Bank Holiday Gin Tonics

With the Bank Holiday upon us (the last one in the UK until December) and the possibility that at least a few days in the long weekend will actually be dry and hot, I thought I’d share a few simple ideas for some gin tonic serves to impress your guests this weekend.

Glassware

In this sort of heat (currently it is 28.8c here) I want a very cooling drink with plenty of ice, so a glass like the large copita/fish-bowl glass popular in Spain for the Gin Tonica is the best bet. It does take at least 8 cubes to fill one of these, however, so unless you have an ice maker, I suggest getting a bag or two of ice.

If you don’t have a copita glass, than a large wine glass or stemmed beer glass (think the Stella Artois Chalice) will also work well. The stem helps to keep your drink cool, keeping your warm hand further away from the drink.

 

Recipes

Typically, I use between 25ml-50ml of gin and 150ml of tonic. These are slightly weaker than many might usually enjoy their gin tonic, but these drinks are meant to be long and cooling, and too much alcohol in great heat is not a great idea.

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Plymouth and Millers

The Classic

Plymouth Gin with Lemon and Lime Wedges (aka the Evans Style)

Plymouth Gin has a light sweet spice to it, which is balanced out nicely by the slightly sharp lime, whilst and the lemon complements the citrus in the gin.

The 21st Century Gin

Martin Miller’s gin with Strawberries and Cracked Black Pepper.

An unusual garnish choice on paper, but ever since one of the Miller’s brand ambassadors showed me this, I’ve been hooked. Fresh, succulent fruit works well with the refreshing nature of the gin, and the black pepper adds balance and bite. For an extra chill factor, use frozen strawberries.

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Apostoles and Shortcross

The Leafy Gin

Principe de Los Apostoles Gin with Rosemary and Baby Spinach

The gin itself is quite “green” – herbaceous and leafy – and the rosemary gives the drink distinctive, aromatic herbal notes as well as adding to the visual spectacle. The spinach adds more to the look than the aroma or flavour, although the leaves can also be a pleasant snack to munch on as you drink.

The All-Rounder

Shortcross Gin with Orange and Coffee Beans

I’m a big fan of Shortcross Gin from Northern Ireland and it has great mixability, including in a gin tonic. I’ve been experimenting with non-typical, but readily available garnishes and my good friend Julia Nourney suggested coffee beans to me. The beans add a deep, dark element to the nose, whilst still allowing the juniper to slip through. When you sip the drink, it is almost all about the gin, with just a little lusciousness from the orange. Almost a two-phase gin tonic.

The Maverick

Bombay Sapphire & Cola with Orange and Chocolate Bitters

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Bombay Sapphire & Coke

Putting gin with cola is seen by many, in the UK, as heresy, despite the fact that this is how gin is enjoyed in many countries in Africa and further afield. The only point that matters is – does it taste good?

In my opinion, it does. Bombay Sapphire, with its complex botanical flavour and light pepper notes works really well with cola, creating a flavour that is reminiscent of an old-school botanical cola; there are even some dry, piney notes in the background. The orange adds a little zest, whilst the chocolate bitters contribute to the drink’s finish.

In Conclusion

Summer drinking is meant to be friendly and fun; it’s a time to relax with friends and family. As such, the drinks should be fun, too. Hopefully this article has provided a little inspiration for you to up your summer drinks game.

The Pink Gin Cocktail & Lebensstern Bottled Pink Gin

The Pink Gin Cocktail is an old navy drink, a mix of gin and Angostura Bitters. Gin was the Naval Officer’s drink of choice and the bitters were thought to have medicinal properties. Traditionally, the drink is associated with Plymouth Gin, a spirit from a city with strong naval connections.

But recently I tried Lebensstern Pink Gin, which was kindly sent to me along with a bottle of Adler Berlin Gin (see the review here).

