A Celebration of Colorado Gin (A Mega-Post)

Followers of SummerFruitCup might have noticed a recent uptick in the number of gin reviews posted on the website; this is in a New Year endeavour to clear some of our backlog of gin reviews.

Colorado Gin FINAL

Today’s mega-post has a theme: Colorado. Colorado is one of the top US states in terms of number of distilleries, along with Washington state, California, and New York. Should you ever be visiting the state, be sure to check out some of these great distilleries.

Cap Rock Gin (41.0% ABV)

Cap Rock Gin FINALCap Rock Gin is made by Peak Spirits in western Colorado. It uses a base spirit made from local apples and a mix of 12 botanicals, including juniper, rose, and lavender.

On its own
Nose: Fruity, rich and full. Distinctive notes of floral angelica and fresh-cut green apples.
Taste: Smooth, with a fair amount of lemon balm and citrus, followed by fragrant and crisp green apple notes that linger and zing on the palate. There’s also a little dry angelica on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
Very unusual and rather fruity, with the jammy notes of apple sauce coming through, before moving onto more dry apple notes. A vibrant and delicious drink.

Martini
Bright and crisp, with a mix of dry apple and pear flavours, before some juniper at the end. There is also a pinch of sweet spice, which adds balance. I’d recommend garnishing this Martini with a wafer-thin apple slice.

Negroni
This is a great take on the classic drink; the gin adds another dimension with its luscious fruit notes, adding to the cocktails typical bitter-sweet character; the sweet works well with the vermouth, whilst the bitter works well with the Campari. A very well-integrated cocktail and a drink I’ll likely return to.

In Conclusion
Cap Rock is a fun gin – great for those who want to try something a bit different, it is also a great example of how a non-NGS base spirit can work wonders in gin. My favourite drink was the Negroni, but all that I tried were very good.
Colorado Fog Gin (40.0% ABV)

Colorado Fog Gin FINALProduced at the Mystic Mountain Distillery at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Larkspur, Colorado.

On its own
Nose: Soft and vodka-like; a bit of vanilla, but not much else.
Taste: Very smooth and clean. The grain base is apparent, but there is almost nothing else there. The vaguest whiff of juniper does start to come through, or perhaps I just imagined it. Almost void of flavour, this has a finish that is very dry, sucking the moisture from the mouth. Adding a little water, a faint orange character emerges.

Gin & Tonic
This is an unfortunately cloying drink, although not without a refreshing quality. The gin’s flavour needs to be emboldened to allow the spirit to stand up to tonic. I use British Schweppes, so I imagine that it would be utterly lost against a HFCS-based tonic.

Martini
If this was a vodka Martini, it would be excellent: clean and smooth, with a good texture and a tiny hint of lemon citrus. But as a gin Martini, this sadly falls short; it has a dry finish, but no discernable juniper.

Negroni
This is a clean and somewhat refreshing drink, but the gin is totally lost to the other ingredients.

In Conclusion
There are some definite good points about Colorado Fog Gin: the base is of good quality in terms of texture and background character and the spirit has little burn or unpleasant stewed flavours. Unfortunately, it really lacks any discernible botanical character and as such I struggle to consider it as a gin. The best way to drink it was in a Martini – especially if you like vodka Martinis.

Colorado Gold Gin (40.0 % ABV)

Colorado Gold Gin FINALProduced by the Colorado Gold Distillery in Cedaredge, Colorado, the distillers of this gin use local grains to produce their spirit base in addition to local water.

On its own
Nose: Sweet grain, beer, and coriander.
Taste: The sweet base comes through again on the palate: it’s quite bready, with herbal notes such as fennel and anise before dry juniper and a fresh finish of sweet citrus.

Gin & Tonic
A drink with a strong nose of pecans and pear. The taste begins with a little malt and hops, which transforms into notes of pecan and almond, before some sweet marmalade citrus. The finish is nutty and very dry. Certainly an unusual Gin & Tonic, but nonetheless refreshing.

Martini
This is almost like a white whiskey Martini, full of grainy, bready notes. It’s dry and clean, with fine notes of juniper and coriander, plus a stem, plant-like quality on the finish.

Negroni
Colorado Gold Gin makes a mellow Negroni that, thanks to the base spirit, has a character reminiscent of geneva. There are some particularly bitter, dry, tannin notes, plus some herbal elements. An unusual, but cosy cocktail with a curbed bitterness and lingering sweetness of anise and fennel.

In Conclusion
Colorado Gold is certainly a very contemporary gin; with a lot of its base spirit coming through, the slightly sweet spice may well be too much for some traditionalists, but I enjoyed it. My favourite drink was the Negroni.
Denver Dry Gin (40.0% ABV)

Denver dry Gin FINALA product of Mile High Spirits in the city of Denver, this gin is produced in a large glass still. It is made using botanicals that include: juniper, citrus, coriander, and Grains of Paradise.

