Cocktails with… Thomas Dakin Gin

Thomas Dakin was developed by Joanne Moore at G&J Distillers, the same distiller behind the creation of Bloom, Berkeley Square, and Ophir Gins. It is named after the distiller who set up shop in Warrington in 1751. This operation was to become G&J Greenall and played an essential part in the birth of Bombay Sapphire; in fact, one of their still houses is named in tribute to Dakin.

Thomas Dakin Gin is currently made at the main Greenall’s Complex, but will eventually be moved to its own small, separate distillery in the centre of Manchester. Bottled at 42% ABV, the gin is made using 11 botanicals, including: juniper, coriander, angelica, liquorice, horseradish, cubeb berries, and sweet orange, grapefruit, and lemon peels.

Thomas Dakin Gin FINAL

On its own
Nose: Resinous, leafy, green pine notes and grassy notes, too. It reminds me of a garden in summer. These are followed by hints of spice and citrus.
Taste: Plenty of juniper upfront, accompanied by hints of lemon, vanilla, and lime. This is a resinous and fresh gin with complex flavours. Primarily, the flavour is of juniper, pine and cedar, before some freshly cracked coriander on the finish. A luscious and delicious gin; smooth, with a lovely interplay between sweet and dry flavours.

Gin & Tonic
One of the crispest Gin & Tonics I have ever had; like walking through a pine forest on a winter’s morning. This is a drink that will satisfy the drink’s classical appraisers. Dry, with a grassy finish.

Martini
Very resinous – this reminds me of fresh pine forests and Christmas trees. A little lemon comes through, too. This is dry and clean cocktail, and definitely for those who like bold juniper in their Martinis.

Negroni
Excellent – so crisp, bright, and invigorating. The juniper notes are bright and vibrant, and stand up well to the vermouth and Campari. Smooth, complex, and delicious.

In Conclusion
Thomas Dakin Gin is a good addition to the Greenall’s family that includes Bloom (floral), Berkeley Square (herbal), Ophir (spicy) – Dakin is certainly the elder statesman of the group, with its bright, punchy, bold juniper in a very classic style. This is a gin for the hardcore gin fan. My favourite drink was the Negroni.

Boodles is Back – Cocktails with The British Gin

BoodlesGinIsBackTitle

For a long time, I have been a big fan of Boodles Gin and, when I first started getting into gin, I remember that Boodles was available from places like Gerry’s in Soho, and I certainly drank a fair bit of it. Unfortunately, it then became increasingly difficult to obtain and my only sources were relatives returning from the United States, but nonetheless I still had a supply.

 At this time, the brand was owned by Pernod Ricard, although it was actually made by Joanne Moore at the Greenalls Distillery. I thought it was a shame that a brand with such heritage and a close association with the likes of Churchill and Ian Fleming, who were members of Boodle’s Club (where the name of the gin comes from), had been left to languish.

BoodlesGinBottle

Things changed in 2012, when the New Jersey based company, Proximo, purchased the brand and set about planning to relaunch it. Although not properly launched until July this year, there are a few sneak previews going on, such as Ginstock tomorrow for World Gin Day.

 Boodles Gin dates back to 1845 and is named after Boodle’s Gentleman Club in St. James’s, which, in turn, was named after their head waiter, Edward Boodle. It is bottled in the UK at 40% ABV and is made at the Greenalls Distillery in Warrington using neutral grain spirit, a carter-head still (similar to that used to make Bombay Sapphire) and contains nine botanicals:

BoodlesGinIsBackBots

The Taste

Own
nose: juniper, coriander (adding a citrusy note) backed up by some leafy herbal tones.
taste: Sweet to start with cassia, cinnamon and caraway notes, this moves towards the rich herbal notes of the rosemary and sage and the dry piney juniper and coriander come through at the end. Smooth throughout with just a small lift of warmth at the very end. Very accessible and even better served chilled.

Gin & Tonic
Good, clean, crisp and refreshing. The gin chills down really nicely and works well with schweppes leaving a long dry slightly bitter finish. Not too intense and pretty classic but perfect for a hot day

Martini
Good solid flavour and surprisingly potent for a gin at 40%ABV (I think this is a good thing as a Martini needs a little power). Good balance of flavour with a good range of botanicals coming into play, dry juniper, citrus coriander and then some of the herbal spice notes (although these are relatively subtle). I quite like this without any garnish but I think a lemon twist would work well too.

Negroni
Good full flavour, very smooth but not over-complex. Easy to drink and enjoy. I recommended it with a twist (or slice if you’re feeling juicy) of red grapefruit.

