Cocktails with… Lubuski Gin

I got a chance to try Gin Lubuski last year, but, as there was only a little left in the bottle, I only got a sip. Last week, however, someone very kindly sent me some more, enabling me to write a full review.

Gin Lubuski is the best selling gin in Poland (with a 56% market share), with the American gin, Seagram’s, coming in second (23%) and Gordon’s way behind with only 2%. Gin Lubuski was first created in 1987 and is still made to the same recipe. It is distilled from grain, bottled at 40% ABV and contains the following botanicals:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica Root
Citrus peel
Liquorice
Cassia bark
Bitter almonds
Cardamom
Cinnamon
Star anise
Cumin
Calamus (Myrtle)
Marigold flowers
Bay leaf

Lubuski also make a lime-flavoured gin and a premixed Gin & Tonic that’s sold in an aluminium bottle.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Juniper, floral notes (rose), coriander, and marmalade-like citrus.
Taste: Black pepper spiciness, floral juniper, which was quite dry and accompanied by floral notes of coriander, violet, lavender and rose. The finish was dry and peppery and of a long-medium length.

Gin & Tonic
This made a very juniper-heavy Gin & Tonic, with a good levels of spicy, citrus and slightly soapy coriander and citrus peel. It was very refreshing and relatively traditional, although there were some rarer herbal and floral notes, too. Very tasty.

Martini
Herbaceous, with some bitter notes and hints of sage and fennel. This was followed by a characteristic juniper dryness, but it had good balance and levels of complexity, with notes of spicy coriander and floral honey. Overall, very good and pretty classic, although I would say that it was, arguably, herbal enough to sit in the “Eastern European style”.

Negroni
This made quite a sweet Negroni to start, followed by a pronounced bitterness; unfortunately, I’d say that the balance is a bit off. The drink is quite juicy and easy to drink, but doesn’t have that classic bitter/sweet mix.

As I’m aware that gin can be consumed differently in different countries, I decided to take a few of the recipes for my review from Gin Lubuski’s website.

Gin & Coke
Definitely an interesting combination; this almost tasted non-alcoholic. The herbal and floral elements of the gin mixed well with the cola (I used CocaCola Classic) to create a taste similar to a more old-fashioned or curiosity style of cola. There was a hint of dry, bitter juniper at the end, making this actually rather tasty.

Gin & Grapefruit
The gin added a great herbal note to this drink, making the flavour of the juice much fuller. At the same time, the spirit also rounded off any sharp bitterness from the grapefruit. This was a refreshing, yet comfortable, drink; very nice, indeed.

Gin & Cranberry
A dry yet herbaceous drink the dry cranberry being a good match for the flavours of the juniper. With plenty of ice it is rather refreshing with a floral lift at the end.

Lubuski Martini
I’ve included this as:

(a) it is the only Martini suggestion on the Lubuski website

(b) when looking up the gin on their distributor’s website, I noticed that they also look after a vermouth brand: Totino, who produce the following varieties of vermouth: Rosso, Blanco (white-sweet), Tropical, Cherry and Peach (the last three are, obviously, flavoured vermouths). Noticeably, there’s no dry vermouth in their catalogue, but this is not uncommon for Eastern European brands.

Equal parts Gin and White Sweet Vermouth

This wasn’t a typical Martini, but, as the Blanco is a bit sweeter than usual, the drink is more palatable than if you used a regular dry. The vermouth brought out more of the gin’s citrus notes, although the bitter herbal and sweet floral notes remain.

In Conclusion

Once again, I have been impressed by an international gin. Whilst it is not as herbal as some others, such as the Czech Rudolph Jeinek, it is more herbal than your standard London gin. I found that it was best enjoyed simply with mixers, whether that be tonic, grapefruit juice or even cola!

Special thanks to Seva for the sample.

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.