On its own
Nose: Clean, with a generous dose of juniper, plus citrus and earthy notes.
Taste: A classic style of gin, but with a modest sweetness, this has plenty of juniper, as well as a pleasant mix of lemon and lime, all followed by some earthy notes. This is an excellent gin with both good texture and flavour.

Gin & Tonic
The drink has a light louche to it, plus a strong nose of pine. To sip, it is an extremely crisp, crystal-clean drink: there is refreshing juniper and citrus, plus the the earthy, floral flavours of angelica. A really good drink that ticks all the boxes.

Martini
Very oily and, again, the drink louches slightly. Nonetheless, it is easy to drink and has a wide variety of signature classic gin flavours, all rounded off with a sweet spicy lift at the end of the finish.

Negroni
This is a Negroni with a fine interplay between bitter and sweet. There are notes of zesty citrus, plus the dryness of cedar and pine, before, once again, the drink is brought to a close with the gin’s signature spicy flourish.

In Conclusion
Denver Dry Gin is a first-class example of a truly classic London Dry Gin and is probably the best I have encountered that is produced outside of the UK. All of the drinks were excellent, but my favourite was the Gin & Tonic.
Dancing Pines (40.0% ABV)

Dancing Pines Gin FINALDancing Pines Distillery is in Loveland, Colorado, a little north of Denver. Their gin recipe uses just six botanicals.

Nose: A nice bright nose of juniper and lemon, along with a tinge of sweet, but pronounced alcohol.
Taste: Nice balance. Quiet upfront, building to a moderate level of juniper with an anise and fennel seed mid-note. The finish closes with a tinge of lemon, which is long and lingering. It has the character of a mild, but quite flavourful gin.

Gin & Tonic
Very crisp, clean. There’s a reasonable balance of flavour, with some citrus notes, and a particularly dry finish. An okay Gin & Tonic, but not great.

Martini
A cocktail with a spicy and savoury element on the nose. To drink, this is a very smooth Martini, with silky notes of fennel/anise coming through, accompanied by dry pine and a citrus finish. Very nice.

Negroni
Dancing Pines makes a soft and clean Negroni with good spice and citrus notes, as well as hints of floral and vanilla. It is less intense than some other Negronis, but nevertheless has a good, if subtle flavour. Very easy to drink.

In Conclusion
Dancing Pines is a subtle gin that makes good use of its botanical flavours. My favourite drink was the Martini.
Rob’s Mountain Gin (44.0% ABV)

Today’s review looks at the first of two gins from Spring 44 Distillery in Loveland, Colorado. Rob’s Mountain Gin is a limited edition spirit; each edition has a different formula, this was Formula #44.

On its own
Nose: Zesty, with notes of coriander, lemon, and lime, as well as a hint of black rubber.
Taste: Smooth and very creamy, with herbal notes and a silky note of citrus vanilla. The finish is lovely and dry, with lots of juniper notes. This gin has great balance; a splendid sipper.

Gin & Tonic
A drink with a spicy, complex nose, this Gin & Tonic has plenty of juniper upfront, which gradually gives way to sweet spice and more herbal notes.

Martini
Thick and full of flavour; there are plenty of herbal and spiced notes, as well as some citrus, fennel, and anise, and more of a sweet note towards the end. Sophisticated and flavoursome, this is a delight to drink.

Negroni
Excellent – well-rounded and full-bodied, with a rich, slightly jammy, but bitter finish. The finish has a real, long-lingering bitterness that is complemented by the cocktail’s herbal character and tangy citrus.

In Conclusion
Rob’s Mountain Gin is a truly first-class spirit that is delicious either on its own or when mixed. My favourite drink was the Martini.
Spring 44 (44.0% ABV)

Botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Nutmeg, Agave Nectar

On its own
Nose: Lemon, rose, and spicy coriander.
Taste: This gin has a thick, mouth-filling texture and is absolutely packed full of luscious juniper: fruity and jammy, with a lovely freshness. The finish has more zesty notes of coriander, plus spice and pepper.

Gin & Tonic
Lively, with plenty of citrus notes, plus hints of lemongrass and coriander. Light, bright, and very thirst-quenching.

Martini
Another satisfying cocktail that is clean and crisp, with an icy shard of juniper, coriander, and citrus flavours. A Martini with a booming character, this is superb. Textbook.

Negroni
A good, intense Negroni with a solid bitter-sweetness, as well as notes of citrus, juniper, and an array of earthy botanicals. Very good and definitely one that will please Negroni traditionalists.

