Bank Holiday Gin Tonics

With the Bank Holiday upon us (the last one in the UK until December) and the possibility that at least a few days in the long weekend will actually be dry and hot, I thought I’d share a few simple ideas for some gin tonic serves to impress your guests this weekend.

Glassware

In this sort of heat (currently it is 28.8c here) I want a very cooling drink with plenty of ice, so a glass like the large copita/fish-bowl glass popular in Spain for the Gin Tonica is the best bet. It does take at least 8 cubes to fill one of these, however, so unless you have an ice maker, I suggest getting a bag or two of ice.

If you don’t have a copita glass, than a large wine glass or stemmed beer glass (think the Stella Artois Chalice) will also work well. The stem helps to keep your drink cool, keeping your warm hand further away from the drink.

 

Recipes

Typically, I use between 25ml-50ml of gin and 150ml of tonic. These are slightly weaker than many might usually enjoy their gin tonic, but these drinks are meant to be long and cooling, and too much alcohol in great heat is not a great idea.

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Plymouth and Millers

The Classic

Plymouth Gin with Lemon and Lime Wedges (aka the Evans Style)

Plymouth Gin has a light sweet spice to it, which is balanced out nicely by the slightly sharp lime, whilst and the lemon complements the citrus in the gin.

The 21st Century Gin

Martin Miller’s gin with Strawberries and Cracked Black Pepper.

An unusual garnish choice on paper, but ever since one of the Miller’s brand ambassadors showed me this, I’ve been hooked. Fresh, succulent fruit works well with the refreshing nature of the gin, and the black pepper adds balance and bite. For an extra chill factor, use frozen strawberries.

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Apostoles and Shortcross

The Leafy Gin

Principe de Los Apostoles Gin with Rosemary and Baby Spinach

The gin itself is quite “green” – herbaceous and leafy – and the rosemary gives the drink distinctive, aromatic herbal notes as well as adding to the visual spectacle. The spinach adds more to the look than the aroma or flavour, although the leaves can also be a pleasant snack to munch on as you drink.

The All-Rounder

Shortcross Gin with Orange and Coffee Beans

I’m a big fan of Shortcross Gin from Northern Ireland and it has great mixability, including in a gin tonic. I’ve been experimenting with non-typical, but readily available garnishes and my good friend Julia Nourney suggested coffee beans to me. The beans add a deep, dark element to the nose, whilst still allowing the juniper to slip through. When you sip the drink, it is almost all about the gin, with just a little lusciousness from the orange. Almost a two-phase gin tonic.

The Maverick

Bombay Sapphire & Cola with Orange and Chocolate Bitters

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Bombay Sapphire & Coke

Putting gin with cola is seen by many, in the UK, as heresy, despite the fact that this is how gin is enjoyed in many countries in Africa and further afield. The only point that matters is – does it taste good?

In my opinion, it does. Bombay Sapphire, with its complex botanical flavour and light pepper notes works really well with cola, creating a flavour that is reminiscent of an old-school botanical cola; there are even some dry, piney notes in the background. The orange adds a little zest, whilst the chocolate bitters contribute to the drink’s finish.

In Conclusion

Summer drinking is meant to be friendly and fun; it’s a time to relax with friends and family. As such, the drinks should be fun, too. Hopefully this article has provided a little inspiration for you to up your summer drinks game.

Tanqueray & Tonic – An Investigation into the Best Garnish for Tanqueray Gins

Tanqueray GinTonica Title

This is the first part of my investigation into garnishes for Tanqueray Gin. I’ve spent a little time recently thinking about the lemon vs. lime argument. For World Gin Day, I made a Gin & Tonic according to a 1938 recipe using Mason’s Gin, which used lemon and/or lime (you had the choice). Having recently returned from Spain, I also fancied experimenting a little more with the Gin Tonica serve for this classic drink.

Naturally, after a quick reflection, I decided the best way to investigate this subject would be to do a taste test. I extended my normal citrus selection to include: lemon, lime, orange, pink grapefruit and red grapefruit.

I shall be tasting both of the following gins in my Gin & Tonics:

Tanqueray Export Strength (43.1%ABV) – from hereon referred to as “Original” – which is made using 4 botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, and Liquorice; and

Tanqueray No:10 (47.3%ABV), whose botanicals include: Juniper, Angelica, Coriander, Chamomile, White Grapefruit, Lime and Orange (for the citrus, the whole fruit is used, not just the peel).