Not to be confused with the likes of Edgerton Pink or Pink 47*, Lebensstern Pink is actually Lebensstern Gin with added Bitter Truth aromatic bitters.
The gin was originally made specifically for the Lebensstern Bar, which is situated on the 1st floor of Cafe Einstein, a Coffee House in Berlin.

Also in the brand portfolio of Lebensstern is a London Dry Gin (43%) and a Caribbean Rum.

Annual production of Lebensstern is limited to 1,000 bottles and is bottled at 40%ABV.

Lebensstern Pink Gin vs. A freshly made version with Plymouth Gin

Lebensstern Pink Gin vs. A freshly made version with Plymouth Gin

As I mentioned before, the Pink Gin Cocktail is synonymous with Plymouth Gin and so I wondered, how does a freshly mixed drink fare against the bottled Lebensstern Pink Gin? The tasting was done blind; here are the results:

I Plymouth Gin
Quite herbal, with nice juniper and citrus notes, but perhaps a touch watery and a bit flat at the end.

II Lebensstern Pink
A richer, herbal taste, with a hint of sweetness. Complex and intense. Clear winner.

Frankly, I was surprised at the result as I am a big fan of Plymouth**, but the Lebensstern pipped to the post in my Pink Gin tasting. I expected the freshly mixed one to be superior, but the Lebensstern was more complex and had a more defined and lasting flavour.

I also tried Lebensstern Pink in some other drinks:

Own:
Room Temperature: Juniper, cinnamon and other spices & roots. Quite soft and very similar in character to a Pink Gin. Some warmth and a finish of juniper, cinnamon and anise.
Frozen: Surprisinglyly non-syrupy texture; very cold, but very flavourful. From the freezer, the gin is more herbal and more bitter. It’s tasty, but, for me, not as good as drinking it at room temperature.

Gin & Tonic
Quite refreshing; a pleasant way to lengthen the gin with hints of cinnamon and sweet spice coming through. A dash of lemon juice or a wedge improves the balance, I think.

Martini
Seems quite strong***, crisp and the sweet spice comes through again. For my money, though, I’d rather have the gin on its own.

Old Fashioned
Excellent: easily the best cocktail I have tried with Lebensstern. Smooth and soft, it is complex, bitter-sweet and rather lovely. A great drink to have whilst you contemplate and mull-over the day.

In Conclusion

I was definitely impressed with Lebensstern Pink and the idea of making a cocktail within a cocktail definitely intrigued me. My tasting of this comes at a time when I’ve recently tried some other good-quality bottled/premixed cocktails (see my Hand-made Cocktail Company Review) and the Lebensstern certainly fits that label, too. My favourite ways of drinking it were on its own at room temperature, with ice, and in an Old Fashioned.

.

* By this, I mean that neither Pink 47 or Edgerton Pink (to my mind) follow the flavour profile of the Pink Gin Cocktail. Pink 47 has a very faint pink tinge and Edgerton, although being very pink, is flavoured with pomegranate, not bitters.

** I’d like to see a true re-match sometime, with a professionally-made Pink Gin vs. the Lebensstern; maybe a task for the next time I’m down at the Plymouth Distillery?

***(i.e. alcoholic strength)

Plymouth Martini Book & Home-made Vermouth

Barroom Bookshelf #3:
The Joy of The Plymouth Martini

 

Yesterday, Mrs. B and I had the fortune to attend the Plymouth Gin Juniper Society and Martini Masterclass; or, as I like to call it, the Plymouth Gin Christmas Extravaganza. For a full round-up of the evening’s festivities, check out the Institute for Alcoholic Experimentation (article coming soon).

One of the gifts in our, very generous, goody bag was a book entitled, “The Joy of the Plymouth Martini”, and this shall be the basis of this post.

This 28-page booklet was created especially for the event and starts with some in-depth information on making a Martini, with notes on balance, stirring, ice, twists and ratios. My two favourite tips were:
1) Double strain; using a cocktails strainer and then a tea strainer, this removes the tiny shards of ice that can leave a drink watery.
2) Be Ready! Don’t allow your ingredients to sit in the ice for long before mixing, once again this leads to a more watery drink.