In Conclusion
Overall, Spring 44 is a well-made gin with a good character and flavour-integration. My favourite drink was the Martini.
Spirit Hound (40.0% ABV)

SpiritHound FINALSpirit Hound Gin is made by Spirit Hound Distillers in Lyons, Colorado. Their juniper is sourced from the local area by patrons of their bar, where one bag of juniper berries = a free drink. As such, the varieties used vary, but will likely include both Juniperus Communis and Juniperus Scopulorum. Spirit Hound distill their botanicals using a vapour basket and their mix includes: juniper, cinnamon, anise, cardamom, and clove.

On its own
Nose: Juniper that’s accompanied by fruity notes such as watermelon and cantaloupe. There is also some cucumber notes. Exceptionally fresh.
Taste: Initial citrus flavours lead onto those of sweet spices such as cassia, nutmeg, and cardamom. The piney, juniper finish lasts for a good while and contributes to what is generally a good, thick texture.

Gin & Tonic
Spice and nutty notes come through: sweet anise and fennel, as well as cinnamon, a hint of nutmeg and cardamom, as well as a hint of sassafras. The spice notes are warm, but the drink is still refreshing, especially with a citrus wedge as garnish.

Martini
Strong notes of liquorice, anise, cinnamon, fennel, and cardamom came through well. This is a slightly sweet and very spicy Martini. I think a lemon twist would be the best garnish. Very smooth and well-rounded.

Negroni
A full-flavoured drink with warm spice in the middle and an intense bitterness at the end. Clean, fresh, and revitalising.

In Conclusion
A refreshing gin with a complex character. My favourite drink was the Martini, although all of the drinks were excellent.
Woods Treeline Gin (40.0% ABV)

Wood High Mountain Distillery make a range of spirits from their site in Salida, Colorado, including single malt and rye whiskies, elderflower liqueurs, and both aged and unaged gins.

On its own
Nose: Juniper, cassia, cinnamon, and some salty fennel.
Taste: This has a smooth texture to start, with more spicy pepper towards the end. There are, however, some spicy notes to start with: nutmeg, cinnamon, and fennel. This is a pretty spicy gin, with a dash of sweetness, but is nevertheless very smooth. It has many of the flavours that I would associate with an aged gin: the sweetness, the spice.

Gin & Tonic
Zesty citrus to start, followed by warm vanilla. This is a spicy Gin & Tonic with a little sweetness in the middle, before a dry finish of refreshing pine.

Martini
A Martini with a silky mouthfeel, this is well-rounded with juniper and spiced notes of fennel, anise, and nutmeg. It’s a splendid drink and an excellent example of a more contemporary Gin Martini made with an American Craft Gin.

Negroni
Plenty of sweet anise upfront, but with lots of other flavours, too, such as citrus and spice. The drink almost tastes as if the glass has had an absinthe rinse. It has a great flavour profile and a superb bitter-dry finish.

In Conclusion
Woods Treeline Gin is a lovely, complex gin that makes some cracking cocktails; my favourite was the Negroni.

Cocktails with… nginious! gins – from Switzerland!

Nginious was founded by Oliver Ullrich and Ralph Villiger, two chaps from Switzerland that had previously owned a gin bar in Zurich.

nginious Gin Range FINAL

nginious! Swiss Blended Gin (45.0 %ABV)

The first gin that they created was in response to a desire to capture the soul and character of Switzerland in a gin by utilising local botanicals and flavours. The botanicals are distilled in batches and then blended together, in a similar method to that used by Gin Mare.

The Swiss Blended Gin is made using 18 botanicals:
Juniper Berries
Lemon
Sweet Orange
Iris*
Cardamom
Liquorice Root
Grapefruit
Chamomile*
Verbena*
Hyssop*
Blackcurrant Leaves*
Galingale*
Hay Flowers*
Clover Blossoms
Laurel Berries
Barberries
Bee Balm* (part of the mint family)
Carline Thistle Root

nginious swiss blended FINAL

On its own
Nose: Very herbaceous. This has lots of pine and green, leafy alpine notes, along with a gentle ginger spiciness.
Taste: This has an oily texture, with mellow juniper notes and a lightly sappy, sweet, and woody pine flavour coming through. Leafy and herbaceous, with good complexity. The main palate has light notes of citrus, florals, and spice, before the warm spiced notes of ginger and cardamom on the finish, with just a hint of bready sweetness.

Gin & Tonic
Spicy and resinous, with woody, herbal notes and spiced notes such as cardamom and anise. Bold and complex, and a great all-year-round Gin & Tonic.

Martini
This cocktail has lots of bright juniper and the intense citrus spice of coriander, before notes of oily citrus peel and, finally, some more woody spice.