WorldGinDayEve GinTonicFriday Boodles

Gin Tonica
Absolutely superb, the sage brings out the herbal note and the lemon thyme does something similar but also adds a little crispness and zest as the gin has not citrus botanicals. The Lemon peel adds colour and fragrance. I didn’t twist the peel because I didn’t want it to overpower the drink.

In Conclusion
I think it’s great that Boodles is back and this gin is very mixable and makes some great drinks, my favourite was the gin tonica. Although the gin has been reduced in strength to 40% ABV in the UK it is still bottle at 45.2% ABV in the USA. And although I like the 40% version the 45,2% ABV still remains of the 489 different that gins I have tried my all-time favourite.

Boodles Gin is available from Gerry’s of Soho for around £27 for 70cl.

Cocktails with… Chancery Dry Gin

ChanceryGinTitle

Returning home from our trip to the USA, I stopped by Tesco to try a gin that a few people have been talking about recently: Chancery London Dry Gin. Bottled at 43% ABV, this gin is exclusively available in Tesco.

As far as I can tell, this is a high-end own-label offering from the supermarket chain and is made by Greenall’s.

It is made from 100% pure grain (neutral grain spirit, or NGS), is distilled five times and is made using nine botanicals, which the bottle describes as providing “juniper, citrus and earthy notes”.

Chnacery Gin Bottle

The gin is packaged in a purple-grey glass bottle (the liquid itself is clear) with a London Underground-style logo housing the text on the front.

 1) On its own

Nose: Juniper and citrus.

Taste: Quite clean, with citrus and zesty coriander upfront, followed by juniper and then some more earthy notes of angelica root. This is very classic in style: dry, with plenty of juniper and a long, dry finish. There’s a little spice in the middle, too. With its bold flavours, I thought this was rather good.

 2) Gin & Tonic

Good, with lots of juniper and citrus, making for a refreshing drink with a dry, bitter, earthy finish. Lemon would be my recommended garnish, or perhaps Evans style (lemon and lime).

3) Martini

Quite pleasant, cool and crisp, with some warmth towards the end. A lemon twist would be the garnish of the day. Again, this is very classic and satisfying to drink. Lovely and one for the Martini traditionalist who doesn’t like their drink messed about with.

 4) Negroni

Pretty good flavour: long and bitter-sweet. Bold juniper, citrus and lots of herbal notes. This is a very solid example of the drink and one for its fans; although nothing extraordinary, I would say that it’s a good standard.

In Conclusion

Chancery London Dry Gin is a classic gin with bold, but balanced flavours. It’s a good standard gin and mixes quite well, but doesn’t really stand out and there are better gins that are available for a similar price (Hayman’s London Dry Gin) or even less (Aldi’s Oliver Cromwell).

Chancery London Dry Gin is available for around £17 for 70cl from Tesco.

 

Cocktails with… Boodles British Gin

3 Bottles of Boodles Gin, note the small bottle is 47.2% & the large bottles 45.2%ABV.

3 Bottles of Boodles Gin, note the small bottle is 47.2% & the large bottles 45.2%ABV.

Boodles Gin has, for a long time, been my standard answer when anyone asks me, “What’s your favourite gin?”. 

Anyone who has ever expressed their interest in the juniper spirit will know that this can potentially be a tricky situation; it depends on what circumstances you’re in, etc., but all your questioner really wants in response is a name.

Luckily for me, a few years back (pre-SummerFruitCup and before I could identify any gin brands by taste*), some friends and I undertook blind Martini and Gin & Tonic tastings with 20 different gins. For me, Boodles came out on top both times; and so my love affair with Boodles began. What I liked – and still like – about it is that it’s clean, balanced, and has good, but equal measures of the different gin characteristics (juniper/citrus/herbal), with a good, clean hit of cardamom, too.

Boodles Gin was originally produced by the Cock Russell & Company Ltd. (a name still associated with the gin) and was established in 1845. It is thought to have been named after the Gentleman’s Club in St. James’s whose membership has included, amongst others, Sir Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming and David Niven.

One of my highly-prized bottles of Boodles Gin

Production details on the gin are hard to come by, but Boodles is currently made by Joanne Moore at Greenall’s Distillery in Warrington**. For many years, it been shipped out as a concentrate to the USA, where it is mixed with Neutral Grain Spirit and then cut down with water to the bottling strength of 45.2%.

