Cocktails with… Encyclopedia Britannica Gin 1902

For my recent research into Old Tom Gin, I have visited the British Library to inspect some manuscripts first hand. Whilst looking at the 1902 version of Encyclopedia Britannica, I came across a recipe for gin. Given the ubiquity of the book, it is likely that the recipe represents something that is typical of the time.

After giving the recipe to a distiller friend, I was fortunate enough to taste a sample of gin made to this century-old recipe; here are my findings.

On its own
Nose: Complex and rich, with hints of chocolate wafers and brandy spice, plus just a touch of citrus. Unique.
Taste: This has a superb texture with a richness that is normally associated with high-end aged spirits. Strong notes of coriander come through, with a bright, citrus spice that is followed by hints of menthol pepper and resinous juniper. In the middle, there is a rich creaminess of sweet vanilla and notes of chocolate with a definite cakey element to them, making the flavour reminiscent of pain au chocolat.

Gin & Tonic
This gin works surprisingly well, with malty coriander and a citrus sweetness to it. There are definitely some elements of genever with bready, grain notes that are quite subtle, but noticeable. The finish, which lasts for a long time, has a dry bitterness to it.

Martini
Very clean, like a shard of ice, this is cooling with a little sharpness. This cocktail is just what a Martini should be – surprisingly so, given the high amount of coriander in the mix, but very good nonetheless.

Negroni
Very floral upfront, with vanilla, citrus, and the flowery spice notes of coriander shining through. There’s then a little sweetness from the vermouth, before a partnership of intensity between the gin and the Campari. The finish is a lovely mix of earthy bitterness and juicy fruitiness.

In Conclusion
It is fascinating to try a recipe that has been widely published in such a mainstream book as the Encyclopedia Britannica. What was equally fascinating was its less than typical flavour profile and how it was, in many ways, closer to some modern contemporary gins, whilst, at the same time, having more than a whiff of genever about it. Perhaps this is an early genever?

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Cocktails with… Sipsmith House of Commons Gin

The Visitors Centre in the House of Commons has a plethora of gifts available for purchase, from tea towels to jigsaws, postcards to teddy bears. They also sell booze: a variety of spirits, wine, and beer. Recently, Sipsmith were awarded the contract to provide the “House of Commons” Gin. Excitingly, this is bottled at 40.7% ABV, which is lower than their standard 41.6% ABV. This lower ABV results in a different flavour.

House of Commons Sipsmith Gin FINAL

On its own
Nose: Citrus and vanilla, with a great selection of rich, plummy fruit notes and pine jelly.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth palate, with notes of spicy coriander upfront, as well as some earthy floral notes, before creamy citrus and a long, dry finish with just a hint of black pepper. Overall, this is a complex, smooth, and very accessible spirit.

Gin & Tonic
A sparkly nose with a little spice and pepper, with citrus and angelica. This is a luscious Gin & Tonic: delicate, fresh, smooth, succulent, and oh so refreshing, with a fine lemon flavour running throughout. Light and everything you could want from a Gin & Tonic.

Martini
A smooth and full-textured drink with a hint of sweetness and citrus, before a clean, crisp, and dry finish. Easy to drink, but with a powerful character.

Negroni
A well-integrated, mellow, and soft Negroni. Accessible, even to those who are not usually Negroni fans. There is a very crisp, gently sharp note of juniper, before light spice and the signature herbal bitterness of the cocktail come into play.

In Conclusion
Th gin worked well in all drinks providing a more mellow gin flavour to the other higher ABV Sipsmiths. An excellent gin for lunchtime or the afternoon. My favourite drink was the gin tonic.

Sipsmith House of Commons Gin (Available exclusively from the Jubilee Gift Shop (the one inside Parliament) £28 for 70cl, 40.7% ABV)

Cocktails with 58 Gin from London

Gin 58 is one of those gins that I’ve known about for a while and it is great to see it gain momentum. It is one of a growing number of new distilleries in London and was created by Mark Marmont. The gin is bottled at 43% ABV.

Fifty Eight 58 Gin.jpg

On its own
Nose: Subtle hints of coriander seed, citrus peel, and the fragrant floral notes of cilantro.
Taste: Good, solid flavour intensity and a well-balanced product. It has a range of flavours, from sweet spice to earthy root notes, as well as the bright, clean notes of pine and citrus. This has a vibrant, spicy finish that is interspersed with oily juniper. A beautiful soft spirit that is easily appreciated when sipped neat.

