Cocktails with… Lola & Vera Gin

Gin has been popular in Spain for a long time, but, until recently, most of this was produced in the UK and then imported into Spain; the renaissance of gin distilling in Spain was a little behind that of the UK.

Since then, some new distilleries have opened, including Santamania in Madrid, whose gin I had the chance to try in 2014, along with their aged gin. In 2015, they launched a new gin named after their two pot stills: Lola & Vera.

1 Lola and Vera FINAL

Bottled at 40.0%ABV, Lola & Vera Gin is made using a grain alcohol base and the following botanicals: juniper, lemon, orange peel, cardamom, cassia, liquorice, anise, ginger, sunflower, and apple.

The apple is macerated in the spirit first and is then filtered out before the spirit is distilled with the other botanicals to make the gin.

On its own
Nose: Fresh, fruity, and juicy, with hints of citrus, coriander, and pine.
Taste: This is a very smooth spirit with some gentle citrus from orange and lemon. There are also some richer spiced and chocolate notes, before a good, dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
Flavoursome and jammy, with some lovely plum and berry notes, before a finish of zesty citrus. Crisp and very refreshing.

Martini
A particularly citrusy Martini, this is bright and brilliant: juicy, with just a little spice on the finish. It is also wonderfully smooth – an excellent cocktail.

Negroni
This makes a very solid Negroni: it has an intense bitterness with a good level of interplay between sweet spice and herbal notes, before a bitter citrus finish.

In Conclusion
Lola & Vera is a classic and crisp gin with a pleasant flair of citrus that makes it great for mixing. My favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic.

~ Bonus Santamania Gins ~

Santamania 37.5%

On its own
Nose: Bright citrus – orange and lemon – as well as notes of fresh tea leaves.
Taste: Quite a light gin, with tea and vanilla upfront and then some citrus – a combination of orange and coriander – before a long, dry, slightly fruity finish

Gin Tonic
A straightforward but pleasantly refreshing gin tonic, rather zesty with tnags of lemon and lime as well as a light juniper dryness.

Martini
Soft and silky, with complex citrus and floral notes. This has an absolutely first class texture and is a pleasure to drink.

Negroni
A good, solid drink with hints of citrus and chocolate, before some dry notes on the finish. Smooth and well-integrated.

Santamania Reserve

On its own
Colour: Green/straw
Nose: Light, woody citrus.
Taste: A soft, smooth spirit with a gradually building warmth. There are notes of freshly cut wood and vanilla upfront with fine, fruity notes. The taste gradually becomes dryer with hints of citrus as you sip.

Frozen
The smooth vanilla oak notes really come through when frozen, as do the wood characteristics before a very dry finish.

Martini
A very clean aged gin Martini: delicate spice and a touch of sweetness before dry, woody and citrus notes.

Negroni
A rather nutty Negroni with an intense chocolatey, earthy bitterness with notes of peanut brittle on the finish. A little woody, too.

Cocktails with… Entropia Gin with Ginseng and Guarana

Entropia Gin is made by Entropia Liquors in the Galicia region on the north-west tip of Spain (the bit north of Portugal). The company make a Gin Pure, using botanicals that include juniper, coriander, orange, lemon, and liquorice, but today’s featured gin is made using almond and hibiscus, too. After distillation, the gin is infused with guarana and ginseng, which gives the gin its colour. Both gins are bottled at 40% ABV.

EntropiaGin FINAL

On its own
Nose: Juniper, as well as some darker resin notes. There are also tannins reminiscent of sweet black tea, bergamot, and Earl Grey. Complex, with sweet, lingering spice.
Taste: Juniper mixed with the tannin tea notes, plus some citrus. The tea adds some woody notes reminiscent of aged gin, with vanilla and oak towards the finish, alongside some plump, fruity citrus.

Gin & Tonic
Entropia Gin works well with tonic: its tea elements and floral character are highlighted by tonic water, bringing something new to the table. This is a drink full of complex flavours and is wonderfully thirst-quenching.

Martini
A very pleasant and sweet Martini. The herbal tannin notes associated with tea work especially well in this cocktail. There is also a little fruitiness in the middle and malty oak towards the end. A deliciously different Martini, both in flavour and colour: a pale gold.

Negroni
Rather viscous and thick, this is quite a good cocktail; there is intensity from the juniper and pine, as well as a touch of lemon and tea. Sweeter than a normal Negroni, this is a different take on the drink.

In Conclusion
I think that Entropia is a shining example of the new styles being released by Spanish distilleries.
It is in a contemporary style, but doesn’t lose what it means to be a gin, and introduces some exciting, new flavours that work really well in gin cocktails.

Spanish Gin Digest – 5 Gin Reviewed

Today’s article is a bit of a bumper issue to cover a variety of lesser known gins that I tried in Spain, all of which were under €15 a bottle.