The process of making a Martini is described on the next page and there is a page on “Describing Dryness”, see below:

Given my curiosity concerning things like Martini Stones, I found this classification system of interest and discovered that, although I hadn’t heard of the term before, it appears that I like my Martinis “off-dry”. (Noilly Prat being my current Vermouth of choice).

Fruity Martinis can be controversial, but I agree with the many great bartenders before me that, if it tastes good and you like it, drink it. Either way, I didn’t see many people turning away their Fruit Martini welcome drink! My watermelon one was delicious.

What is particualrly clever and useful about this section is that you start with a generic recipe:

50ml Plymouth Gin
2 tbsp fresh fruit
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp water

Add fruit and sugar to shaker and muddle; add water and Plymouth Gin and ice.
Shake 15-20 secs, taste and sweeten if necessary.
Strain and serve.

Now you can make any kind of Fruit Martini you like, maybe even a Medlar Martini. Should you be stuck with a lack of ideas, Plymouth do make some suggestions. On the other hand, if you fancy returning to a classic, there is also a very comprehensive, yet concise, history of the classic Dry Martini or the Marquerite.

Now for the really interesting stuff: the folks at Plymouth also provide you with a recipe for a custom vermouth & bitters, both of which are specifically designed to complement Plymouth Gin.

 

 

I was distracted whilst writing this post by a sudden urge to make Vermouth to this recipe. Having only cloves and Plymouth Gin in the house, I was soon heading into town to find the rest of the ingredients and was surprised when I managed to return some time later with all of them.

 

 

This was quite fun to make and took about an hour, muddling the ingredients together first certainly help the flavour to come out. When tasting, the nose is very much if the wine base but also the angelica and star anise come out too. The initial flavour is quite sweet and then more herbally, some wormwood, fennel  and anis are noticeable. It is also quite soft as vermouths go.

 

The vermouth, in a glass, in a bottle and mixed in a martini. Why "Three"? Well, it was formualtion #3 of the dozen they tried that the Plymouth team liked best.

The book concludes as any good cocktail book should with space for you to write-in your own ingredients. This is a great little booklet, one of the best I have seen created by a specific brand, get hold of one if you can.

 


For more Barroom Bookshelf Reviews click here.

Long Peddler / Sloe Peddler – Mixing Sloe Gin

The Sloe Peddler

Some readers may have caught our Tasting of 17 Sloe Gins, but, in the in the interests of thoroughness, we did not just try these sloe gins on their own: we also tried them mixed in Long Peddlers, thanks to some bottles kindly sent to us by Fevertree.

A Long Peddler Made with Fevertree Lemon Tonic (Bitter Lemon) and Gordon's Sloe Gin in a 2:1 ratio.

Background and history on the Long Peddler is very thin on the ground. The recipe is simple: a measure of sloe gin topped up with bitter lemon; a bit like a gin and tonic. My best guess is that it was created as a cooler for the summer months so that sloe gin could be enjoyed all year round and it certainly achieves this purpose.

I imagine the “long” came about because it makes a long drink, but the “peddler”? Your guess is as good as mine; maybe it’s a nice refreshing drink once you’ve finished a long cycle?? Recent research points to the fact that the Long Pedlar was original made using Hawker’s Pedlar Sloe Gin, it was a long way to drink the sloe gin.

Either way, it seems to be an established drink among sloe gin drinkers and, when I was speaking to Fevertree, they also suggested making it with their Lemonade (Sloe Peddler) as an alternative to bitter lemon.

Fevertree Lemonade is carbonated, but it’s a distant cousin to the likes of 7UP and Sprite, which nonetheless do still have their place. With Fevertree’s Lemonade you can really taste the lemon juice and it doesn’t have any artificial sweetness that you may find with others; it is still quite fizzy, but it doesn’t leave you with that cloying feeling in your mouth.

