Cocktails with… Liverpool Organic Gin

I have been waiting, since the start of the renaissance of Craft Distilling in the UK, for more and more cities to have their own regional distilleries. As such, it was great to hear more recently about Liverpool Gin, which launched at the end of 2013, and to have a chance to meet founder John O’Dowd at the Guild Ginposium in June.

Liverpool Organic Gin is made at the Liverpool Organic Brewery near Bootle toward the north of the city. It is bottled at 42% ABV and exclusively uses organic base spirit and botanicals.

Liverpool Gin Bottle FINAL

On its own
Nose: Intriguing and engaging, with lots of bright, floral citrus from the combination of peel and coriander, followed by dry, leafy herbs and a touch of savoury.
Taste: Slightly malty citrus, which reminds me of homemade lemon shortbread, then there is a hint of milk and a touch of coconut. After this, the profile becomes dryer, with a herbal leafiness and the floral notes of angelica, before then a touch of fresh, sappy juniper.

Gin & Tonic
This has a light louche and a whole lot of citrus, which literally bursts forth from the drink, making it very lively, indeed. Accompanying this is a slight lemon maltiness or biscuit-like flavour, which reminds me of lemon shortbread. This is a great thirst quencher, even without a garnish, and I look forward to see how different garnishes work in it.

Martini
A drink that has the clarity and purity of a vodka Martini, but the complex flavour of a gin one. There are some lovely bright and juicy citrus elements that shine through, as well as a little biscuity spice and floral coriander before a long, dry, slightly perfumed finish.

Liverpool Gin Tonica

Gin Tonica with Watermelon
Fantastico! This is a drink that truly engulfs the senses, being visually attractive, with an engaging aroma and delightful taste. The watermelon adds a beautiful freshness to the drink and the watermelon complements it in a way that no other garnish could – simply inspired.

NEGRONIS

After speaking to John and discussing his fondness for the Negroni, I decided to try out a few different methods of mixing this particular cocktail.

Classic Negroni
This is a full-textured Negroni that really fills your mouth with a luscious texture. The citrus and floral coriander came through strongly, and the gin certainly holds its own against the strong flavours of the Campari and vermouth.

Frozen Negroni
Pre-bottling and chilling a Negroni in the freezer results in a thick and viscous drink. The lower temperature helps to compensate for the lack of dilution by take the edge of the alcohol. This version is full of bold flavours, with all of the ingredients coming through well. There is a good amount of floral citrus from the gin, followed by a dry bitterness.

Shaken Negroni
The shaking airates the drink, filling it with tiny air bubbles that make it appear cloudy; this also gives the drink a lighter, almost “fluffy” texture. With some gins, I think that shaking a Negroni would throw-off the balance of flavours, but with Liverpool Organic it works quite well. As a point of difference, I’d serve this in a cocktail glass without ice, rather than a tumbler

Stirred Negroni
Well-stirred, this drink is exceptionally cold and smooth, and just seems more “streamlined” than the shaken version. Rich and luscious, it slides down easily and is altogether rather morish. For my money, I’d choose stirring over shaking 4 times out of 5.

In Conclusion
Liverpool Gin has bold and well-defined flavours and will appeal to gin fans, especially those who enjoy a fair bit of citrus freshness. The strong botanical flavours make it perfect for mixing in a variety of drinks, but the ABV of 42% means that it is still quite accessible for sipping neat.

My favourite drink was the Gin Tonica with the watermelon and my favourite Negroni was the Classic, followed by the Stirred.

 

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Organic Fruit/Summer Cup Recipe

I recently had a request from a gentleman on Twitter asking me about the availability of organic fruit cup.

I knew that no commercial product currently existed, but I thought that it wouldn’t be too much trouble to mix one up myself, using organic gin and organic vermouth, but then I found out that no-one currently makes organic vermouth!*

Intrigued by this gap in the market, I set about making my own, using my previous experience from making red vermouth. Starting from scratch, I made a fruit cup mix** (organic flavour-infused aromatized wine) that I could then mix with organic Gin/Vodka/Whisky to make a fruit cup that could then be mixed with organic lemonade.


My Recipe:
One bottle of Organic Red Wine (Italian Terra Viva Merlot 2010 – £6.99 Waitrose)
Juice and peel of one organic lemon and organic orange
Peel of half an organic cucumber
One organic tea bag, infused in the wine for 15 mins (Organic Earl Grey – £1.29 Waitrose)
Four dessert spoonfuls of organic brown sugar (the darker the better)
One stick of organic cinnamon

Add everything to a Kilner Jar and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.
Give it a taste and, if you are happy with the flavour, strain and bottle the mix; if not, leave for a little longer.
Blend the mix in equal parts with your spirit, for example Juniper Green Organic Gin, and then sit down to enjoy a glass of your very own organic fruit cup.

Organic Fruit Cup as enjoyed at The Feathers Gin Bar, Woodstock



Taste
I mixed the fruit cup 1 part Fruit Cup to 3 parts Belvoir Organic Lemonade.

The main point of a Fruit Cup is that it is refreshing and cooling; this version certainly ticks that box. There are sweet and tart elements in the drink and it is also quite citrusy. It is very refreshing and not too sweet, part of the freshness of the drink comes from the distinct taste from the cucumber peel. Easy to drink and rather moreish.

In Conclusion
My first batch was something of a cross between sangria and fruit cup, but if I could find some  organic bitter herb (wormwood, gentian, etc.) to use, I think it would have an additional depth of flavour. Using a darker sugar for the mix, or perhaps a little treacle, would also improve the drink.

* Speaking to Ian Hart of Sacred, who makes some fantastic vermouths, (and gin & vodka) organic vermouth is a bit tricky to come by, but not impossible.
** It doesn’t contain wormwood and so it isn’t vermouth.