Masters Gin

MastersGin FINALMasters Gin is made by Destilerias MG, producer of liquor since 1940. Bottled at 40.0% ABV, its botanicals include juniper, coriander, cardamom and citrus.
Price: €12 for 70cl

i) On its own
Nose: Minimal, with notes of alcohol and bitter pine.
Taste: Pretty classic, but somewhat lacking overall. This tastes watery, as if it has been watered down. There is a little juniper and citrus upfront, followed by a touch of sweet nutmeg, but that is about it. The finish is long, but faint, with a sort of miscellaneous gin character. Dull.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Okay, but not spectacular. Nonetheless, this is a serviceable drink that ticks all of the basic boxes of what you would expect from a Gin & Tonic. With a fresh citrus garnish, this could be quite refreshing.

iii) Martini
A very basic, entry level Martini, but with nothing that shines. Flavour-wise, there’s a bit of juniper and citrus, but this is below average and a drink that I’d be unlikely to mix again.

iv) Negroni
Again, this is okay, but – like all of the other drinks – rather bland and slightly below average. This drink is in urgent need of a citrus wedge to make it even palatable; it’s not offensive, but certainly forgettable.

In Conclusion
A rather forgettable spirit, lacking complexity and the flavour intensity to stand up well when mixed.

Albertson London Dry Gin

Albertson Gin FINALMade by Commercial Tello S.A. and distilled seven times, this gin has an ABV of 37.5% ABV and its botanicals include juniper, coriander, and citrus. This gin came with a bonus shot glass!
Price: €8 for 70cl

i) On its own
Nose: Almost nothing: just a touch of ethanol and citrus.
Taste: A bit watery to start with, but it’s smooth with a little sweetness. Gradually, some warmth builds as you drink, as does a bit of juniper and a soapy texture. Ultimately, though, there’s not a lot going on; this takes more like a vodka.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Bland and below par. The gin shrinks beneath the tonic; you’d a good, fresh, tasty garnish to make this one palatable.

iii) Martini
Plain, but pretty smooth. This seems more like a vodka Martini than one made with gin. There is a mere hint of juniper and angelica towards the end. There is no wow factor, but the drink is inoffensive and perfectly drinkable.

iv) Negroni
Okay, but a bit disappointing and rather anonymous; you just about get the cocktail’s signature balance of bitter and sweetness, but this is very forgettable.

In Conclusion
Avoid. Gin Giro is the same price, but five times as good.

Gloc Gin

gloc ginMarketed by CIMIN DREAMS, Gloc Gin one of a range of seven different spirits, including tequila, whisky, and rum. It is bottled at 37.5% ABV.
Price: €4 for 35cl

i) On its own
Nose: Lemon and burnt toast.
Taste: Quite odd: dry anise, plenty of coriander, and sherbert-like citrus, followed by a chalky finish. Not spectacular, but passable given that it cost 4 euros.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Intriguing: lots of caraway comes through, as does some celery and cucumber peel. Pretty crisp, with some spiciness towards the end. Unfortunately, a chalky residual flavour spoils the drink.

iii) Martini
Lots of fennel and a fair bit of caraway, too, but not much juniper. The cocktail is a bit on the watery side, but not too bad; it just needs a bit more depth to its flavour. Would not satisfy the aficionados.

gloc range

iv) Negroni
This cocktail has a slight marmalade quality to it, with jamminess and a moderately bitter finish. This has some character and some interesting notes of flamed orange. All-in-all, a Negroni that is just above average.

In Conclusion
Gloc is let down by the chalky flavour that comes through in some drinks; it works best in a Negroni.

Palmbridge

Palmbridge Gin FINALThe cheapest of the gins that we tasted, Palmbridge is produced by Antonio Nadal S.A, a company that has its origins in Mallorca in 1898. The gin is bottled at 37.5% ABV.
Price: €7.84 for 1 litre or €3.50 for 35cl

i) On its own
Nose: A rather a funky smell, not dissimilar to some vintage gins that have not aged well. I put this down to the underlying quality of the alcohol. Beyond that, there are notes of juniper and a little citrus.
Taste: Vanilla and a bit of juniper. There’s not much going on and this hollowness reminds me of the sort of rough spirits that often seem to lead to hangovers. Not a gin I would want to drink much of.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Simple and straightforward: juniper, citrus, and then a very faint hint of vanilla and coconut. It’s okay, but you need a good garnish and a half decent tonic to make it palatable.

iii) Martini
Not much in the way of gin flavour. Again, this is far more like a vodka Martini; there’s only a little citrus, some vanilla, and chocolate notes. There’s a hint juniper on the finish, but it’s really far more akin to a vodka than gin Martini.

iv) Negroni
Pretty good; there’s lots of flavour and, unusually for a Negroni, the vermouth really seems to shine through. There’s some sweetness, but also plenty of herbal notes: anise, fennel, and wormwood, followed by a long, earthy bitterness. Unlike the Martini with this gin, this Negroni is full of flavour and, given the price, rather impressive.

