Cocktails with… Fremont Mischief Gin from Seattle

One of the few places that I have visited more than once in the US is the north-west city of Seattle; in fact, I once visited it twice in as many months. The city is a hub of distilling and some superb distilleries are located there. Examples include: Copperworks, Sun Liquor, Sound Spirits, and, of course, who could forget the fantastic Captive Spirits, producers of BIG Gin.

Fremont Mischief Distillery is located in Canal Street, where they make a range of spirits, from vodka to whiskey and, of course, gin. Fremont Mischief Gin is bottled at 40.0% ABV.

Fremont Mischief Gin - FINAL

On its own
Nose: Zesty citrus and fresh, aromatic spice: coriander, nutmeg, and cassia.
Taste: Vibrant, with more spice upfront, then piney juniper that leads onto bright citrus. Hints of violet precede a dry, slightly bitter, finish.

Gin & Tonic
A brilliant drink with a charming interplay between juniper-jelly and spice. There are vibrant cassia, luscious citrus, and wonderful cardamom notes, too. Fantastic!

Martini
Silky smooth – a luxurious texture – with a variety of spice: cardamom, cassia, & nutmeg. Bright pine needle notes follow, making this a really lovely drink.

Negroni
Fremont Mischief Gin makes a particularly spicy Negroni, with the sweeter notes of the gin and vermouth neatly balanced by the bitterness of Campari.

In Conclusion
As is evident from the tasting notes, I think that Fremont Mischief is a pretty fantastic gin. It is full of flavour and has a variety of botanical nuances: citrus, herbs, spice. The result is a sippable and very mixable gin. My favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic.

Cocktails with… Dancing Trees Gin – from Ohio

Dancing Trees Gin is made by the Dancing Trees Distillery (now know as Fifth Elements Distillery) in Meigs County, Ohio. The distillery was founded by Kelly Sauber in 2011, who started off twenty years earlier as a home-brewer. They currently make a gin, two vodkas (one grain-based, one grape-based), and a coffee liqueur, and they are passionate about using local ingredients.

The gin is made using Spicebush Berries and Organic Rosehip as part of its botanical mix, has a grain spirit base, and is bottled at 40%ABV.

Dancing Tree Distillery

The Taste

On its own
Nose: Grain notes, as well a hint of grape and pear. There’s also a vanilla sweetness, followed by dry pine.
Taste: Smooth and thick, with a silky mouthfeel, notes of dry almond and apple/pear come through, mixed in with a restrained sweetness. There’s a hint of coriander accompanying the juniper notes, before a long finish that fluctuates between sweet and dry apple notes and some nuttiness. All-in-all, complex and engaging.

Gin & Tonic
Very dry, with notes of almond, pear, and pine. Despite the dryness, there is a confectionery aspect to the drink, somewhat reminiscent of a pear and almond tart, but it isn’t too sweet. Rather unusual, but nonetheless clean and refreshing.

Martini
Herbal coriander comes through on the nose. To taste, there are flavours of juniper and dry apples (like Calvados), plus a little coriander and fennel, and a dark, sweet treacle note, which results in the cocktail being slightly reminiscent of dark naval rum. The finish is long and bitter.

Negroni
Great – not too sweet and not too bitter, with pine notes accompanied by chocolate and a light nuttiness. All of the flavours are well-balanced, making it a real treat to drink. There’s little more to say, except that I am impressed and this is a sound drink.

In Conclusion
Dancing Trees Gin is a dry gin with a good deal of fruitiness to it that brings some different and unexpected flavours to familiar cocktails. My favourite drink was the Negroni.

Cocktails with… Bristow Gin (from Mississippi)

In exchange for his granddaughter’s hand in marriage, a curious young bloke presented his new grandfather-in-law, Judge, with a bottle of gin. The gin was triple distilled with a curious blend of spices. The Judge was tickled by the gin and insisted his grandson-in-law provide him with a regular allocation of the toothsome spirit. With that encouraging nod, Bristow Gin was born and went on to live most happily ever after.

