Gin o’Clock – Part Three
March 3, 2016
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Exploring the ginaissance can be a pretty time-consuming business and that’s before you get down to drinking the stuff. There are a number of sites on the internet which provide reviews of gin and newspaper reports and magazine articles galore which feature their top ten gins. These are pretty good reference points but caveat bibitor one person’s taste does not necessarily equate with another’s. I suppose the conclusion you can draw is that if a particular gin features consistently across all these sites, then either it is pretty good or is backed by a pretty hot marketing team. Let’s hope the former!
One site I have found particularly useful is diffordsguide.com which claims to have over 4,000 reviews of beers, wines and spirits around the world. It is pretty easy to navigate around and the reviews are punchy and succinct but you need to know what you are looking for. Still, pottering along its byways can easily take up a couple of hours and work up quite a thirst.
I have written en passant about tonics but I have grown to realise that an inherent part of the gin and tonic experience is the quality of the tonic you add to the spirit. The tonic I hit on fairly early on is Fever-Tree premium Indian tonic water which you can certainly find in more and more supermarkets these days, especially Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. The name fever tree, incidentally, is the colloquial name for the cinchona tree in which quinine, a key ingredient of tonic, is to be found. No artificial sweeteners, preservatives or flavourings are added and the tonic comes with quite a fizz, enhancing the flavour of the gin. Do not on any account stir the G&T – just let the spirit and the tonic mix naturally and – the easy part this – make sure you finish your drink before the ice melts.
The latest addition to my collection is Bloom Premium London Dry Gin which I came across in our local Waitrose store. As its name might suggest the aroma upon removing the natural cork stopper is one of honeysuckle and citrus and straightaway you realise that this is not going to be an ordinary gin. In the mouth the spirit feels smoother than you might expect of a gin and thicker and more oily. The tastes which predominate are chamomile and honeysuckle – the distiller’s attempt to recreate the scent and atmosphere of an English country garden – and the citrus taste of pomelo. The aftertaste is dry and peppery.
The gin is produced by the country’s second largest gin distillers, G&J Distillers of Warrington, who also produce the Greenall’s and Berkeley Square brands. Bloom is triple distilled and as well as the three botanicals – chamomile, honeysuckle and pomelo – which gives its light and floral taste also features juniper, angelica and cubeb berries. It is definitely at the sweeter end of the taste spectrum, delicate and subtle, and is one I shall save until the summer, perhaps to drink under our pergola with its canopy of honeysuckle. Roll on the summer!