Fevertree’s Lemon Tonic (their version of Bitter lemon) is refreshing, but a little bitter; however, when you consider that it has quinine in it, it’s not so surprising. Once again, this is a departure from the sharp, sweet, and turquoise drink presented as bitter lemon by others and I believe it was renamed to take a step away from this image.

A Sloe Peddler made with Fevertree Lemonade

But the most important question is how did they mix with sloe gin? After various tests, we found that Gordon’s worked best with the Lemon Tonic and probably made the panel’s favourite Long Peddler of the evening.  SLOEMotion and Bramley & Gage Organic also mixed very well with the Lemon Tonic.

The Lemonade was rather more surprising, I had never tried it before and wondered how well it would work. It created a lovely drink when mixed with the Lyme Bay Sloe Gin (this drink was my personal favourite). In the pairing, once again Bramley & Gage worked very nicely in a Sloe Peddler.

In conclusion, I found that I enjoyed both the Lemonade and the Lemon Tonic, but I found that the Lemon Tonic went better with the bolder sloe gins and the Lemonade complemented the more subtle ones.

So if you ever want a refreshing drink and you have some sloe gin to hand, why not try a Long (or Sloe) Peddler?

Sloe Gin Tasting – A Comparison of 17 Sloe Gins

Sloe Gin Tasting

A few weeks ago, a friend and colleague of mine said, “I’d quite like to do a sloe gin tasting”. Needless to say, I agreed that it was a superb idea and we immediately set about procuring various samples for the evening. Originally I thought we’d get about 8, then 12 looked for likely but, in the end, we tried 17.

L-R: Will, Hartley, Fleur, CB, DBS, Robert, Mrs. B.

We initially tried the sloe gins on their own at room temperature and then tried them mixed with Fevertree Lemon Tonic/Bitter Lemon and Fevertree Lemonade in Long Pedlers. Here follows a summary of our panel’s notes on each.

#1 Moniack Sloe Gin Liqueur (17.6% ABV)

Produced by Highland Wineries, near Inverness, this has the lowest alcoholic strength of all those that we tasted. Moniack Castle also make a selection of other liqueurs, country wines and preserves.

Nose: Cider, Rosé wine or Rose Cider (something like Jacques Cider).

Taste: Sweet, somewhat reminiscent of a White Zinfandel, with hints of rose petals and strawberries. This was rather refreshing, smooth and quite unusual, as sloe gins go, but it was agreed that it was still quite a nice drink.

Moniack Castle Sloe gin Liqueur is available for around £13 for 75cl from DrinkOn.

#2 Bramley & Gage Sweet Sloe Gin (26% ABV)

This was the first of three sloe gins that we tried from Bramley & Gage, who are well-known for their range of liqueurs, as well as their new gin and its companion tonic: 6 o’Clock.

Both Bramley’s original and sweet sloe gins use a mixture of wild Dartmoor and imported sloes, steeped in gin that Bramley make themselves. This product contain a liberal amount of sugar and was designed for people that found the original too tart.

Nose: Liquorice, almonds, cherry and marzipan.

Taste: This was very sweet; too sweet, for some (it’s worth noting that these differences are why Bramley introduced the product in the first place). It has a little acidity at end and some herbal notes.

We found that this mixed really well and was well liked by the panel.

Bramley & Gage’s Sweet Sloe Gin is available form their website for around £14 (35cl).

#3 Plymouth Sloe Gin (26% ABV)

Made using the famous Plymouth Gin and Polish sloes, this contains noticeably less sugar than its counterparts in the tasting.

I really like this; it had a great jamminess in the mouth, which the panel enjoyed, but still had a tart finish. It was found to taste less artificial than some of the others and, with the fruitiness and a little spice, there were a lot of people who thought this “smelt like Christmas”. In addition to this festive fragrance, it smells like sloe and it tastes like sloe. It was agreed that this was a first-class example of sloe gin and something of a benchmark for the others.