Each drink will be mixed with Fevertree Tonic. I will add a double measure of gin to a tonica glass filled with ice and then add 150ml of Fevertree Tonic. Each one will be garnished with a wedge of the fruit being tested and a little spritz of oil from the peel over the top of the drink, for aroma.

Control (No Garnish)

Original: A rather classic Gin & Tonic with dry, piney juniper, some angelica and sweet liquorice. Cooling and refreshing, this works very well straight-up without a garnish.

Ten: A crisp and clean Gin & Tonic, with lots of citrus notes and some sweetness, such as liquorice, coming through. A hint of floral notes, too. Even without a garnish, this also works very well.

TanquerayGinTonica Lemon FINAL

Lemon

Original: A good version of the drink, this is more floral than when using lime and provides a little more sweetness, too. It’s a very accessible and refreshing drink that makes you go back for seconds.

Ten: The slightly sweet notes of the lemon seem to muddle the more complex flavour of the Tanqueray No:10; it is still a quite acceptable drink, but I think that the lemon does the gin a disservice.

TanquerayGinTonica Lime FINAL

Lime

Original: Classic in style, this drink is dry, with a tiny hint of bitterness and a great citrus liveliness courtesy of the lime. A very classic serve and flavour, providing more bite to the drink than the lemon version.

Ten: Wow! A great example of how a garnish can add life and vitality to a drink. Lime is a great match for Tanqueray No:10. The drink on its own is good, but the lime really is the cherry on the cake and finishes the drink nicely. Easy to drink and rather morish.

TanquerayGinTonica Evans FINAL

Evans

Original: Works well with the two citrus fruits; the lemon adds sweet juiciness and the lime adds a crisp liveliness to the drink. Also, on the eye, the yellow and green are rather attractive. A good choice for Original Tanqueray.

Ten: Better than just lemon on its own: the lively lime works well with the gin but, alas, the lemon detracts too much and the flavour again becomes a bit muddied. Fans of strong juniper and coriander notes may like it, though, as these flavours seem to be amplified by the combination.

TanquerayGinTonica Orange FINAL

Orange

Original: Quite a soft Gin & Tonic. The orange is okay, but seems to clutter the underlying flavours of the gin somewhat and gives the drink a tannic quality.

Ten: Very fragrant and inviting, this serve highlights the gin’s juiciness. The orange works well with some of the lively bitterness from the pink grapefruit botanical, making this a much better match than with the Original Tanqueray.

TanquerayGinTonica PinkGrapefruit FINAL

Pink Grapefruit

Original: Just superb: you immediately get some citrus and floral notes from the garnish. The pink grapefruit adds a zesty succulence to the drink, but doesn’t overpower the gin, allowing Tanqueray’s underlying botanical character to come through strong. Simple, but effective, this is refreshing and definitely quaffable.

Ten: I thought that the Original Tanqueray went well with pink grapefruit, but I think that Tanqueray No:10 works even better. There is that same fresh, zesty, juicy citrus note coming through, but it’s accompanied by some more complex notes, such as a little bitterness akin to that of dark chocolate. This makes for a very sophisticated drink and one I could enjoy again and again.

TanquerayGinTonica RedGrapefruit FINAL

Red Grapefruit

Original: The orange and pink of the garnish looks particularly attractive in the glass and provides an enticing aroma. It creates a very dry Gin & Tonic with a little zestiness at the end; a slight squeeze or muddle of the fruit invigorates the drink, making it juicier and more lively.

Ten: Simply excellent. There are some very rich, bold flavours here, but they work really well together: the fresh fruit is succulent and refreshing, with a little zesty bitterness right at the end. Some very faint hints of vanilla come through, too.

In Conclusion

It is certainly true that the garnish really does impact upon the flavour and overall experience of the drink. Tanqueray No:10 seemed to pair particularly well with the citrus, more so than the Original Tanqueray, probably due to the citrus botanicals used in the gin.

I think that lime (the garnish suggested by Tanqueray themselves) worked well for both gins. Both pink and red grapefruit also worked well with both (unfortunately Waitrose didn’t have any white grapefruit, so I have yet to try that). Lemon seemed much stronger with the regular Tanqueray then the Tanqueray No:10, and I’d probably avoid orange all together, considering how good the other combinations were.

~

The Tanqueray Website

Tanqueray On Twitter: USA

Tanqueray on Facebook

Tanqueray (43.1% ABV) is available for around £20 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange.

Tanqueray (47.3% ABV) is available for around £22 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange.

