Cocktails with… Bellewood Gin

With the rise of craft and micro-distillers comes an increased desire to innovate and experiment in search of a gin that breaks boundaries and sets itself apart from the crowd. An increasingly popular way of doing this is to use a non-typical base spirit (i.e. not Neutral Grain Spirit). Often, the base spirit used is inspired by what grows around the distillery and one such example is apples. There are apple base spirits in use throughout the US and the William Case Gin of the UK also uses an apple base.

Bellewood Gin

Today’s focus is on another gin with an apple base spirit, named Bellewood Gin from Lynden, in the North of the state of Washington. Bellewood Gin’s apple spirit base is made from a blend of 21 varieties of apples, primarily Jonagold and Jonamac, but generally a mix, depending on the harvest. Its seven botanicals are vapour infused using a gin basket in a Vendome still and include:

Juniper
Coriander
Cinnamon
Angelica root
Cardamon
Orange peel
Lemon peel

On its own
Nose: Spiced apple with juniper, angelica, and some lovely, warm spiced notes: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cassia, as well as fruity raisin. Warm and inviting.
Taste: A lovely, smooth spirit with the apple working well with the dry botanicals (juniper, angelica); this is then balanced out by some of the sweet, baking spice notes, which are somewhat reminiscent of an apple crumble or baked apple.

Gin & Tonic
The base comes through strongly, giving a dry apple flavour that’s followed by a flair of gingerbread spice, although this is slightly more subtle than the flavours of the gin on its own. The finish is dry, with some bitterness from the quinine and juniper that stops the drink from becoming too sweet.

Martini
A spicy Martini with citrus (orange and lemon) and spice, including cinnamon, nutmeg, cassia, and even a hint of vanilla. It’s a little like some kind of cinnamon bread, but one that is, thankfully, not too sweet. All-in-all, this is a smooth and viscous Martini that I’d happily have again.

Negroni
Another delightful Bellewood drink. This is full of fresh, crisp apple notes, as well as piney juniper and cinnamon spice, which work well with the cocktail’s other ingredients to create a tasty drink that’s full of flavour.

In Conclusion
Bellewood is an exemplary example of an apple-based gin. Depending upon how it’s mixed, different aspects of the spirit came through – a sign of good gin. My favourite cocktail was the Martini.

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Cocktails with Genius Navy Strength Gin

A few weeks back, I reviewed Genius Gin from Texas, courtesy of a sample provided by Aaron from TheGinIsIn.com (America’s Gin website). Today, I am reviewing Genius Gin Navy Strength after the folk at Genius Distillery were kind enough to send me a bottle.

Genius Gin Navy FINAL

On its own
Nose: Clean, with a little sweetness that comes from the can base spirit; it is almost reminiscent of a white rum. There is also a little creamy spice, followed by dry citrus.
Taste: A full flavour, with a rich mouthfeel. Initially, there’s a thick, creamy sweetness, which moves to some of the more traditional gin flavours: juniper, angelica and coriander. There is then a touch of spice, before a powerful, long and lingering, dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
A flavoursome Gin & Tonic, with coriander and some sweetness, as well as hints of nut, almond and fresh, crisp pear. A powerful and very refreshing drink – lime would be my choice of garnish. Lovely.

Martini
A smooth and silky Martini with a little sweetness but then also some dry fruit and nuttiness that provides a slight hint of bitterness. There are also some earthy herbal elements which I think means the gin could easily lend itself to an olive garnish, although both lemon peel or a Dickens serve (no olive or twist) work well, too. The botanical flavours are there, but this is certainly less intense than a Martini made with a very traditional gin like Tanqueray. Pretty good stuff.

Negroni
A powerful drink, with the extra ABV providing a bolder botanical flavour that has plenty of juniper and citrus, as well as some dark chocolate and intense, bitter, herbal elements towards the end. The finish is long, dry and lingering.

Gimlet

A clean drink with plenty of vanilla and lime – clean, crisp and a lovely example of a more contemporary twist in the Gimlet – smooth without being overly cloying.