Negroni
Bright and very fruity, with dry juniper and luscious pine notes at the start. These are followed by citrus and spice, especially coriander. This is lighter than many Negronis, in terms of bitterness, but is absolutely packed with flavour.

nginious! Summer Gin (42.0% ABV)

The Summer Gin is made using botanicals that include:
Juniper Berries
Blueberries
Peach
Fresh sweet limes
Jasmine blossoms
White pepper
Rhubarb roots
Rhubarb

ngInious Summer Gin FINAL

On its own
Nose: Vibrant, fruity, and floral notes, with plenty of zesty citrus that makes it lively and engaging. There are also hints of orchard and stone fruit.
Taste: Perfumed floral notes upfront quickly make way for plump stone fruit: plum, cherry, and peach. This is followed by the citrus zip of coriander, then woody, lightly menthol pepper notes. There’s also a touch of delicate honeyed flowers in the middle of the palate.

Gin & Tonic
Lively and zesty, with lots of exciting citrus notes. This is a plump, refreshing, and truly delicious drink.

Martini
Very floral, with jammy hints of rose, violet, and Turkish Delight, followed by plump, fruity citrus and juniper. There’s a hint of crushed, spicy coriander on the finish.

Negroni
Dry fruit notes, including freshly cut apple and stone fruit, followed by a mellow, bittersweet interplay between the vermouth and Campari. Refreshing, summery, and invigorating.

nginious! Cocchi Vermouth Cask Gin (43.0%ABV)

The third gin that we’re looking at today is an unusual double-aged vermouth cask gin. The Swiss Blended Gin is aged in 225 litre barrels that originally held Cocchi Barolo and then Cocchi vermouth.

The first filling of the barrels from Cocchi is for one week, simply to remove the immediate, heavy flavours of the vermouth – in a way, this is conditioning the barrels for their second filling with high-proof gin. The final gin is a blend of these two aged distillates.

nginious Cocchi Vermouth Cask Gin FINAL

On its own
Nose: Red fruits, pump and juicy before some floral notes come forward reminiscent of an alpine meadow. the comes some of the deep herbal notes commonly associated with vermouth, woody and earthy.
Taste: Very fragrant and lively to start with, plenty of citrus too. In the middle the impact of the wood comes forward bitter woodiness combines with the bitterness of the grapefruit finally a sweet lift of spice on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
This works surprisingly well – many aged gins don’t work so well in a Gin & Tonic, but the Cocchi Vermouth Cask Gin has a great herbal complexity to it that works well alongside the flavours of the tonic water. It’s an intense, dry, and thirst-quenching drink.

Martini
Bright, resinous juniper really shines through and, unlike many others that I’ve tried with aged gin, the wood adds a herbal bitterness, followed by a more delicate, woody sweetness.

Negroni
A complex cocktail with delicious wood and herbal notes; there are also increased vermouth notes from both the spirit and the wine. The pine and juniper come through well, before the lightly bittersweet notes of the Campari.
nginious! Smoked & Salted Gin (42.0%ABV)

Our final gin for today is a very unusual spirit, made with an original botanical recipe of juniper, coriander, bitter orange, ginger, quinces, and chestnuts.

Before their individual distillation, the chestnuts are cold-smoked for 40 hours. The salted element comes from smoked stone salt from the Swiss Alps, which is created by evaporating brine; the resulting salt crystals are spread out and smoked on larch tree boards.

nginious Smoked and Salted Gin FINAL

On its own
Nose: Creamy notes of crème brulee and toasted caramel, along with a hint of smoke and a little salinity.
Taste: The salt flavour is upfront, followed by more smoky flavours, somewhat reminiscent of smoked ham. This is followed by the more traditional gin notes such as juniper, angelica, and citrus spice. Very unusual and complex.

Gin & Tonic
Even with an unflavoured tonic, this works well, but I think that it could excel even more with some of the more herbaceous tonic waters.

Martini
A very smooth and smoky Martini – savoury, with hints of smoke cheese and meat, but with great woody notes, too. Complex and unique.

Negroni
This gin makes an unusual Negroni and its salty element really comes through at the start. The vermouth and smoke flavours mix well together, before a classic bittersweet Negroni finish.

Cocktails with… Sipsmith House of Commons Gin

The Visitors Centre in the House of Commons has a plethora of gifts available for purchase, from tea towels to jigsaws, postcards to teddy bears. They also sell booze: a variety of spirits, wine, and beer. Recently, Sipsmith were awarded the contract to provide the “House of Commons” Gin. Excitingly, this is bottled at 40.7% ABV, which is lower than their standard 41.6% ABV. This lower ABV results in a different flavour.