Along with Juniper Green this was the Most Sippable Sloe Gin.

Plymouth Sloe Gin is available for around £18 (70cl) from The Whisky Exchange and from their excellent distillery shop in Plymouth. (One of the few places in the country where you can still buy their splendid Fruit Cup).

#4 Sipsmith Sloe Gin (2009) (29% ABV)

This is the most recent release (it’s been around for about a month) from Sipsmith Distillery, who were recently voted “Best Newcomer” at the recent Observer Food Monthly Awards. It uses Sipsmith Gin as its base.

Nose: Juniper nose mixed with sloes, memories of home-made sloe gin.

Taste: This was found to be the closest to the “home-made” varieties people had tried; “just like mamma used to make”. This had a jamminess, similar to Plymouth, and the underlying Gin element was more dominant the the others. The one downside was a little sharpness at the end. Nonetheless, it was considered a great winter warmer and probably had the most potential to work well in cocktails.

The handsomely packaged Sipsmith sloe Gin is vaialable for around £17 (50cl) from The Whisky Exchange.

With our selection of Sloe Gin in the foreground Mrs. B & I enjoy a Gin & Tonic, “Evans” style.

#5 Bramley & Gage Original Sloe Gin (26% ABV)

This is a version of #2; similar, with a lower sugar content. Bramley also make a drink called Slider, which is usually made by removing the sloes from the sloe gin after maceration and combining them with cider. I used the same technique with some mincemeat vodka I made recently, making a mincemeat cider which was very tasty.

Nose: This had a similar nose to the sweet, as you may well expect.

Taste: Fruit & almond flavours, reminiscent of cherry bakewells. This was certainly tarter than the sweet variety and I found it more to my palette. It felt very warming and was, all in all, quite popular.

Bramley & Gage’s Original Sloe Gin is available form their website for around £14 (35cl).

#6 Lyme Bay Reserve Sloe Gin (26% ABV)

Part of the Reserve Liqueur range of Lyme Bay Winery (other varieties include Elderflower & Lemon and Blueberry) Lyme Bay also make a range of other country wines and liqueurs. Lyme Bay typically use English Sloes they also make a sloe wine and a Sloe wine-based fortified liqueur. I have been to their on-site shop which has good range of tasty products on offer, well worth a visit if you’re in the area. Each bottle is numbered and our was RL22676.

Nose: Smells like gin; very strong smell of juniper – a nice change.

Taste: This was sweet and smooth, and unusually light for a sloe gin. It was rather lovely and sufficiently quaff-able. All in all, it was popular with the panel, although one member remarked that it as rather Calpol (children’s medicine), but I think was actually a good thing!

Lyme Bay Sloe Gin (£11.99 for 35cl) and other products are avaialble from their website and the gift section of John Lewis.

#7 Gordon’s Sloe Gin (26% ABV)

The best-selling sloe gin in the UK with the widest distribution, too. If you’ve had commercial sloe gin, it would probably have been this. The modern version uses wild sloes, whereas its predecessor used dry sloes.

Nose: Floral and perfumed, with juniper and a bit of spice.

Taste: This was one of the few sloe gins in our tasting that people had any preconceptions of, but everyone was pleasantly surprised: everyone quite enjoyed its simple, balanced fruitiness and its intriguing notes of earl grey tea.

This was found to be The Best Mixing Sloe Gin

Gordon’s Sloe Gin is available for around £14 (70cl) from Waitrose, Tesco and other leading supermarkets.

#8 Hawker’s Sloe Gin (28% ABV)

This sloe gin has a Royal warrant (the warrant itself is held on behalf of Hawker’s by none other than Desmond Payne, Master Distiller of Beefeater) and is made with Dartmoor sloes. It is bottled at 28%; a little stronger than the usual 26%.

Nose: Geranium & mincemeat.

