Cocktails with… Goa Gin

GoaGinTitle

I keep a wishlist of gins that I am keen to try and, recently, one of those wishes was granted when I tried Victoria Oaked Gin, courtesy of the folks at the London Distillery Company, producers of Dodd’s Gin.

GoaGin FINAL

Another gin that has intrigued me for a while now and has also been on my wishlist is Goa Gin and, for a gin that I hadn’t tried, I knew a surprising amount about it. For instance, I knew that it was made by Thames Distillers, exclusively for the Spanish market; also, that it’s bottled at 47% ABV, contains 8 botanicals, and is packaged in a hexagonal, blue bottle, which is very similar, but not identical, to that of Tanqueray 10. I first saw the bottle when I visited Thames Distillers on the Gin Ramble.

GoaGinBots

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Juniper, but quite peppery, too. The cumin is strong, making this nose slightly reminiscent of Darnley’s View Spiced Gin. There’s a little vanilla, too.
Taste: Like the nose, the cumin spice is dominant on the taste; this is followed by juniper and some coriander. This gin is rather spicy, but not hot, and at the same time has a dry, savoury – almost salty – character throughout. This combination of characteristics reminds me somewhat of spiced/seasoned tortilla treats, such as Doritos. There’s also some cardamom sweetness in the middle and a little fiery ginger, too; I would imagine that this works well with the new Ginger and Cardamom Schweppes.

Gin Tonic
i) Schweppes Tonicá Originale
Very spicy, indeed – the cumin comes through very strongly and, if you don’t like curry spice, then this is probably not for you.

ii) Schweppes Cardamom and Ginger Tonicá
3

Martini
Another very spicy cocktail; there are definitely some curry notes, but they’re relatively well-balanced. The tortilla chip savoury characteristics also return and, as such, I think that this would be a perfect Martini to pair with Spanish tapas dishes.

Negroni
Cumin on the nose, followed by a rather spicy and savoury Negroni with plenty of cumin, caraway and cardamom. This drink is rather smooth, but with quite an intense bitterness at the very end. This is also slightly salty, which is unusual for this drink, but – overall – this is pretty good.

In Conclusion
Goa Gin is pretty good, like it’s spiciness and savoury notes; although I think it’s Scottish counterpart Darnley’s View Spiced has slightly better balance.  My favourite drink was the gin tonic with the Heritage Schweppes.

Cocktails with… C.O.L.D. (City of London Distillery) Gin with a Bonus Irish Gin review

COLD Gin Title

Continuing our series on UK Craft Gins, today’s focus is on a new distillery in the City of London. For those not familiar with the make-up of Europe largest metropolitan area, London is not just one city, but the combination of two cities and boroughs. One of the cities is the City of Westminster, where Parliament sits; the other is the City of London, also known as the square-mile, which is the financial heart of the Capital and includes St. Paul’s Cathedral. Just a stone’s throw from this architectural masterpiece by Sir Christopher Wren lies C.O.L.D. (City of London Distillery).

C.O.L.D. Gin is made by Master Distiller Jamie Baxter (who used to work at Chase), who also consults independently for aspiring distillers. The gin is bottled at 40% ABV and contains the following seven botanicals:

Juniper
Coriander Seed
Angelica Root
Liquorice Root
Lemon
Orange
Pink Grapefruit

COLD Gin FINAL

#1 On its own
Nose: Plenty of creamy citrus, a bit like lemon curd, as well as juniper and coriander.
Taste: Smooth and well-rounded, with juniper, coriander, citrus and a hint of raisin at the end. Very well-balanced, with plenty of citrus with a slightly sweet “lift” on the finish.

#2 Gin & Tonic
Bold flavours with lots of dry juniper, lemon and a hint of vanilla and citrus from the pink grapefruit. Quite citrusy, zesty, bold and refreshing.

#3 Martini
Very classic: quite crisp, with lots of citrus and dry juniper. As you drink more, the lemon comes through more strongly, so there’s no need for a twist, but an olive may work well.

#4 Negroni
Quite sweet, actually, with a snug smoothness. It seems quite soft, although there’s still a substantial shard of bitterness, thanks to the Campari at the end. A soft start, with a wild finish.

In Conclusion
This is a rather classic gin that is obviously well made and work particularly well in long drinks like the Gin Collins (my favourite) and the gin and tonic. There are plans to release a “Square Mile Gin” bottled at a higher ABV and I look forward to trying that.

But wait, there’s more!

On a recent trip to Shebeen, The Poitin Bar in Kentish Town, with Dave Mulligan, Louis Lebaillif and Michael Vachon of Master of Malt, I got the chance to try an Irish Craft Gin, probably the first I have tried: Dingle Gin.

Dingle Irish Craft Gin

Dingle Gin is made at the Dingle Whiskey Distillery in County Kerry, Ireland. It is made with a variety of botanicals, including: Juniper, Angelica, Coriander, Rowan, Fuschia, Bog Myrtle, Heather and Hawthorn.

#1) On its own:
Nose: Juniper, coriander and lime.
Taste: Quite smooth, with lots of coriander, followed by a dry, slightly spicy finish. This gin has both some sweetness and some culinary appeal to it, and should make some interesting cocktails.

#2) Gin & Tonic
Very clean, with lots of coriander and citrus, making this a fresh and crisp drink. Another dimension is then added to the drink with notes of lavender, spice and a long, dry finish.

Cocktails with… Butler’s Gin

ButlersTitle

With what is perhaps the beginning of a renaissance in artisanal gin distilling in the UK, it is exciting to speak to someone who is not only doing their own distilling, but also coming to the industry from a wholly different angle.

