Cocktails with… Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin


Not content with the success of their Irish Poteen and Heather Gin the folks at Knockeen Hills decided to release another product, an elderflower gin that uses elderflower as one of the botanicals, this is not a very common botanical to use and is a tricky ingredient to get right.
Bottled at 47.3%ABV Knockeen Hills uses a base Irish Spirit that is distilled five times and the botanicals it uses are steeped for 24 hours. It is described as “London Cut” which means in addition to being a London Dry Gin it is, distilled and cut in London.

Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin is distilled at Thames Distillers and uses only four botanicals (a stark difference to the last Gin I reviewed) these are:

  • Organic Juniper Berries
  • Organic Coriander Seeds
  • Organic Elderflower
  • Liquorice powder

#1) Neat
Good nose, medium amount of juniper with some floral notes. Great warmth (not burn) on the tongue with juniper and elderflower. Not overpowering and subtle. The warmth of the texture intrigues me.

#2) Gin & Tonic
This makes quite a strong Gin & Tonic (the gin is 47.3%). The very heart of the gin seems to come through with a floral taste at the back of the mouth; the straight-forward juniper flavour is followed by the dryness from the elderflower. It’s interesting, because elderflower is often associated with something sweet (cordial, liqueurs, etc.), but this is definitely dry. Mrs. B was very fond of this drink, as it reminded her of cut green apples.

#3) Martini
I used some home-made vermouth for this martini, which complemented the Gin quite well and seemed to give the drink more flavour than usual. Knockeen Elderflower Gin does not make a classic Martini: it’s not so clean and crisp as others, but it is not overpowering and has a lot of character. I like this drink and it makes a nice change.

#4) Gimlet
An unusual Gimlet; less sweet than usual and, in the middle of the taste profile, the drink has a remarkably clean edge, almost Martini-like. There were subtle notes from the floral elements and the gin stands up well to the lime cordial.

#5) Aviation
There’s some great interaction of the elderflower and other floral elements with the violette and maraschino in this drink; it’s complex, but the flavours are all in equilibrium. Very tasty.

#6) Tom Collins
This Collins is, like many, a wonderful cooler. It is very refreshing, but sadly the gin is a little overpowered.

#7) Bramble
Very tasty; there’s equal intensity from each of the various ingredients, all combining to produce a fresh drink that reminds me of Spring. Crisp & delicious.

#8) White Lady:
Fresh and crisp, perfect for Spring or early Summer. There’s a good amount of juniper and distinct floral elements on the finish.

#9) Alexander
I increased the proportions of Gin for this one, so that some of the dry muskiness of gin comes through. The Knockeen Elderflower contributes more to the cocktail that most other gins that I’ve tried.

#10) Gin Bump (Buck)
The Gin Bump was a disappointment as the sweetness of the ginger ale clashed with the floral notes of the gin. Not recommended.

#11) Gin Sour
Pretty strong; you seem to feel the full whack of the 47.3% in this drink. It seemed to warm me up, rather than cool me down (which a gin sour typically would do), and, flavour-wise, it doesn’t do the Gin justice.

#12) Sweet Gin
This was an idea for a cocktail (if you can call it that) that just occurred to me: I simply added half a teaspoon of simple syrup to a measure of Gin. I was surprised at how well it worked and how it brought out a new dimension of flavours: it was almost like an elderflower liqueur, but tasted more complex.

#13) Clover Club
In a similar way to the White Lady, this was balanced, simple, tasty and enjoyable to drink.

#14) Gin Old-fashioned
Fast becoming a new favourite of mine, the Gin Old-Fashioned with Knockeen Hills Elderflower is delicious. Sugar sweetens up the floral elements (just like the Sweet Gin) which stops the Angostura from dominating the drink. This is a superb way to enjoy the gin.

In Conclusion
Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin is crisp and flavourful. The floral elements lend themselves well to a variety of cooling drinks, making it perfect for Spring or Summer (although I am still enjoying it during Winter!). Sometimes I think that when gins highlight one, single, botanical it can be a bit gimmicky and the rest of the gin profile seems to suffer, but I don’t think that that is the case with this gin.

Cocktail highlights included: Gin & Tonic (especially James Bond style),  the Gimlet,  the Aviation & the Gin Old Fashioned.

Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin is available from The Drink Shop here: for £26.44 for 70cl.

