Gin o’Clock – Part Four
March 21, 2016
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The adverts say that as three-quarters of your G&T is made up of tonic, you should take as much care over the tonic you use as which gin you mix it with. The marketeers are mistaken, at least in my case, because it never makes up more than 50%. But it is true that just as the ginaissance has spawned myriad varieties of gin, so there are a bewildering number of tonics available, from all good suppliers as they say.
I have already written about Fever-Tree Tonic Water. Whilst perusing the shelves of the local Waitrose I came across some bottles of Fentimans Tonic Water which I decided to give a whirl. The tonic comes in a dumpy green bottle with a distinctive oval-shaped yellow label at the front and a rectangular shaped label at the back listing the ingredient in four languages, including English. It proclaims that it is botanically brewed and traditional. My concern with the first descriptor was that it might clash with the botanicals in a gin and I found that it is a tonic that needs to be treated with some circumspection. It has a strong taste with citrus and lemongrass coming to the fore and is slightly bitter. I found it complimented and enhanced the taste of some of the more traditional gins in my collection – it brought out the flavours of Sipsmith’s and Plymouth gins wonderfully well – but had the tendency to overpower some of the subtler contemporary gins. A horse for a certain course, methinks.
My new gin this month is Berkeley Square Gin which comes from the same distillers, G&J Greenall, as Bloom which I sampled last time. In many ways Berkeley Square is Bloom’s polar opposite. It comes in a square, light green bottle which has ridges along the sides and has a natural cork stopper. There is a fierce liking lion’s head door knocker on the front and the word GIN appears in uncompromising script. This is a gin not to messed with!
It is distilled in small batches in a copper still and uses a range of traditional botanicals such as juniper, coriander, angelica and cubeb berries. The spice component to the hooch is provided by basil, sage, French lavender and Kaffir lime leaves. What is apparent is that there is very little in the way of citrus in the mix. The label, a thick black band with a silver sliver underneath, proclaims that the product has undergone a 48 hour slow distillation process, the botanicals being steeped in alcohol for 24 hours before distillation with the herbal components wrapped in muslin before being steeped. Another 24 hours of slow distillation and the hooch is ready.
On opening the bottle and taking a sniff you realise you have a delightfully aromatic gin on your hands. In the mouth, the gin is creamy with a distinctive juniper taste to the fore. It has a crisp, dry, refreshing aftertaste. It is certainly at the dry end of the taste spectrum and the addition of a tonic seemed to enhance the herbal and floral components of the gin. As I say, it is completely different to its stablemate and one I shall enjoy savouring.