Gin & Tonic
Very refreshing – everything you look for in a Gin & Tonic. There’s citrus upfront, with coriander, juniper, and angelica on the finish.

Martini
A delicate, elegant Martini with pleasant subtleties. There are lovely, resinous juniper notes with some light, sweet spice of cassia and vanilla, before a citrus finish.

Negroni
Rich, resinous, bold, and intense. This has a lovely balance between all three ingredients, finishing with a bright, dry juniper flavour and a good dose of signature earthy bitterness and a hint of menthol pepper.

In Conclusion
Gin 58 is a great example of a gin that combines the flavour profile and mixability of a classic gin with the sippable elegance of a contemporary one. This is a shining addition to the renaissance of gin distilling in London. My favourite drink – although it was very difficult to choose between them – was the Gin & Tonic.

Cocktails with… Half Hitch Gin

Since the 2008 opening of the Sipsmith Distillery, London has been swiftly regaining its reputation, both as a hub for British Distilling and as the world centre for gin distillation. In that time, over 10 distilleries have opened, employing a variety of production methods.

Half Hitch Gin is based near Camden Lock in North London, an area that was once home to the Gilbey gin distillery.

HalfHitchGin bottle

Half Hitch Gin (bottled at 40.0% ABV) is made by blending a third party gin distillate with distillates produced in-house; in this instance, distillates of Malawian Black Tea, Calabrian Bergamot, Pepper, Hay, and English Wood. This process is quite common with small distillers in Germany, who will take a gin produced by a contract distillery and add some botanical distillates that they have distilled themselves. Edel Gin is one such example; they add sloes to the mix.

This method allows producers to focus intently on their proprietary botanical mix, ensuring quality in both production and the sourcing of raw materials.

The Taste

On its own (Room temperature)
Nose: Bright tea and orange citrus notes, then pleasant floral hints of lemongrass.
Taste: This has an excellent, smooth texture to start, followed by a light warmth. There are initial flavours of bold, floral citrus and coriander, before some mid-palate sweetness and spice. The finish is dry, with notes of black tea and cedar.

On its own (Frozen)
The flavours seem more concentrated at this temperature, just as the gin itself seems more concentrated due to its more viscous texture. This is a great way to enjoy Half Hitch Gin.

Gin & Tonic
Not a typical Gin & Tonic, but nevertheless a refreshing drink. There is lots of bright citrus and a delightful dryness from the tea. It all works especially well with a lemon garnish.

Martini
This almost tastes like an Aged Gin Martini – it’s complex and has plenty of deep notes of resinous pine and coriander, as well as citrus and spice. Very raising to the appetite.

Negroni
Warm and spicy on the nose. This is a very smooth Negroni with a gradually building bitterness, which works well alongside the tannins of the tea.

In Conclusion
Innovation is great in gin, and it’s always good to see distillers exploring different methods for making the spirit. Half Hitch is a complex gin and my favourite drink was the Martini.

City of London Distillery – Square Mile Gin

Today’s review is of a gin that was released last year by the City of London Distillery (a review of their new gin, Christopher Wren, will feature in November). Square Mile Gin is bottled at 47.3% ABV and is made using botanicals that include: juniper, coriander, angelica, orris, lemon, orange, and liquorice, amongst others.

1 Square Mile COLD Gin FINAL

On its own
Nose: Clean, classic, and straight-forward. This has a lovely balance of citrus, angelica, and spice, with good, strong juniper, too.
Taste: A lovely, smooth spirit with a full mouthfeel. Initially, there are flavours of warm spice and little pepper, before notes of coriander and citrus, and a dry finish of juniper and angelica. Such a soft, but flavourful spirit – superb.

Gin & Tonic
Clean and crisp, with fresh juniper, citrus, and then a little dry bitterness towards the end, which works well with the tonic. A classic and delicious Gin Tonic.

Martini
Another excellent drink. Made using the Diamond Method*, the cocktail has a delightful viscosity, which adds to the silky nature of the drink and produces a truly textbook classic Martini.

Negroni
This cocktail sees a superb integration between all of the ingredients, resulting in lovely, strong juniper notes and hints of spice. The latter fit in well with the vermouth, whereas the gin’s citrus notes complement the bitterness of the Campari.

In Conclusion
I think Square Mile is a textbook export/Martini strength gin. The bold juniper and bright citrus make it a great choice for long and short drinks alike. All of the drinks that I tried were excellent, but I especially enjoyed the Martini.