Such was the case when I first spoke to Ross Butler of Butler’s Gin. Ross started out by wanting to create a product that reflected his character and, as a part of this, he wanted to start off debt-free, purchasing raw materials only when an order came in. When I spoke to him, Ross spoke of the trade-off between time and money and how he had decided to invest time in his product rather than borrowing money. It seems to have paid dividends, as Butler’s Gin is now due to launch in the USA and the EU next month. Given that he only sold his first bottle of gin on 22nd February 2013, this is remarkable.

Butler’s Gin is made in Hackney and takes a London Dry Gin, which is made to Ross’  specification and recipe, which he then infuses with various botanicals kept in muslin bags, a bit like over-sized tea bags. The infused botanicals include lemongrass and cardamom.

ButlersGinBottle

On its own

Nose: A dry, berry juniper with liquorice root, allspice, ginger/cardamom and lemongrass.

Taste: A measured, classic start of juniper and coriander, followed by some sweeter, spiced notes such as ginger, cassia and cardamon. This is all rounded off with a long finish of lemongrass.

Gin & Tonic

A clean gin and tonic with juniper, plenty of spice from the cardamom and citrus from the lemongrass. My tonic recommendation would be Fevertree and maybe Schweppes; however I would steer clear of eFentimand or Waitrose own-brand as they are too citrusy.

Martini

All of the crisp juniper and citrus that you would expect from a Martini, but with the added character of cardamom, spice and then the dry grape character of the vermouth. Full of flavour and pretty classic, if you are talking about the Martinis of the ‘30s and ‘40s rather than the ultra dry drinks of the ‘50s and ‘60s, but that’s just how I like it.

Negroni

The bold flavours of this gin work well in a Negroni; it’s exceptionally flavourful, with some dark chocolate spice coming through, along with a finish of cardamom and citrus.

Cocktails with… Oliver Twist Gin

Being based, as we are, near Portsmouth, you can’t help but know some of the city’s famous residents, such as:Conan Doyle, Peter Sellers, Brunel, Chritsopher Hitchens, HG Wells and Charles Dickens. It is the last of these great men who is of particular relevance today, as we look at a gin named after one of his most famous creations, Oliver Twist.

Oliver Twist Gin was created by the Guernsey-based SD Spirits Ltd. The gin is unusually described as a “Distilled London Gin”. Technically, it is also a London Dry Gin, but the Spirits wanted to emphasise the fact that the gin is made in London; this is a similar idea to that of “London Cut”, which is another geographical moniker.

The gin is made at Thames, is bottled at 40% ABV, and contains four botanicals.

Own
Nose: Classic gin; dry juniper and coriander, a little salty, too.
Taste: Strong juniper with some lighter floral elements. Very dry coriander and bitter herbs on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
No nonsense, good strong juniper, with some sweetness at the end. All-in-all, a good classic-style G&T.

Martini
Very smooth, but still flavourful. The gin lets the vermouth come through, so there is synergy between the two. Soft initially, crisp at the end and pretty easy to drink.

Negroni
Intense and quite sweet, but very herbally bitter on the finish, which is quick. Overall, this came across as being a rather extreme (intense) drink; it’ll knock your socks off, but, if you love Negronis, this is for you.

Pink Gin
Rounded and powerful with a juniper kick. This works quite well, but is quite strong, both in terms of flavour and of perceived proof. The herbs and spice of bitters come through and the texture is silky, almost syrupy.

Gin Old Fashioned
A smooth, but spicy number, I found this easy to drink and a great way of enjoying the characteristics of the gin.

In the spirit of invention, here are some more unorthodox cocktails:

Mr Bumble’s Bongo
Gin and Umbongo; an unlikely combination, but one that was recommended by the folks at Oliver Twist Gin. It works surprisingly well and I really like it. The combination seems to bring out grapefruit from somewhere, but neither the gin nor the juice contain any. Very refreshing, easy to make and really worth a try.

What the Dickens?
This is a recipe that I came up with recently, but hadn’t found a name for. It looks like it won’t work on paper, but, once in the glass, it is pretty tasty.

[35ml Oliver Twist Gin, 15ml Lemon Juice, 5ml White Creme de Cacao, 5ml Creme de Menthe 100ml Soda Water]

The drink looks like a normal Collins and, initially, that is the flavour that you get: a fresh, dry mix of gin and lemon juice, but after the lemon, juniper and coriander, you get a subtle finish of dry mint chocolate. It works surprisingly well and makes you keep on sipping.

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The Artful Dodger (Gin & Jam)
A variation on a drink from the 1930s Savoy Cocktail book, The Marmalade Cocktail. I’ve substituted the marmalade for jam in a nod to the Jammy Dodger biscuits.

[35ml Oliver Twist Gin, Juice of Half a Lemon, 1tsp Jam – SHAKE]

This works well, although it’s important not to overdo on your measure of gin, so that you just get a jammy, strawberry finish subtly in the background. There’s a good amount of fresh tartness form the lemon juice, which works well with the angelica and coriander in the gin; to top it off, juniper comes through too. Scrumptious.

In Conclusion
Oliver Twist Gin has a small number of botanicals, but is still very flavourful. It is of a classic style of gin that works well in the traditional cocktails, such as a Gin & Tonic, but I also found that it made some delicious contemporary drinks such as the combination with Umbongo and in The Artful Dodger.

Oliver Twist Gin is available for around £26 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange