Cocktails with… Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle Gin

Lemon Gin was a regular fixture of the early 19th Century, with Gordon’s and Plymouth both making varieties. These gins were often made via infusion, but fast-forward to the 21st Century and Sipsmith have resurrected the idea with their distilled Lemon Drizzle Gin.

Originally released as a part of their pilot Quarterly Sipping Service (recently more formally launched as the Sipping Society), such was the popularity of the gin, especially with employees of Marks & Spencer, that production was increased and M&S given the product as an exclusive. Here are my thoughts!

sipsmith-lemon-drizzle-gin

On its own

Nose: Zesty citrus oil and a creamy, citrus blossom, plus a little coriander and leafiness.

Taste: A thick texture and slight sweetness, followed by a fine array of citrus notes; a combination of the fruit, leaf, and flower of citrus that combines to give a lemony flavour in 6:1 surround. Like many signature botanical gins, the juniper is paired back, but that, along with angelica and coriander, is evident towards the finish.

Gin Tonic

Bright, clean, crisp citrus notes sing through, making a very refreshing, really delicious drink – a textbook Gin & Tonic.

Martini

Delightful citrus notes, creamy, and delicate; reminiscent of a lemon syllabub, or – indeed – a lemon drizzle cake, with a crisp, dry finish.

Negroni

A cocktail with a strong and balanced flavour with an extra liveliness from the lemon, which is well-integrated and wonderfully smooth.

In Conclusion

Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle is a fun, modern interpretation of the lemon gins of old. The fact that the flavour is 100% distilled is a great improvement in quality compared with those of the 1930s-1940s. If you are near a Marks & Spencer, it is well worth seeking this out. My favourite cocktail was the Gin Tonic.

Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle Gin is available for around £24 for 500ml Exclusively from Marks and Spencer.

Cocktails with… Hernö First Craft Gin

Mrs B and I recently returned from a fantastic trip to Northern Sweden as guests of the lovely folks at Hernö Gin Distillery. Whilst visiting the distillery, Jon shared with us a gin made to this first ever recipe; the balance of botanicals is similar to that of their Artisan Gin with one variation: meadowsweet is replaced with almond.

Herno MEadowseet.jpg

Meadowsweet Infusion and Dried Meadowsweet at Herno

Although meadowsweet has been used in other gins, such as Hendricks and Caorunn, it wasn’t until visiting the distillery in Dala that I really understood what it adds to a gin. Tasting a maceration of meadowsweet in alcohol, lots of lightly floral hay notes come through; slightly reminiscent of bison grass or holy grass vodka.

That’s probably enough of a focus on a botanical that is not even in this gin! Hernö First Craft’s botanical mix does include: juniper, coriander, lemon, black peppercorns, cassia, vanilla and lingdon berries and is bottled at 40.5% ABV.

Herno First Craft Gin

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Floral, oily notes with woody juniper and citrus, along with aromatic coriander.
Taste: Quite dry, but with rich citrus, floral, and spice from the coriander that I see as a trademark of Hernö’s gins. There’s also a creamy nuttiness with a hint of chocolate and marzipan. The finish is of light, dry, resinous juniper and a little citrus peel.

Gin & Tonic
Full of flavour, with rounded coriander notes and a slightly bready malt flavour. Then comes citrus and a little berry tartness. Clean and well-integrated.

Martini
A crisp, bright, and juniper-rich, resinous Martini. Clean, like a shard of ice. A pure delight of a drink with a long, dry, spicy finish.

Negroni
A resinous, yet smooth cocktail; a pleasant nuttiness comes through, with an underlying sweetness to it. This has a great texture and a good dose of bitterness on the finish.

In Conclusion
In comparison to their other gins, Hernö 2012 First Craft Gin is dryer in style, but still maintains the distillery’s signature character. Well-worth seeking out. My favourite cocktail was the excellent Martini.

Cocktails with.. Poetic License Picnic Gin – Strawberries & Cream

Summer is here, Wimbledon is around the corner, and when it comes to dessert, minds often turn to that cooling, delicious, and succulent treat – strawberries and cream.

Poetic License Picnic Gin Strawberries and Cream.jpg

The clever folks at Poetic License (whose other gins did well at last year’s Gin of the Year Competition) have managed to create a gin flavoured with strawberries and cream. Poetic License Picnic Gin is bottled at 37.5% ABV and is made using a mix of traditional botanicals and a blend of real strawberries and cream.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: A clean combination of strawberry and juniper.
Taste: First off, it is great is that this is a dry gin and not sweet at all. There are a range of dry gin flavours – juniper, angelica, and citrus – accompanied by fruity strawberry and creamy vanilla.

