Cocktails with… Dodd’s Gin – Distilled in London

Dodd'sGinTitle

A little while back I review the London Distillery Company’s Testbed Gin selection and I also mentioned my visit there for the WSET’s Gin Ramble. SO it was with anticipation that I tried their first flagship products, Dodd’s Gin.

But who was Dodd?

Ralph Dodd is described as a serial entrepreneur, but, more importantly, he was the founder of the Intended London Distillery Company in 1807, whose aim was to “manufacture Genuine British Spirits and Compounds”. Although many preparations were made for the business, no distillation took place and, by 1812, the company had been disbanded. That was, until 2011, when Darren Rook resurrected the company at its new home in Battersea.

Dodd'sGin

At least three of the botanicals being used are unique, to my knowledge at the time of writing* (I have a record of the botanical make-up of about 200 gins), which is very exciting. That said, they don’t stand out as gimmicks; they all make perfect sense.

I quizzed distiller, Andrew MacLeod Smith, about his use of cardamom and he said that he simply likes the taste of green cardamom (I, too, am particularly fond of the flavour) and that the black cardamom seeds add a menthol note. I can also confirm this, having tried a black cardamom distillate from Sacred’s Ian Hart on the Gin Ramble back in February. The London honey comes from bees kept in the city and is added to the pot pre-distillation to primarily enhance the mouthfeel of the spirit.

dODDS gIN bOTANICALS

The Taste

Own

Nose: Some interesting salty notes meet my nose to start, as well as some smoky elements, making this particularly unusual. There are some green cardamom notes, too.

Taste: This is a good, smooth spirit with plenty of spice, with the green cardamom in the middle and the menthol of the black cardamom towards the end, which is mixed with dry, piney juniper and a spiciness reminiscent of freshly cracked black pepper. This is a spicy and savoury gin and is, truly, something very different; no-one is doing anything like this in London or even the UK.

On a second sip, more of the classic gin notes emerge, with coriander and citrus upfront. I also note that the spirit is 49.9% ABV and, although the flavours are strong and bold (carried by the higher proof), the texture is smooth until the spicy finish. This is potentially due to the impact of the London honey.

I can see how this gin builds upon the work of the Testbed range and it truly is a Anglo-American or Trans-atlantic/Cary Grant Gin**, starting off classic in flavour and becoming contemporary.

Gin & Tonic

Just superb; very fruity, with some jammy berry notes. It’s exceptionally smooth, with a little creamy sweetness in the middle that then gives way to some spice from the cardamom, as well as a leafy note. Some coriander is in there, too, all concluded with a dry, juniper finish. All in all, this is a complex and engrossing drink and a spin on the classic flavour profile of a Gin & Tonic, whilst remaining wonderfully accessible.

Martini

Sweet and spicy with a real pow of flavour thanks to the high ABV. Very smooth nevertheless with an exceptionally balance, I’d suggest no garnish for this so that you can really enjoy the full impact of the flavours.

Negroni

A good Negroni, with lots of bitterness and deep spice notes, as well as some hints of cocoa and coffee. As such, describing it as dark and intense seems fitting. A long juniper finish is paired with an earthy bitterness. Drinking this, you sit up and take notice; but, at the same time, there is a nonchalance to the drink, which makes it a bit of an enigma!

In Conclusion

Dodd’s really is something different and I’m sure it will appeal to the palate of both traditionalist and revolutionaries of the gin world; if you like cardamom, you will love this. We’ve had a bit of a wait to finally get to try Dodd’s, but, boy, was it worth it.

* A few gin distillers add honey after distillation, but not before like Dodd’s.

** A mix between Classic (UK) and contemporary (US) styles of gin – named after the British-American hybrid accent of actors of the golden era of Hollywood such as Cary Grant.

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