Spanish Gin Digest – 5 Gin Reviewed

Today’s article is a bit of a bumper issue to cover a variety of lesser known gins that I tried in Spain, all of which were under €15 a bottle.

Masters Gin

MastersGin FINALMasters Gin is made by Destilerias MG, producer of liquor since 1940. Bottled at 40.0% ABV, its botanicals include juniper, coriander, cardamom and citrus.
Price: €12 for 70cl

i) On its own
Nose: Minimal, with notes of alcohol and bitter pine.
Taste: Pretty classic, but somewhat lacking overall. This tastes watery, as if it has been watered down. There is a little juniper and citrus upfront, followed by a touch of sweet nutmeg, but that is about it. The finish is long, but faint, with a sort of miscellaneous gin character. Dull.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Okay, but not spectacular. Nonetheless, this is a serviceable drink that ticks all of the basic boxes of what you would expect from a Gin & Tonic. With a fresh citrus garnish, this could be quite refreshing.

iii) Martini
A very basic, entry level Martini, but with nothing that shines. Flavour-wise, there’s a bit of juniper and citrus, but this is below average and a drink that I’d be unlikely to mix again.

iv) Negroni
Again, this is okay, but – like all of the other drinks – rather bland and slightly below average. This drink is in urgent need of a citrus wedge to make it even palatable; it’s not offensive, but certainly forgettable.

In Conclusion
A rather forgettable spirit, lacking complexity and the flavour intensity to stand up well when mixed.

Albertson London Dry Gin

Albertson Gin FINALMade by Commercial Tello S.A. and distilled seven times, this gin has an ABV of 37.5% ABV and its botanicals include juniper, coriander, and citrus. This gin came with a bonus shot glass!
Price: €8 for 70cl

i) On its own
Nose: Almost nothing: just a touch of ethanol and citrus.
Taste: A bit watery to start with, but it’s smooth with a little sweetness. Gradually, some warmth builds as you drink, as does a bit of juniper and a soapy texture. Ultimately, though, there’s not a lot going on; this takes more like a vodka.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Bland and below par. The gin shrinks beneath the tonic; you’d a good, fresh, tasty garnish to make this one palatable.

iii) Martini
Plain, but pretty smooth. This seems more like a vodka Martini than one made with gin. There is a mere hint of juniper and angelica towards the end. There is no wow factor, but the drink is inoffensive and perfectly drinkable.

iv) Negroni
Okay, but a bit disappointing and rather anonymous; you just about get the cocktail’s signature balance of bitter and sweetness, but this is very forgettable.

In Conclusion
Avoid. Gin Giro is the same price, but five times as good.

Gloc Gin

gloc ginMarketed by CIMIN DREAMS, Gloc Gin one of a range of seven different spirits, including tequila, whisky, and rum. It is bottled at 37.5% ABV.
Price: €4 for 35cl

i) On its own
Nose: Lemon and burnt toast.
Taste: Quite odd: dry anise, plenty of coriander, and sherbert-like citrus, followed by a chalky finish. Not spectacular, but passable given that it cost 4 euros.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Intriguing: lots of caraway comes through, as does some celery and cucumber peel. Pretty crisp, with some spiciness towards the end. Unfortunately, a chalky residual flavour spoils the drink.

iii) Martini
Lots of fennel and a fair bit of caraway, too, but not much juniper. The cocktail is a bit on the watery side, but not too bad; it just needs a bit more depth to its flavour. Would not satisfy the aficionados.

gloc range

iv) Negroni
This cocktail has a slight marmalade quality to it, with jamminess and a moderately bitter finish. This has some character and some interesting notes of flamed orange. All-in-all, a Negroni that is just above average.

In Conclusion
Gloc is let down by the chalky flavour that comes through in some drinks; it works best in a Negroni.