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Millionaire’s Cocktails

 

From Left-Right: Millionaire Sazerac, Millionaire Martini, Millionaire Manhattan, Millionaire Bramble, Millionaire Gimlet, Millionaire Brandy Alexander, Millionaire's Sidecar

During London Cocktail Week, I was told about “Millionaire’s” cocktails; these are essentially variations of any cocktail that are made as usual, but topped up with a small amount of champagne. Thus you can add a “touch of glamour” to any drink by making it a Millionaire’s version.

For example:

Millionaire’s Manhattan:

2oz Rye Whisky

1oz Red Vermouth

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a glass (making sure that the drink does not fill the glass).

Top up the cocktail with 1oz of Champagne.

With New Year’s Eve around the corner, I thought it would be fitting to look at some Millionaire’s cocktails so that you might be best equipped to try one on the big night.

Millionaire’s Martini
(Using Brokers Export Gin & Home Made Vermouth, 6:1 Ratio, Stirred)
As a Martini fan, I was intrigued to try this, although I am aware that some folk may see this as an abomination akin to the Death in the Afternoon.
It’s fair to say that I didn’t hold out much hope for the taste, but I was wrong: it wasn’t the best, but worked surprisingly well. It produced a very dry drink with the dry vermouth and dry Champagne working together; it may, in fact, be a touch too dry for some. I also quite liked the addition of bubbles.

Millionaire’s Sazerac
This definitely works and goes beyond the novelty of adding Champagne. It gives the cocktail a lighter feel. You meet the flavours of the whisky and anise at the beginning, with the taste of the bubbly coming through at the end. This reminded Mrs. B of liquorice; it is possible that the bubbles brought out the flavour of the absinthe rinse. An easy way to create an enjoyable drink and one worth trying.

Millionaire’s Manhattan
Very disappointing – the worst of the bunch. A clash of different flavours, which then disappear, resulting in a drink that is altogether rather dull. Neither the Champagne nor the cocktail does well here. Avoid.

Millionaire’s Bramble
Another triumph for the Bramble: the Champagne lengthens the drink without taking away the flavour of the ingredients; it all was nicely balanced. I thought this was a version of the original to be kept for special occasions, which is exactly what I think a Millionaire’s cocktail should be. If you usually find the Bramble too sweet, this may be a nice variation.
I also recommend straining out the crushed ice (or adding a straw), in order to make it easier to drink.

Millionaire’s Sidecar
Really very good – refreshing, with a little bite. The bubbles of the Champagne go well with the slightly sherberty flavour of the Sidecar. Once again, this could be a cocktail in its own right and not just a novelty. It is worth noting that, once the tasting was over, this was the first of the cocktails to be finished.

Millionaire’s Gimlet
The extra fizz is welcome; I do occasionally add a splash of soda to my Gimlets to give it a little extra zip. The drink is fresh and rather sippable. Despite its strong-flavoured ingredients, the Gimlet does still let some of the Champagne flavours through. Probably our third favourite.

Millionaire’s Panama (Brandy Alexander)
The reaction of the cream and Champagne made the top of this look a bit like meringue – how novel! Beyond that, it’s not that great. Although not unpleasant, it’s half-way to being a Ramos Gin Fizz, but doesn’t quite make it.

Conclusion
After trying a variety of Millionaire’s cocktails, it certainly seems that some work better than others and that, typically, the simple ones work the best. Our top recommendations for trying on December 31st would be the Sidecar, Gimlet & Sazerac. Either way, have an enjoyable New Year’s Eve.

Cocktails with… 6 O’Clock Gin

Here is a gin that was made to go with tonic; so much so, that it even has its own tonic specifically designed to match it. I know that some gin distillers have produced their own tonic for their premixes, but this is the first time that anyone has released their tonic water separately; new ground for the tonic world.

6 O’Clock Gin and its matching Tonic Water

6 O’Clock Gin and it’s accompanying Tonic are both made by Bramley & Gage in Bristol, who are famous for their fruit liqueurs and sloe gins. 6 O’Clock Gin is bottled at 43% and contains seven botanicals, including orange peel and elderflower. As for the Tonic, along with natural quinine, it also contains essence of lemon and lime. I think this gives the tonic that extra zestiness that I like and, when I make my own, I use lemongrass to the same effect, just like John.

Why Six O’Clock? This was the time when inventor & engineer Edward Kain would enjoy his gin, but not before; in essence, this was his “cocktail hour”. In honour of his Great Grandfather, Michael, the creator of the Gin named his new spirit after this.

