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.

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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… 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… 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

Cocktails with… River Rose Gin from Iowa

Image from TheGinIsIn.com

Image from TheGinIsIn.com

If you are looking for a gin from Iowa (the the state to join the Union), then I suggest you take a trip to LeClaire on the Mississippi River, where, fittingly, the Mississippi River Distilling Company make not only a gin, but River Pilot Vodka and River Baron White Whiskey. They also make a bourbon and a rye whiskey.

River Rose is a fictional 1920s lady who is the granddaughter of the River Baron (whom the bourbon is named after).

River Rose Gin is made from a corn-based spirit and contains 12 botanicals.

1) On its own
Nose: A touch of caraway, lots of orange, coriander seed and a leafy hint of lemon.
Taste: Caraway and creamy lemon, followed by a more floral citrus. Bitter and dry juniper pops up at the end, rather than the beginning, with a final fresh finish. This is a very pleasant drink to sip neat on its own.

2) Gin & Tonic
Grainy, with a fair bit of anise and cardamom, followed by a sweet breadiness and sweet liquorice. This is a very different sort of Gin & Tonic, mostly because of its sweetness; I think that a tonic like East India would work well with it, counteracting this. Not a bad Gin & Tonic, but your choice of mixer and garnish would make all the difference.

3) Martini
Lots of flavour: mostly caraway and lemon, it reminds me somewhat of a caraway vodka I had once from France. Delightfully smooth and rather raising to the appetite (I had to have a little nibble of something afterwards), making it perfect for the cocktail hour.

4) Negroni
Initially, there’s a lot of anise, as if the Negroni glass had been given an absinthe rinse (now there’s an idea!). In addition to this spice, there was also some cardamom. This is a very well-balanced drink and gained the greatest endorsement of all – Mrs. B. (usually a loather of Campari) was rather keen on it. River Rose, you have outdone yourself!

In Conclusion
this was really great gin, it brought a lot of character to each oft he drinks. Some pleasant floral and herbal notes and it makes a fantastic Negroni, if you can find a bottle of this I would recommend it.

us gin tag

Cocktails with… FEW American gin from Illinois, USA

FewTitle

There are a lot of Gins made in the US and there are lot of Gins made in the UK, but, sadly, there are relatively few US gins available in the UK; most come through the lovely folks at Eaux de Vie, but there is a new US spirits importer intown: Ginuine Spirits, headed up by Michael Vachon.

Ginuine Spirits have just brought five excellent products over to the UK: a Bourbon, a Rye Whiskey, a White Whiskey, a Gin and a  Navy-Strength Gin. Given its imminent landing on British soil, FEW American Gin seemed to be the perfect choice for the Illinois Gin in our United States of Gin Tasting.

FEW Distillery is based in Evanston, Illinois and the Master Distiller is Paul Hletko. As mentioned above, they make a variety of products and, additionally, produce limited editions of a rather tasty yellow/cask/aged Gin, which we tasted [here].

FEWGinBottle

FEW American Gin is rather unusual in that the spirit base is the same as their high corn white whiskey. 70% corn, 20% wheat, 10% 2 row malt. It is bottled at 40%ABV.

The Taste

1) On its own
Nose: Wheat, grain and bread (the base of the gin really comes through), followed by some pine, citrus and a touch of coriander.
Taste: Very soft and smooth initially and also quite sweet, with some liquorice. This is followed by pine and some floral notes, chocolate and coriander towards the end. This Gin has a very long finish, full of anise and liquorice. It’s something very different, but very tasty, too.

2) Gin & Tonic
A juicy and citrusy Gin & Tonic, with a fair hint of White Whiskey and corn coming through, but less juniper than many. It has a touch of sweetness, too, alongside some more liquorice. It’s definitely different, but well-liked by Mrs. B.

3) Martini
Crisp and powerful (given only 40%ABV), this is grainy, with just a hint of vanilla and a dry juniper finish. This is very different; unlike any Martini that I’ve had before, but excellent.

4) Negroni
The FEW American Gin made quite a sweet Negroni, with a long, lingering herbal bitterness, liquorice, anise and a touch of the bitterness of treacle. It’s something different, with the whole flavour of the drink lasting for a long time. The base spirit of the Gin also comes through, adding grainy notes. A different breed of Negroni, but very good, nonetheless.

5) Old Fashioned
The sweet creamy vanilla notes of the gin really comes through and the base really lends itself to the drink (the FEW white whiskey makes an exception Old Fashioned). Flavourful with those familiar gin characteristics of juniper and coriander alongside some floral elements. Pleasantly the drink is well balanced and a chord is struck between the various tastes. Very good indeed.

In Conclusion
FEW American Gin is rather different to most other gins; a lot of this is down to the unique use of White Whisky as its base. This adds a light, grainy maltiness that adds a different dimension to the gin. In fairness, it may not be for everyone, but I think many will love it and it is certainly worth trying. My favourite drink (which was very difficult to choose) was the Old Fashioned and Mrs. B liked the Gin & Tonic.

FEW American Gin is available for around £32 for 750ml from The Whisky Exchange.