Palmbridge

Palmbridge Gin FINALThe cheapest of the gins that we tasted, Palmbridge is produced by Antonio Nadal S.A, a company that has its origins in Mallorca in 1898. The gin is bottled at 37.5% ABV.
Price: €7.84 for 1 litre or €3.50 for 35cl

i) On its own
Nose: A rather a funky smell, not dissimilar to some vintage gins that have not aged well. I put this down to the underlying quality of the alcohol. Beyond that, there are notes of juniper and a little citrus.
Taste: Vanilla and a bit of juniper. There’s not much going on and this hollowness reminds me of the sort of rough spirits that often seem to lead to hangovers. Not a gin I would want to drink much of.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Simple and straightforward: juniper, citrus, and then a very faint hint of vanilla and coconut. It’s okay, but you need a good garnish and a half decent tonic to make it palatable.

iii) Martini
Not much in the way of gin flavour. Again, this is far more like a vodka Martini; there’s only a little citrus, some vanilla, and chocolate notes. There’s a hint juniper on the finish, but it’s really far more akin to a vodka than gin Martini.

iv) Negroni
Pretty good; there’s lots of flavour and, unusually for a Negroni, the vermouth really seems to shine through. There’s some sweetness, but also plenty of herbal notes: anise, fennel, and wormwood, followed by a long, earthy bitterness. Unlike the Martini with this gin, this Negroni is full of flavour and, given the price, rather impressive.

In Conclusion
For a budget gin, this is a cheap and cheerful choice for both a Gin & Tonic and a Negroni, with both drinks being further improved with addition of a fresh citrus garnish.

Sheriton Dry Gin

Dry Gin Sheriton FINALBottled at 37.5% ABV, Sheriton Dry Gin is made by José Estévez S.A..
Price: €6.97 for 70cl

i) On its own
Nose: Juniper, anise, and fennel.
Taste: Not too bad, but a bit harsh; quite a lot of ethanol comes through and the botanical flavours are a bit weak. There’s some pine and citrus, plus a little liquorice but, personally, I prefer bolder flavours in my gin.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Rather poor: bland, with just a little bit of juniper. It’s dry, but, otherwise, there’s not much going on. There are definitely better Gin & Tonics out there, so I’d avoid this.

iii) Martini
Quite good: smooth, clean, classic, and crisp, with some soft citrus notes, too. There’s no real “oomph” behind it. but it’s perfectly acceptable.

~~ IN SUMMARY ~~

The reader may have guessed that not many of the gins in the line-up had much of a wow factor and, in some cases, they were only just drinkable. The common factor that was the main downfall for these spirits was lack of flavour, which typically comes from using cheap or old botanicals or not using enough botanicals in the first place.

Palmbridge was my favourite of this bunch but Gin Giro (review coming soon) is the best choice for cheap Spanish Gin.

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Cocktails with… Perivale Dry Gin – from Fabulous

Mrs. B and I always enjoy a field trip and we equally enjoy talking to the creator of a brand and hearing about their passion for their products. So, as you can imagine, we were delighted when we were invited up to The Fabulous Vodka Company HQ to meet the founder, Chris Spiller.
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Chris makes Perivale Gin, in addition to a variety of other products: Caralicious Caramel Vodka, Krol Kazimiersz (a rather excellent potato vodka), and some aged vodkas. The concept behind the latter is that the Krol Kazimiersz Vodka is aged in barrels in one-off batches; when it’s gone, it’s gone. Here are my notes on the two that I tried:

Cask One (Oak)
This has a light straw colour and light vanilla cream on the nose. The vodka itself is very smooth, with gently rounded edges and a little extra vanilla/cream/caramel flavour. Complex and curious.

Cask Two (Rum)
This is a work-in-progress and so we were privileged to try it. It has been in a dark rum cask for about three months, with perhaps another three to go. If I had tried this blind-folded and been told that it was a dark rum, I would have believed it; the flavour profile was so similar; the dark sugar and slightly burnt/toasted elements were there. I thought that this was great, even though it was only halfway through the aging process, and am looking forward to trying the finished product.

Perivale Dry Gin
Perivale Dry Gin is a one-shot distillation, which is produced when the pure grain spirit and the botanicals are placed, in exact proportions, in a still and distilled, producing a single batch of gin. Although this method is more expensive than others, it is seen as enabling a better aroma to be produced, as well as bringing out fuller and fresher flavours from the botanicals. Chris makes the gin himself (he is an experience distiller) using the facilities at Thames Distillers in London.
Perivale contains five botanicals:

Why Perivale?
The name Perivale comes from a time when Chris lived on a house boat (see the label) in the area of the same name. According to him, there is a distinct lack of pubs in the area, hence the play on the term “dry”.
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The Current Perivale Gin Bottle by The Fabulous Vodka Company

Own
The nose was clean, with notes of juniper, angelica and coriander.
The gin was soft & silky with quite a strong flavour of juniper; it had a distinct freshness in the middle of the profile that made it rather excellent. It’s a very clean spirit and when I gave some, neat, to my cousin (who isn’t normally a gin-drinker), he enjoyed it.
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Gin & Tonic
Very refreshing, with fresh flavours of juniper and citrus. Well-balanced, easy to drink and quickly finished. Simply superb.
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Martini
Exceptionally clean and crisp, like a shard of ice. Perfect with a twist of lemon peel. This is another good quality drink and is a decent benchmark for other Martinis.