In Conclusion
Genius Navy Gin is a great example of how the ABV can impact upon the flavour of a spirit and is a good illustration of the different characteristics that a Navy Gin can add to drinks when mixing. My favourite drink was the Negroini.

Cocktails with… Genius Gin – from Texas!

Genius Gin TITLE

A few years back, we tried our first gin from Texas. I‘m not sure why, but a gin from the lone-star state really excited me and I was thrilled to try it. As a result, I think it’s superb that this was not a one-off and that more gins are coming out of Texas.

Today’s focus is on Genius Gin and comes courtesy of Aaron J. Knoll Esq. of theGinIsIn.com and is part of the International Gin Exchange.

Thanks to Aaron of TheGinIsIjn.com for the Sample and the Picture

Thanks to Aaron of TheGinIsIjn.com for the Sample and the Picture

Genius Gin is made by Genius Distillery in Austin,Texas. It is distilled from scratch, with the base spirits being fermented and distilled from sugar cane. The botanical mix is separated into two groups: the first group (including elderflower, lavender, lime peel, and angelica root) is macerated for 72 hours in the spirit, before being re-distilled in a pot still; the second group (including juniper, coriander and cardamom) are placed in a vapour infusion basket, which the distillate from the initial maceration passes through.

The final product is bottled at 45% ABV, although the distillers also make a Navy Strength version, bottled at 57% ABV.

Genius, on its own
Nose: A mix of pine, nuttiness and then coriander, moving towards some dry confectionary notes like milk, chocolate, and even a touch of coconut.
Taste: This has an excellent texture that fills your mouth and is smooth. The initial flavour is juicy, with a distinct fruitiness, followed by dry juniper and then more dry notes of pear and cherry.

Genius Gin & Tonic
A particularly clean Gin & Tonic, with hints of dry almond and pear coming through, as well as a little sappy pine. Refreshing and enjoyable.

Genius Martini
Some rich, creamy, woody flavours are combined with spice and dry juniper, as well hints of citrus and other fruit. The flavours of the gin really complement those of the dry vermouth, creating another crisp, refreshing and invigorating drink.

Genius Negroni
This chills down really nicely and there is a lovely interplay between the dry gin, the sweet and herbal vermouth, and the bitter and herbal Campari. A very good standard of Negroni that would make a great pre-dinner cocktail.

In Conclusion
I really enjoyed the balanced mix of flavours in Genius Gin. It’s a gin that will appeal to those who like a more contemporary style of gin; however, it is close enough to the more traditional styles that there is something to be enjoyed by your everyday gin drinker, too. My choice for top drink was tricky today, but I’ll plump for the Martini.

 Follow Genius Gin on Twitter @geniusliquids

www.geniusliquids.com

Cocktails with… Las Vegas Gin

Nevada Gin Title

In my quest to try a gin distilled in each state of the USA (plus the District of Colombia), it is now easier to tell which states still evade me:

Alabama
Arizona
Connecticut
Florida
Hawaii
Maryland
Nebraska
New Jersey
North Dakota
South Dakota
Oklahoma
Rhode Island
Tennessee
Utah
Wyoming
Nevada

This weekend, I could finally tick the Silver State off my list. The gin that I’m looking at today comes from the Las Vegas Distillery, located in Henderson, just outside of Las Vegas.

I have already tried their excellent vodka, which is made from a blend of seven different grains (wheat, millet, rye, spelt, corn, oat, and malted barley), and so was understandably keen to try their gin, which is distilled from grain and bottled at 45.0% ABV.

A bottle of gin distilled in Las Vegas

THE TASTE

On its own
Nose: Quite dry, with chocolate and vanilla notes, as well as coriander, fennel and lemon verbena.
Taste: A smooth liquid, with clear juniper upfront, followed by a smoky middle, somewhat reminiscent of tequila or mezcal. Finally, there is a sweet confectionery lift, with a little dark chocolate cream.

