Cocktails with… Beefeater Crown Jewel – 2015 Release

Sometimes it is when something is gone that we miss it most. Such was the case with Tanqueray Malacca, which was met with a mixed response when it was first released, but achieved legendary status once it was discontinued, leading to its resurrection a few years back.

There is perhaps one other discontinued gin that has such cult status, especially amongst bartenders: Beefeater Crown Jewel. This gin was launched in 1993 for duty free/travel retail. It was made using the classic nine Beefeater botanicals, plus grapefruit, and was bottled at 50% ABV.

Beefeater Crown Jewel 2016.jpg

The original gin was discontinued in 2009, shortly before the release of Beefeater 24, which. in a nod to Crown Jewel, also has grapefruit in its botanical mix.

Fast forward to 2015, and Beefeater Crown Jewel was re-released, available to the on-trade and at the Beefeater Visitor Centre. It is described as being an exact recreation of the original.

On its own
Nose: Upfront, there is bright and zesty citrus: grapefruit and soft, tangy orange.
Taste: Surprisingly soft for a 50% ABV spirit, this is creamy with soft citrus notes. The gin starts out refreshing before growing more balanced with notes of liquorice, coriander, and juniper. There’s a long, lingering finish with a light stalkiness and citrus zest.

Gin & Tonic
Intense, with a bold botanical flavour that easily stands up against the tonic. The bright citrus note of the grapefruit is a great addition.

Sublime – soft and delicate, but with a confident, powerful flavour. Very smooth, silky, and sophisticated. The gin notes are more balanced and the citrus less prominent.

Strong in terms of power and flavour intensity. This has a super-charged version of the normal citrus flair of Beefeater combined with the extra dose of grapefruit, which sings through and stands up extremely well to the Campari, making a punchy Negroni.

In Conclusion
It’s great to see this old favourite back. Smooth, but strong, the high ABV and bold, but balanced citrus notes make it a good choice for mixed drinks. I enjoyed it most in a Martini.


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.

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.

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… 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.

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.

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.

Cocktails with… Mews London Dry Gin

Last month saw the third Craft Distilling Expo in London. A precursor to this was the Expo’s Gin of the Year Competition, which is open to all new, European craft gins that have been produced in the past year.

1 Mews Gin Final

One such gin was Mews London Dry Gin, which is made by Mews English Distillers and bottled at 37.5% ABV. It is made by vapour distillation using 11 botanicals: juniper, coriander, angelica root, lemon, orange, orris, cassia, cubeb, liquorice, lavender, and pink peppercorns.

On its own
Nose: Relatively light, with some creamy chocolate and coriander.
Taste: Lovely texture: soft and silky, with a milky, vanilla creaminess and a dry finish. Very easy to sip.

Gin & Tonic
This is a straight-forward Gin & Tonic: it is relatively light, but accessible and refreshing with a little sweet spice. It would be well-matched with a pink grapefruit garnish.

Good, clean, soft, and smooth, with rich vanilla and chocolate notes, accompanied by light juniper and citrus.

With the standard equal mix of ingredients this is a good cocktail, but it improves considerably with a little more gin, which increases the dry juniper notes and provides for a more balanced drink.

In Conclusion
Mews Gin is a great example of the light, but nuanced botanical flavour that a distiller can achieve using vapour infusion. My favourite drink of those that I tried was the gin on its own, served over ice.

Cocktails with… Mombasa Club Gin

There are a number of gins that are produced in the UK, but are then directly transported and so are not available for purchase in their country of origin. Mombasa Club is one such gin, which is produced by Thames Distillers and is exported to Spain.

Mombasa Club is bottled at 41.5% ABV .

There is also a Mombasa Club Reserve, which is bottled at 43.5%ABV.


Mombasa Club Gin – thanks to Nicholas for the picture


On its own
Nose: Bright juniper and spice, with cumin and dry cinnamon.
Taste: This is a spiced gin, but not one that is too intense or deviates too far from gin’s classic style. A well-rounded spirit with dry notes of juniper, angelica, and a little citrus coriander.

Gin & Tonic
A lovely Gin & Tonic: refreshing, airy, and rather classic, but with dry spice in background; in particular, cumin and ginger.

