Cocktails with… GinSelf Gin (from Spain!)

Continuing our latest spate of Spanish gin reviews, today we’re looking at Ginself, which is made in an artisan distillery in Valencia. It is produced in batches of 500 litres in an 18th Century still, using a combination of 9 botanicals that are macerated for 24 hours prior to distillation. The gin is brought down to bottling strength (40%ABV) with spring water from the Sierra de Espadán.

The mix of 9 botanicals are:

The Taste

1) On its own
Nose: Juniper, with spicy, floral coriander and zesty, floral orange. There’s also a slight, biscuity nuttiness from the angelica, too.
Taste: With lots of orange blossom upfront, it reminds me of orange shortbread. These notes are followed by lemon, coriander and a finish of dry, floral pininess. It’s quite smooth, with a little warmth at the end.

2) Gin & Tonic
Full of citrus and floral notes, this has orange and orange blossom right upfront. It’s very juicy, tasting like it has fresh orange in it, even though I didn’t use any garnish at all. For this reason, I think it’s better to stick to using the cleaner, rather than more citrus-heavy, tonic waters with this gin.

3) Dry Martini
Clean, with lots of orange, as well as some floral orange blossom. Unlike some other gins the orange notes in this one are quite dry and not sweet like triple sec. Perhaps a twist of pink grapefruit would work well as a garnish? It was a good match for the gin in a Gin & Tonic.

4) Negroni
This makes a lovely drink that is packed full of flavour. There are a lot of orange and other citrusy botanicals in this drink and they work well, which is understandable, given that orange is a typical garnish to a Negroni. I think this more accessible than most Negronis, but it still has the familiar bitter-sweetness that fans of the drink crave.


5) Gin Tonica
This is quite simple to make: combine an approximate two-to-one ratio with about a teaspoon of Pink Grapefruit Juice, a twist of Grapefruit oil and a wedge of fruit. It’s very colourful, but also complements the floral orange blossom and other citrus in the spirit. This drink has a refreshing, zesty bite to it, making it perfect for a hot summers day or even a hot autumnal evening inside (when someone has been a bit over-eager with the heating).

6) Sweet Martini
Sweet, herbal and citrusy; too sweet for a pre-dinner drink, I think, but it would work well as a digestif, with its bold flavour and complexity. There’s plenty of orange, too.

In Conclusion
I really enjoyed Ginself and it certainly has its own character. It has a lot of floral and citrus in its flavour profile, although this is in the form of a warm orange flavour, as opposed to a zesty or bitter lemon one, which makes a difference. I like the Gin Tonica especially – so crisp, so delicious.

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Cocktails with… Darnley’s View

Darnley’s View is a Scottish Gin* made by the Wemyss Family (pronounced weems) who also own Scotch and Wine companies.

The name Darnley’s View originates from a stay of Mary Queen of Scots at Wemyss Castle (the family’s ancestral home) It was during this visit that she first saw (got a view) of her future husband Lord Darley through a courtyard window of the castle.

Darnley’s View is bottled at 40%ABV and contains the following six botanicals:

It’s worth noting that other Scottish Gins such as Hendrick’s and The Botanist also use Elder as a botanical and, along with heather, these botanicals seem to be quite popular with Caledonian gin-makers.

For this “Cocktail with” I had a special request from Darnley’s View Gin (I’m always open to consider requests) to try their Gin with a variety of tonic waters to find a good match.**
Here are the results:

#1) Schweppes Regular
Fruity with some freshness but the drink falls flat in terms of flavour.

#2) Fevertree Regular
A good combo with both the sweetness and the bitterness you expect from a Gin & Tonic. As the ice melts a little the drink certainly improves but, like the 1724, it would be much better with a fruit garnish to add a little extra zip.

#3) Waitrose Regular
Crisp and fizzy, a truly classic Gin & Tonic. It has a more simple flavour profile than some of the others but was very refreshing. It had a good flavour balance, the floral notes of gin are not overpowered and the drink is not too sweet, cloying or bitter. Excellent!

#4) 1724 Tonic
Quite smooth, light and fresh. Good for a really hot day. A little lacking in flavour but this could be rectified by adding a juicy wedge of lemon.