Gin & Tonic
The tequila notes I have hinted to are well-pronounced when the gin is mixed with tonic, making this seem like a gin/tequila/tonic hybrid. There is still some dryness towards the end, along with a little citrus. Given the unusual flavour profile, lime seems to be the best choice for the garnish. All-in-all, this is a refreshing and original drink.

Martini
A fine, dry Martini with quite lot of spice, fennel, coriander, and liquorice. These notes are then followed by some smokiness towards the end, which is neatly combined with the dryness. Given that this is a little more savoury than most Martinis, I think it would work well with an olive garnish.

Negroni
A rather wild Negroni: smoky and dry, with plenty of spice and a hint of agave. Certainly a more contemporary take on the drink, but an excellent and flavourful one, nonetheless.

From the Freezer
Viscous and rather lovely; a smoky, almost salty character develops at low temperature, followed by juniper and a little dry citrus on the finish. Very intriguing and a treat to sip.

In Conclusion
This gin is very good and is one of the most original and engaging dry gins that I have tried for a while. It mixed well in all of the drinks mentioned above, but the Martini was my favourite. I’m very keen to find out more about how it is made.

Cocktails with.. Greyling Gin

Greyling Gin Header

I like gin from Michigan; mostly because I’ve never had a bad one and so, now, whenever I see a mention of the Great Lakes state on a bottle, as  with Two Bird Artisan Spirit’s Greyling Gin, my expectations are raised.

That said, I soon discovered that this particular gin is currently being made by experienced distillers Yahara Bay in Madison, Wisconsin. They also make Yahara Bay Gin and used to make Death’s Door. I’m sure that, if all goes well, like with Death’s Door, Greyling may fly the roost and set up shop on their own.

For clarity’s sake, I think that it’s great that there is such a range of variety options for people who want to make good quality gin. The tens of thousands of dollars (or pounds) of investment, not to mention the time, needed makes making spirits from scratch out of the reach of many individuals. As always, the most important point is that you design/produce a product that tastes great.

Greyling Modern Dry Gin c/o TheGinIsIn.com

Greyling Modern Dry Gin c/o TheGinIsIn.com

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Classic and straightforward: bright, green, sappy juniper to start, which then softens to a less sharp citrus – lemon and grapefruit mainly, with a hint of lemon pith in particular.
Taste: Pretty classic, rather vibrant, some spicy coriander notes upfront as well as anise or maybe fennel. A citrus (grapefruit, orange) and coriander middle and the a dry juniper finish. Some sweetness throughout almost reminiscent of a fine orange liqueur. Most sippable.

Gin & Tonic
Greyling makes a crisp, citrusy and flavourful Gin & Tonic. There’s also a little vanilla, combined with notes of lemon curd, as well as some dry pine. Overall, this is a very accessible and tasty drink and exceptionally refreshing.

Martini
Great – another clean and crisp drink, with clean, pine-y juniper followed by some lovely rounded-out notes of sweet rose, somewhat reminiscent of Turkish Delight. Classic, but with a twist – very good, indeed. This cocktail also has a lovely texture and is something that I would happily drink again.

Negroni
A fine Negroni if ever there was one; a great bitter-sweet balance and quite a thick texture, as well as juniper and citrus notes. Nothing outrageous or out-of-the-box; just a good, solid drink.

 

Greyling Gin is available for around $28  for 750ml from InternetWines.com

Cocktails with… Aria Gin from Oregon, USA!

AriaGinTitle

When a gin makes a name for itself well beyond the shore of its production, then you need to sit up and take notice and the biggest gin that I had heard people talking about (that I hadn’t tried) recently has been Aria. As a result, I was delighted when, on a recent trip to the USA, I got the chance to try some.

Aria, hailing from Portland Oregon is made at the Bull Run distillery by the Martin Ryan Distilling Company. On their website, they say:

Aria Portland Dry Gin is a Classic Gin the bridges the gap between London Dry and Plymouth Styles.” *

Tasting the gin, it certainly has a lot of classic elements going on: juniper upfront and some coriander, but there’s also a really pleasant softness that’s somewhat reminiscent of Plymouth English Gin.