Tanqueray No:10 is available for around £28 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange.

 

Thomas Henry Mixers Review – Tonic Water, Bitter Lemon Etc…

Thomas Henry Tonic Water is just one of a range of mixers produced by this German firm that we shall be reviewing today.

I’ve long been interested in tonic water and, after a recent tot-up, I realised I have now tried over 50 different varieties; so you can imagine my intrigue when Simon Difford’s digital version of Class Magazine gave first place in their Tonic Water tasting to a product that I had never even heard of, let alone tried.

Needless to say, I quickly got on the phone to Germany to find out more about it. I spoke to Sebastian Brack, who told me that, in addition to the acclaimed tonic water, they also make Bitter Lemon, Ginger Ale, Ginger Beer and Soda Water; he was kind enough to send me samples of the first four of these.*

Thomas Henry was an apothecary from Manchester, England. He is attributed with the first production of carbonated water (the first fizzy drink/soda) in 1773; he made this  in 12-gallon barrels. The technology he used was based on the system by Joseph Priestly (who invented/discovered carbonated water in 1767). It wasn’t until 1794 that Jacob Schweppe started production of his sparkling water.

Tonic Water

1) Own
Clean, crisp, fresh and light. This is not too heavy in terms of citrus and has a balanced sweetness. It has a high-to-medium level of fizz and a good depth of flavour, with some earthy bitterness and a touch of sweet citrus at the end.
2) Gin & Tonic
i) As always in my tonic water tastings, I used Plymouth Gin for this Gin & Tonic. The drink was excellent: the full flavour of the gin comes through, with added bitter and fresh characteristics from the tonic. It was clean and crisp, with a brilliant balance; exactly how a Gin & Tonic should be.
ii) For a second G&T, I used Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin. Superb; I was surprised at how much of the flora and fruity elderflower notes from the gin were brought out by this tonic water. There was a touch of sugar at the end, but the cocktail is neither too sweet, nor cloying. This was a great way to enhance the gin and a very tasty Gin & Tonic.
3) Vodka
I used Beluga Vodka. With Thomas Henry Tonic, this made a pleasant drink, with the underlying vodka coming through. This drink seems quite clean and refreshing, and citrus notes are more prominent. Once again, the mixer complements the spirit, rather than overpowering it.

Bitter Lemon

1) Own
Good levels of citrus, sweetness and bitterness. Medium fizz with a full, but not overpowering, flavour. There’s also a good tang at the end, as well as a crisp bitterness, rather than a nasty cloying effect.
2) With Xoriguer Gin
This is a traditional way to drink this Xoriguer Mahon Gin, from Menorca; the floral and herbaceous flavours of the gin are very strong and cooling, and the bitter lemon provides a crisp, citrus finish. This gin can also be used to make a great Gin & Tonic.
3) With Sloe Gin
I used the Marks & Spencer Sloe Gin (made by Boudier, In France) Delicious; a gentle way to lengthen your sloe gin in the summer. The bitter and tangy citrus contrasts nicely with the sweet, fruity and marzipan characteristics of the sloe gin.

Ginger Ale

1) Own
Thomas Henry’s Ginger Ale has a typical ginger ale nose, with ginger, citrus, and a hint of sugar, all of which are quite light. It has a medium-to-high fizz and quite light flavours, including subtle ginger. There’s good effervescence, although it’s a touch cloying. Still, it is a fresh and unobtrusive mixture that should work well with most spirits.
2) Gin Buck
Quite nice, with a ginger-nut biscuit fieriness. Flavours of the gin come through strongly and the drink is not too sickly, although in vast quantities it may become so.
3) Horses Neck
An unobtrusive mix: the ginger ale gives the brandy room to breathe and the flavours come through. For my taste, it’s a tad sweet and could do with some more fire, but it’s still rather good.

Ginger Beer

1) Own
A very familiar nose of a good standard ginger beer. Reminds me of my standard when using the soft drink, D&G’s Old Jamaica. A cool start, with medium-to-high fizz, musky ginger and then sweeter, with medium fire from the ginger. A very good mixer and comparable to Old Jamaica, but not better.
2) Moscow Mule
Works well; the ginger beer is not too intrusive, but does add something to the mix. The drink isn’t sickly or overpowering and is a good standard for the Moscow Mule, but not spectacular.
3) Dark ‘N Stormy
Pretty tasty. The ginger beer let’s the dark burnt sugar of the rum through, whilst adding the fresh combination of lime and ginger, as well as a fiery kick. Very tasty and above average, but not exceptional.

