Cocktails with… Makar Glasgow Gin

As the rise of craft distilling in the UK continues, it is great to see Scotland’s largest city get its own independent craft distillery. After all, Edinburgh already has Summerhall and the Edinburgh Gin Distillery.

The Makar gin (the Scots word for poet) is made at the Glasgow Distillery in West George Street, Glasgow. It boldly proclaims that it is “juniper-led”; this is the first time I have seen this so prominently displayed on a bottle but with so many craft gins embracing the contemporary style it makes sense.

The gin is bottled at 43.0%abv and contains a mix of seven botanicals (the gin itself fittingly comes in an attractive heptagonal bottle) which include: juniper, coriander, angelica, lemon, liquorice, black pepper and rosemary.

1 MAKAR GIN BOTTLE

The Taste

On its own
Nose: juniper led for sure on the nose, fresh spruce and sappy juniper, vibrant and exciting, there is then some citrus followed by a touch of woodiness and floral herbal notes of rosemary. Very inviting.
Taste: A strong and bold flavour, bursting with green, sappy, resinous juniper pine notes. The bottle says, “juniper-led” and it’s not kidding; this is an excellent option for folks who find many modern gins too light on the juniper. Citrus and coriander notes follow, with dry angelica on the finish, before fragrant, herbal rosemary.

Gin & Tonic
A tasty and juicy Gin & Tonic, with rich and full notes of piney juniper that add a clean crispness to the drink. This is a textbook Gin & Tonic – certainly worth trying.

Martini (5:1, Gin:Vermouth) Stir – Orange Bitters – Rosemary
A fragrant, yet dry Martini. The bitters and garnish draw out the rose aromatic elements of the gin. This is all followed by a spicy and peppery finish. Smooth and clean, this is a pleasant alternatie to the more common citrus-led Martinis.

Martini (Diamond method, no garnish)
Oily resinous pine-juniper, thick, viscous and luxurious texture. Just superb. This makes way for some citrus and the complex rosemary that, apart from strong juniper, a re becoming a signature for this gin.

Negroni
Quite a herbal Negroni; the rosemary really comes through. The gin stands up well to the strong flavours of the vermouth and Campari , and makes a cocktail that is herbal, but more aromatic than earthy – excellent.

Gin & Soda
Fruity berry and stone fruit notes are followed by coriander and floral, juniper-pine. A light and refreshing drink and a very pleasant way to appreciate this gin.

In Conclusion
Maker is an excellent gin and proof that a traditional style is far from boring and there is plenty of space to differentiate. I enjoy sipping it neat and in. Negroni although I didn’t find anything I didn’t like it in.

Makar Gin Website

 

 

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Cocktails with… Dà Mhìle’s Seaweed Farmhouse Botanical Gin

Today is Trafalgar Day and, as such, I thought it was fitting to feature a somewhat nautical gin; namely, Dà Mhìle’s Organic Seaweed Farmhouse Botanical Gin. This gin uses a cut down variation of the botanicals in their Original Gin and, after distillation, it is infused with seaweed from the Newquay coast, before being triple filtered.

Da Mhile Seaweed Gin Final Shell

Da Mhile Gin with the serving suggestion of sipping it from an oyster shell

On its own
Nose: Complex and intriguing, with floral hints of rose, as well as citrus, coriander, some dry juniper and pine notes, and salty leafy notes.
Taste: A very strong flavour, with the same note that are found on the nose. This is a mostly smooth spirit, with just a touch of warmth at the end. The bold flavours of the gin should make it a great candidate for mixed drinks. There is some pleasant spice elements on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
A very powerful drink. Notes of resinous pine and juniper, citrusy coriander, and some herbal notes towards the end, plus a hint of chocolate. Plenty of flavour and rather cooling.

Martini
Bright and powerful, with a great juniper hit, as well as some complex, leafy, slightly salty, green notes.

Negroni
A smooth and complex Negroni; again, the floral and salty green notes of the gin come through well and add character. This would be a good choice for those who like a Negroni with plenty of flavour.

Da Mhile Seaweed Gin Final Fish

A glass of chilled Seaweed Gin as a fine accompaniment to seafood.

Gimlet
Excellent and a great choice for Trafalgar Day. The tart lime works well with the green leafy notes of the gin and its fresh, slightly salty element.

In Conclusion
Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin is a bold and flavoursome spirit that, as it was designed to do, goes well with seafood. My favourite drink was the Gimlet.