Cocktails with… Savier’s Artisan & Juniper Gin

After a chance encounter at the gin junction (the centre of London’s gin world), aka the Graphic Bar, Monday found myself and Mr Hartley attending a rendezvous on a roof terrace in Kings Cross. Byron of the Gabriel Collective brought along some beer and tequila from South Africa for us to try, as well as some gin from The Savier Spirits Company.

The two bottles of gin that we tried were exceptionally new (batch 001) and I think they may be the only bottles in the country (this often claimed, but in this particular case I’m pretty sure it was true).

Mr Hartley enjoys a glass of Savier Gin on a rooftop in Kings Cross

The Savier Organic Spirits Company is based in South Africa and they make a Cocoa Vodka, a Plain Vodka, an Artisan Gin, and a Juniper Gin. The gins are made to a secret recipe in the USA (maybe North Carolina*) and are then shipped over and bottled in South Africa. Both Gins have been certified organic for USDA National Organic Program by the C.C.O.F.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “What is a Juniper Gin?”. After all, surely all gins are Juniper Gins? Well, yes, all gin, by definition, has to taste of juniper, but the Juniper Gin is more than that: it is the product of macerating some of the Artisan Gin in fresh juniper berries. This produces a slightly cloudy drink, the colour of light cloudy apple juice.

Artisan Gin
Own
Originally I thought this had quite a quiet nose, but gradually it seems to open up, particularly with the addition of water: notes of juniper, coriander and some herbs – perhaps fennel – are accompanied by a flavour that reminded me of salad or cucumber.

This was a very fresh gin and after few sips the cucumber became quite pronounced there was also a good portion of juniper. In this way it reminded me of both Miller’s and Hendrick’s Gin. There was a slight sweetness too, but the predominate taste was juniper; this is a gin that has slightly stepped away from the growing trend of creating sweet and floral gins.

G&T
This drink had notes of sweet citrus, juniper and pine. There was also some fennel or anis. It had a very fresh finish, with that slight hint of cucumber or green salad coming through at the end. Very refreshing; a great cooler.

Martini
The Artisan Gin Martini was really packed full of flavour: juniper, coriander and a fresh crispness at the end. Frankly, this is the best new Martini I’ve had in a while.

Gin Bump
The gin is still well-pronounced in the drink, with the same freshness as you get in the Gin & Tonic; the slight difference is that there is a touch of sweet ginger at the end. I used Waitrose Ginger Ale, which is not too sweet, but I think some of the sicklier brands of mixer would be too much alongside gin and would ruin the drink.

Gimlet
This was a moderately crisp, but rather smooth cocktail. The two dominant flavours were juniper and lime, which, for some gin traditionalists, is as it should be. For me, I think it makes an excellent drink, with the cucumber-like element adding a touch of freshness right at the end.

Aviation
OK, pretty subtle and could do with a touch more flavour to my mind.
White Lady
Absolutely superb, citrus, juniper, sweet & tart and so beautifully rounded. One of the best I’ve had.

Negroni
Very sweet initially, before the bitterness of the Campari approaches. For those that don’t like Campari, I fear that this one will not be for you, but if you like the flavour profile of a Campari Soda, with the sweet followed by bitterness, try this. As I continue to drink it, it grew on me and I think it was actually pretty darn good.


Juniper Gin
Own
On its own, the Juniper Gin was quite subtle and, although there was additional juniper, it wasn’t over-powering. Overall, this was very soft and pleasant to drink on its own.

Frozen
We also tried the Juniper Gin after it had been chilled in a freezer. It had a slightly syrupy texture, but was nonetheless quite pleasant to sip from the freezer on its own, in the same way you would a good-quality and flavourful vodka.

G&T
Slightly cloudy, almost louched, this G&T was very strong on the juniper with some coriander and citrus at the back. It was also slightly sweet and less crisp than most Gin & Tonics; quite soft. It had a more simple flavour than the Artisan & Tonic.

Martini
This was, again, cloudy, which is very unusual for a Martini, but I was quickly distracted from this by a really heavy hit of the juniper. There was a lot of warmth from the alcohol. A little “rough and ready” as Martinis go, but good nonetheless.

Gin Bump
The Gin Bump was very much to my taste: there was a good amount of juniper with a touch of bitterness and ginger, followed by a touch of sweetness. Served with lots of ice, this is just great.

Gimlet
A good drink, but the flavours were less defined then they would usually be in this drink. That said, it does have a soft warmth, which is uncommon for a Gimlet.

Aviation
OK, pretty subtle and could do with a touch more flavour to my mind.
White Lady
Smooth and delicious, heavy citrus and juniper a very flavour intense drink and rather good. Top notch.

Negroni
First you get the gin, then (very stongly) the vermouth and, finally, the Campari; there was a nice flavour progression, but, once again, the flavours seem a bit muddied.

In Conclusion

It was real treat to try these and the Artisan Gin is a good quality product which doesn’t deviate too far from tradition and is certainly a Gin to be mixed. This is against the rise of more “sippable gins” that have been brought out into the market, which sometimes tend to be lost when cocktail making.

But the real gem in the Juniper Gin, I think innovation is good and this was an experiment was worth trying. I’ve never seen gin made like this before (if you have please let me know!). the fresh Juniper does add a very juicy element and is surprisingly not too overpowering in terms of Juniper.

On “my travels”  I offered samples of the Gin (neat) to about a dozen different folk and the majority preferred the Juniper Gin but it is when it is mixed that the Artisan really comes into it’s own.

Cocktail highlights for the artisan Gin were the White Lady, Martini and Gin & Tonic.

My thanks to Byron for providing us with these samples and conducting such an enjoyable tasting.

*After further research I am not 100% certain that this is actually the case.