In Conclusion

I think that it’s clear from my review that I am impressed with Thomas Henry mixers overall, the Ginger Beer and Ale being of a good standard and the Bitter Lemon being better than most of its competitors (it was the bitter-sweet balance that did it). But Thomas Henry’s Tonic Water was the real gem of the tasting; it is truly exceptional and possibly the best I have ever had (a blind run-off of my top 5 is in order, I think).
Overall, this is an excellent range. I hope that they find a UK distributor soon so that we can all get a chance to try and enjoy them.

.

The Thomas Henry Products are not available in the UK but if you are and importer/distributor and think it may be of interest please Contact Them Here.

.* Sebastian seemed a little bemused at how much e-mail interest he had been getting from the UK in the previous day; once I had explained about the article (and e-mailed him a link) it became much clearer.

Quinine-free Tonic Water Recipe

On a few occasions, including our recent Beefeater London Market masterclass with Dre Masso, I have heard that, in Japan, quinine is banned and so the tonic water is rather different there and making a good gin & tonic is difficult. I believe this fact was inspiration for Beefeater 24.

So setting aside whether you can technically have a quinine-free “tonic water” I set about making a tonic water substitute without quinine. Could you use a  different bittering agent? I had a discussion with a chap in the industry and he suggested gentian root. This is an ingredient in Angostura Bitters, Bundaburg Brewed Bitters, Aperol and the extra-bitter liqueur, Suze; so it’s flavour is not unknown to the drinks world.

Whilst attempting to source some gentian root, I found that, whilst you can easily buy wormwood, angelica root and marshmallow root in my local town, gentian is nowhere to be found! Still, I managed to find some online and so, earlier on today, I set about experimenting to produce a non-quinine-based tonic water.

I’ve never used gentian root before, so my first step was to make some tea up using a few specks of the root. With just three small pieces, it had quite a busy, bitter flavour – a good start.

The recipe given below is the second that I tried (our favourite) and is based on a tonic syrup recipe.

Zest of half a lime and half a lemon

1.5 tsp Citric Acid

1 tsp Genitian Root

8 Juniper Berries (crushed)

Pinch of spice

180 ml Water

Add ingredients to a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Strain the mixture and stir in 5 tsp of sugar, ensuring that it dissolves.

Allow to cool and then bottle and keep refrigerated.

To drink, mix 3:1 or 4:1 with soda or sparkling water.


The Taste

1) Own

I mixed this with soda water 3:1. Both Mrs. B and I were surprised at the similarity to tonic water, if you are familiar with gentian flavour, you’ll pick it out but with a broader brush it’s pretty close.

2) Gin & Tonic

I also made a Gin & Tonic with Plymouth Gin in a 2:1 ratio with the diluted tonic water. This was good drink, full of flavour and perhaps with a little more bitter bite than the commercial options. The Plymouth still had room to breath and could be tasted.

3) GT Turbo

(Gin, Tonic Syrup, Lime Juice and Orange Bitters)

Another favourite cocktail of mine is Purl’s GT Turbo. This was really packed with flavour and would make a good pre-dinner cocktail, raising the appetite well. A greta combination of juniper and herbal bitterness and the tartness of citrus. Shake well to ensure it is ice cold. Lovely.

In Conclusion

Frankly I’m surprised at how well this turned out, it was a bit of a long-shot but has turned out rather well. I’ve tried about ten different recipes for tonic water syrup (using quinine) and this was easily my favourite. If you try it yourself I’d be keen to know what you think.

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Gin & Tonic Variations – Cocktails with… Mayfair Gin

With Gin & Tonic on my mind today, regarding some edible experiments for Monday’s article, I started thinking about variations on the Gin & Tonic: something beyond “One part gin, two parts tonic and a wedge of lemon”. So, with a little online searching and some inspiration, I tried the following recipes.

The gin of the day was Mayfair Gin, which is made by Mayfair Brands who also make a rather good vodka and have a couple more products in the pipeline. The idea behind the brand is to create a drinks brand that folks can trust when they are looking for a quality alcoholic beverage.

Mayfair Gin is made at Thames Distillers in London and contains 5 botanicals:

Juniper berries
Coriander seed
Angelica root
Savoury
Orris root

Brazilian Gin & Tonic
Inspired by Caprihana, thanks to foodgawker for the recipe.
“In a highball glass, muddle together 2 slices of lime and a teaspoon of sugar. Add ice cubes, then 35ml gin. Fill glass with 80ml tonic. Stir lightly. Garnish with lime slice or lime peel.”