Cocktails with… Sibling Gin

Sibling Gin Title

Over the past four years, we have published reviews for 299 gins from 31 different countries and so, today, it is with great pleasure that we reach our 300th Gin Review.

This review is of the new Sibling Gin from the Sibling Distillery in Cheltenham. The distillery is the brainchild of the Elliott-Berry siblings: two brothers, Felix and Digby, and two sisters, Clarice and Cicely, who are all under 25 years of age.

Their gin is produced in a glass and metal hybrid still that was designed in-house and contains a botanical infusion basket. They use a range of botanicals including: juniper, coriander, lemon, orange, vanilla, and blueberry. The gin is made using a vodka base, which is distilled in-house, and the final product is bottled at 42% ABV.

Sibling Gin FINAL

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Rich and creamy vanilla, with a hint of breadiness; there is also a little chocolate that is reminiscent of a dark chocolate brioche. More of the traditional gin notes then come through, with dry juniper, angelica, and some citrus. Finally, creamy berries.
Taste: This is quite a rich and full spirit, texture wise. There is juniper upfront, followed by a little pepper spice. This then makes way for luscious, rich and creamy vanilla notes and zesty citrus, followed by even more vanilla, a touch of chocolate, and a burst of berry notes from the blueberries. The finish is long and dry with a little citrus, pine, and some residual vanilla.

1 Sibling Chilled FINAL

From the Freezer
Served straight from the freezer, this gin has a pleasant thickness: a richer and more viscous texture. More of the dry notes of the gin come through and there’s a lovely finish of vanilla and berries with a slight sweetness, almost reminiscent of an Eton Mess. Very sippable and very tasty.

Over Ice
This is another pleasant way to sip the gin and a little ice melt certainly gives the spirit a silky texture. There’s dry spice upfront with notes of cinnamon, cassia and vanilla, before a slight zing of citrus, a hint of tart berry, and then a dry juniper and angelica finish.

IMG_3969

Gin Tonica
Beautiful: the grapefruit and vanilla combine to create a chord of chocolate notes that complement the complex flavours of the gin superbly. Engaging, unusual, and certainly one to convert anyone to the Spanish style Gin Tonica.

Gin & Tonic
Another lovely drink. The blueberry jamminess and vanilla add a confectionery element and helps the gin break through past some of the more cloying elements of some tonics. The rest of the flavour is wonderfully dry, with a lovely citrus finish fresh of lemon and orange.

1 Sibling Martini FINALMartini
Creamy and slightly sweet, with hints of berry, vanilla, and anise. Still, this is very clean and has a dry finish, although an initial, light, confectionery element sets this apart and makes it just as suitable as a post-dinner drink as an aperitif. Even Mrs B. (not usually much of a Martini fan) described this as “very drinkable”.

Negroni
This cocktail has a lovely flavour with plenty of chocolate and vanilla notes, before a dry and bitter finish with more earthy dark chocolate. It’s a smooth Negroni, which is in some ways smoother and lighter than many others, but, at the same time, it maintains the bitterness that you would expect from the drink.

Sibling French 75

French ‘75
Sibling Gin adds a subtle, but noticeable berry creaminess that works very well with the champagne. For this particular drink, I would dial back a little on the lemon juice so that the gin can come through a little more.

B1 Sibling Gin Berries FINALerry Muddler
[Muddle half a small handful of raspberries and blueberries in the bottom of a tumbler, add ice and 50ml of Sibling Gin. Stir and sip.]
A simple drink that’s as a sippable as a fruit smoothie. The blueberry works well with the blueberry and vanilla notes from the gin, and the raspberry adds a nice tartness that works well alongside the dryer botanical notes.

 

Sibling Gin is available to purchase from the Sibling Gin website for around £32 for 70cl.

Cocktails with… Twisted Nose – Watercress Gin from Winchester, UK

At February’s Gin Guild meeting at WSET, I met a distiller from the Winchester area who was creating a new gin using watercress as one of the botanicals. At yesterday’s Ginposium, he presented me with a finished bottle.

TwistedNoseGin FINAL

Twisted Nose Gin is bottled at 40% ABV and is distilled at the Winchester Distillery, where they use a vapour infusion chamber to extract the flavours from the botanicals. These include: juniper, angelica, coriander, grapefruit, orris, cassia bark, and fennel seed, plus two local botanicals from Hampshire: lavender and watercress.

The watercress – or, in Latin, Nasturtium, which means “twisted nose” – is a speciality of North Hampshire, where the mineral-rich spring water provides excellent growing conditions.