In Conclusion
For a budget gin, this is a cheap and cheerful choice for both a Gin & Tonic and a Negroni, with both drinks being further improved with addition of a fresh citrus garnish.

Sheriton Dry Gin

Dry Gin Sheriton FINALBottled at 37.5% ABV, Sheriton Dry Gin is made by José Estévez S.A..
Price: €6.97 for 70cl

i) On its own
Nose: Juniper, anise, and fennel.
Taste: Not too bad, but a bit harsh; quite a lot of ethanol comes through and the botanical flavours are a bit weak. There’s some pine and citrus, plus a little liquorice but, personally, I prefer bolder flavours in my gin.

ii) Gin & Tonic
Rather poor: bland, with just a little bit of juniper. It’s dry, but, otherwise, there’s not much going on. There are definitely better Gin & Tonics out there, so I’d avoid this.

iii) Martini
Quite good: smooth, clean, classic, and crisp, with some soft citrus notes, too. There’s no real “oomph” behind it. but it’s perfectly acceptable.

~~ IN SUMMARY ~~

The reader may have guessed that not many of the gins in the line-up had much of a wow factor and, in some cases, they were only just drinkable. The common factor that was the main downfall for these spirits was lack of flavour, which typically comes from using cheap or old botanicals or not using enough botanicals in the first place.

Palmbridge was my favourite of this bunch but Gin Giro (review coming soon) is the best choice for cheap Spanish Gin.

Cocktails with… Jodhpur Gin

JodhpurTitle
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:

JodhpurBots

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.

Cocktails with… 1211 Gin (from Spain!)

The sister of COOL Gin, Gin 1211 is more classic in style and was create by the same folks. The recipe of the gin they decided on was the 12th they tried and it contains 11 botanicals. Hence 1211.

#1) On its own
Nose: More classic than COOL Gin, with plenty of juniper and pine, some vanilla and citrus and some spicy notes towards the end Finishes with hints of anise or cardamom.
Taste: Very smooth initially, with a gradually building warmth of flavour. It is quite bold, but relatively smooth overall and, I think, rather good: lemon citrus, with a touch of vanilla. The finish is medium in length and tastes predominantly of pine and coriander.

#2) Gin & Tonic
This has a slight sweetness and vanilla on the nose. Taste wise, it is pretty classic, but with a slight, sweet, creamy vanilla lift. Fresh, with a good amount of juniper and citrus, this is very pleasant: refreshing and cooling, and not too heavy.

#3) Martini
Very crisp, but also rather intense; this easily tastes stronger than 42.5%ABV. There’s some citrus, a little spice, and some spicy coriander.

#4) Negroni
Far more classic in style, this is quite crisp, with some distinctive citrus sourness. Clean and juicy, this makes a refreshing drink that is very enjoyable.

#5) Sweet Martini
Very crisp with plenty of lemon citrus and some herbal notes. Rather rousing to the appetite and good before a meal. Lovely and extra flavoursome.

#6) Gin Buck
Very good and very juicy, the gin comes through and the ginger ale adds a nice twist of spice. A great way to enjoy this classic gin in a long drink.

#7) Basil Smash
Really really good, this gin work superbly with the basil not too overpowering but still adding a lot of flavour. Very crisp, invigorating and well recommended.

#8) Gin Collins
A classic collins, zesty with pine and citrus from the gin. Excellent to quench your thirst and if you are looking for a good example of gin collins, this is worth a try.

In Conclusion
If you are looking for a flavourful, balanced and traditional style gin that can rival some of the best that UK produces then 1211 is worth looking trying. My favourite drink was the Basil Smash.

Cocktails with… GinSelf Gin (from Spain!)

Continuing our latest spate of Spanish gin reviews, today we’re looking at Ginself, which is made in an artisan distillery in Valencia. It is produced in batches of 500 litres in an 18th Century still, using a combination of 9 botanicals that are macerated for 24 hours prior to distillation. The gin is brought down to bottling strength (40%ABV) with spring water from the Sierra de Espadán.

The mix of 9 botanicals are:

The Taste

1) On its own
Nose: Juniper, with spicy, floral coriander and zesty, floral orange. There’s also a slight, biscuity nuttiness from the angelica, too.
Taste: With lots of orange blossom upfront, it reminds me of orange shortbread. These notes are followed by lemon, coriander and a finish of dry, floral pininess. It’s quite smooth, with a little warmth at the end.

