Cocktails with… Joséphine Gin

I picked up my bottle of Joséphine Gin  from the fine selection of nearly 100 gins available at the Whisky Exchange. The cost? A reasonable £17, but this was only for 35cl, so the gin works out at £34 for 70cl, a handsome sum indeed.Josephine Gin is named after Joséphine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoléon Bonaparte and first Empress of France. It is made by the cognac house, Camus, and it has been suggested it was designed with female drinkers in mind.In my experience, this gin is not spoken about often and is not well-known; in fact I have only ever seen one other bottle, in the extensive Gin Bar of the Feather’s Hotel in Woodstock. (Edit: It is now stocked at Graphic Bar in Soho)
1) Neat
Nose: Anis and floral – like a cross between Fruit Salad chews and Blackjacks (liquorice & aniseed). Quite sweet, with a hint of Dandelion & Burdock.
Taste:Very soft; the juniper was pretty subdued. Very floral, sweet, with anise at the end. Very unusual and certainly not a classic style.
2) Gin & Tonic
There’s a strong nose of Dandelion & Burdock and it was quite sweet, making for a very odd Gin & Tonic. There were strong notes of sarsaparilla, as well as some herbal notes. Bitter at the end, any dryness came from the gin. If I had tasted it blind, I’d never have guessed that it was a Gin & Tonic. Despite my outcry at how unorthodox this was, Mrs. B. quite liked it.

3) Martini
An interestingly floral Martini. Not so crisp as a classic example of the drink, but the juniper does come through. Better with a large lemon twist.

4) Gimlet
Pleasant, but not distinctive; the gin needs a bit more eumph! It was quite a nice drink, but doesn’t seem to have any discerning characteristics to it, making it rather forgettable.

5) Aviation
Horribly sharp, unbalanced and waste of all of the ingredients involved. Not recommended.

6) White Lady
Reminds me of Orange Chocolate Creams, but the juniper is quite sharp. A touch unbalanced, with the orange flavour in particular being quite strong. The finish is rather dry and there was an unpleasant aftertaste that stuck to my mouth.

7) Negroni
High anise, almost as if it had absinthe in it. A little sarsaparilla, surprisingly sweet and any real bitterness from the Campari is only at the end. Quite good.

8 Alexander
Truly superb; the floral and light herbal elements mix exceptionally well with cacao and cream. The dry juniper stops the drink from becoming too sweet. This was the perfect balance of sweet and dry, silkiness and flavour.

In Conclusion

Even though Josephine Gin made some exceptional drinks (the Alexander, for example), in general, it just wasn’t for me. It was too far removed from any gin base-line and, at times, it was too sweet, too sickly or too floral. It didn’t work in a Gin & Tonic and, for me, that is a major downfall.

It just goes to show that, despite recent outcry at the likes of Brockman’s & Hoxton calling themselves gin (everyone’s opinion has it own validity), non-conformist gin outliers have existed for a while. For the rebel gin-lover, this may be worth a punt.