House of Commons Sipsmith Gin FINAL

On its own
Nose: Citrus and vanilla, with a great selection of rich, plummy fruit notes and pine jelly.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth palate, with notes of spicy coriander upfront, as well as some earthy floral notes, before creamy citrus and a long, dry finish with just a hint of black pepper. Overall, this is a complex, smooth, and very accessible spirit.

Gin & Tonic
A sparkly nose with a little spice and pepper, with citrus and angelica. This is a luscious Gin & Tonic: delicate, fresh, smooth, succulent, and oh so refreshing, with a fine lemon flavour running throughout. Light and everything you could want from a Gin & Tonic.

Martini
A smooth and full-textured drink with a hint of sweetness and citrus, before a clean, crisp, and dry finish. Easy to drink, but with a powerful character.

Negroni
A well-integrated, mellow, and soft Negroni. Accessible, even to those who are not usually Negroni fans. There is a very crisp, gently sharp note of juniper, before light spice and the signature herbal bitterness of the cocktail come into play.

In Conclusion
Th gin worked well in all drinks providing a more mellow gin flavour to the other higher ABV Sipsmiths. An excellent gin for lunchtime or the afternoon. My favourite drink was the gin tonic.

Sipsmith House of Commons Gin (Available exclusively from the Jubilee Gift Shop (the one inside Parliament) £28 for 70cl, 40.7% ABV)

Cocktails with… Lola & Vera Gin

Gin has been popular in Spain for a long time, but, until recently, most of this was produced in the UK and then imported into Spain; the renaissance of gin distilling in Spain was a little behind that of the UK.

Since then, some new distilleries have opened, including Santamania in Madrid, whose gin I had the chance to try in 2014, along with their aged gin. In 2015, they launched a new gin named after their two pot stills: Lola & Vera.

1 Lola and Vera FINAL

Bottled at 40.0%ABV, Lola & Vera Gin is made using a grain alcohol base and the following botanicals: juniper, lemon, orange peel, cardamom, cassia, liquorice, anise, ginger, sunflower, and apple.

The apple is macerated in the spirit first and is then filtered out before the spirit is distilled with the other botanicals to make the gin.

On its own
Nose: Fresh, fruity, and juicy, with hints of citrus, coriander, and pine.
Taste: This is a very smooth spirit with some gentle citrus from orange and lemon. There are also some richer spiced and chocolate notes, before a good, dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
Flavoursome and jammy, with some lovely plum and berry notes, before a finish of zesty citrus. Crisp and very refreshing.

Martini
A particularly citrusy Martini, this is bright and brilliant: juicy, with just a little spice on the finish. It is also wonderfully smooth – an excellent cocktail.

Negroni
This makes a very solid Negroni: it has an intense bitterness with a good level of interplay between sweet spice and herbal notes, before a bitter citrus finish.

In Conclusion
Lola & Vera is a classic and crisp gin with a pleasant flair of citrus that makes it great for mixing. My favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic.

~ Bonus Santamania Gins ~

Santamania 37.5%

On its own
Nose: Bright citrus – orange and lemon – as well as notes of fresh tea leaves.
Taste: Quite a light gin, with tea and vanilla upfront and then some citrus – a combination of orange and coriander – before a long, dry, slightly fruity finish

Gin Tonic
A straightforward but pleasantly refreshing gin tonic, rather zesty with tnags of lemon and lime as well as a light juniper dryness.

Martini
Soft and silky, with complex citrus and floral notes. This has an absolutely first class texture and is a pleasure to drink.

Negroni
A good, solid drink with hints of citrus and chocolate, before some dry notes on the finish. Smooth and well-integrated.

Santamania Reserve

On its own
Colour: Green/straw
Nose: Light, woody citrus.
Taste: A soft, smooth spirit with a gradually building warmth. There are notes of freshly cut wood and vanilla upfront with fine, fruity notes. The taste gradually becomes dryer with hints of citrus as you sip.

Frozen
The smooth vanilla oak notes really come through when frozen, as do the wood characteristics before a very dry finish.

Martini
A very clean aged gin Martini: delicate spice and a touch of sweetness before dry, woody and citrus notes.

Negroni
A rather nutty Negroni with an intense chocolatey, earthy bitterness with notes of peanut brittle on the finish. A little woody, too.

Cocktails with the new Barrel Reserve and Peat Barrel BIG Gins – from the USA!

As 2016 approaches, I thought that today I would share with readers two 2015 releases from one of my favourite distilleries; not only do they make delicious, award-winning products, but the owners are a hoot! I speak, of course, of Captive Spirits: Ben Capdeville, Holly Robinson, and the entire Big Gin family.

In 2014, Bourbon-Barreled Big Gin won Best Contemporary Gin at the IWSC and now the folks at Captive Spirits have released two new aged gins.