With the added sugar, I was expecting this to be too sweet; I normally wouldn’t consider adding sugar to a Gin & Tonic, but, that said, given the high level of lime juice, I think the sugar does even out what would otherwise be a very tart drink. The lime makes the drink very refreshing and there is a very long finish of bitterness and tartness. The gin seems to work very well and the juniper and earthy botanicals are clearly there, but not overpowering.

Pink Gin & Tonic
This was a no-brainer, as it was a favourite of mine to enjoy after returning from a busy day at John Lewis; it’s a Gin & Tonic with a splash of Angostura Bitters. If you want to know James Bond’s take on the Pink Gin, click here.

Refreshing, like a Gin & Tonic, but there is a little, sweet, herbal spiciness that may fool you into thinking that someone has splashed a bit of ginger ale into your drink. It’s been a while since I have had one of these, but I now recall why I liked them so much. Cool and refreshing like a Gin & Tonic, but with that added depth of flavour. I might not drink these all night, but as the first G&T of the evening it’s a pretty good bet.

Witch Cocktail*
This is one from Nigella: gin & tonic with added cassis. In theory, you could take this recipe and extend it to creme de menthe, Galliano, creme de violette, etc., but I can see the attraction to cassis as it is quite tart.

For just a splash, the cassis has quite a pronounced presence, adding a sloe-gin like jamminess to the drink. It worked quite well and is pleasant enough, but for me those jammy, berry flavours are associated with winter and so it wasn’t one of my favourites. Mrs. B disagreed, as she quite liked it.

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Camp David
Essentially a gin & tonic with a dash of creme de violette added at the end; the latter will tend to settle at the bottom, leaving a dark purple sunrise rising up the glass.
This drink was still quite dry from the tonic and gin, but I got a very definite sweet, floral note form the violette. Given that the violette is inclined to sink to the bottom of the glass, you can either give it a stir or enjoy the subtle changes in the drink’s flavour as you gradually make you way to the bottom. This isn’t for everyone, but was certainly a nice twist. Garnishing with a lemon wedge both offset some of the sweetness and, from an aesthetics point of view, the yellow nice offset the purple.


James Bond Gin & Tonic

A recipe suggested by Ian Fleming and used by James Bond in the book Dr. No. 007 drinks these whilst he relaxes after a long flight to Jamaica.

“Bond ordered a double gin and tonic and one whole green lime. When the drink came he cut the lime in half, dropped the two squeezed halves into the long glass, almost filled the glass with ice cubes and then poured in the tonic.

The high proportion of lime juice (equivalent to half the amount of gin) appears on the flavour profile of this drink before the familiar flavours of gin and tonic, making it deliciously tart and refreshing. When I first tried this, I thought that the lime juice would overpower the drink, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well-balanced the drink is; Ian Fleming certainly knew his stuff.

Mexican Gin & Tonic
[Add 50ml gin and 1 tablespoon of lime juice to a highball glass, fill with ice and add 120ml of tonic water ganrish with a lime slice and give it a quick stir]
This comes from Pete Wells who discovered, whilst travelling in the Yucatan, that Mexican bartenders, when making a Gin & Tonic, use lime as an ingredient, not just a garnish.

I quite like the addition of lime juice to a gin & tonic in addition to the garnish; like anything tart, it is thirst-quenching and good for a hot day. I think this drink works well with a relatively clean tonic, such as Fevertree Regular, rather than a more flavourful one (whilst good in their own right) such as Fentiman’s or one of the Mediterranean tonics. This variation opens up a door of similar innovation using lemon, grapefruit, orange etc. as a substitute for the lime, but that’s for another day.

EVANS Gin & Tonic
[Fill a tumbler with large ice cubes, add a measure of gin, add two measures of tonic water, garnish with a wedge of lime and one of lemon]
Invented by the world-famous British Gentleman, Robert Evans**, this is the closest to a classic G&T that we’ll get to today. This drink uses a standard 2:1 tonic to gin ratio, using Waitrose tonic and garnished with both lemon & lime. This easily answers the debate of lemon vs. lime as a garnish: be decadent, use both! Another essentially element to an essential Evans is for it to be ice cold, so plenty of ice is needed.