Taste: This was unlike anything else that we tasted that night, and it was really popular. It was quite sweet, but the panel still thought that its flavours worked. There were hints of mince pies and some strong herbal, almost menthol, notes. This is more complex than your classic sloe gin and is slightly set apart in terms of style. Although it wasn’t unanimous, this was one of the panel’s favourites.

Along with Jack Cain’s this was The Most Unusual Sloe Gin i.e. the least like the others we had tried.

Hawker’s Sloe Gin is available for around £18 (70cl) from The Drinkshop.

Speed-tasting with Mr. Hartley using the SCH method.
#9 Juniper Green Organic Sloe Gin (26% ABV)

We were sent some samples from October 2010 (ever so fresh then). The sloes for this sloe gin come from Romania, as it is difficult to get certified organic sloes from the UK (ensuring they have been affected by wind-drift from the crop-sprayer or fertiliser run-off from fields is tricky). The sloes are steeped in Juniper Green Gin (40%) and the sloes are left to macerate until the alcohol level of the liquid drops to 26% (as the sloes absorb the alcohol).

Nose: Clean nose, with fruit and a little cinnamon-like spice, followed by juniper berries.

Taste: A nicely balanced, home-made taste. Warming, with a light sweetness and flavours of apples, pears and cinnamon. The panel really enjoyed this and it was amongst their favourites.

Along with Plymouth this was the Most Sippable Sloe Gin.

Juniper Green Organic Sloe Gin is available for around £22 (70cl) from

#10) Hayman’s Sloe Gin (26% ABV)

This is made by family firm Hayman’s Gin this uses wild English Sloes and their own Gin as it’s base.  Hayman’s also make a London Dry Gin, an Old Tom Gin and a Gin Liqueur.

Nose: lovely heavy sloe nose.

Taste: Quite light and refreshing, simple yet satisfying with a little cinnamon and a little citrus on the finish. Sweetness and tartness well balanced.

Hayman’s Sloe Gin is available for around £18 from the Whisky Exchange.

#11) Bramley & Gage Organic Sloe Gin (26% ABV)

This variety of Bramley & Gage’s sloe gin has a different spirit base and all of the sloes are imported (once again, the problem of getting certified organic sloes in the UK arises).

Nose: Strong smell of almond and marzipan, but with a more subtle scent then the other two. I believe that the almond comes from the stones of the Sloes.

Taste: This was a soft, light sloe gin, with an excellent balance of tartness and sweetness. It’s quite fruity, with some folks tasting raisins, and there was a very light saltiness at the tip of the finish. This is a great sloe gin and our clear favourite of the three Bramley & Gage’s.

Bramley & Gage’s Organic Sloe Gin is available form their website for around £17 (35cl).

#12) SLOEMotion Sloe Gin (26% ABV)

Founded in 2002 SLOEMotion now make a variety of Sloe based products: Sloe Vodka, Sloe Whisky, Sloe Brandy and of course Sloe Gin. Their sloes come from local hedgerows and they use the sloes from the liqueur making process in a range of truffles and chutneys.

Nose: Smells like bitter cherries and a little maraschino.

Taste: Juicy and tart, with a nice sweetness, a bit of caramel and a vanilla finish.

SLOEMotion Sloe Gin is available from £15.95 (35cl) from their website. I can also strongly recommend their Sloe Whisky.

Robert seems reluctant to try Mr. Harltey’s concoction a mix of 17 different sloe gins, a tasting in glass!

#13) Gabriel Boudier Sloe Gin (25% ABV)

This hot-footed to us all the way from France and is part of a range of products developed by Gabriel Boudier specifically for bartenders as opposed to a product sold in it’s own right.

Nose: Slightly reminiscent of cherry brandy and bitter almonds with a little citrus.

Taste: A good sloe gin, being both smooth and balanced with a silky texture. It was very drinkable and described as a “polite” sloe gin: delicate, but tasty and reminding one panel member of a “lovely big pillow”.

