Cocktails with… Griffiths Brothers Gin

The last gin we reviewed (a little while back – sorry folks!) was one from the Home Counties (Campfire Gin based in Tring, Hertfordshire). Today, we nip across the border to Buckinghamshire and the Griffiths Brothers of Amersham.

For those not familiar with Amersham, it is at the very top left of the Tube map, at the very end of the Metropolitan Line.

Griffiths Brothers Gin FINAL

The Griffiths Brothers make their gin in a rotavap named Roberta and it is bottled at 43.5% ABV. Here are its botanicals:

Juniper Berries
Coriander Seed
Angelica Root
Lemon Peel
Orange Peel
Orris Root
Grains of Paradise
Liquorice Root
Cassia Bark
Elderflower
Orange Blossom
Bay Laurel
Barberries

On its own
Nose: Bright and very citrus-y on the nose, with a hint of celery and black pepper, all followed by a touch of earthy, rooty liquorice.
Taste: Crisp leafy notes come through to start: bay laurel and the crisp crunchiness of celery. Then comes a symphony of citrus, from the zesty, pithy peel to the fragrant aromatics of the blossom. Additional crispness comes from the grains of paradise at the end, along with a lovely mouthfeel courtesy of the liquorice.

Gin Tonic
A delicious and delicate Gin Tonic with a very pleasant interplay between the gin’s citrus and leafy notes. It has strong flavours that stand up well to almost any tonic, creating a refreshing treat of a drink.

Martini
This cocktail has a lovely, light oiliness that provides plenty of flavour: delicate, floral citrus as well as hints of crunchy leaves, almost cucumber-esque. Then there’s a slight of peppery salinity before a touch of spice on the finish. I’d recommend garnishing this with a thin strip of cucumber peel.

Negroni
The orange comes through from the gin and works exceptionally well with the Campari and vermouth. The gin’s leafy notes add a fantastic additional depth to the drink.

In Conclusion
Griffiths Brothers is a flavoursome gin with a pleasant interplay between a range of citrus and crisp, leafy notes. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic.

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… 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

Conker Spirit: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Cocktails with… Cotswolds Gin

2014 was a bumper year for the opening of craft distilleries in the UK, but one that made quite a splash when it opened and continues to be talked about today is the Cotswold Distillery in Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire.

Cotswolds Gin BOTTLE

The distillery is in a picturesque setting and shows that the concept of “destination distilling” has really arrived in the UK.* They currently make a gin, are putting new-make spirit in barrels for whisky, and are planning a range of distillery exclusives. Today, I’m taking a look at their gin.

On its own
A bold dry gin, with juniper up-front followed by an interwoven mix of citrus and coriander. This adds a fresh zest and floral spiciness to the middle of the gin. The spiciness from the coriander then leads to some deeper notes of menthol pepper and hints of hedgerow berries, all mixed in with a floral flourish. The finish is crisp, dry pine and lavender. This is a flavoursome spirit with a clean and smooth base thats leaves you with a gentle glow.

From the Freezer
The gin changes in two ways when served from the freezer: it is both much more viscous and has louched. The flavours seem to be more focused towards the dry juniper, angelica, and coriander notes, and the more floral and herbal elements, such as bay leaf and lavender, are suppressed a little bit. The finish is very long and dry, with a hint of menthol pepper that’s reminiscent of cubeb or grains of paradise.

Cotyswolds Louche

Cloudy Gin & Tonic
A pleasantly ethereal looking drink, with wisps of clouds in the liquid that are well complemented by the pink grapefruit and green bay leaf. As a drink, this is a very cooling concoction, with the various botanical aspects of the gin coming through well in an array of herbal and floral notes. The final impression is one of dry, fresh and crisp juniper and citrus.

Cotswolds Gin GINTONIC

Martini (Diamond)
Poured straight from the freezer into a vermouth-rinsed glass, this is visually quite attractive: it is viscous and almost white, like liquid ice. To taste, it is very dry, with fragrant notes and an intriguing piney mix of juniper and lavender, as well as a little citrus and some menthol notes towards the end.