On its own

Nose: Intense and spicy, with leafy pepper and a mixture of sweet fennel and lavender.
Taste: This is very soft spirit, but with a good level of flavour intensity. There’s some sweet spiciness from the fennel, as well as aromatic floral notes from the lavender. These are followed by notes of juniper, angelica, and then a green, leafy lusciousness with a hint of pepper spice. There are notes of grapefruit on the finish, which is long and zesty.

Gin & Tonic
Very, very clean; exceptionally so. It makes the Schweppes seem more like soda water with a dash of cinchona bitters than a sweet mixer, so there’s lots of potential for use with sweet American tonic waters. Once again, there are notes of sweet fennel, a light touch of lavender, and a leafy crispness. Herbal and very refreshing.

Martini
Very herbal, with quite a lot of black-liquorice-like notes that seem to strike a chord between lavender and fennel. This cocktail is very aromatic and has a little sweetness to it, but is fresh, too, with a little spice at the end. All-in-all, a good example of a contemporary gin Martini.

Negroni
A particularly herbal and smooth Negroni. I often think that lavender can work well with Campari and red vermouth, and Twisted Nose is no exception. The citrus of the gin is clear on the finish, which – along with the Campari’s bitterness – gives the drink a lively zestiness.

DTS and Paul Bowler

DTS with Winchester Distillery Founder & Distiller Paul Bowler at the Gin Guild Ginposium

In Conclusion
It is great to see UK Craft Distillers embracing all aspects of the gin character spectrum; Twisted Nose is flying the flag for British contemporary gins. This has a exceptionally well-integrated flavour profile with the signature botanicals shining through. My favourite drink was the superb Gin & Tonic.

Twisted Nose Gin is available for around £30 for 500ml from www.twistednose.co.uk.
Follow Twisted Nose on Twitter – @twistednosegin
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Cocktails with… Shortcross Gin – from Northern Ireland

Last October, I helped to organise London’s first Craft Distilling Expo in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. As part of this, I held spirits drop-in sessions with aspiring gin distillers to discuss their ideas and products one-on-one. One of my appointments was with a couple from Northern Ireland who were making Northern Ireland’s first craft gin. I was delighted to see the same couple, Fiona & David Boyd-Armstrong, when I held similar drop-in sessions at the recent ADI Conference in Seattle; this time, however, their gin was finished.

ShortCross Gin

Shortcross Gin is made at the Rademon Estate Distillery near Downpatrick, south of Belfast in, Northern Ireland. With an NGS wheat spirit base, bottled at 46.0% ABV, the gin uses water drawn from the estate’s own well and a botanical mix that includes:

Juniper
Coriander
Lemon
Orange
Cassia
Fresh apple
Elderberry
Wild clover

On its own
Nose: Rich and fruity, almost like a hedgerow in bloom with a mix of berries, leafy herbal and floral notes. This is followed by slight vanilla creaminess and citrus, reminding me of lemon shortbread.
Taste: Mouth-filling texture and pretty smooth for 46% ABV. Coriander and citrus upfront, followed by a little berry sweetness and then the more complex floral and herbal notes, part of which is from the clover; then juniper and angelica, mixed with spice, before a long, lingering, dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
Fragrant and herbal with lavender and heather, as well as bright citrus. A good, bold flavour that should stand up well to most tonics. There are also some complex flavours with a collection of floral and herbal notes, and juicy berry before a dry, crisp and refreshing finish.

Martini
A little inviting vanilla on the nose, leading you a lovely, clean Martini with a good level of botanical intensity. Some lovely, fresh, leafy, green herbal notes, as well as a touch of sweet spice and a dry citrus finish.

ShortCross Negroni

Negroni
This is an earthy and bitter Negroni, with plenty of gentian and dark chocolate flavours on the finish. Despite the strong Campari flavours, the gin’s character is still discernable, thanks in part to the strength (46% ABV), providing dry flavours of juniper and angelica with floral, spice and herbal notes, too.

In Conclusion
Shortcross Gin is one of those spirits that is simply a pleasure to review; each drink was delicious and revealed different aspects of the gin’s character. I like that the signature botanicals are discernible, but not overpowering, and that they work well with the more classic ingredients. I liked all of the drinks that I tried, but, on balance, I have to say that the Gin & Tonic was my favourite.

Ireland have started off their 21st century gin distilling in fine style.