Barrel Reserve Big Gin is aged for Three Years in Ex-bourbon (Heaven Hill casks).

Peat Barreled Big Gin is rested for 3-4 months in Westland Distillery’s American Single Malt Peated Whiskey barrels (which previously held Wild Turkey) and is bottled at 47% ABV.

Barrel Reserve BIG Gin

BB-BarrelReserve

On its own
Colour: Light gold
Nose: Light fruit and vanilla. This is sweet and inviting, before a hint of pine blossom towards the end.
Taste: Delightfully smooth and sippable, this has a lovely balance of the complex, sweet wood spice and the dryer, piney gin notes. It also has a thick texture that fills the mouth and the menthol pepper of the Tasmanian Pepperberry on the finish.

Frozen
This gin chills down well, adding a lovely viscosity to the texture. Upfront, there are notes of toffee and spice, with some crisp pine and citrus, too. The finish is more floral, with sweet spice and wood; it’s creamy, before a peppery finish.

Gin Soda
Herbaceous and woody; this is quite resinous, but the lengthening of the soda gives the gin a lighter, refreshing character without compromising on intensity or quality.

Sweet Martini
Sweet, fruity, and jammy, with a touch of bitter herbal notes. Then comes some spice and vanilla, and a lovely, creamy finish.

Negroni
Wow! Simply fantastic – there is an excellent synergy between the gin, the wood, and the other ingredients. Smooth, mellow, and relaxed, the gin takes the drink to another level, with beautiful vanilla wood and maple notes in the middle. A must try!

Peat Barreled BIG Gin

BB-PeatBarreled
On its own
Colour: Pale straw
Nose: Light spice with a wisp of dry, smoked wood, then a little citrus and cedar. This is complex and evolving with a few subtleties kept back for the palate.
Taste: The wood creates a very dry, light smoke that lingers and builds as you sip. The dry wood notes work well with the fundamentally dry character of the gin. After the wood comes some juniper, angelica, and a little citrus. The finish is of spice and the slight menthol pepper of the Tasmanian Pepperberry.

From the Freezer
Dry, with flavours of apricot kernels, followed by flavours of fragrant cedar. Excellent, cooling, and sippable.

Gin Soda
The woody notes are dry, adding to the refreshing nature of the drink and complementing the other botanical notes, whilst the spice adds complexity. This is, without a doubt, an aged gin made for soda.

Sweet Martini
Superb – light and dry, almost as if it was made with dry vermouth. Despite that, there’s a lovely sweetness at the end, along with delicious, rich orange notes. This is truly excellent and sets itself apart from other Sweet Martinis.

Negroni
A wonderfully woody Negroni: the smoky wood works really well with the bitterness of the cocktail and here is a touch of very dark chocolate thrown in, too. All of this is balanced by the sweetness of the vermouth and the extra bitterness of the Campari. Another excellent drink.

In Conclusion

It’s great to see the folks at BIG Gin not rest on their laurels after their big win at IWSC with their first Bourbon Barreled Big Gin. These two new additions are no fly-by-nights and have obviously been well thought through before their release.

The Barrel Reserve adds smoothness and complexity to what was already a great gin and really starts to bring aged gin in line with some of the better whiskies that are great to sip and explore neat.

The Peat Barreled Gin achieves a fine balance between gin, wood, and smoke and, whilst the peat is certainly there, it does not overwhelm the gin’s character; in addition, the extra woody, smoky dryness that it adds is – I think – fantastic. I highly recommended trying both.

Cocktails wtih… Kirsty’s Gin from Arbikie

Arbikie Gin aka Kirsty’s Gin is named after distiller Kirsty Black who created the recipe for the gin. Unusually Arbikie don’t just distill the botanicals but they actually make the base spirit used to make the gin which is the same spirit as their potato vodka.

KIRSTYS GIN FINAL

This spirit is distilled in Inverkeilor, Angus, Scotland and is made from Maris Piper, King Edward and Cultra varieties of potatoes.

The botanicals used in the gin include kelp, carline thistle & bilberry

The gin is bottled at 43.0% ABV

Potato based is quite tricky to get right and often a perfumed fruitiness can overwhelm the botanical so I was very keen to try this one.

On its own
Nose: Citrus and juniper, as well as bright, aromatic coriander, followed by some soft, herbal notes.
Taste: A full texture with some rich, dry fruit notes upfront, followed by pepper spice, sparkling juniper, and zesty citrus. A full-bodied gin with excellent balance and intensity.

Gin & Tonic
Packed full of flavour, with vibrant, woody juniper notes as well as some sweet, herbal notes and a little fruitiness, all before a clean, bitter finish and a touch of cedar.