Martini (stirred)
A clean Martini: smooth and soft to start, then the alcohol gradually builds, which gives you that wake-up lift that makes Martinis a great first-of-the-evening drink. This cocktail is more subtle than that made using the diamond method and more of the herbal and floral notes come through.

Cotswolds Gin DIAMOND MARTINI

Gin & Soda
Like the Gin & Tonic, this louches (goes cloudy), but, as we’ve already established, this doesn’t matter. I used a 1:5 ratio of gin to soda, so it’s quite a light drink, coming in at about 7% ABV. This makes it a lovely cooler for a sunny summer’s afternoon. Because of the intensity of the botanicals flavours, the gin is not washed out and you can still appreciate its character.

Negroni
Dry, bitter and relatively tart, Any sweetness comes from an interesting dark marmalade note. This makes for a very intense Negroni and the gin stands up well to the other bold flavours. Whilst I really like this drink, I would recommend it to the advanced Negroni drinker – someone that really likes a jolt from their red drink.

In Conclusion
I’ve enjoyed mixing with Cotswolds Gin, with its bold flavours. I think it is good that the distillery embraces the fact that it louches; this actually leads to some additional inspiration and creativity when mixing. My favourite drink was the Gin & Soda, as few gins can make one that has so much flavour.

Cocktails with… Twisted Nose – Watercress Gin from Winchester, UK

At February’s Gin Guild meeting at WSET, I met a distiller from the Winchester area who was creating a new gin using watercress as one of the botanicals. At yesterday’s Ginposium, he presented me with a finished bottle.

TwistedNoseGin FINAL

Twisted Nose Gin is bottled at 40% ABV and is distilled at the Winchester Distillery, where they use a vapour infusion chamber to extract the flavours from the botanicals. These include: juniper, angelica, coriander, grapefruit, orris, cassia bark, and fennel seed, plus two local botanicals from Hampshire: lavender and watercress.

The watercress – or, in Latin, Nasturtium, which means “twisted nose” – is a speciality of North Hampshire, where the mineral-rich spring water provides excellent growing conditions.

On its own

Nose: Intense and spicy, with leafy pepper and a mixture of sweet fennel and lavender.
Taste: This is very soft spirit, but with a good level of flavour intensity. There’s some sweet spiciness from the fennel, as well as aromatic floral notes from the lavender. These are followed by notes of juniper, angelica, and then a green, leafy lusciousness with a hint of pepper spice. There are notes of grapefruit on the finish, which is long and zesty.

Gin & Tonic
Very, very clean; exceptionally so. It makes the Schweppes seem more like soda water with a dash of cinchona bitters than a sweet mixer, so there’s lots of potential for use with sweet American tonic waters. Once again, there are notes of sweet fennel, a light touch of lavender, and a leafy crispness. Herbal and very refreshing.

Martini
Very herbal, with quite a lot of black-liquorice-like notes that seem to strike a chord between lavender and fennel. This cocktail is very aromatic and has a little sweetness to it, but is fresh, too, with a little spice at the end. All-in-all, a good example of a contemporary gin Martini.

Negroni
A particularly herbal and smooth Negroni. I often think that lavender can work well with Campari and red vermouth, and Twisted Nose is no exception. The citrus of the gin is clear on the finish, which – along with the Campari’s bitterness – gives the drink a lively zestiness.

DTS and Paul Bowler

DTS with Winchester Distillery Founder & Distiller Paul Bowler at the Gin Guild Ginposium

In Conclusion
It is great to see UK Craft Distillers embracing all aspects of the gin character spectrum; Twisted Nose is flying the flag for British contemporary gins. This has a exceptionally well-integrated flavour profile with the signature botanicals shining through. My favourite drink was the superb Gin & Tonic.

Twisted Nose Gin is available for around £30 for 500ml from www.twistednose.co.uk.
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