Cocktails with… Port of Dragons 100% Floral Gin – From Spain!

Earlier on today, we introduced Port of Dragons 100% Pure Gin, a gin in the classic style, but with a slight contemporary twist. Port of Dragons also make a spirit for more unusual cocktails and when you fancy a more contemporary flavour: Port of Dragons 100% Floral Gin. It is packaged in the same ornate decanter-like bottle as the 100% Pure, but uses a pink colour scheme, which is reflected in the article below.

Port of Dragons 100% Floral takes the 12 botanicals of the 100% Pure gin with the addition of Rose and Poppy petals.

Own
Nose: Floral, with a slight breadiness, cardamom, violets and pine.
Taste: Smooth and silky to start, then the warmth and flavour builds: juniper and citrus, before  perfumed, floral notes, such as rose and violets, and pine needles. Finally, spicy cardamom and liquorice appear on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
This was a very floral G&T with good hints of violet, almost as if Creme de Violette had been added. There were some hints of rose, too. Still, it was very refreshing and worked well with Schweppes, but I think that Fevertree Mediterranean or 1724 may work even better.

Martini
A very perfumed Martini, heavy on the floral with some deeper herbal notes, citric coriander and sappy juniper towards the end. The finish has lots of sweet violet and rose. This is a very different spin on a classic Martini.

Negroni
A cocktail of intense flavours: the heavy floral notes mixed well with sweet and bitter herbal notes. Complex, with a lot of flavours going on and a lasting bitter finish.

Gin Tonica
Fresh, floral and fruity. This was very refreshing and reminded me of a spring or summer garden. As well as being visually attractive, the flavours of the gin were really enhanced by the luscious fruits in the garnish and a good alternative to the usual slice of lemon or lime.

Gimlet
An unusually floral and perfumed Gimlet. Interestingly, the lime and the rose worked rather well together, creating a lime-rose marmalade flavour.

Aviation
I comfortably sit in the camp that says that an Aviation isn’t an Aviation without Creme de Violette (although I make the odd allowance for Creme Yvette), so, given the floral character of the gin, this seemed to be an obvious cocktail to try it in.

I worried that it might be a bit too floral, but actually this drink has a really nice balance. Incredibly fresh, the Violette came through well; if you like a bit of Violette in your Aviation, then you’ll probably be rather keen on this version.

Gin Collins
Lighter, more floral and softer than most Collinses, this makes for a more subtle cocktail. I thought it was very enjoyable, indeed. There were some hints of spice and vanilla, too, with more cardamom than the 100% Pure. Very refreshing and unusual, but very, very good.

In Conclusion
It was a real pleasure to try these gins and, on my travels around the gin establishments of the UK, they have been well-received by many a connoisseur. There has also been quite a bit of excitement from bartenders as to how the flavours would work in cocktails.

As for me, it was great to see a Spanish gin producer stepping out on their own and trying to develop the Spanish style further.

I find it tough to choose between the Pure and the Floral. The folks that I’ve asked were pretty much split between the two, but I think that the stronger flavour of cardamom in the 100% Pure just about has it for me.

For more information on Port of Dragons – check out their website.

Thanks to Oscar and Joanna for their help with this article.

Cocktails with… Port of Dragons 100% Pure Gin – From Spain!

One thing that I’m sorry to say that I’ve neglected so far on SummerFruitCup is Spanish Gin. Spain is one of the biggest markets for Gin in the world and, possibly, the biggest for Gin & Tonic (“Gin Tonica”). As a result, there is a great amount of innovation coming from our mediterranean cousins and so I think it’s time to give their gins a closer look.

A lot of the gins currently available in Spain are actually made in UK distilleries, although – typically – they are less readily available in their country of origin. Increasingly, however, gins for the Spanish market are being made in Spain and two of these are the focus for today’s review.

This is going to be a two-part article featuring two gins under the Port of Dragon’s brand from the Destileria Premium. In addition, they also make a 100% Malt Gin, which is designed to be drunk like a single malt whisky: on its own or on the rocks.

PORT OF DRAGONS 100% PURE

Tastes are changing in the worldwide Gin market, with a growing popularity for gins that incorporate new flavours and taste balances to the spirits’ profile. But, despite the rise of this contemporary style of Gin, the market for the classic or traditional styles, full of piney juniper, coriander and citrus, is still strong.

Luckily, Port of Dragons produces gin for both palettes or either occasion. First of all, we will be looking at their classic style of gin: 100% Pure. This uses production techniques that go back to the 18th Century. The spirit is distilled four times through a copper still.

They use malt barley as the base spirit and a list of botanicals is given below. The Juniper comes from a rural area of the Pyrenees and all botanicals have a Guarantee of Origin and Quality “(Denominación de Origen” in Spanish).

#1) Own
Nose: Very herbal, with cardamom, lavender and basil, and also perfumed, floral notes alongside orange, pine and a touch of citrus.
Taste: Soft, with a slight citrus element, followed by herbal notes and a hint of coconut, cardamom. There was some warmth at the end, along with a mix of citrus, tree sap and pine. The finish was medium in length.

#2) Gin & Tonic
Quite bitter, very floral and intense. This is a gin that is actually a bit strong (flavour-wise) for a 2:1 ratio; I found that up-ing it to 3:1 meant that the drink became a lot more balanced. Crisp and refreshing, I thought this would work well with a cardamom distillate.

#3) Dry Martini
Smooth and soft, but nonetheless very flavourful. Floral and herbal, there were substantial green, piney juniper notes, followed by the now familiar cardamom. Whilst this wasn’t a classic Martini, it was still very good and works well with a lemon twist.