I did find some additional information, which I have not been able to personally double-check***, from Bob Emmons’ ‘The Book of Gins & Vodkas’. He suggests that Boodles is produced in a vacuum still, which, back in 2000, it would have been the first of its kind. Mr. Emmons also suggests that juniper, coriander, sage, cassia bark, nutmeg, rosemary, caraway and angelica are all a part of the botanical mix.

Around 2005, any bottles of Boodles that you could find in the UK had to re-imported from the US and were sold for around £20 a bottle. It then disappeared from UK shelves for five years, up until last year, when The Whisky Exchange got it back in, selling for around £35 a bottle.****

During those five years when it was difficult to come by , I found myself rationing my Boodles and persuading any friend/relative/co-worker who was going to the US to try and bring me back a bottle or two.

A rather tasty Martini

A rather tasty Martini

On its own
nose: fresh and clean with juniper, citrus and a hint of vanilla
taste: juniper and then some earthy notes, including cracked black pepper, then citrus and cardamom. A little warmth at the end but no real burn at. Powerful but still easy to drink with plenty of personality and bold flavours. Despite it’s Classic flavour profile it has a quality that sets apart from other classic London dry Gins.

Gin & Tonic
Citrus with a hint of floral initially then some cardamom. A rather dry gin and tonic but still cool crisp refreshing and rather excellent. Well balanced between flavour and refreshment.

Martini
powerful drink by clean and crisp like a shard of ice. exceptional pure with a slight viscosity and flavour of anis and vanilla as well as juniper and other dry herbs.
One of my favourite drinks.

Gin Tonica
The balloon or coupet serve for a G&T seems to be raging in the UK at the moment; an invasion from Spain. On a hot day like today, I’d say the extra ice is needed. This Boodles Gin Tonica contains lemon peel, crushed juniper berries and a slit cardamon pod. I used Fevertree Tonic water, but in a much less exotic pour then I demonstrate here.

Lively with he citrus and herbal garnish accentuating those flavours of the gin. The slightly slit cardamom which are added gradually make their presence known as you drink.
Quite dry and sharp for gin and tonic with a touch of bitterness, partly die to the character of the gin but also the earthy quinine of Fevertree. You know you’re drinking a proper, adult drink with – not a trace of soda pop sweetness or fizziness.

Negroni
A Negroni that was rather smooth with an extra herbal element and some sweetness. The cardamom notes work very well and are followed by hints of rich, bitter chocolate. On the finish, the extra strength of the gin gives the experience of the gin a little more oomph. This was a sound drink and, whilst it’s not a textbook example of a Classic Negroni, it was a superb drink nonetheless and shows the extent to which a gin can twist the cocktail.

Kubla Khan (Shaken)

1oz Boodles Gin (1.5oz if you want a really strong kick)
0.5oz Grenadine
0.5oz Triple Sec
4 Dashes Italian Vermouth
2-3 Dashes Boker’s Bitters 
4 Dashes of fresh gooseberry juice (substitute gooseberry wine or lemon juice if you are really short)

This cocktail has lots of flavour and some bite too. The gooseberry juice adds a tartness to the drink that balances out the sweetness of the grenadine and liqueur. The vermouth also add some sweetness but also some spiced charcteristics all of which are tied nicely together by the bitters.

The gin shines through with the extra ABV allowing the gin to hold it’s own in a relatively busy cocktail. the smooth crisp character of the gin as well as some of it’s more subtle spicy notes make the cocktail the drink it is.

If it’s not got Boodles in it, it’s not a true Kubla Khan.

In Conclusion
It was a treat to share with you my finer thoughts on my favourite gin. I’ve tried some really good gins that start to rival it – Finsbury Platinum and Gilpin’s Westmorland spring to mind – but, for now, Boodles still has the top-spot. If only it was a little easier to come by…

* I  recognise a few now, but I think that GinMC Aaron from TheGinIsIn and Modern Madam Geneva Sarah Mitchell of the Juniper Society have an edge on me.
** Amusingly, they also make my least favourite gin, Richmond.
*** Not through lack of trying; if you have any official sources, please let me know.
**** Still easily worth it, in my opinion.

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Post Script
Boodles Gin was purchased toward the beginning of 2012 by Proximo Spirits, the folks behind Kraken Rum and owners of Hangar One Vodka. Since then, a website has been created: www.boodlesgin.com.s of Hangar One Vodka. Since then a website has gone up http://www.boodlesgin.com



Cocktails with… Richmond London Dry Gin

I’ve spent a lot of time writing about gins that I really like and one of the questions that I get asked most frequently is “what is your favourite gin?”, but another question is: which is your least favourite? The answer to the first question is Boodles and the second is Richmond Gin*. Interestingly, these are both made at the same distillery (Greenall’s) in Warrington.

