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.

Martini
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.

Negroni
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.

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… 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.

Martini
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.

Negroni
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.

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

Negroni
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.

photo

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.

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

Negroni
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.

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

Negroni
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

BigBenGinTitle

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.

Martini
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.

Negroni
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.