Cocktails with… River Rose Gin from Iowa

Image from TheGinIsIn.com

Image from TheGinIsIn.com

If you are looking for a gin from Iowa (the the state to join the Union), then I suggest you take a trip to LeClaire on the Mississippi River, where, fittingly, the Mississippi River Distilling Company make not only a gin, but River Pilot Vodka and River Baron White Whiskey. They also make a bourbon and a rye whiskey.

River Rose is a fictional 1920s lady who is the granddaughter of the River Baron (whom the bourbon is named after).

River Rose Gin is made from a corn-based spirit and contains 12 botanicals.

1) On its own
Nose: A touch of caraway, lots of orange, coriander seed and a leafy hint of lemon.
Taste: Caraway and creamy lemon, followed by a more floral citrus. Bitter and dry juniper pops up at the end, rather than the beginning, with a final fresh finish. This is a very pleasant drink to sip neat on its own.

2) Gin & Tonic
Grainy, with a fair bit of anise and cardamom, followed by a sweet breadiness and sweet liquorice. This is a very different sort of Gin & Tonic, mostly because of its sweetness; I think that a tonic like East India would work well with it, counteracting this. Not a bad Gin & Tonic, but your choice of mixer and garnish would make all the difference.

3) Martini
Lots of flavour: mostly caraway and lemon, it reminds me somewhat of a caraway vodka I had once from France. Delightfully smooth and rather raising to the appetite (I had to have a little nibble of something afterwards), making it perfect for the cocktail hour.

4) Negroni
Initially, there’s a lot of anise, as if the Negroni glass had been given an absinthe rinse (now there’s an idea!). In addition to this spice, there was also some cardamom. This is a very well-balanced drink and gained the greatest endorsement of all – Mrs. B. (usually a loather of Campari) was rather keen on it. River Rose, you have outdone yourself!

In Conclusion
this was really great gin, it brought a lot of character to each oft he drinks. Some pleasant floral and herbal notes and it makes a fantastic Negroni, if you can find a bottle of this I would recommend it.

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Cocktails with… FEW American gin from Illinois, USA

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There are a lot of Gins made in the US and there are lot of Gins made in the UK, but, sadly, there are relatively few US gins available in the UK; most come through the lovely folks at Eaux de Vie, but there is a new US spirits importer intown: Ginuine Spirits, headed up by Michael Vachon.

Ginuine Spirits have just brought five excellent products over to the UK: a Bourbon, a Rye Whiskey, a White Whiskey, a Gin and a  Navy-Strength Gin. Given its imminent landing on British soil, FEW American Gin seemed to be the perfect choice for the Illinois Gin in our United States of Gin Tasting.

FEW Distillery is based in Evanston, Illinois and the Master Distiller is Paul Hletko. As mentioned above, they make a variety of products and, additionally, produce limited editions of a rather tasty yellow/cask/aged Gin, which we tasted [here].

FEWGinBottle

FEW American Gin is rather unusual in that the spirit base is the same as their high corn white whiskey. 70% corn, 20% wheat, 10% 2 row malt. It is bottled at 40%ABV.

The Taste

1) On its own
Nose: Wheat, grain and bread (the base of the gin really comes through), followed by some pine, citrus and a touch of coriander.
Taste: Very soft and smooth initially and also quite sweet, with some liquorice. This is followed by pine and some floral notes, chocolate and coriander towards the end. This Gin has a very long finish, full of anise and liquorice. It’s something very different, but very tasty, too.

2) Gin & Tonic
A juicy and citrusy Gin & Tonic, with a fair hint of White Whiskey and corn coming through, but less juniper than many. It has a touch of sweetness, too, alongside some more liquorice. It’s definitely different, but well-liked by Mrs. B.

3) Martini
Crisp and powerful (given only 40%ABV), this is grainy, with just a hint of vanilla and a dry juniper finish. This is very different; unlike any Martini that I’ve had before, but excellent.

4) Negroni
The FEW American Gin made quite a sweet Negroni, with a long, lingering herbal bitterness, liquorice, anise and a touch of the bitterness of treacle. It’s something different, with the whole flavour of the drink lasting for a long time. The base spirit of the Gin also comes through, adding grainy notes. A different breed of Negroni, but very good, nonetheless.

5) Old Fashioned
The sweet creamy vanilla notes of the gin really comes through and the base really lends itself to the drink (the FEW white whiskey makes an exception Old Fashioned). Flavourful with those familiar gin characteristics of juniper and coriander alongside some floral elements. Pleasantly the drink is well balanced and a chord is struck between the various tastes. Very good indeed.

In Conclusion
FEW American Gin is rather different to most other gins; a lot of this is down to the unique use of White Whisky as its base. This adds a light, grainy maltiness that adds a different dimension to the gin. In fairness, it may not be for everyone, but I think many will love it and it is certainly worth trying. My favourite drink (which was very difficult to choose) was the Old Fashioned and Mrs. B liked the Gin & Tonic.

FEW American Gin is available for around £32 for 750ml from The Whisky Exchange.

Cocktails with… Waterloo Gin (from Texas)

I know what you are thinking, “They make gin in TEXAS?”. Well, yes, they do, and pretty fine stuff it is, too. Waterloo Gin is made by the Treaty Oak Distilling Company of Austin, Texas. They started off their range by making a Plantation Rum and, in November 2011, they released a Gin, Waterloo Gin, which is described as:

“stay(ing) true to the traditional London Dry Gin style, while still making the gin’s Texas roots evident”.

Waterloo Gin is bottled at 47%ABV and contains 11 botanicals:

1) On its own
Nose: A sweet spiciness and juniper upfront, followed by a slight medicinal note and a fresh citrus towards the end.
Taste: Crammed full of flavours, with a little bit of sweetness. Fresh, fruity citrus and sarsaparilla (maybe sassafras) root are quite noticeable, but there is also some cardamom toward the end and a slightly bitter finish. Overall, this is sweet, spicy and generally delicious.

2) Gin & Tonic
This drink is pleasant, indeed; some juniper is followed by cinnamon and cardamom. There is also a little sweetness, which is accompanied by a hint of root beer. Pretty well-balanced and refreshing.

Waterloo Gin (Austin, Texas) at Waterloo Train Station (London, UK)

Waterloo Gin (Austin, Texas) at Waterloo Train Station (London, UK)

3) Martini
Bitter dark chocolate notes are accompanied by a strong burst of cardamom and then a clean citrus, with juniper being present throughout. This is superb and exactly my sort of Martini (I am a self-confessed sucker for cardamom*). The finish also has a zesty edge, which signs the drink off nicely.

4) Negroni
This cocktail was okay, but, sadly, the Gin seems a bit lost. The bitter-sweet balance is good, producing a good, standard drink, but it’s not outstanding. There’s a little sweetness towards the end. I would say that there are much better ways to appreciate this spirit.

In Conclusion
Waterloo Gin really does show that the Texans make excellent Gin and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. This Gin combines excellent flavours with traditional characteristics and a contemporary twist. I really like the addition of pecans in the botanical mix – it adds a unique character.