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… Dog’s Nose Gin from the Moonshine Kid

This post celebrates the 250th gin reviewed on Summer Fruit Cup.

For years – indeed, centuries – London has been the world capital of gin and despite some distilleries moving out or closing in the second half of the 20th century, 2013 saw a revival with at least 3 new distilleries launching; 2014 looks like it will follow suit. One such distillery, the first of 2014, is based at the Talented Mr. Fox bar, above One Leicester Street in Soho and their first product is Moonshine Kid’s Dog’s Nose Gin.

This produced using a three litre rotovap that is located on the right-hand side of the bar and, when I visited recently, was whizzing away enthusiastically. They also use this to make their in-house distillates (but more about those later).

The botanicals are macerated in spirit and then redistilled to make the gin. Despite the small scale of production, Distilling Chief Matt Whiley has resisted the temptation to make a gin concentrate and then dilute it with more spirit and then water. Instead, he uses the one-shot method: once the gin comes of the still (at around 96% ABV), all that is added is enough water to bring it down to its bottling strength of 43% ABV.

Moonshine Kid - Dog's Nose Gin

But what about the gin?

Scholars of gin drinks may be familiar with the once popular “Dog’s Nose”, a drink that is, essentially, a pint of ale with a tot of gin in it. Matt and his colleagues initially explored with this idea with some London brewers, before finally settling on making a gin with hops.

Dog’s Nose Gin is made using six botanicals: four that are classic to gin making:

Juniper
Coriander Seed
Angelica Root
Orris Root

In addition to this are two types of hops, which add some citrus notes more often provided by lemon and orange. Specifically, they are:

Columbus Hops – dual purpose hops bringin both bitterness and aroma to beer
Chinook Hops – popular in American and India Pale Ales

The base spirit of the gin is neutral grain and, as previously noted, it is bottled at 43% ABV.

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Juniper & coriander, then some chocolatey, herbal and citrus notes from the hops.
Taste: Dry to start, then some slightly sweeter notes, followed by a little dry citrus. Next comes some slightly sweeter notes: chocolate and coffee, as well as a hint of hops. The finish is dry and slightly spicy. This is certainly an interesting and complex gin and, whilst there is a lot going on, the flavours work well together, smoothly moving from note to note.

Gin & Tonic
Rich and fruity with some lucious fruity notes coming through followed by a hint of malt, the citrus aspects of the hops really works well with the tonic. Bright and refreshing and really rather good.

Martini
This cocktail has a lovely thickness to it and the array of flavours that the hops add sing out: namely, citrus and chocolate and coffee. A good underlying dryness, characteristic of gin, is experienced throughout, with notes of juniper, coriander and angelica on the finish. Rather pleasantly, the vermouth is also given a chance to shine, so make sure your vermouth is fresh and of good quality (Dolin, Noilly Prat or the new La Quintinye) to do this drink justice.

Negroni
An impressive Negroni with a fine depth of flavour and some lovely citrus and herbal notes coming from the hops. This is a really good way to enjoy the gin and, if you like Negrons,i then this is surely for you. I also got the chance to try the in-house Negroni variation at the Talented Mr. Fox – Lady & the Tramp.

Lady & the Tramp cocktail

Lady & the Tramp cocktail

Lady & the Tramp
This was a mix of Dog’s Nose Gin, Suze and Cider Vermouth
Despite my love of Campari, I am not a big fan, usually, of Suze, but this could turn me onto it. The Suze adds a notable level of bitterness, distinctively through its gentian flavours. The bold flavours of the gin join in well with the in-house cider vermouth (a mix of vermouth, herbs and vermouth), the latter adding that lovely, dry twang you associate with a good, dry scrumpy.

In Conclusion

I’ve tried a few gins that use hops, but I think Dog’s Nose utilises them to the greatest effect. Those who aren’t lovers of beer needn’t worry, as this is certainly more gin than Eau de Biere, and the gin was good in all of the drinks that I tried, with the Negroni and Negroni variation being head and shoulders above the rest.

Dog’s Nose Gin is available for around £34 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange.

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.

Testbed Gin

Testbed Gin Title

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 2013 is going to be a very exciting year for gin. Signs that “the gin fad is passing” are few and far-between, and this year in the UK will be even more exciting, with a good half-dozen distilleries starting to produce gin for the first time. At least three of these** are based in London and the one we are looking at today is The London Distillery Company in Battersea. In addition to making gin, The London Distillery Company will also be making whisky.

