and pleasant to drink on its own.

We also tried the Juniper Gin after it had been chilled in a freezer. It had a slightly syrupy texture, but was nonetheless quite pleasant to sip from the freezer on its own, in the same way you would a good-quality and flavourful vodka.

Slightly cloudy, almost louched, this G&T was very strong on the juniper with some coriander and citrus at the back. It was also slightly sweet and less crisp than most Gin & Tonics; quite soft. It had a more simple flavour than the Artisan & Tonic.

This was, again, cloudy, which is very unusual for a Martini, but I was quickly distracted from this by a really heavy hit of the juniper. There was a lot of warmth from the alcohol. A little “rough and ready” as Martinis go, but good nonetheless.

Gin Bump
The Gin Bump was very much to my taste: there was a good amount of juniper with a touch of bitterness and ginger, followed by a touch of sweetness. Served with lots of ice, this is just great.

A good drink, but the flavours were less defined then they would usually be in this drink. That said, it does have a soft warmth, which is uncommon for a Gimlet.

OK, pretty subtle and could do with a touch more flavour to my mind.
White Lady
Smooth and delicious, heavy citrus and juniper a very flavour intense drink and rather good. Top notch.

First you get the gin, then (very stongly) the vermouth and, finally, the Campari; there was a nice flavour progression, but, once again, the flavours seem a bit muddied.

In Conclusion

It was real treat to try these and the Artisan Gin is a good quality product which doesn’t deviate too far from tradition and is certainly a Gin to be mixed. This is against the rise of more “sippable gins” that have been brought out into the market, which sometimes tend to be lost when cocktail making.

But the real gem in the Juniper Gin, I think innovation is good and this was an experiment was worth trying. I’ve never seen gin made like this before (if you have please let me know!). the fresh Juniper does add a very juicy element and is surprisingly not too overpowering in terms of Juniper.

On “my travels”  I offered samples of the Gin (neat) to about a dozen different folk and the majority preferred the Juniper Gin but it is when it is mixed that the Artisan really comes into it’s own.

Cocktail highlights for the artisan Gin were the White Lady, Martini and Gin & Tonic.

My thanks to Byron for providing us with these samples and conducting such an enjoyable tasting.

*After further research I am not 100% certain that this is actually the case.


Cocktails with… Sacred Christmas Pudding Gin

Sacred’s Christmas Pudding Gin

The other day I was looking on Sacred Gin’s website under “Exotics”; this section features limited editions or single bottlings of varieties of Sacred Gin, including some of the most interesting distilled ports that I have ever heard off. Then, subtly placed at the bottom of the list, I saw an entry for Christmas Pudding Gin.

Father Christmas is in for a treat this year!

So how is it made? Christmas pudding is infused in Sacred Gin for three months and the resultant liquid is then re-distilled and bottled.

Having recently undertaken extensive experimentation with mincemeat vodka/liqueur, I thought I’d give it a try.

The taste:

Neat: It starts off softly and then starts to warm your mouth. Quite a strong flavour of dark fruit cake, a similar bitterness. The juniper still is there, but the overall flavour is about much more than that. A few minutes after drinking, my mouth feels like I’ve just eaten some Christmas pudding, including getting a sense of, strangely enough, its texture; it’s unusual, but I like it.

Frozen: Certainly an improvement on room temperature: drinking it from the freezer brings out the fruit from the pudding. Mostly raisin, but some other mixed fruit too. The gin is incredibly smooth. but has a little warm kick at the end. Tasty.

Martini: A crisp Martini with a slightly different finish; not citrus, but again, a slightly cakey, dark richness and some mincemeat spice in the mid-notes. I never thought a Martini could be partiularly festive, but I guess I was wrong.

Toddy: I’m usually a fan of hot toddies anyway, but this particular one has something else: it is cosier and more comforting, as the usual dry element of this drink, from the gin, is replaced by a gentle spice. Really, really good.