Delightfully clean and smooth, with notes of juniper, citrus, and a pleasant spiced element. Again, ginger, cinnamon, and cumin come through; subtle, but notable.

This makes for a cocktail with a good, strong flavour. It is dry, but has a little, subtle spice to it, which is followed by a powerful finish. There’s a fair bit of bitterness, but it’s accompanied by a pleasant freshness.

In Conclusion
Mombasa is a full and spicy gin that adds great character to the drinks that is mixed in, as well as a smooth freshness. My favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic.

Cocktails with… Ford’s London Dry Gin

When new gins are launched these days, they often use obscure or local botanicals, or are made in new, small, independent distilleries, but today’s featured gin is different: Ford’s Gin is made using classic botanicals sourced from around the world and is made at the Timbermill Distillery (Thames Distillers) – producer of many a fine gin.

Fords Gin FINAL

The gin is the brainchild of spirits industry veteran, Simon Ford, and is part of range of spirits from The 86 Co. that includes Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Cana Brava Rum and Tequila Cabeza.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Classic, straight-forward juniper, coriander and citrus.
Taste: This is a clean spirit with a pleasant mouthfeel; it is a very classic style of gin, with a small leaning towards citrus. There is a good intensity of flavour and it ticks all of the boxes for the gin traditionalist.

Gin & Tonic
A fine standard of drink, but plays it safe: another one for the traditionalist. It is a touch cloying when mixed with Schweppes, so I would suggest using Fevertree.

A clean, crisp Martini, with lots of pine and citrus, followed by a zesty tingle and a clean finish.

Ford’s Gin produces a solid Negroni: smooth and fruity, with a little sweetness and a herbal, bitter finish. Perfect flavour integration makes this really quite excellent.

In Conclusion
If you bemoan gin “losing its roots” and the rise of bubblegum and coconut gins, then Ford’s is for you: it has bold, classic flavours that are sure to please both hardened traditionalists and 19th century Imperial Officials.

Cocktails with… Big Ben Indian Gin


Having picked the low-hanging fruit in the World of Gin, things have been a bit quieter recently in my quest to taste a gin distilled in every country in the world. However, today, I can finally tick off one of the countries at the top of my list – India.

Big Ben Deluxe “London Dry Gin” is made by Mohan Meakin Limited, a company that was founded in 1855 and which also owns the Solan Brewery. The gin is “blended with triple distilled alcohol” and bottled at 42.8% ABV. One website refers to it as being “(An) Ideal drink for ladies”.

Big Ben India Gin Bottle

On its own
Nose: juniper, pine quite oily as well as a bit of citrus and bark quite subdued.
Taste: juniper certainly with quite a lot of pine which builds and mixes with lemon and a little vanilla quite a lot of warmth at the end, slightly harsh but overall not bad. A very traditional style reminiscent of some of the old vintage gins I have tried from the 1970s. One for the traditionalists. Leaves a piney tingle on your tongue.

Gin & Tonic
Pretty average, with a little sweetness in the middle. The finish, however, is very long and dry. This gin actually works much better with a tonic syrup and soda water (as opposed to a premixed tonic water) and I recommend using a lime garnish or maybe even adding a dash of orange bitters.

Quite a light Martini, with plenty of lemon and some lavender. Far more complex and floral than I would have expected, given how it tasted on its own, and really rather good.

A pretty standard Negroni, but one that ticks the basic boxes and has a good, strong, bitter finish with notes of piney juniper. This gin highlights all of the different aspects of this drink, whilst still playing an equal part alongside the vermouth and Campari.

In Conclusion
It was very exciting to finally try a gin from India and this very classic, slightly subdued version is exactly what I would expect. The gin isn’t made with an Indian palate in mind or inspired by their cuisine it is styled around the expectation of a classic London Dry Gin. Reasonably priced and equally mixable.

Cocktails with… Langtons Gin

Langtons of Skiddaw No:1 is a gin inspired by the Lake District and is made using Lakeland water that has been filtered through slate,and includes oak bark from the Lake District as one of the eleven botanicals. It is made at Greenall’s Distillery and is bottled at 40.0%ABV.