Richmond is a London Dry Gin (all botanicals are distilled with no flavour or colour added after distillation) that is bottled at 37.5% ABV.

Own
Nose: A minimal nose, mostly made up of grain alcohol with the faintest hint of juniper. Very underwhelming. After a while, there’s some soapy coriander, followed by a touch of Pritt Stick.
Taste: Relatively smooth, but the Pritt Stick (glue stick) impression is back, alongside the soapy coriander and a bit of juniper. This tastes artificial and far from fresh.
Although I still don’t like it, upon this second tasting, I concluded that it is not as bad as I had previously remembered.

Gin & Tonic
The flavour was easily lost beneath the tonic in a 2:1 ratio G&T, although a little bit of juniper appeared towards the finish. Other than that, I found it to be rather anonymous.

Martini
Quite sweet, rather like a Vodka Martini, apart from the appearance of a very small amount of coriander. It’s quite nice, but, if you like a good Gin Martini, you’ll probably be disappointed.

In Conclusion
Upon further review, I think this gin was slightly better than I had expected (or remembered), but it is still not something that I would recommend; there are better gins available for the same price. For me, Richmond has an overall artificial impression and its flavour is very easily overwhelmed by others. In short, it doesn’t really have the thing that I think makes gin such a great spirit.

*To give Richmond Gin its due, I tried it in a blind taste test with Ginebra San Miguel and it was much better.

 

 

Cocktails with.. Berkeley Square Gin

Berkeley Square is one of those gins that I liked at first sip, ever since I had a little snifter at the Graphic Bar in Soho. I was fortunate to sit in on a tasting session with the creator of Berkeley Square and Bloom, Joanna Moore* of G&J Greenalls. She explained that the inspiration for the gin came from her love of her garden and using the produce of her garden in home cooking. She also explained that she designed the gin to be appear stronger (in terms of ABV) than it actually is.**Berkeley Square contains 8 botanicals:
Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Cubeb Berries
Kaffir Lime Leaves
Basil
Sage
Lavender
#1 Own
Nose: Clean and soft; slightly reminiscent of talc. Additional hints of pine with a touch of floral and something that reminds me of freshly kneaded dough.
Taste: Pine to start, followed by floral notes, in particular lavender, and a touch of herbal savoury towards the end.  It was very clean and quite smooth; that said, it certainly tasted stronger than 40%ABV.#2 Gin & Tonic
Pine-y juniper and basil, as well as a touch of sage, are strong amongst the the initial flavours and the juniper in particular stays towards the end. This was quite an earthy and green Gin & Tonic, but still quite refreshing and well-liked by me.#3 Martini
Rich, herbal and citrus-y, with a hint of eucalyptus. The lavender came through well, as did some of the deeper herbal notes. All of this worked well with the herbal and floral characteristics of Dolin Dry vermouth. This is a heavily flavoured Martini that is, frankly, superb and one of the best out there.

#4 Negroni
Lovely and very unusual; basil and lavender contribute to a great herbal concoction that goes well with the rich vermouth and intense Campari. The drink had a brilliant, balanced bitterness that was rather invigorating.

#5 Gin Buck
The ginger ale really accentuates the herbal notes of this gin; it made me ponder on what a herbal soda must taste like. That said, the resultant intensity seems to unbalance the drink and the juniper is all but lost. I thought this was a nice enough drink, but it doesn’t really do justice to the gin.

#6 Gin Old Fashioned
Intense, dry and herbal. The juniper came through well, as did the basil and a touch of lavender. Overall, it was quite a savoury mix, which, when balanced out by the sugar, made for an intriguing combination. Complex and contemporary.

#7 French 75
This, sadly, isn’t the best way to enjoy Berkeley Square, as the subtle flavours of the gin are masked by the wine. Although a little herbal flavour did manage to come through, it seemed to clash with the Champagne.

In Conclusion
When I first tried Berkeley Square, I thought it was the closest to “Single Malt” that a gin had ever came for me; a gin that could just be enjoyed on its own. After a little closer study, I think that that option, for me, still holds true. Nonetheless, it also makes a smashing Martini.

*Joanne also makes, among other gins, my favourite gin, Boodles, and my least favourite, Richmond, as well as: Bombay Dry, Bombay Sapphire and the excellent Bombay Sapphire EAST.
** I think she was successful with this; I probably would have guessed the gin to have been between 43-45% ABV if I hadn’t have known otherwise.