G&T: Quite a nice gin and tonic, sweet and quite refreshing. A little burnt fruit at the end. Good, but I think there are better ways to appreciate the gin.

In conclusion: I do find all of the experiments that Scared get up to very interesting, and if you haven’t heard of them, it’s worth checking their website. With regards to the Christmas Gin, it was something I really enjoyed, both for the novelty and for the flavours. I found that almost every drink I tried it in finished with a combination of toasted sugar and the dark, cakey after-flavour of Christmas pudding. I’m not sure how many bottles are left, but if it sounds like it appeals to you, I’d buy sooner rather than later.

Sacred Christmas Pudding Gin is available for £14.95 for 20cl from their website.

For more of our Gin Reviews please click here

Cocktails with… 6 O’Clock Gin

Here is a gin that was made to go with tonic; so much so, that it even has its own tonic specifically designed to match it. I know that some gin distillers have produced their own tonic for their premixes, but this is the first time that anyone has released their tonic water separately; new ground for the tonic world.

6 O’Clock Gin and its matching Tonic Water

6 O’Clock Gin and it’s accompanying Tonic are both made by Bramley & Gage in Bristol, who are famous for their fruit liqueurs and sloe gins. 6 O’Clock Gin is bottled at 43% and contains seven botanicals, including orange peel and elderflower. As for the Tonic, along with natural quinine, it also contains essence of lemon and lime. I think this gives the tonic that extra zestiness that I like and, when I make my own, I use lemongrass to the same effect, just like John.

Why Six O’Clock? This was the time when inventor & engineer Edward Kain would enjoy his gin, but not before; in essence, this was his “cocktail hour”. In honour of his Great Grandfather, Michael, the creator of the Gin named his new spirit after this.

The Taste

#1 Gin & Tonic:
There is no other way I could start this edition of “Cocktails with…” than with the drink of this Gin. When combined, 6 O’Clock Gin and 6 O’Clock Tonic create a soft, yet flavourful drink, which is probably one of the most relaxing gin & tonics I have ever had. That is not to say that it doesn’t have much flavour, as there is, without a doubt, a distinctive mix of juniper and quinine. It really is very good.

#2 Martini:
A classic Martini with a fine balance of juniper and citrus, full of flavour and more engaging than those made with many other gins.

#3 Gimlet:
Quite a good drink, but the gin is rather hidden by the lime cordial and so it doesn’t really complement it as best as it could. There is a little juniper at the end.

#4 White Lady:
A nice little zip to this, the citrus of the gin goes well with the citrus of the lemon. It’s quite tart but rather tasty.

#5 Aviation:
6 O’Clock produces a more gin-dominant Aviation than many, with the flavour of the gin really coming through. There is a little violet at the end, but, again, not the best use of the gin.

#6 Tom Collins:
A good Collins where each main ingredient plays an equal part: refreshing and easy to enjoy.

#7 Bramble:
I really like 6 O’Clock Gin in Bramble. Each individual flavour within the drink is apparent and it’s a very easy cocktail to drink. I think it would interesting to try this using Bramley & Gage’s Blackberry Liqueur instead of Creme de Mure.

#8 Sloe & Tonic:
As this post is also about 6 O’Clock Tonic, I thought I would try it with some Bramley & Gage Organic Gin from our sloe gin tasting. I’m not usually a fan of sloe gin and tonic water, but in this case I certainly make an exception. The tonic brings out the juiciness of the gin and it’s sweeter almond flavours.

In Conclusion:
There is no question what the best drink made with 6 O’Clock Gin was: it was the gin and tonic, as you would expect. Nonetheless, it would be hard to ignore the crisp and delicious Bramble that this gin makes, or how well the tonic went with sloe gin.

6 O’Clock Gin is available for £15.99 (35cl) and £23.65 (70cl). The tonic is £3.00 for a generous 730ml bottle. Both can be purchased from Bramley & Gage’s website.