Gin & Tonic
Luscious strawberry and cream on the nose, followed by great, jammy strawberry notes on the palate that make this a fruity and delicious drink. The tonic adds a little dryness and lengthens this refreshing summer drink.

Martini
Very dry with some of the more tart notes of the strawberry coming through in particular, as well as woody, earthy spice.

Negroni
The Picnic Gin makes an unusual, but pleasant Negroni, with all of the classic flavours – bittersweet, herbaceous, spicy, and earthy – overlaid with the indulgent jammy flavours of strawberry.

Poetic License Picnice Gin Fruit Cup

Fruit Cup (30ml Picnic Gin, 15ml Red Vermouth, 10ml Ginger Wine, 100ml Lemonade)
The herbaceous, spicy notes of the other ingredients work well with the fruitiness of this gin. It is certainly a lighter Fruit Cup, but a great way to cool down on balmy afternoons.

With Soda
A lighter way to enjoy the gin, with strawberry notes upfront and a deep, resinous note of cedar-juniper in the background that makes this somewhat reminiscent of a juniper-cask aged gin.

In Conclusion
I think that Poetic License have done a fine job of capturing the bright, berry notes of strawberry in a gin that has great mixing potential. My favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic.

Poetic License Picnic Gin is available for around £33 from Master of Malt.

Cocktails with… Redsmith Gin

One of the really exciting things that has been going on in the UK recently is the return of distilleries to some of those cities in Britain that have not had a new distillery for a century or two. Examples include Bath, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, and Sheffield; all now (or soon will) boast their own distilleries.

Redmith Gin FINAL

Another example is Nottingham, which has also got its own new distillery: Redsmith Distillery in Ruddington, just 5 miles south of the city.

Bottled at 43.0% ABV, the gin is made using a mix of 9 botanicals, including: juniper, coriander, and orange.

On its own
Nose: Bright citrus with some green, leafy herbal notes, plus pine blossom mixed with lavender.
Taste: This has an excellent, luxurious texture with a little sweet spice upfront. Savoury, leafy salad notes are followed by a crescendo of citrus and juniper, along with a long, aromatic finish of pine and just a touch of black pepper.

Gin & Tonic
Wow! Sparklingly bright and invigorating; lovely citrus notes come through, as well as more subtle leafy notes, all before a classic, dry finish.

Martini
Crunchy, leafy notes upfront make this a refreshing cocktail. They are accompanied by floral spiced notes. It is clean and refreshing, with a lovely brightness to it. An excellent pre-dinner cocktail.

Negroni
Another excellent drink: bold, intense, and juicy. The gin comes through well and works well with the drink’s strong, bitter finish. This has great balance – a true classic.

The Sheriff
A variation on the Peter Cushing, this cocktail is a nod to the actor playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1960 film, The Sword of Sherwood Forest.
[50ml Redsmith Gin, 25ml Stone’s Ginger Wine, 5 dashes of Orange Bitters – SHAKE]
Sublime! The bitters and the bright citrus of the gin work superbly well together with some light floral notes that intermingle with the sweet ginger. Spicy and zesty – excellent refreshment.

In Conclusion
Redsmith is a bright and bouncy gin, full of life and delicious, complex flavours, including a mix of citrus and fresh greens. Many a fine drink will be supped with this this summer. My favourites of those that I tried were the Gin Tonic and The Sheriff.

Redsmith Website

Redsmith Twitter – @redsmithdistill

Redsmith Facebook

Dancing Cows Lymington Gin

As a one-time resident of the New Forest National Park, it has often puzzled me that no distillery has opened up shop there in the seven years of the UK’s distilling renaissance. As such, I was very pleased to hear about Dancing Cows Lymington Gin, which is distilled in the Forest town of Lymington.

Dancing cows Lymington gin - FINAL

Bottled at 43.0% ABV, the gin is made using a mix of nine botanicals: juniper, coriander seeds, angelica root, angelica seeds, orris root, bitter orange peel, cardamom, fresh lemon zest and sweet almonds.

After distillation a distillate of hops is added along with a post-distillation infusion of juniper berries, for that extra burst of flavour.

On its own
Nose: Green and herbaceous: mint, rosemary, and some light hop notes.
Taste: Clear citrus notes are followed by light spice, then menthol pepper and piney juniper, all followed by the herbal zest of hops. Complex and engaging.

Gin & Tonic
This is a crisp and dry Gin & Tonic, with bitterness on the finish from a combination of the quinine and the hops. It’s especially good with a lime garnish, although the distillery’s suggestion of a lime and pink peppercorn garnish sounds great and I’ll update this when I’ve tried it.

//- Update! -// Gin Tonica (with lime & pink peppercorns)
Bright and refreshing – the lime adds a pleasant zing, whilst the pink peppercorns complement the hop flavours. Clean, delicious, and a great pre-dinner drink choice.