Martini
This is a drink with a certain brilliance, especially when served ice cold. The juniper bursts forth, before being followed by a smooth, plump texture, hints of spice, pepper, and citrus. It leaves you with a delightful glow.

Negroni
Arbikie Gin makes a fruity and relatively sweet Negroni with a body of plump stone fruit, followed by dark chocolate and coffee notes, then an earthy bitterness on the finish.

In Conclusion
Arbikie is a shining example of a potato-based gin. In fact, it’s one of the best that I have ever tasted. It has an excellent balance between the character of its botanicals and that of the base spirit. My favourite drink was the Martini.

Cocktails with… Chase Eureka Gin

Citrus and gin are a natural match, so it is perhaps surprising that we don’t see more citrus gins, especially given how popular they once were. Chase Distillery released one in 2015, which was limited to just 1,000 bottles. It is based on Chase Naked Apple with extra Lemon, Lime, Ornage and Pink Grapefruit.

Chase Eureka Gin

On its own
Nose: Bright, but not overpowering citrus in a medley of lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit notes. There are some hints of spice, too.
Taste: Dry upfront, before the citrus notes come through. There is a little oiliness from the start, with notes of vanilla, lime, and the darker flavours of orange and light citrus blossom. This has a smooth and silky texture, followed by a long, dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
This is a light and bright Gin & Tonic. The citrus nature of the gin makes it an obvious candidate to mix with tonic, and it does not disappoint. No garnish is necessary.

Martini
Lively, with a variety of citrus: lemon, lime, and orange. The bright vibrance is an excellent quality for a Martini and makes this a refreshing pre-dinner cocktail.

Negroni
A solid Negroni and, whilst the zesty citrus comes through, it does not dominate, so there is still space for your choice of garnish, whether it be a slice of orange, pink grapefruit, or blood orange.

In Conclusion
I was pleasantly surprised by the subtleties of this gin. Many citrus-flavoured spirits go overboard, but – thankfully – Chase Eureka does not. The result is a bright and vibrant spirit that still tastes like gin, but also has a lavish flourish of citrus that makes it perfect for long drinks. As such, my favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic.

Cocktails with… Westwinds The Broadside Gin

Westwinds Distillery has been established for some years now and we have already reviewed their excellent Cutlass and Sabre Gins, so it was a pleasure to try a little “under-the-counter” sample of Westwinds Broadside Gin at Imbibe Live 2015, and even have a smaller sample for a more full evaluation.

Westwinds The Broadside is bottled at 58% ABV.

Westwinds Broadside Gin.jpg

On its own
Nose: Floral citrus, quite zesty and fragrant. It really “pops” out of the glass and is rather enticing.
Taste: Rich and juicy, reminding me of plum jam. There is a little sweetness, but there is also a great complexity in its fruit flavours, from the luscious flesh to the slightly drying skin and even a touch of nuttiness from the stones. The flavour profile then moves towards more classic gin flavours with notes of juniper and citrus.

Gin & Tonic
The fruity elements of the gin come through well, with the sweetness of jam and the bitterness of marmalade neatly combined. This is followed by some dry, leafy juniper that works really well alongside the tonic water.

Martini
This has a lovely, thick and velvety texture, big flavours, and a real buzz from the higher ABV. There are notes of sweet liquorice and more juicy, jammy fruit, all followed by crisp, leafy, and juniper flavours. Excellent.

Negroni
A full and powerful nose, before the gin bursts through like a lively firework! When it comes to flavour, it is fuller and more rounded than many; at the same time, it is mellow and soothing like a cosy cuddle. It has a light sweetness with a deep juniper flavour and plumy fruit in the background. The finish is crisp, like fresh salad or cut mango. An absolutely fantastic Negroni – a must try.

In Conclusion
Westwinds Broadside takes a bold and fruity spin on the Navy Strength category whilst staying true to the gin’s heritage, embodied by the plump and juicy character of the spirit. My favourite drink was, undoubtedly, the Negroni.

Cocktails with… Fred Jerbis Gin… from Italy

I’m always interested in gins from other countries and, whilst there are plenty of gins available from Spain, France, and Germany, I’d only ever tried one from Italy and, as nice as it was, that was a pretty standard, classic style gin.

As a result, I was very pleased to have the opportunity to try the hand-crafted Fred Jerbis gin, made by L.F. Opificium in Spilimbergo, North-east Italy. It uses five different production methods to capture its wide range of botanical flavours:

Pot Distillation
Vapour Distillation
Cold Maceration of Fresh Herbs
Cold Maceration of Dried Herbs
Hot Maceration

1 Fred Jerbis Gin

Fred Jerbis is bottled at 43% ABV and the gin is made using 43 different botanicals, including: Juniper, Angelica, Lemon, Orange, Mandarin, Orange Blossom, Liquorice, Iris, Savory, Thyme, Lavender, Saffron, Mint, Anise, Fennel, Mountain Pine, Melissa, Masterwort, Clary Sage, Wormwood, Yarrow, Hyssop, Marjoram, and Aromatic Calamus, amongst others.