Gimlet
Quite crisp, with the gin coming through strongly and standing up well against the Rose’s Lime Cordial, but the flavours seem a little out of kilter and, for me, it doesn’t really work.

Negroni
There’s a good, strong bitterness, with juniper and angelica coming through to start, followed by a touch of sweetness. Big and bold and a very typical Negroni; full of flavour and smooth.

Gin Old Fashioned
Packed with flavour and very smooth. The simple flavours of the gin came through and mixed well with both the sugar and bitters. Very sippable.

Pink Gin
Crisp, dry and bitter. The character of the gin was particularly pronounced on the finish. This is a simple and pleasant way to enjoy the gin.

Gin Sour
Tasty, crisp and refreshing. Juniper, lime and a hint of vanilla. I thought this was a great short drink to use the gin in and should invigorate you at the end of a long, hot day.

Fruit Cup
Tasty and refreshing, the gin came through more than in most fruit cups, giving the drink an extra juniper punch; for a gin fan, this is great.

Frozen with Lime
If I get to speak to the creators of a gin, I like to ask them how they drink their gin. This little recipe was given to me by Chris. Take your gin from where it’s being stored in the freezer, pour into a glass and add a little wedge of lime. Sip.
Delicious and wonderfully smooth, like a good vodka. Flavours of juniper, coriander and angelica as well as some citrus; the lime adds a touch of freshness and a little zip. Excellent.

Perivale Dry Gin is available from The Fabulous Vodka Company and Gerry’s of Soho at £21.50 for 70cl.

Cocktails with… Rudolf Jelinek Czech Dry Gin

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I came across a miniature of this gin a little while ago, so it was great to have a chance to enjoy it in greater quantities.

Rudolf Jelinek is a drinks company that was founded in 1894 and has been exporting from the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) since 1934. Jelinek’s flagship product is Slivovitz, a plum Eaux de Vie, which is avaialble in various versions. They also make vodka, fruit brandies and a variety of other fruits and liqueurs.

When it comes to juniper flavoured spirits, in addition to their Dry Gin, they make two Juniper Brandies, one of which is aged for six months.

Rudolf Jelinek Dry Gin is bottled at 40% and its botanicals include juniper, orange peel, coriander, almond and other spices.
1: Own
A little harsh on the nose, with quite a lot of alcohol and a little vanilla. On its own, the gin doesn’t have a huge amount of flavour; it’s rather understated, with any flavours  being rather herbal.
2: Martini
Citrus (lime) on nose; tasting it blind, I could almost mistake it for a Gimlet. In terms of taste, there were strong notes of juniper, pine and wood. If there was ever a drink called a Forest Martini, this would be it. It was unusual, rustic and rather good.

3: Gin & Tonic
Light, with sweet citrus and a touch of anis or fennel. Refreshing, with some herbalness, a touch of ginger and cinnamon. This remind me of – the now discontinued – Gordon’s Distiller’s Cut.

4: Tom Collins
Some notes of juniper and some of pine, but the drink is overwhelmed by the lemon juice.

5: Gimlet
A bit hazy and disappointing; the flavours clash, creating a drink that has some freshness, but is, overall, below par.

6: Pink Gin
Quite sweet at the start with a bitter finish. This has the balanced bitter-sweet partnership needed for a successful Pink Gin. It was easy to drink and really allows the flavours of the gin to come through.

7: Gin Bump
Lovely flavours of pine and juniper. This is another forest-feeling drink, as well as one of the best Gin Bumps I’ve ever had. A great way to drink the gin.

8: Aviation
Sweet and floral; the flavours are reminiscent of sherbet: quite nice. Dry in the middle, with a long juniper finish.

In Conclusion
Not having tried any other Czech gins, I don’t know for sure that Jelinek Dry is a typical example, but it does seem to fit in with the area’s history of pine and juniper brandies. I’ve not tried another gin that is as reminiscent of an evergreen forest as this.

Cocktail highlights were the Gin Bump and the Martini.