#5) Fentiman’s Tonic
A good fizz, and very flavourful;. The lemongrass in the tonic adds some extra citrus to the drink, which is quite welcome; no need to garnish with lemon here. Some folks may find the citrus and the sweetness overpowering but in general rather good.

In addition here are some extra tasting notes; for the gin (neat) and in a Martini, well how can you review a gin without trying it in a THE mixture of Gin & Vermouth?

Own
Initial flavours of Juniper and Citrus with the faintest hint of milkiness. Despite what is generally a classic nose, the taste of the gin is quite contemporary. It is quite sweet with juniper and a spicy note at end which is almost peppery. Very smooth with minimal alcohol burn/bite. Some floral elements too. Mixed with a dash of water the flowery flavours really present themselves.

Martini
Elegant, one of the best Martinis I have had for a long time. Classic but with a modern delicate and floral edge. The juniper and subtle flowery notes mix well with Dolin Vermouth.

In Conclusion
I enjoyed trying Darnley’s View gin with it’s overall characteristics being that it is a relatively simple flowery and slightly soft gin. Certainly has the potential to be more refreshing than some of the more botanical-heavy gins.
In terms of tonic, for me Waitrose was the winner, followed closely by Fevertree.

Darnley’s View Gin is available for around £24 for 70cl from Royal Mile Whiskies

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

*Scottish as in made in Scotland, technically it is categorized as a London dry Gin – for details of how the categorizations work, click here.
** These tasting notes reflect my opinion when mixed with Darnley’s View they may not be the same as my overall view of the tonic waters.

Bruce Cost’s REAL Ginger Ale

Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale


For me, the real ace in the pack was Bruce Cost’s Fresh Ginger Ale. Mr Cost wrote a very comprehensive book on ginger, “Ginger East meets West”, where he documents the origins of ginger soft drinks and how he finally decided to make his own ginger ale.
But this is no Canada Dry, however. Bruce has taken his inspiration from the more hearty Belfast-style of ginger ale; it is something of a hybrid between modern ginger beer and ginger ale, but, in reality, was the ancestor of both. Belfast Ginger Ale is more fiery than ginger ale, but not as sweet as ginger beer, and it’s delicious.
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Tasting Notes:
There’s a fruity nose with a hint of spice. In terms of taste, the fruitiness appears again, maybe passion fruit, as well as some malt and a bit of yeast. It has a medium fizz and tasted like a fresh, home-made variety; rustic, but absolutely superb. To my mind, this is a good example of Belfast-style ginger ale. I wish more ginger beers were like this; Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale has to be one of my favourites.I also tried Mr Cost’s Ginger Ale in a variety of ginger ale cocktails, the recipes for which can be found here.
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Postmaster [50ml Gin, 100ml  Fresh Ginger Ale, Build over Ice]
Pleasant and refreshing, but probably a bit sweet for me; half a measure of citrus juice would turn this into a buck and that would solve the problem.
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Sloe Bump [50ml Sloe Gin, 100ml  Fresh Ginger Ale, Build over Ice]
Rather pleasant, as it freshens up the sloe gin. It may, perhaps, be too sweet for some, but if you were to use a variety such as Sloeth or Foxdenton, this wouldn’t be a problem.
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Horses Neck [50ml Brandy, 100ml  Fresh Ginger Ale; Add Ice and a Citrus twist]
Sweet & smooth and the twist of citrus sets off the flavours nicely. Not too fizzy and very tasty.
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Typically, you would use a ginger beer for the two drinks below, but I was intrigued to try them, as Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale is rather ginger-beer-like.
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Moscow Mule
Great, not so heavy of the ginger and a little bit of lemongrass comes through. Fresh an very quenching of one’s thirst.
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Dark  & Stormy
Pretty good rink, maybe a bit watery but the way the ginger ale and the rum interacts it certainly looks stormy. Visually spectacular.
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I’m really impressed with this product and I’m keen to try the Passion-fruit and Jasmine Ginger Ales that they also make. It tasted just as good mixed as it did on its own and I hope that it’s available in the UK sometime soon.