Cocktails with… Griffon Gin from Washington State, USA

Made at the Double V Distillery in Battle Ground Washington State, USA, Griffon Gin is grain-to-glass; that is, they distill the whole product themselves, including both the base spirit and the redistillation of botanicals.

The base is made using a mix of locally grown corn (80%) and barley, and their botanicals include juniper, coriander, and cardamom. It is bottled at 40.0% ABV.

Griffon Gin

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Creamy and sweet with a touch of stickiness to start, but then there are some dryer, floral (lavender) elements that are followed by stalky, vegetal notes. A tempting aroma that encourages you to take a sip.
Taste: Coriander and light citrus upfront, followed by spice (cardamom) and then some dryer notes. The spirit is relatively smooth, although there is some warmth, along with more citrus, on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
This is quite a sweet Gin & Tonic with a lots of spice; cardamom is the most dominant, but there is also ginger, cassia, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Citrus and a bit of dryness comes through at the end. Fresh and tasty.

Martini
Clean, with lovely pine notes and lots of spice. There are hints of cedar wood, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Very tasty and complex. Delicious.

Negroni
Another spicy cocktail, this time with some crisp, fresh notes, too. This is a well-integrated drink with a bitter finish, but one that is curbed slightly by the hints of cassia. Delightful – near perfect.

In Conclusion
Whilst Griffon is certainly a very spicy gin, the spice does not dominate the entirety of its character and other elements, such as the citrus and pine/juniper, add balance.

All of the drinks that I tried were excellent, but the Negroni just takes it for me.

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Cocktails with… Douglas Fir Gin

Anyone who is even slightly familiar with gin will be familiar with the connection between the spirit and the word “dry”. It is likely that this came about to distinguish a spirit from the opposite – in this case, “sweet” gin such as some Old Tom Gins – but, linguistically, the opposite of dry is also wet. Until recently, this was a label that had only been embraced by Beefeater Wet, but today’s gin is also described on the distillery website as “wet by definition”; the gin is Bainbridge Heritage Distillers Organic Douglas Fir Gin, which is bottled at 45.0%ABV.

Doug Fir Gin

This gin is made using American Wheat and a mix of 10 botanicals:
Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
2 types of citrus
Orris
Liquorice
Cardamom
Fennel Seed
Douglas Fir

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Vanilla, a light hint of cider vinegar and juniper.
Taste: This is a soft and well-rounded spirit with cinnamon and ginger upfront, before a gradually building chorus of juniper and vivid pine – all that you would imagine from a Douglas Fir Gin. Superb.

Gin & Tonic
A rich and silky drink – almost sappy in places – with complex flavours of pine and fir: juniper berries, pine needles, and pine cones. There are then some woody notes, a touch of cedar, and some warm spice such as cassia, anise, and fennel. Lovely.

Martini
A rather tasty mix of spiced vanilla and pine. Clean and very crisp, this has a simple, but pleasant flavour and a long, dry spice finish.

Negroni
A warm, cosy nose with hints of spiced pear. The cinnamon really comes through, mixed in with fresh, bursting juniper berries; although the bitterness from the Campari is curbed slightly, this is a really good drink and I could happily sip a number of these over an evening. Tip top.

In Conclusion
Douglas Fir Gin is really excellent and whilst it veers away from the classic dry style, the inclusion of the fir means that there are still plenty of rich, green, piney notes that will appeal to traditionalists. It is a gin that works well, both when served on its own and in cocktails, but, personally, I would prefer to just sip and enjoy the spirit unadulterated.

Cocktails with… Cutlers Gin

Today’s gin is from California, a powerhouse of American craft distilling. It is made by Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, which is based in Santa Barbara. In addition to their gin, they make a vodka, 33 Bourbon, Silver Whiskey, and Apple Pie Liqueur.

Cutlers Gin FINAL

Bottled at 46.0% ABV, Cutler’s Dry Gin is made using a botanical that includes:
Juniper
Angelica
Californian Citrus
Cardamom
Elderflower
Jasmin

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Very zesty, with lemon, citrus, vanilla, and spice.
Taste: Cardamom spice and citrus, followed by juniper and angelica. This is a warm spirit, but is by no means unrefined, and has a long, citrus finish.

Gin & Tonic
The flavour is full of citrus: lemon and lime; very fresh, with just a hint of cardamom spice. All in all, this is a lovely, refreshing drink that is full of personality.

Martini
This cocktail is a flavoursome drink, with lots of bold citrus. This is a great way to enjoy the strong citrus nature of the gin and no garnish is needed. Just superb!

Negroni
A vibrant and citrusy Negroni with bright cardamom as well. The gin’s flavour stands up well to the other ingredients and complements them, too, resulting in a pleasantly harmonious drink that is rounded off by a moderately bitter finish.

In Conclusion
Cutler’s Dry Gin is a lovely spirit; it has good balance and a complex character, with an excellent interplay between citrus, spice, and juniper. My favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic.

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.

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.

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www.geniusliquids.com