Testbed is a set of four gins created by distiller Andrew MacLeod Smith at The Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery, New York, as a part of his MSc in Brewing & Distilling from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. They serve to tantalise consumers before the first gin is distilled by the chaps in London, as well as providing an insight into the product development of gin. This is a rather exciting product and, for those who are really interested in gin, a useful tool to better understand its characteristics. But enough of my prattle – how do they taste?
TestBedGinEach Gin has a different botanical mix:

Testbed 1.1 Botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Bilberry, Pink Grapefruit, Earl Grey Tea.
Testbed 1.2 Botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Bilberry, Pink Grapefruit, Lovage Root, Liquorice, Bergamot Oil.
Testbed 1.3 Botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Bilberry, Pink Grapefruit, Lovage Root, Liquorice, Bergamot Oil, Lavender Flowers.
Testbed 1.4 Botanicals: Same as 1.3 but with different quantities.

OWN
#1) Nose: Quite light with some liquorice and vanilla as well as a touch of toffee and sarsparilla
Taste: Smooth initially with juniper and coriander at the front, quite powerful. Some good earthy angelica notes and a slight tannin dryness two third of the way in. Long dry dry pine and citrus finish where the pink grapefruit makes itself known.

#2) Nose: Quite fresh, with a touch of savoury brine, like pickles, and some fresh cucumber. This is followed by some floral citrus.
Taste: On the taste, a little saltiness is followed by plenty of citrus and then some warm, spicy notes: nutmeg, cinnamon and a hint of hazelnut. This is quite a warm gin (in terms of flavour, not alcohol burn) and would be well-suited to the colder months.

#3) Nose: Soft, ripe berry notes: blackberry and cloudberry, with a hint of sweetness and almond.
Taste: The berry notes from the nose are also found on the taste, accompanied by a slight creaminess, like a Fruits of the Forest syllabub. This is very pleasant and would surely be a treat in a Bramble. There’s also quite a dry sweetness, which stops the spirit from becoming too sickly.

#4) Nose: Far more classic, with notes of juniper, angelica and coriander, plus a hint of chocolate.
Taste: A more intense flavour, with plenty of dry juniper and zesty citrus, especially from the grapefruit and, to a lesser extent, the bergamot. As with the nose, this is far more Classic in style than the previous three, with some additional citrus notes and more sweet spice.

Gin & Tonic (with Schweppes EU)
#1) Quite citrusy, but also quite dry, with some of the tannins of the tea coming through. Probably not enough juniper for my liking, and maybe a bit too sweet, too.

#2) A lovely, spicy Gin & Tonic; really fresh, with some refreshing and crisp cucumber notes. A lovely, dry finish.

#3) Nice and pretty classic in style: with zesty citrus and jammy notes, this seems well-rounded. Pretty good. Refreshing and easy-to-drink, with a zesty, citrus finish that signs-off the drink well.

#4) A particularly dry Gin & Tonic with lots of citrus; I think this needs a juicy garnish to redress the balance, maybe lemon or orange. I prefer #3, although this one grows on you and is fresh, refreshing and zesty.

Martini
#1) Very, very smooth and quite short, but with a nice initial burst coriander and citrus, including grapefruit. Zesty.

#2) More earthy and floral, with notes of liquorice; this is sweeter at the end. Again, rather smooth.

#3) More floral and citrus (coriander) notes that are generally lighter, along with a little, sweet jamminess.

#4) The softest and smoothest of the four Martinis with some sweetness. Juniper, sweet floral and citrus notes, as well as a spiciness at the end. Classic, with a contemporary twist.***

Negroni
#1) Quite an intense Negroni, with an intensely bitter finish. There are some nutty, herbal notes, too and a fair bit of citrus on the finish. The notes of pink grapefruit work really well. There’s a real “pow!” of flavour.

#2) Soft and smooth, with less bitterness and a good bitter-sweet balance. Some orange notes come into play, too; this is really, really good. Equilibrium.

#3) More enhanced bitterness and citrus, with some floral notes and coriander; rather intense with lots of high notes. Some sweet jamminess, too.

#4) This is a very neat drink; smooth initially, with building flavour and a bitter-sweet finish. Good, juicy citrus and piney juniper berries.

 

Testbed Gin are available for around £28 for a pack of four 10cl bottles from Master of Malt.

*But not non-existent – does anyone know what had happened to Edgerton Pink?
** C.O.L.D actually started production in Mid-December 2012
*** The hallmark of a Trans-Atlantic, Cary Grant or Anglo-American Gin

Drinks from the Vault – A look at Beefeater Crown Jewel and Beefeater Wet

I recently came into the possession of two bottles discontinued of Beefeater Gin.

Beefeater Crown Jewel

The first was Beefeater Crown Jewel, this gin was launched in 1993 for the Duty Free market, although some specialist shops in the UK occasionally sold it. It was based on Beefeater’s standard mix of 9 botanicals, plus grapefruit.  Additionally, it was bottled at 50% ABV.