On its own
Nose: Intense and complex, with an array of herbs, fruits, roots and spices. There are notes of fruit cake – like panettone or stollen – as well as rich orange and hints of woody menthol and wintergreen.
Taste: Warm and cosy in flavour, with lots going on, despite it being pleasantly mellow. Notes of cedar and woody spice are followed by forest aromatics and hint of meadow flowers. The finish is full of citrus with a bitter-sweet orange that lingers on the palate.

Gin & Tonic
A herbaceous nose with a touch of sweetness. So fresh and genuine, this is wonderfully cool and inviting. There are flavours of wintergreen upfront, before fruity notes (such as grape) and then drier, leafy notes that work particularly well with the tonic.

Gin Soda
An understandably drier drink than the Gin & Tonic, but less bitter, too. The soda allows some of the more subtle root notes to come through, such as dandelion & burdock. The orange is a little more in the background, replaced with vermouth-like flavours of anis, fennel, and artemisia.

Martini
Fragrant and somewhat floral. Smooth, but with plenty of flavour, this is a herbal Martini that’s raising to the appetite. The strong finish is of juniper, coriander, and citrus.

Negroni
Very herbal, mellow, and smooth, with a pleasant, light jamminess that is reminiscent of fruit pastilles. There are also lovely elements of woody vanilla and spice, and sweet hints of anis and fennel. These are followed by a slight bitterness from the Campari, which is well-matched to the levels of juniper in this cocktail. Very good, indeed.

In Conclusion
Fred Jerbis Gin is a complex gin with a wide array of botanical flavours, from bright juniper to fresh, leafy herbs; from sweet spice to citrus. This variety of flavour is a result of their combination of distillation and maceration, and provides a great deal to explore. My favourite drink was the Negroni.

www.fredjerbis.it – Fred Jerbis on Twitter

Cocktails with… Blackwater Gin

Blackwater Gin is made by Blackwater Distillery in Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, Ireland. I had the pleasure of visiting the distillery during my trip to Dungarvin for the West Waterford Food Festival, where we hosted an Irish Gin tasting. The release of Blackwater Gin comes at the beginning of what I think is a very exciting time for Irish distilling.

The gin is bottled at 41.5% ABV and its botanical mix includes juniper, coriander, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Local water is used for bottling.

On its own
Nose: Bold floral, citrus, and spice, with a pleasant zestiness that is followed by chocolate, cardamon, and a warm, woody cassia note with a touch of vanilla.
Taste: Juniper upfront, with a very silky, viscous texture. The start is classic in style, but followed by a pop! of intensity with coriander, bright floral notes, and citrus peel. The profile then develops into warm, sweet spice notes that lead onto the finish, which is long, lingering, and dry. This is a great example of how a distiller can achieve a procession of character and varying intensity in their gin.

BLACKWATER GIN

Frozen
Sipped straight from the freezer, coriander and floral citrus come to the fore, followed by some woody angelica and spice, moving from nutty to aromatic and bright. Again, there’s a long, lingering finish of ginger-like warmth and dry crispness.

Gin & Tonic
A brilliant and spicy Gin & Tonic with plenty of citrus and complex spice. Truly excellent; the gin integrates well with tonic to create an exceptionally refreshing drink. As you sip more, the various botanicals come through and different characters come to the fore, especially with a little ice melt. This is a full-flavoured drink that really evolves as you sip – near perfection.

Diamond Martini
Another cocktail with a good level of flavour: lots of spice and some piney notes, too. The floral and the citrus are a little more subtle with this serve, but a twist of lemon would bring these characters back. The alcohol comes also through in a robust fashion, although there is no burn. An excellent pre-dinner choice.

Stirred Martini
Very soft and smooth; you could certainly enjoy more than one of these in an evening. The variety of botanical characters shine, including: juniper, angelica, and coriander, followed by more subtle, sweet spice such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. On the finish, there is some bright, dry citrus.

Negroni
The gin comes through well, but doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. There is a rich, plump fruitiness, as well as a piney dryness in the middle. Notes of slightly sweet, woody spice gradually build before an earthy, bitter finish of medium intensity.

In Conclusion
This is a superb and delicious gin, and one that I highly recommend seeking out. They also have other products in the pipeline, which I have high hopes for, too. My favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic.

Blackwater is one of the first craft gins in Ireland and, if distillers on the island continue to produce gins to the same high standard as the likes of Blackwater and Shortcross, then the world is really in for a treat.