#4) Negroni
This is quite a herbal and floral Negroni with a long finish of piney, sappy juniper. There’s a good bump of cardamom, too. The gin really stood up well to the Campari and Vermouth. Overall, this was an intense and flavourful Negroni; great.

#5) Gin Tonica
This was very enjoyable. The gin seemed more lively and the tonic more crisp than in a normal Gin & Tonic. The high volume of ice helped considerably, too. The cardamom was still there, but more balanced with additional zing. Very good, indeed.

#6) Gin Collins
Initial bursts of cardamom are followed by fresh citrus and some juniper. More floral and herbal than many Gin Collins’, with a distinct hint of rosemary, this was different, but delicious.

#7) Sweet Martini
The sweet vermouth mellows out the high floral elements of the gin, making this a dark and flavourful drink; perfect as an aperitif.

#8) Gin Buck
I mixed this up a little by creating it using the Gin Tonica style in an ice-filled balloon glass. This was a refreshing drink, with the extra citrus and juniper working well alongside the gin. This would be superb to drink outside on a hot, sunny evening.

#9) Pink Gin
Packed full of flavour: floral notes, cardamom and coriander, plus some of the sweeter, spicier botanicals. This was wonderfully complex, with a hint of bitterness at the end.

#10) Gin Old Fashioned
A good way to enjoy the gin. The finer points of the spirit’s character came through more than in the previous drinks: the earthy herbs, spicy cardamon, piney juniper and the higher floral notes. Complex and perfumed.

Thus ends the first part of our feature of Port of Dragons Gin – click here for Part II, 100% Floral. 

Cocktails with… Gin Mare

If you’ve read our post on our Vodka Tonic Tasting, you’ll be familiar with Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic, a tonic water flavoured with Mediterranean botanicals; well, now there is a Mediterranean Gin: Gin Mare (pronounced “Mar-ray”).

Gin Mare is bottled at 42.7% ABV and contains 10 botanicals:

Juniper
Coriander
Cardamom
Lemon
Orange
Mandarin

Rosemary
Basil
Thyme
Arbequina Olive

The gin is made in the Costa Dorada, south of Barcelona. Each of the botanicals are distilled separately* and the distillates are then blended together. Before distillation, each botanical is steeped for 36 hours.

Gin Mare also make a Mediterranean Tonic Water called 1724, named after the fact that the real quinine for the mixer is collected at 1,724 meters above sea level. This is a similar concept to 6 O’clock, who also make both a gin and a tonic water, but differs in that, although the tonic water had to go well with Gin Mare, it was designed with wider market appeal, for use with other gins.

Own
Nose: There are savoury notes: pepper, rosemary and thyme, as well as a little saltiness and a hint of green tomatoes.
Taste: This is an intense and herbal gin, with hints of rosemary and thyme. Juniper is a secondary flavour, but is still there. It reminds me a little of mint and herbal crisps. Unusual, but tasty.

Gin & Tonic
As I mentioned, the people that make Gin Mare also make a Mediterranean Tonic Water called 1724, so for the tasting I decided to try two G&Ts: one with 1724 and one with Fevertree tonic water.

i) 1724
Thyme and rosemary really come through; this was a herbally intense drink. That said, it still has the juniper crispness and a touch of dryness, so it is like a classic Gin & Tonic, but with more flavour than usual; in particular, some anise on the finish.

ii) Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic
Herbal and light; sweeter and less bitter than the same drink made with 1724. A good drink, but notably less flavoursome and intense than the 1724 G&T.

In this tasting, I preferred the 1724 tonic water in a Gin Mare Gin & Tonic.

Martini

A good way to enjoy Gin Mare and fully appreciate its characteristics. It was very herbal and the predominant flavour was a combination of thyme, fennel and anise. Some savoury aspects and would be nice garnished with an olive.

Alexander
I wanted to try this drink, because I thought it would make an unusual version. It was very nice, with some herbal on the finish, but it was less intense than I had hoped for.

Gimlet
I suspected that lime cordial would match up well with the herbal notes of the Mare, and it did. It is less bitter and sharp than a usual Gimlet due to a more subdued juniper flavour, but it still has some crispness and is rather good.

Negroni
Three rather herbal ingredients (Gin Mare, Vermouth & Campari) come together in the Negroni, so this drink was a bit over the top and unbalanced. It is also very bitter; for me, too bitter.

Gin Buck
I found the sweet elements of the gin’s herbs, when combined with that of ginger ale, meant that this drink was rather sickly.

Fruit Cup
A good cocktail to use Gin Mare in; distinctively herbal. There are notes of thyme, rosemary and a touch of anise. This is a very good way to make a pleasant and intense, but refreshing Fruit Cup.

1724 and Sloe Gin
As I’m also looking at 1724 Tonic Water, it seemed like a good idea to try it in another drink, so I mixed with Sloe Gin. I used Marks & Spencer Sloe Gin (made by Boudier), one of the best-selling Sloe Gins in the UK. This drink was fresh, fruity and jammy with herbal notes; very tasty indeed.

In Conclusion
Gin Mare is not a usual or classic London-Dry-style Gin, but it is still evidently a gin. I enjoyed the Mediterranean style flavours and herbal notes as they added a unique characteristic to drinks, although it didn’t work with everything. Of all of the gins released in the last year, this is the one that I have heard people talk about the most (in a positive way, anyway), so they are certainly making an impact in London.

Cocktail highlights: Martini, Fruit Cup and Gin & Tonic

As for 1724 Tonic Water, this is one of the best tonic waters that I’ve tried (at last count this number over 40); I was a little surprised! It is certainly in my Top Five.

* This is a similar gin-production method to that of Sacred, Sloane’s & Moore’s.

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