Langtons No1 FINAL

The Taste

On its own

Nose: Juniper, citrus (lemon and orange) and then a slightly bitter, woody note like mossy bark.

Taste: Citrus upfront, with some coriander and then a more nutty citrus note and some orris root. This has a slightly tingly dry and zesty finish with a little creaminess right at the very end. Nicely made in a classic style, with a slight lift at the end.

Gin & Tonic

This is a good standard Gin & Tonic: clean and crisp, it’s very dry with some good pine and herbal spice. In my opinion, the best garnish would be a combination of lemon and lime wedges, also known as the “Evans”.


A classic Martini with a smoother-than-usual texture and a slightly sweet, vanilla note appearing alongside the juniper. My suggested garnish would be either a twist of lemon or pink grapefruit peel.


Quite a juicy, yet dry Negroni, with plenty of dry, piney juniper and coriander coming through. There are both bitter and sweet notes, followed by a dry, tangy finish that lasts for a long time. Lots of flavour and rather traditional in its approach.

In Conclusion

Langtons is a classic gin with good juniper flavour and some balanced, zesty citrus. I enjoyed all of the drinks, but my recommendation would be a Gin & Tonic or a Negroni.

Langtons Gin is available for around £30 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt

Cocktails with… Chancery Dry Gin


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… Jodhpur Gin

Jodhpur Gin is a London Dry Gin made in the UK, either at Thames or Langley; my money is on the latter. It’s made with a base of Neutral Grain Spirit and is made using 13 botanicals, including:


Bottled at 43%ABV, Jodhpur Gin received special acclaim when it was awarded a gold medal at the 2011 San Francisco Awards.

1) On its own
Nose: Quite light, with a little juniper and citrus.
Taste: Clean and quite smooth, with plenty of juniper, followed by some coriander, citrus and liquorice. Then there’s a little warmth at the end. I think this will have good mixing potential.

2) Gin & Tonic
i) with Fentimans
A fresh, citrusy nose. In terms of taste, this is a perfectly pleasant and refreshing drink (it would maybe work well with a little bit of lime), but the characteristics of the gin are a little overwhelmed. Regardless, this is a very refreshing and pleasant drink.

ii) with Schweppes
Quite classic and clean, with a reasonable balance between the gin and tonic. Very straightforward, with classic juniper and citrus notes and a notable quinine bitterness at the start. I see this as being something of a blank canvas with which to express yourself using your garnish.

Jodhpur Gin Bottle

#3) Martini
Clean and crisp, with juniper and some sweet spice, like cinnamon or vanilla, and a lift of citrus on the finish. Light, but with plenty of flavour and a sweet middle. Altogether rather classic in style.

#4) Negroni
Well-balanced, with a good level of bitter-sweetness. This is right in the middle of the Negroni spectrum: exactly what you would expect. Full, with a well-rounded flavour.

#5) Gin Buck
This is a great gin for a Gin Buck: not too complicated, but all the boxes are ticked; there’s dry juniper, zesty citrus and a few earthy, herbal notes. All in all, this makes for a very refreshing drink, which is rather quaffable. A little sweet juniper comes through at the end – well-liked by all who tried it.

Jodhpur Pink Grapefruit Gin Tonica

Jodhpur Pink Grapefruit Gin Tonica

#6) GinTonica
i) Pink Grapefruit and Juniper
Excellent: very fresh and juicy, and improves even more with a little squeeze of the pink grapefruit wedge. It makes for a simple, yet attractive garnish in terms of sight, scent and taste. Exceptionally refreshing and rather moreish.

ii) Granny Smith Apple
If you are looking for crispness with a little sweet lift at the end, then this is the drink for you. When drinking, you get the same crispness that you would get from biting into a cool apple. The scent from the apples is also surprisingly prominent.

Jodhpur Granny Smith Apple Gin Tonica

Jodhpur Granny Smith Apple Gin Tonica

In Conclusion
Jodhpur is an example of a gin in the classic style: good and traditional, with no particularly unusual characteristics. This makes it excellent for mixing in a variety of gin drinks; my favourite cocktail was the Negroni.