With introduction of Beefeater 24 in 2009, Beefeater Crown Jewel was discontinued. It is worth noting that Beefeater 24 still contains grapefruit as an additional botanical, as well as two types of tea.

On its own
Nose: Pine, initially, then some savoury notes, a hint of orange and some other zesty citrus.
Taste: Powerful in flavour and alcoholic strength, this is pretty classic start, but, in addition to its sheer intensity, the main difference between this and original Beefeater is the long finish of grapefruit; this is a simple variation, but a great one and one that should add a new dimension to cocktails.

Frozen
Very thick and viscous; very smooth, but the flavours remain intense: juniper, citrus, angelica, coriander and then a zesty finish with some marmalade sweetness. Very, very pleasant to sip.

Gin & Tonic
This has a zesty nose and is very dry, indeed. It’s refreshing, with plenty of citrus and the grapefruit coming through at the very end. I quite like it; served ice-cold, it is rather delightful.

Martini
Very intense and exceptionally cold; simply, excellent. It has a marvellous, sweet and citrusy finish. This is one of the best Martinis out there and I’m surprised that I have only just discovered it. Brilliant.

Negroni
An exceedingly intense Negroni; for some, this will be absolute bliss. The extra citrus from the grapefruit comes through the drink like a knife and gives you a pow in the kisser. The hard-core Negroni fan will love this, as it turns the bitter-sweet balance and intensity up to 11. Superb.

In Conclusion
Beefeater Crown Jewel was made using only a small variation on the original Beefeater botanical mix, but it was a welcome feature of duty free for many years and a bartenders’ favourite. Now discontinued – and I have it on good authority that it won’t come back – it’s over; time to move on. Sad, but we’ll always have the memories.

Beefeater WET

Beefeater Wet, released in 1999 (and discontinued 2005), was designed to be a different style of gin – slightly sweeter and more fruity – than Classic Beefeater and, along with Tanqueray Mallaca (1997), they laid the groundwork for the new way of thinking about gin that eventually led to the rise of Contemporary-style gin. Interestingly, both of these gins were marketed in the US and, today, this is where this style of gin is most popular.

Beefeater Wet departed from the classic recipe with the addition of extra spice, pear essence and a little sugar. It is also bottled at 37.5%ABV, rather than the usual 40%ABV for the UK or 47%ABV for the USA.

On its own
Nose: Juniper upfront, and then some earthy notes that are followed by notes of freshly cut pear, with just a hint of oxidation. Unusual, but inviting.
Taste: Quite smooth and sweet, with the pear coming through again. This is particularly unusual and, given when it was released, I can see how it can be considered as one of the gins that paved the way to the wave of New Western or Contemporary style of gins.
With a little water, more coriander comes through and makes the drink fresher and the pear even more prominent with a final, soft, creamy citrus flavour.

Frozen
Sweet and silky, silky smooth. There are hints of marzipan and pear, as well as some vanilla creaminess and a finish of piney juniper. Pretty good and rather liqueur-like.

Gin & Tonic
Beefeater Wet was created for the US market, where Gin & Tonics take a backseat to other gin drinks, and, as such, this doesn’t work that well. I used Schweppes EU, which is typically more generous to a gin than the UK version or the even sweeter US variety, and it still pretty much overpowered the gin, even at a 2:1 ratio. The gin comes through more on the finish with notes of pear drops and marzipan. That said, after a little ice melt it does become more refreshing (as long as you like the taste of tonic).

Martini
Good, but, even with my standard amount of vermouth, it is a rather wet Martini with a fair bit of sweetness and the flavour of fruity, spiced pear. This is very different, and not at all classic in style, but it will appeal to some.

Negroni
Beefeater Wet makes quite a sweet Negroni, but one that is particularly smooth. The fruity pear comes through on the finish, especially. Whilst this isn’t as intense or powerful flavour-wise as many Negroni fans would like, it is, by no means, a bad drink.

In Conclusion
I had tried Beefeater Wet before (in 2007) and, to the best of my recollection, it was “not that great”.  Five years on, my palette has developed and I thought I’d give it another go.

I was surprised at how much of the pear came through and that the flavour seemed pretty genuine. The gin is smooth, but you would expect that, given the lower %ABV and slight sweetening. Its freshness makes it great for long mixed drinks such as the Gin Collins.

I think that if this gin was released today, then it would enjoy a lot more success than it did, as palates have changed or, more precisely, a whole new generation of gin drinkers with different tastes have “joined the party” and with them comes a demand for the more contemporary products.

My favourite way of drinking the Beefeater Wet was either straight from the freezer or in a Gin & Tonic.

Beefeater Gin's Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS

Beefeater Gin’s Master Distiller Desmond Payne and DTS