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Cocktails with… Sipsmith VJOP #2

Today’s gin review is something a bit special not currently available in the UK but from a brand familiar and well-loved by most of our readers. The brand is Sipsmith the gin is Sipsmith VJOP (Very Juniper Over Proof). Designed for the Japanese market this second batch is bottled at 52.0% ABV (the first was at 47.7%ABV) and the balance of the ten botanicals have been tweaked Juniper an Angleica have been dialled up to make a bolder, dryer gin; such was the demand from the Japanese market.
Own
nose: Bold, green, vibrant juniper
taste: juniper, angelica and coriander up front and rather smooth initially with a building warmth and a little lemon on the finish. A very classic style that has a lot of mixing potential.

SipsmithVJOP

Gin & Tonic
A big bold gin and tonic with plenty of juniper, followed by citrus and the some sweeter elements like cinnamon nutmeg almost cardamom-like (not that there is any cardamom in there). For fans of navy strength type gins and tonic (I am firmly in that camp) this will be bliss.
Martini
Very classic, with juniper and a little spice. Works very well with a twist of lemon as a garnish although it is a rather potent cocktail but, serve ice cold a good aperitif.
Negroni

Excellent, broad and big flavours that stand up well to the red vermouth and Campari – this is pretty close to a Negroni lovers dream. Superb balance of bitter, sweet and juniper dry. This strong drink would be just right before a meal.
In Conclusion
I’m on record as liking high-strength gins and Sipsmith VJOP is no exception, it’s good on it;s own but excels in mixed drink especially the gin and tonic and Negroni

Cocktails with… C.O.L.D. (City of London Distillery) Gin with a Bonus Irish Gin review

COLD Gin Title

Continuing our series on UK Craft Gins, today’s focus is on a new distillery in the City of London. For those not familiar with the make-up of Europe largest metropolitan area, London is not just one city, but the combination of two cities and boroughs. One of the cities is the City of Westminster, where Parliament sits; the other is the City of London, also known as the square-mile, which is the financial heart of the Capital and includes St. Paul’s Cathedral. Just a stone’s throw from this architectural masterpiece by Sir Christopher Wren lies C.O.L.D. (City of London Distillery).

C.O.L.D. Gin is made by Master Distiller Jamie Baxter (who used to work at Chase), who also consults independently for aspiring distillers. The gin is bottled at 40% ABV and contains the following seven botanicals:

Juniper
Coriander Seed
Angelica Root
Liquorice Root
Lemon
Orange
Pink Grapefruit

COLD Gin FINAL

#1 On its own
Nose: Plenty of creamy citrus, a bit like lemon curd, as well as juniper and coriander.
Taste: Smooth and well-rounded, with juniper, coriander, citrus and a hint of raisin at the end. Very well-balanced, with plenty of citrus with a slightly sweet “lift” on the finish.

#2 Gin & Tonic
Bold flavours with lots of dry juniper, lemon and a hint of vanilla and citrus from the pink grapefruit. Quite citrusy, zesty, bold and refreshing.

#3 Martini
Very classic: quite crisp, with lots of citrus and dry juniper. As you drink more, the lemon comes through more strongly, so there’s no need for a twist, but an olive may work well.

#4 Negroni
Quite sweet, actually, with a snug smoothness. It seems quite soft, although there’s still a substantial shard of bitterness, thanks to the Campari at the end. A soft start, with a wild finish.

In Conclusion
This is a rather classic gin that is obviously well made and work particularly well in long drinks like the Gin Collins (my favourite) and the gin and tonic. There are plans to release a “Square Mile Gin” bottled at a higher ABV and I look forward to trying that.

But wait, there’s more!

On a recent trip to Shebeen, The Poitin Bar in Kentish Town, with Dave Mulligan, Louis Lebaillif and Michael Vachon of Master of Malt, I got the chance to try an Irish Craft Gin, probably the first I have tried: Dingle Gin.

Dingle Irish Craft Gin

Dingle Gin is made at the Dingle Whiskey Distillery in County Kerry, Ireland. It is made with a variety of botanicals, including: Juniper, Angelica, Coriander, Rowan, Fuschia, Bog Myrtle, Heather and Hawthorn.

#1) On its own:
Nose: Juniper, coriander and lime.
Taste: Quite smooth, with lots of coriander, followed by a dry, slightly spicy finish. This gin has both some sweetness and some culinary appeal to it, and should make some interesting cocktails.

#2) Gin & Tonic
Very clean, with lots of coriander and citrus, making this a fresh and crisp drink. Another dimension is then added to the drink with notes of lavender, spice and a long, dry finish.