The Taste

#1 Gin & Tonic:
There is no other way I could start this edition of “Cocktails with…” than with the drink of this Gin. When combined, 6 O’Clock Gin and 6 O’Clock Tonic create a soft, yet flavourful drink, which is probably one of the most relaxing gin & tonics I have ever had. That is not to say that it doesn’t have much flavour, as there is, without a doubt, a distinctive mix of juniper and quinine. It really is very good.

#2 Martini:
A classic Martini with a fine balance of juniper and citrus, full of flavour and more engaging than those made with many other gins.

#3 Gimlet:
Quite a good drink, but the gin is rather hidden by the lime cordial and so it doesn’t really complement it as best as it could. There is a little juniper at the end.

#4 White Lady:
A nice little zip to this, the citrus of the gin goes well with the citrus of the lemon. It’s quite tart but rather tasty.

#5 Aviation:
6 O’Clock produces a more gin-dominant Aviation than many, with the flavour of the gin really coming through. There is a little violet at the end, but, again, not the best use of the gin.

#6 Tom Collins:
A good Collins where each main ingredient plays an equal part: refreshing and easy to enjoy.

#7 Bramble:
I really like 6 O’Clock Gin in Bramble. Each individual flavour within the drink is apparent and it’s a very easy cocktail to drink. I think it would interesting to try this using Bramley & Gage’s Blackberry Liqueur instead of Creme de Mure.

#8 Sloe & Tonic:
As this post is also about 6 O’Clock Tonic, I thought I would try it with some Bramley & Gage Organic Gin from our sloe gin tasting. I’m not usually a fan of sloe gin and tonic water, but in this case I certainly make an exception. The tonic brings out the juiciness of the gin and it’s sweeter almond flavours.

In Conclusion:
There is no question what the best drink made with 6 O’Clock Gin was: it was the gin and tonic, as you would expect. Nonetheless, it would be hard to ignore the crisp and delicious Bramble that this gin makes, or how well the tonic went with sloe gin.

6 O’Clock Gin is available for £15.99 (35cl) and £23.65 (70cl). The tonic is £3.00 for a generous 730ml bottle. Both can be purchased from Bramley & Gage’s website.

 

Cocktails with… Hayman’s Gin

Hayman’s London Dry Gin was created by Christopher Hayman, the great grandson of James Burrough, founder of The Hayman’s Distillers and creator of Beefeater Gin. Hayman’s London Dry Gin was designed as a classic London Dry Gin and was created by Christopher Hayman as an expression of his ultimate London Dry Gin. Its botanicals include: Juniper, Angelica, Coriander, Liquorice, Orris Root and Orange & Lemon Peel; seasoned Gin drinkers may note that these are all the hallmarks of a classic London Dry Gin.

A bottle of Hayman's London Dry Gin

#1 Neat:

With a short juniper nose, this a very simple, classic gin. It is not overburdened with any showiness, with flavours of juniper and citrus and a warming finish.

#2 Gin & Tonic:

Hayman’s makes a classic gin and tonic: there are crisp juniper notes with a little citrus and a touch of bitterness. Quite refreshing.

#3 Martini:

This was a clean Martini and has some warmth behind it. Strong juniper notes come through, along with a little oiliness. This as not as crisp as Martinis made with some other gins, but it still has the classic characteristics.

#4 Gimlet:

A smoother Gimlet than most, this drink is better with a touch less Rose’s Cordial than usual. The drink is tangy and crisp, with enjoyable sour notes at the end.

#5 John Collins:

Hayman’s makes one of the best John Collins I have ever had; it was tangy and zesty; full of life and flavour. It was exceptionally refreshing (Mrs. B said it was revitalising, but I’m not sure you could put that on the bottle!). This drink, with faint hints of lemon sherbet, was really very good and quickly finished.

#6 White Lady:

A lovely White Lady; mellow and well-rounded with the bright citrus of a good lemon sorbet.

#7 Aviation:

A crisp drink, with each ingredient clearly defined. There are sharp juniper flavours in the drink: it’s a beverage that makes you pay attention, which makes it more than just another Aviation.

#8 Bramble:

The juniper balances out the sugar in this Bramble, making it less sweet and more tart than others. Readers who usually find the Bramble too sweet, this is for you.

#9 Gin Sour:

Tart, with an unexpected creamy finish (no, I hadn’t just left some milk in the shaker) and a strong juniper finish. Different to most Gin Sours that I’ve tried, but certainly worth a try.