1) On its own
Nose: Juniper and citrus, with a touch of floral coriander charm.
Taste: Initially, spicy coriander that then moves aside for the juniper, some citrus peel, more coriander and then spicy, spicy cardamom. Fantastic.

2) Gin & Tonic
A Gin & Tonic definitely of the classic style, only with more citrus – lemon and orange – and a bit of sweet spice on the finish. Piney juniper gives the drink a very dry, slightly bitter, finish. Additionally, there’s a nice dose of cardamom at the end. This is my sort of drink.

3) Martini
Initially crisp, with lots of juniper and touch of bitterness provided by some notes of dark chocolate. The finish is soft, with spicy cardamom, which makes for a rather lovely combination of flavours and textures. Beautiful.

4) Negroni
Another classic Negroni; the balance of the three ingredients and flavour components – bitter/sweet/dry (juniper) – is just so. This is very clean and easy-to-drink, with a just touch of vanilla in the middle. I think this would be signed-off perfectly with a sliver of citrus peel. Very pleasing.

In Conclusion
What can I say? Bristow Gin is a gem in the crown of American Gin and fully embraces the heritage and tradition of Gin whilst also bringing something new to the table. This is a real Transatlantic Gin; another Cary Grant for the Gin world. I find it almost impossible to pick my favourite drink with it, but I am rarely so impressed with a Martini these days, so that will be today’s highlight.

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… BIG Gin from Washington

~Introduction~

When I first tried BIG Gin, over two years ago, I was blown away – it ticked all the boxes and mixed well in so many drinks – such was my excitement about telling people about the gin it turns out that I never actually posted the review, despite having written it – sincere apologies to Ben, Holly and all the BIG family. The good thing about this is that I have had the chance to try the gin time after time again and my opinion hasn’t changed. I have re-read and re-tasted the gin – made the odd tweak here and there but largely my conclusions remain the same.

~

You have probably picked up that a few weeks back I embarked in the wholesome project of trying to taste as many gin, each distilled in a separate US state as possible with my US counterpart Aaron of TheGinIsIn (America’s Gin website).

He’s written a rather good round-up of the event here. But has kindly omitted my favourite, which I shall look at, in detail, today.

The gin in question is BIG Gin from Washington State.

Big Gin Final

Big Gin is made by Captive Spirits of Ballad (North-west of Central Seattle) and their master distiller is a third-generation distiller. BIG Gin is designed as an Old World (or Classic) style of gin; that said the text on the bottle and some of the racy cocktails subtlety hint at touch of intrigue behind the products design.

Rarely do I comment on packaging (we almost all about taste here at SummerFruitCup) but I do really like the bottle of BIG Gin. Whilst the actually glass is relatively standard (but comfortable to handle) the labelling (a mix of very light green and black) has elegance and grace and reminds of the Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling.

The BIG gin is made with corn neutral grain spirit and contains a mix of 9 botanicals:

On its own
Nose: Bright, fresh citrus notes upfront, mixed with coriander, a little vanilla, and then a little menthol and black pepper.
Taste: A good amount of spiciness – cinnamon and cardamom – that moves onto juniper and angelica. Then, like the nose, there is some bright citrus, before a dry finish with hints of pepper and menthol from the Grains of Paradise and Tasmanian Pepperberry.

Gin & Tonic
A spicy little number, with its fair share of zesty citrus. This is fresh and full of flavours that come together in rather a saucy way. After the ice has melted a tad, this reaches the spot that some drinks miss. It’s delightfully satisfying, with excellent balance, making you reach for another as soona s this one is gone!

Martini
Pure and crisp, as a Martini should be, but also full of flavour. There is a lovely harmony between the piney juniper and the menthol notes. A little citrus also pops up in the middle, followed by a long, dry finish with a touch of vanilla.

Negroni
The first thing that I notice is a lovely dark chocolate flavour that is followed by some of the richer spice of the gin botanicals such as cardamom. There is then some bitter citrus and the more herbal bitterness of the Campari, which matches well with the pepper/menthol notes. As you drink, a dry, piney juniper note builds, along with a touch of the more floral angelica.