AriaGin

Bottled at 45% ABV, Aria uses a mix of 10 botanicals:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Lemon
Orange
Orris
Cardamom
Cassia
Grains of Paradise
Cubeb Berries

On it’s own
Nose: Coriander with some floral notes and some savoury, herbal notes.
Taste: Juniper upfront, followed by spicy coriander and the some floral elements like violet or lavender. There’s also a long, piney citrus note with a little orange. This gin has a lovely texture, with a smooth sweetness throughout.

Gin & Tonic
A great, spicy nose is followed by some good spicy and herbal notes on the taste. It’s very smooth and has hints of cardamom and some nuttiness, as well as a citrus vanilla note towards the end. Rich, but not sickly. Choosing the right garnish, for me, would be tricky, but – overall – I think it has enough character to stand without one.

Martini
Some sweetness to start. This is very intense and herbal, with fresh pine needles coming through, along with the juicy juniper. This makes the way for hints of dark liquorice and anise. There are some good herbal and spicy elements, but plenty of juniper, too. Very well-balanced.

Negroni
A rich and viscous Negroni with a delightful bitter edge on the finish. The taste is bold, with citrus and floral flavours. It’s easy to drink, with hints of wood and pine mixed amongst those of the Campari and vermouth. Really excellent; one for the aficionado.

In Conclusion
I’ve wanted to try Aria Gin for a while and, to my mind, it was well worth the wait. I’m a big fan of contemporary styles of gin, which US Craft Distillers seem to excel at producing, but it’s nice to see that there are still some craftsmen making delicious gins in a more Classical style. Aria can hold its own against Britain’s finest, in my opinion. My favourite drink was the Negroni.

Check out Aria Gin:
Website
Twitter
Facebook

* Some may disagree, but I don’t think that Plymouth should be considered a style, because its categorization is simply a legal anomaly (a GI status, which would be unlikely to be granted today) and its distinction from other gins has nothing to do with how it tastes. The only impact that being made at its location has that makes a difference is the fact that it uses soft water from Dartmoor (although you could source this and ship it anywhere; your gin wouldn’t have to be made in Plymouth). The sweet and earthy flavour of Plymouth Gin, which I think is excellent, is to do with the choice and mix of its botanicals.

Cocktails with… Corsair Gin (from Kentucky)

CorsairTitle This gin should be of particular interest to anyone who is familiar with the excellent book, “Alt Whiskeys” by Darek Bell, as it is made by the author himself. The exact botanical make-up of Corsair remains undisclosed, but it does include the six stalwarts of gin botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Lemon, Orange and Orris. The spirit base of the gin is neutral grain spirit and the gin is make at Corsair’s Kentucky distillery (not the one in Tennessee). In addition to this American Gin, they make an Aged Gin and a Genever. CorsairGinBottle On its own

Nose: Buttery and herbal, with hints of gazpacho. In addition to pine, there are some herbal notes, such as thyme.

Taste: Really complex; a whole array of notes, including: tea, rosemary, mint, thyme, pickles, cucumber, broth, celery, vegetables, salad, soft bread. It is generally savoury, with a soup-like quality and juniper at the end.

Gin & Tonic

Juniper to start with, followed by a yeasty, bready finish. This is quite nice; a Gin & Tonic, but slightly reminiscent of a combination of white whiskey and tonic. There’s a good amount of bitterness and green, herbal notes.

Martini

This is probably the best way to drink the gin. It’s relatively clean and neutral, with some cardamom, as well a hint of tea and rosemary towards the end. This has the levels of smoothness usually associated with a Vodka Martini.

Negroni

OK, but the gin is less pronounced and almost lost in the mixture. The cocktail as a whole has a good balance and is pretty tasty all the same; it’s just that you can’t really appreciate the gin. A little  sweetness appears towards the end.

In Conclusion

Corsair Gin has a some interesting herbal and savoury notes to it, resulting in a spirit that lends itself well to certain cocktails (a Red Snapper seems an obvious example). Of those I tried, the Martini was my favourite drink.

United States of Gin will return in… Cocktails with… Ridge Distillery Silvertip American Gin from Montana