#10 Clover Club:

Great. This drink allows the flavour of my home-made Grenadine to come through. It is reminiscent of ice-cream, with its silky texture and smooth blend of flavours.

#11 Dubonet:

In my experience, these can sometimes destroy a Gin’s flavours, but Hayman’s stands up better than most, with the juniper balancing out the fortified wine’s bitterness. There’s a nice hint of citrus, too.

#12 Milano:

Amongst all of the cocktails that I tried, this was one of the few disappointments: the Gin seemed to be lost amongst the Galliano (this is not always the case) and so it didn’t showcase the it very well.

#13 Pendennis:

Hayman’s produced a very different Pendennis cocktail to those that we have had with other Gins. A jammy apricot flavour, similar to that of an apricot jam tart (my favourite flavour) appears about halfway through the drink. The full flavour of the Gin comes through and Mrs. B said it tasted strongly of “Pink” (whatever that means?).

#14 Alexander:

This cocktail had an intriguingly fruity smell; it started with hints of cream and chocolate, moving to warmth and a fuller appreciation of the Gin. The flavours blend together well, so that the battle for dominance between gin and cacao, which is characteristic of the Alexander, is notably absent.

#15 Singapore Sling:

I always enjoy a Singapore Sling, and this was certainly no exception. This cocktail takes a little more effort to make, but it’s worth it. Hayman’s Gin seemed to go well with pineapple juice, with its slight bitter edge balancing out the sweetness of the fruit.

#16 Income Tax Cocktail:

This was a smooth cocktail, with only a little juniper coming through. It rather masks the gin, however, and so is not the best cocktail to enjoy Hayman’s Gin in.

#17 Hot Gin Cocktail: HOT

Mrs B. has a newfound fondness for Toddy drinks; so much so, that I only got a sip to check that it was OK before handing it over. These thoughts are hers: yummy! This is the epitome of a hot toddy: the warmth of the drink starts it off and this effortlessly flows into the warmth of the alcohol at the end. It is incredibly comforting, and definitely my favourite of the cocktails we tried.

#18 Bakewell: HOT

This smells like a Bakewell tart, with an almondy milk taste and a little juniper on the finish. The Gin doesn’t interfere, but complements the other flavours. The cherry completes the drink.

All-in-all Hayman’s really is a classic London Dry Gin and if that’s what you look for in your Gin then Hayman’s is certainly for you. It worked very well in a Gin & Tonic and in cocktails that were sweet and contained citrus, such as the excellent John Collins. For an alternative to these fruity cocktails, try a lovely Alexander or one of the cracking hot gin drinks.

Hayman’s London Dry Gin is bottled at 40%ABV and is available for around £16.

Hayman’s also make an Old Tom Gin, a Sloe Gin and a Gin liqueur.

For more Gin Reviews please visit Cocktails with…

Cocktails with… Foxdenton

With so many excellent reviews of various Gins online, I found myself hesitant when I considered how best to test a Gin for one of my posts. I eventually concluded that, rather than just tasting the Gin and trying it with tonic and in a Martini – an excellent method in itself – I would instead try a greater array of Gin cocktails. I thought I would test this method with a rather new Gin: Foxdenton. I would just like to state that my list of eighteen Gin cocktails is by no means exhaustive and my method is a work-in-progress.

Foxdenton Gin is produced by the Foxdenton Estate Company in Winslow, Buckinghamshire*. The Estate itself dates back to 1367. They also produce sloe, raspberry and blackcurrant Gin.

Foxdenton includes the following botanicals:

  • Juniper
  • Angelica Root
  • Coriander
  • Lemon Peel
  • Orris Root
  • Lime Flower

#1 Foxdenton Gin – Neat

The strength of this Gin (48% ABV) produces a strong tingling sensation in the mouth and it’s certainly a Gin that packs a punch. It has pronounced flavours of citrus and juniper, particularly on the finish. This a Gin-lover’s Gin and moves away from a recent trend of gentle, more “sippable” Gins being created.

#2 Gin & Tonic

I started with Schweppes Tonic. Why? Because it is one of the best selling there is. I found that a hearty garnish of lemon really complemented the mix of Gin and Schewppes, although, out of personal preference, I would tend to use Fentimans; this is because Foxdenton benefits from the lemongrass flavours in Fentimans, making for a rather tasty drink.