Usually, I would be more restrained and use only one wedge of lemon and one of lime, but, as I was using up the last of the fruit, I thought  that I would go the whole hog and use two wedges of each.
The result is an invigorating drink: the citrus is sharp and bright and makes it delightfully refreshing; there is also a nice contrast between the bright yellow, green and the silvery white of the ice cubes in the glass. If you want a full-bodied gin & tonic, this may well be the choice for you!

So there we have just seven ideas of gin & tonic variations and, hopefully, there are some ideas in there for you to experiment with yourself (please feel free to share any new creations in a comment). With variations there is always a temptation to fall into drinks snobbery, but, really, if it tastes great, what does it matter?

*For those of you familiar with the UK consumer money-saving magazine, a Witch? cocktail would probably be a rather bargainous G&T somewhat akin to this.

** Recent star of the Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” in the USA.

Gin Tasting Notes

Soft with a full mouth feel, almost like a marshmallow. strong juniper and some earthiness like orris. A little burn and a medium finish but pretty good.

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Hendrick’s Garnish Taste Test

Anyone who has ever bought a bottle of Hendrick’s will know that Hendrick’s and cucumber go hand-in-hand. When I first tried it six years ago, I have to admit to being a tad surprised at being served a glass of gin & tonic with a slice of cucumber in it; surprised, but ultimately delighted, as it was delicious.

Since then, I have come across other gins that suggest garnishing drinks with one of their botanicals, two examples being:
– Pink Grapefruit with Tanqueray No. 10; and
– Cape Gooseberries with Whitley Neill.

I’ve been asked why companies don’t just add more of that botanical’s flavour to the spirit to negate the need for additional garnish. It’s a good question and I’m not sure of an answer.
However, aesthetically, a slice of cucumber or a handful of strawberries makes the drink more appealing, not to mention the fact that you get a little snack you get once you’ve finished the drink.

Hendrink’s is pretty versatile when it comes to garnishes: I have had it served with cucumber, lemon, lime, strawberries, and even rose petals! After I received a bottle of the 44% (Export) Hendrick’s from relatives returning from abroad, I thought I would evaluate each of these garnishes alongside one another in a blind Hendrick’s & Tonic Garnish Taste Test.

Our garnishes were as follows: lemon, lime, cucumber, rose petals, strawberries,  and plain (no garnish, as a control). We tried all six with both the 41.4% and the 44% strengths of Hendrick’s. The gin & tonics were mixed in a 1pt Gin : 2pts Tonic ratio and served in covered coffee cups (thanks to my local Café Nero for supplying those), as we thought this was the best way to avoid identifying the garnish by sight.

Prepared garnishes, clockwise from top left, Plain, Lemon, Lime, Cucumber, strawberries, Rose Petals.

Hendricks 41.4% ABV – (UK Domestic)

No Garnish: The tonic comes through a lot more in this one; there is an initial bitter tang followed by floral perfume notes.

Cucumber: Strong cucumber with a fresh, slightly watery element; it tastes more of the skin than the flesh, but is very fine nonetheless.

Lemon: Exceptionally well-balanced, with subtle citrus and hints of vanilla. Very popular.

Lime: Fresh, citrus and a hint of cucumber, although this was possibly a touch on the bitter side and too sharp.

Strawberries: Hints of cucumber and sweet notes of strawberry. This adds a new flavour to the drink that complements the already summery profile of Hendrick’s. Bright and flavourful. Simply delicious.

Rose Petals: Soft and light, sweet and a touch syrupy, but well-balanced overall.

Hendricks 44% ABV – (USA)

No Garnish: Slightly savoury, with a subtle pepperiness. Well-balanced and complex.

Cucumber: Very strong flavours of cucumber, which dominate the drink. Quite fresh and rather pleasant.

Lemon: A strong bang of citrus, which pleasantly complements the gin, and a fresh sweetness akin to cool lemonade.

Lime: The most bitter and dry of the gin & tonics that we tired. Slightly fruity, but not very sweet.

Strawberries: Very good indeed; sweet and juicy, a touch of strawberry jam.

Rose Petals: Fresh, floral flavours, that aren’t overpowering; sadly lacking in flavour.

In conclusion, we both really liked the strawberries as a garnish as it made the drink rather summery, I was quite fan of the cucumber but Mrs. B found it a little over-powering. In contrast she like the delicacy of the rose petal garnish whereas I thought it too weak. A lemon garnish with the 41.4 also scored well.

The real conclusion we can draw is that we both preferred the 41.4% in a gin & tonic and that my wife and I don’t always agree!

For our coverage of our Tasting of 11 Scottish Gins, click here.

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.