Gabriel Boudier Sloe Gin is available for around £17 (70cl) from The Drinkshop.

#14) Marks & Spencer’s Sloe Gin (26% ABV)

Marks & Spencers have a good range of own brand wine & spirits in addition to the sloe gin they make a Pink Gin and a Gin Fizz. Their sloe gin in made in France and contains: juniper, coriander, lemon & orange peel, angelica, orris root and fennel seeds. The bottle recommends serving it on-the-rocks or with tonic.

Nose: Sweet, with hints of almond and marzipan, a little cherry brandy.

Taste: A very short flavour, but easy to drink, with a pleasant smoothness. Although this sloe gin had no really remarkable qualities, we all agreed that this had wide appeal. This was surprisingly similar to number 13.

Marks and Spencer Sloe Gin is available for £10.99  (50cl) from larger M&S stores.

#15) Foxdenton Sloe Gin (29% ABV)

This is made by Foxdenton Estate, who also produce an excellent 48% gin (review here) as well as a range of other liqueurs. This was paler than most sloe gins, and was bottled at slightly stronger 29%.

Nose: Strong gin spirit, followed by a little sweetness and then the fruitiness of the sloe.

Taste: This was the least thick & sticky of our sloe gins. Initially, you can really taste the underlying gin, foillowed by the sweetness and the sloes. This is neither sweet, nor excessively sharp; it is both different and tasty and, for that reason alone, is really worth trying.

Foxdenton Sloe Gin is available for £18.80 (70cl) from their website along with their other liqueurs. Smaller sizes of the Sloe Gin are available.

#16) Cowen Sloe Gin (26% ABV)

From Malcolm Cowen (Drinks) Ltd., this sloe gin is bottled at 26%. The gin is distilled at Thames Distiller and they use organic sloes. Cowen also make and distribute a variety of other hard-to-find liqueurs.

Nose: Sweet cherries, followed by the underlying gin spirit and a hint of dry almonds.

Taste: This sloe gin fills the mouth with the flavour of sweet ripe berries and a little lavender. This fades to some dryness and a warming finish. A nice example of sloe gin.

Cowen is available for around £16 (50cl) from The Drinkshop.

#17) Jack Cain’s Sloe Gin (30% ABV)

At 30% ABV, Jack Cain’s Sloe Gin was the strongest of the bunch and opinion was split on it, but those who liked it, loved it. One such fan noted:

Nose: “The nose was really sweet and richly floral with notes of violets.”

Taste: I was expecting sickly sweet, but I was very much mistaken; instead it was sharp and dry with a little chocolate and citrus. This is really very different with the dryness of an aged rum, a very nice experience.”

Along with Hawkers this was The Most Unusual Sloe Gin

Jack Cain’s Sloe Gin is available from a variety of locations.


It is always difficult to come up with ranking system to do the tasting justice when you have so many varieties and quite a large panel; but we did come up with a panel top 5 so in no particular order:

Plymouth Sloe Gin

Bramley Organic Sloe Gin

Foxdenton Sloe Gin

Hawker’s Sloe Gin

Juniper Green Organic Sloe Gin

It is worth noting that to be considered “sloe gin” a spirit must be of a minimum strength of 25%ABV. I imagine that this along with being a sweet spot for taste is why most Sloe Gins are bottled at around this strength. (Thanks to Michael for this update).

For details on which sloe gins worked well when mixed, please see: The Sloe Peddler.

I would like to thank the folks at Graphic Bar for hosting the event, the producers who have been very generous at sending us samples of their Sloe Gins, Fevertree for providing the mixers and of course the panel.

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WOW1 – Lochan Ora Liqueur

A bottle of Lochan Ora

Whilst exploring the Refectory Bar and its menu at the Plymouth Gin Distillery this month, David & I were told about an apparently scrumptious whisky liqueur. It was made all the more tempting by the fact that we were quickly told that it wasn’t available to buy, despite there being a bottle in a cupboard just a few feet away.