#3 Martini

A lovely crisp and clear Martini; simple, as a Martini should be. Works well with a lemon twist as a garnish. The extra strength works well in this and it was well-liked by the Martini drinkers in the group.

#4 Gimlet

Here, I think, Foxdenton excels: Foxdenton and Rose’s Lime Cordial are a great combination. There was some disagreement as to whether the drink was better with a splash of soda, but it was unanimous that both were very good. The one downside is that the lime does hide some of the subtleties of the Gin, but it is still a tasty drink.

#5 John Collins

Another favourite, although I was perhaps a little lighter on the sugar and lemon than I would be generally. This is incredibly drinkable, with a nice juniper kick at the end. The extra strength of the Gin was noticeable, but certainly not overpowering. This was a great summer drink but one that I could enjoy year-round.

#6 Bramble

Pleasant; the strength of the Gin is still apparent, but its flavour, in particular its citrus notes, contrasts well with the sweetness of the Creme de Mure. A lovely little drink and a good use of the Gin. A variant of this using Foxdenton’s Blackjack would be interesting.

#7 Gin Fix

A grandfather of a cocktail; quite easy to drink and, although it gives the Gin some warmth, it truly doesn’t do this particular Gin justice.

#8 White Lady

The extra kick provided by the Gin’s 48% strength is nice a change for this drink, making it strong, yet smooth. Whilst this is a less delicate White Lady than most, it certainly makes more of an impression and is therefore strongly recommended.

#9 Gin Sour

This shows off the Gin almost as well as drinking it neat. The Foxdenton’s flavour really comes through: the juniper dominates, and there is a neat marriage between the lemon juice and the Gin’s citrus. A good way to savour the Gin’s characteristics.

#10 Pendennis

Not an outstanding mix, but the various ingredients do produce lots of flavour in a partnership where the Gin still pulls its own.

#11 Aviation

Clean and crisp; a little lemon, with a compliment of juniper at the end. I really liked this drink and think that it makes a very palatable alternative to a Martini. It would be great to try this with some of the newly released Creme Yvette: a floral liqueur that has not been previously available for a few decades.

#12 Milano

This is not a stereotypical Gin cocktail, but it was suggested by a friend. It is a mix of Gin, Galliano and Lemon Juice. This was surprisingly nice and the ingredients all mix well together, the herbs and spice of the Galliano being a pleasant complement to the Gin’s botanicals.

#13 Clover Club

Another delicious combination: the muskiness of the juniper contrasts with the syrup’s sweetness and both balance out the lemon juice. This cocktail gives the Gin its due, is very, very smooth and delightfully moreish.

#14 Alexander

Mrs. B thought this tasted like alcoholic ice-cream and, indeed, it is very tasty, but masks the flavour of the Gin; still, a nice drink.

#15 Dubonet Cocktail

This drink allows the flavours of the Gin to come through and the bitterness of the Dubonet compliments that of the juniper. This is rather different to the other drinks that we tried and showcases the Gin in a different way, but it did make me feel rather hungry and could make a fine aperitif. All in all, it  works well.

#16 Negroni

I have to disclose that I am not a big fan of Campari and so the Negroni is not my usual cocktail of choice, but being a classic Gin cocktail, I thought it should be included. Foxdenton does make one of the better Negronis that I have had, but, although you can taste the Gin, this drink is still dominated by the bitterness of the Campari.

#17 Bronx

Nice and cool, but not a drink that is really to my taste. There is a strong flavour of juniper, but the citrus in the Gin does not work as well with the orange notes in this cocktail as it has done with those of lemon and lime in previous drinks.

#18 Ramos Gin Fizz

Despite how unique and tasty this drink is, you almost wouldn’t know that it had any Gin in it at all. If you wanted to enjoy the various flavours of Foxdenton this is not the best way to do so.

In conclusion, Foxdenton works well in citrus drinks such as the Gin Sour, White Lady and Aviation. It is best enjoyed in a Martini with a twist of lemon and, when mixed with tonic, is well suited to a healthy wedge of lemon as a garnish, but my favourite Foxdenton drink was the Gimlet (although there were some close runners-up).

If you like a Gin with a good strength (both flavour and proof) and are a hearty fan of juniper or citrus cocktails, Foxdenton is something I would strongly recommend you try.

Foxdenton Gin (48%ABV) £23.40 for 70cl
www.foxdentonestate.co.uk

As requested the recipes can be found here.

For more of our Gin Reviews please click here

*Technically the gin is actually made at Thames Distillers in London