This is a drink that I can easily savour again and again, and that is ready to reveal new characteristics with slight modifications of garnish or vermouth.

In Conclusion
Big Gin is a superb spirit and quickly becoming a firm favourite across the US and far beyond. It adds it’s own charcater to each drink it’s mixed in whilst holding to true to gin routes. My favourite drink is the Negroni, fantastico.

Cocktails with Bummer & Lazarus Dry Gin

I recently reviewed the British Chilgrove Gin which was the first in the UK to be distilled using Grape Neutral Spirit so it was great to try a comparative product from California.

Bummer & Lazarus Dry Gin is distilled at the Raff Distillerie on Treasure Island, San Francisco, California. they also make an Absinthe (also base of grape spirit), and are working on a Rum Agricole and a Bourbon.

http://www.raffdistillerie.com/gin.html

Bummer & Lazarus Dry Gin – http://www.raffdistillerie.com/gin.html

The gin is named after two dogs that roamed the streets of San Francisco in the mid 19th century. The grape neutral spirit is sourced from 100% Californian grapes and this is then re-distilled with a selection of botanicals including:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Lemon
Orange
Orris
Cinnamon
Liquorice

The Taste

Own
nose: very very fruity; the base spirit is quite evident on the nose with orange and some broader chocolate notes as well as fennel and a touch of dry juniper.
taste: a very smooth texture, as you may expect from a grape spirit base. There is a rich plump fruitiness with coriander, orange and grapefruit citrus. A touch of coconut and a hint of pine precede a long dry fruity finish with a pleasant warmth.

Gin & Tonic
A very fruity gin and tonic full of plump grapes as well as crisp green apple and pear notes and a little sweetness – the drink is reminiscent of apple jelly or jam. For a garnish I think the crispness of lime contrasts well with the more confectionery elements of the gin.

Martini
As a diamond-method Martini I think this really works, lots of the pear and apple fruity notes come through as well as some sweetness followed by plump, luscious grape flavours. There is bright juniper, coriander, citrus and spice. A very clean and silky Martini with both the flavour and texture of the base spirit coming through.

Negroni
Very fruity with a smooth succulence courtesy of the grape spirit there are hints of pear and almond too, slightly reminiscent of a bakewell tart. After these flavours, the herbal elements of the vermouth become more pronounced followed by the herbal bitterness of the Campari. A full-bodied drink, with bitterness. Overall it is quite well-rounded.

 

Cocktails with Sun Liquor Gins – from Seattle, USA

Hedgetrimmer GIn Title

Seattle is a hotbed of distilling at the moment, with gin-making distilleries scattered throughout. One that was a mere stone’s throw from our hotel was Sun Liquor (another being Copperworks). Sun Liquor has a bar attached to their distillery, where they currently make two gins, a vodka, and two rums.

Today’s focus is on the unusually named Hedgetrimer Gin. Why Hedgetrimer? My understanding is that the flavours of the gin somewhat evoke the scents and flavours of a hedgerow, with its mix of leafy green herbal and rich fruit notes.

The gin is bottled at 42.0% ABV and is made using a mix of 9 botanicals. The base spirit is in-house using unmalted (non-GMO) organic wheat. The spirit is twice distilled in Scottish copper pot stills and, after the initial distillation, the botanicals are rested for 24 hours.

The nine botanicals include:
Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Fresh lemon peel
Fresh orange peel
Grains of Paradise
Sarsaparilla root
Cannonball watermelons rind

On its own
Nose: Soft pine juniper, a little saltiness and other savoury, herbal notes such as black pepper. Then coriander and fresh citrus.
Taste: Plenty of coriander followed by angelica, pine and citrus. This has a smooth, creamy texture, with warmth towards the end. A pretty classic gin with good balance.

Gin & Tonic
The Hedgetrimer Gin & Tonic is, as you might imagine from the name, piney and zesty. It’s quite a classic style, with a good amount of dryness, but refreshing, too, and the gin stands up well to the tonic. Lemon would be my garnish of choice.