Later on the same day, whilst chatting with the lovely ladies in the Plymouth Distillery shop, we mentioned this mystery liqueur and, following a little problem solving, we established that it was less elusive than initially thought; as a matter of fact, there was a bottle behind us in a display cabinet. We returned the next day to pick up a bottle and reveal a little of this unearthed non-mystery to you all in the first of what will hopefully be many small notes on whiskies and their liqueurs by myself (Mrs B).

Post-post note: A little research once I arrived home soon revealed the most likely source for the above noted mystery: Lochan Ora is no longer being produced for the UK market – if at all – and therefore most stock is, to varying degrees, limited. As a result, if you see any and would like to try it, I would heartily recommend that you do whilst you have the chance.

Sold in a squat and square dark glass bottle with a beautiful pale golden label, Lochan Ora (produced by Chivas Brothers’) looks majestic and romantic; it even has a golden crown on the lid, which reminded me of the Boodles Gin bottle. Due to its size, it was initially hard to believe that it contained 70cl, but I am very pleased that it does.

It smelt strongly of sweet orange peel; David mentioned candied peel, which I thought captured the scent perfectly. When I tasted it, I was hit by a strong, but not unexpected or overpowering, bout of sweetness, followed by a hint of alcohol, which swiftly transformed into an orange flavour. It all finished neatly with the long, slow-developing warmth of a Scotch whisky. There were some lovely light herbal notes, too, which, together with the warmth of the whisky, made this one of the most comforting liqueurs I’ve ever tasted.

It was delicious and reminded me of Yuletide evenings spent sitting by a warm fire – my mind recalls Mr. Smith’s first batch of mincemeat liqueur, which quickly disappeared! Lochan Ora’s  level of sweetness is spot-on, (unusual, as I find many liqueurs too sweet) which meant that I would probably save it for a post-meal sipper when a dessert might be too much.

It’s a terrible shame that they might not be producing this any more, so I warmly recommend it to anyone who can find it.

– Mrs. B

For more Whisk(e)y Liqueur Reviews see the other Whispers of Whisk(e)y

Event Invite: Plymouth Martini Masterclass

Thank you to Plymouth & Graphic for holding such a great evening and a fitting way to end this year-top-notch Juniper Societies: https://summerfruitcup.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/plymouth-martini-book-home-made-vermouth/

Plymouth Gin Christmas Cracker

Brought to you by The Juniper Society @ Graphic

 

 

 

 

 

Plymouth twinned with Tonic (a small mountainous village in Peru, famous for it effervescent springs and forests of Fevertrees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I sit here in the Gog & Magog, a pub a few steps away from the Plymouth Gin Distillery, I would like to tell readers about an event involving the great spirit of this city.

Monday 29th November (Cancelled due to Tube Strike)

Monday 13TH DECEMBER 2010

19:00

Graphic, 4 Golden Square, London, W1F 9HT.

Plymouth Gin – The Martini Sessions will take place at the excellent Graphic Bar in London (a modern gin palace with 70+ varieties of Gin on hand) and I’m sure will be great event for the last Juniper Society for the year.

You will be greeted with a free cocktail on arrival and then will take part in two sessions:

1) The first, revolving around the Martini, with a bit of background and then some all important tastings of some variations of this classic drink; and

2) A short tasting of Plymouth Gin itself.

I’m also looking forward to what I expect to be an informative and entertaining piece on “making cocktails at home”.

A trip to the actual distillery in Plymouth is a real treat, but until you can make it down there, this is surely the next best thing. (Rumour has it the Master Distiller may be coming along, too!)

For further information, and to reserve your place, please see the Juniper Society Website or contact the bar on 0207 287 9241.

All are welcome (not just Jolly Gin Fellows) and there is no charge for the Gin Tasting, Martini Masterclass or the welcome cocktail.