2) Gin & Tonic
Full of citrus and floral notes, this has orange and orange blossom right upfront. It’s very juicy, tasting like it has fresh orange in it, even though I didn’t use any garnish at all. For this reason, I think it’s better to stick to using the cleaner, rather than more citrus-heavy, tonic waters with this gin.

3) Dry Martini
Clean, with lots of orange, as well as some floral orange blossom. Unlike some other gins the orange notes in this one are quite dry and not sweet like triple sec. Perhaps a twist of pink grapefruit would work well as a garnish? It was a good match for the gin in a Gin & Tonic.

4) Negroni
This makes a lovely drink that is packed full of flavour. There are a lot of orange and other citrusy botanicals in this drink and they work well, which is understandable, given that orange is a typical garnish to a Negroni. I think this more accessible than most Negronis, but it still has the familiar bitter-sweetness that fans of the drink crave.


5) Gin Tonica
This is quite simple to make: combine an approximate two-to-one ratio with about a teaspoon of Pink Grapefruit Juice, a twist of Grapefruit oil and a wedge of fruit. It’s very colourful, but also complements the floral orange blossom and other citrus in the spirit. This drink has a refreshing, zesty bite to it, making it perfect for a hot summers day or even a hot autumnal evening inside (when someone has been a bit over-eager with the heating).

6) Sweet Martini
Sweet, herbal and citrusy; too sweet for a pre-dinner drink, I think, but it would work well as a digestif, with its bold flavour and complexity. There’s plenty of orange, too.

In Conclusion
I really enjoyed Ginself and it certainly has its own character. It has a lot of floral and citrus in its flavour profile, although this is in the form of a warm orange flavour, as opposed to a zesty or bitter lemon one, which makes a difference. I like the Gin Tonica especially – so crisp, so delicious.

GinSelf on Facebook

Cocktails with… COOL Gin (from Spain!)

I am always keen to keep abreast of the latest innovations in gin, tonic and garnishes in Spain; it’s quite an exciting place, with lots of innovation going on, so imagine my excitement when I contacted COOL Gin about the possibility of trying their gin and they sent me a bonus bottle of their sister gin, 1211, too.

COOL Gin is made by Benevento Global and is a self-styled contemporary gin, although it suggests that it has gone even further and is simply cool gin.

It is made using 12 botanicals, notably including wild strawberry and blackberry, and is also violet in colour.

#1) On its own
Nose: Floral, with lots of vanilla and notes of jelly; fruity and jammy. Juniper also makes an appearance, accompanied by the berry freshness.
Taste: Very unusual for a gin: sweet vanilla and fruit to start, followed by more classic gin flavours: juniper and coriander. Additional sweetness then appears in the form of jammy blackcurrant and strawberry, before a long finish of rose and violet, much like Parma Violets or crystallised violets.

#2) Gin & Tonic
Being light violet in colour, this is a most intriguing drink. Again, there’s quite a lot of vanilla, making this taste almost like a gin & cream soda, but the finish is quite dry, with juniper and quinine. The fruity, berry and floral notes reminds me of the Camp David Gin & Tonic.

#3) Martini
Intense and floral, with some sweetness and notes of vanilla. This is a very, very unusual drink, but an attractive violet colour and very smooth, too; nice and clean.

#4) Negroni
Slight violet on the nose. Rather pleasant, with a good balance of bitterness and sweetness and a creamy violet and vanilla strand throughout that’s nonetheless not overpowering. Whilst not 100% traditional, this is still rather tasty and has a subtle difference that I quite like.

#5) Sweet Martini
Cool Gin makes a sweeter Sweet Martini than usual, with more floral notes and being, generally, more dessert-like. There’s also lots of vanilla, reminding me of cupcakes; as such, this is definitely a drink for after, rather than before, dinner.

#6) Aviation
This is a perfect match for this gin: the fruity, berry notes and hints of floral bring a lot to this drink and make it intense, but delicious. If you are a fan of an Aviation cocktail, then this is surely for you.

#7) Gin Buck
I find this a bit sweet and that the ginger clashes with the berry and floral flavours. It’s not an awful drink, but there are better ways to enjoy this gin.

#8) Gin Collins
A very clean and exceptionally light Gin Collins, with only a hint of juniper and some jammy blackberry and violet floral notes. There’s some sweetness, but not too much, making this a great, lighter drink to enjoy COOL Gin in, especially given the hint of purple in its colour.

In Conclusion

From first appearances, COOL Gin is unusual and this may put off some who prefer their gins to be more traditional, but it’s well worth trying. The floral and berry flavours bring something new, whilst maintaining the character of the gin and ensuring that its flavours are well-balanced. If you are a gin adventurer, a fan of the Aviation, or both, then this is most certainly a gin worth trying.

My favourite drinks were the Aviation and the Gin & Tonic