Martini
A smooth Martini, with lots of juniper. This is a really good example of a dry Martini with lots of flavour; after the dry juniper and pine, there is a little citrus and spice.

Negroni
A simple and straightforward Negroni, but one that ticks all of the boxes. Smooth, with a bitter-sweet finish.

GunClub Gin Title

The gin is bottled at 50.0% ABV and is made using a mix of 13 botanicals. The base spirit is made in-house using unmalted (non-GMO) organic wheat. The spirit is twice distilled in Scottish copper pot stills and, after the initial distillation, the botanicals are rested for 48 hours.

Botanicals include:

Juniper Berries
Coriander Seed
Angelica Root
Fresh Orange Peel
Orris Root
Cassia Bark
Birch Leaves
Fresh organic Cranberries

Gun Club Gin Bottle

 

On its own
Nose: A crisp nose of juniper and lime.
Taste: Bold in flavour and with little burn, this has notes of angelica and juniper, followed by sweet spice, such as cassia, and then some floral notes: violet and hibiscus. The dry finish is of coriander and bright and zesty citrus.

Gin & Tonic
Bold flavours, with plenty of spice, especially cassia and cardamom. This is followed by dry, citrus and juniper, plus softer angelica notes. Definitely a punchy, quaffable, and delicious drink!

Martini
Superb – everything I look for in a Martini: powerful and chilling, and a cocktail that that really wakes you up. There’s a symphony of botanical flavours with a good juniper solo, a citrus and herbal chorus, and a finish that lasts, just like a great tune that’s stuck in your head. Excellent.

Negroni
A very solid Negroni, although maybe a little sweeter, spicier, and creamier than many others. There’s a good bitterness on the finish, making this a first-class Negroni with flair.

Cocktails with… Spirits Works Gin

Spirit Works Gin Title

I’ve often written about the renaissance of craft distilling in the US, but the availability of these products has always been rather limited. However, last week, a new gin brand arrived in the UK, being imported from America by GX Spirits.

That brand is Spirit Works, out of Sebastopol, north of San Francisco, California.

Spirit Works was founded by husband and wife team, Timo & Ashby Marshall. Timo originally hails from England, whilst Ashby is a native of the Pacific West Coast.

Their current range includes a gin, a vodka, and the only US sloe gin made in the traditional, English style.

SpiritWorksGin

Batch 004 from November 15, 2013 – you can check out when your batch comes from on the Spirit Works website.

The gin is made using an organic, Californian wheat base, which is milled, mashed, fermented and distilled on-site at the distillery. It is bottled at 43.0% ABV and contains a proprietary botanical blend of traditional and Californian botanicals, including:

Juniper
Coriander
Angelica
Citrus
Cardamom

On its own
Nose: Juniper with hint of lemon and vanilla.
Taste: Juniper and spice up-front, which moves onto a stronger pine flavour intermingled with a sweet breadiness with a touch of fennel or caraway. There’s also bright citrus and a little pepper towards the end. A good, solid dry gin with a little transatlantic flair. Very nice to sip neat, on the rocks, or from the freezer.

Gin & Tonic
Fruity, with notes of vanilla and a dry, refreshing finish with a lot of flavour. Classic, with a creamy twist. I am reminded of jelly and ice-cream, but by no means in a bad way; the drink is not overly sweet and has a dry finish. My advice: try one.

Martini
This cocktail has a lovely interplay of flavours between dryness and crispness. The juniper is certainly there, as well as dry floral and citrus notes that work well with the vermouth, but be careful not to put too much in. Just before the finish there is a burst of plumy fruit, which stops the drink from becoming too arid. The finish is long, lingering and dry and, as it fades, you are more than inclined to take another sip.

Negroni
Lovely nose – some hints of vanilla and cinnamon, like homemade custard. The taste is even better, just superb – a lovely interplay of flavours between the spicy botanicals, dry botanicals, and its sweeter elements. Complex, intense and a delight to drink.

Spirit Works, Website, Twitter, Facebook, UK Distributor.

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.. 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