Dancing Cows Gin - Gin Tonica

Martini
This has a lovely complexity to it, with velvety notes of vanilla and spice, then some leafy, herbal notes: coriander and juniper. The finish is dry, but oily in texture.

Negroni
A thick and oily Negroni with a good level of flavour and a strong and long-lasting bitterness. The hops notes from the gin work particularly well with the Campari.

In Conclusion
I enjoyed the complex and intense flavours of Dancing Cows gin and appreciate distiller embracing a variety of technique to create their gin. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonica – superb!

Keep an eye for our review of Dancing Cows aged Gin later this week.

Dancing Cows Gin is available for around £30 for 700ml from Brewers Direct

Cocktails with… Shortcross Clover Gin

One exciting trend developing in the gin industry is the rise of limited edition, seasonal or gypsy (as the Gin Foundry refer to it) gin varieties. This idea has been empowered by the increase in the number of small distilleries who have the flexibility and freedom to take on these small projects.

The craft Gin Club have been one of those leading the charge on this with a few exclusive editions featuring in their monthly gin club.

One of these were Shortcross Clover edition, bottled at 46.0%ABV this is a similar gin to their original release but the botanical balance has been adjusted to emphasise the Wild Clover which is foraged from the distillery estate.

1 Shortcross Clover Gin

On its own
Nose: Resinous and leafy with some floral citrus notes.
Taste: There is a light sweetness upfront. Notes of cassia and ginger followed by crisp coriander and citrus, and a touch of floral herbaceousness. The finish is crisp and leafy, with note of pine that linger for several minutes.

Gin & Tonic
This drink has the perfect balance of dry, refreshing crispness and sweet complexity. It is a very subtle Gin & Tonic that reveals its layers as you sip. Green, leafy notes make way for some herbal and spice notes, that – combined – remind me of heather. A complex and delicious drink.

Martini
Another delicate, but distinctive drink with a delightfully clean and smooth character, and a discernable, complex spice. Simply great.

Negroni
A super-smooth Negroni: soft and elegant. The clover adds a slight sweetness, but it is subtle; it just takes the edge off of the drink. Sit back, sip, and relax.

Peter Cushing
Soft and lightly sweet to start, the gin’s flavours soon sweep to the fore with floral notes and lemon, followed by more weighty herbal notes and a pleasant, soft rootiness. Juniper comes through strongly afterwards, with warm, but dry ginger notes increasing, especially on the finish.

In Conclusion
I think Shortcross Clover edition is a great example as to how even a tweak to the botanical balance can significantly adjust the flavour profile. Sometimes a little change can be as fascinating as a big one. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic & The Peter Cushing.

Cocktails with… Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin

Living on the south coast, I’m always excited when gins are released in the vague vicinity of SFC HQ, so I’ve followed the story of Dorset Dry Gin, made by Conker Spirit Distillery, with close interest.

Conker Dorset Dry is made using a mix of 10 botanicals; from classics such as juniper, coriander, and cassia, to some locally-sourced botanicals, such as elderberries, samphire, and gorse flowers from Dorset.

Conker Gin FINAL

Bottled at 40.0% ABV, the gin is made using British wheat spirit and is proofed with New Forest Spring Water. Having lived there for 20 years, the New Forest is certainly a place close to my heart. Without further ado, here are my tasting notes.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Crisp, luscious leafy notes upfront, followed by a mix of citrus and spice. Light juniper notes then come through, reminiscent of pine needles.
Taste: This has a sublime texture: silky smooth and luxurious. There are light coriander notes to start, accompanied by a little sweet citrus. The flavour then moves onto dry, woody spice and a hint of creamy vanilla, before crisp, green leafy notes and a dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
Excellent – light and smooth, with gentle leafy notes leading onto a little sweet spice, zesty citrus, and then a dry, juniper finish. Smooth, silky, and very easy to drink.

Martini
Thick, rich, and smooth, with notes of nutty, earthy spice, invigorating dry citrus, and a touch of soft, vegetal florality. This is a cocktail with a lovely symphony of flavours – tip top.

Negroni
A complex and jammy Negroni with some nutty, biscuity notes, followed by fresh, green flavours and an indulgent bitter-sweet finish.

In Conclusion
Conker Dorset Dry Gin is a great example of how you can balance terroir with national and international appeal. The gin is bright and tasty enough to appeal to gin drinkers on a global scale, but the notes of elderberries, as well as the leafy herbal notes of gorse and samphire, perfectly captures a flourish of Dorset in the bottle.

My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic but it was close as all drinks were excellent.

Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin is available for around £36 for 70cl from Master of Malt

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