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Category Archives: Gin

Gin o’Clock – Part Thirty Five

One of the interesting by-products of the ginaissance for the seasoned traveller is that the airport duty-free shops are packed full of premium gins. As well as the usual suspects it is possible to stumble across an unusual gin which at the modestly discounted prices on offer is worth a punt.

Wandering through the duty-free shop in Alicante airport my attention was caught by a white, dumpy, ceramic pot – I am a sucker for a ceramic pot – with a grey, pixellated map of the world on the front. The only splash of colour is a red arrow and a red spot on the area that is the north-west coast of Spain. There is no doubting where Nordes Atlantic Galician Gin comes from. The back of the bottle is like a modern-day Rosetta Stone, with descriptions in Spanish, Italian and English. After reading the ingredients – we will come to them in a minute – and as it was the only gin on offer I hadn’t tried, I decided to deploy my last few Euros and buy a litre bottle.

Readers will know by now that our favourite hooch falls broadly into two main camps – the more traditional, juniper heavy, London dry gins and contemporary gins where a whole cocktail of botanicals are thrown into the mix, leaving the juniper as an also-ran rather than the main protagonist in the taste sensation. Nordes is very much in the latter camp – indeed, it is very hard to detect any of the traditional tastes you would associate with a gin in the drink.

For a start, the base spirit is made from Albarino grapes, rather than the usual grain spirit. Wine buffs tell me that Galician vino made from these grapes are the next thing in summer wines – we will see – but for me, they give the foundation of the spirit a rather sweet taste, from which it never recovers. Continuing on the Galician theme, the majority of the botanicals deployed are garnered from the region. So we find verbena, which, it is claimed, is a cure for melancholy, glasswort, hibiscus, lemongrass and peppermint. A touch of exotica is provided by eucalyptus leaves and the ultra-trendy marsh samphire or sea bean, which no self-respecting contemporary gin can be without, it would seem. To complete the cast list we have juniper – at last! – cardamom, ginger, and tea. The spirit has an ABV of 40%.

Unscrewing the dark blue cap, the aroma from the spirit was definitely floral. To the taste, initially, it seemed as though I had ingested some perfume but gradually other flavours, including a hint of juniper, began to come into play. There was the customary warmth coming through at the back of the throat but it was gentle and as I got accustomed to the crystal-clear spirit, I began to appreciate the complexity lurking within. The aftertaste was rather fruity and floral and lingered, leaving a not unpleasant sensation in the mouth. I found that Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic complemented it well.

In summary, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. It wasn’t unpleasant and would work well if you were spending a languid afternoon basking in the heat which the Nordes wind is said to bring to the Galician region. But for me, it confirmed my preference for the more traditional London Dry Gins. As the French say, a chacun son gout.

Until the next time, salud!

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Gin o’Clock – Part Thirty Four

One of the pleasures of members of the family knowing about my explorations of the ginaissance is that they seek out unusual gins for me to try from places that they visit. One such was a bottle of Ibz Premium Gin, which is only available for direct sale in the Balearic island of Ibiza. Such is the power and the reach of the internet, though, I’m sure it can be ordered online from some of the more enterprising wholesalers around. It is produced by Familia Mari Mayans  who are to be found at Sant Antoni de Portmany.

The Familia have been producing liqueurs and spirits for around 130 years and gin for around 50. However, they decided in 2010 to make a premium gin to take advantage of the surge in interest in gin. They began experimenting with various combinations of plants, fruits and aromatic herbs before, in 2012, hitting on their preferred recipe and launching the hooch on to the market.  The base spirit is a pure grain alcohol to which the juniper berries are added in a copper still. Next come the botanicals, sourced from the island to give it a distinctive Mediterranean flavour, namely thyme leaves, fresh rosemary and citrus peels.

The gin comes in a distinctive, cylindrical bottle with an artificial cork stopper. Slightly irritatingly, the neck of the bottle is narrowed which makes pouring the gin a longer process than it might otherwise be the case but probably makes it ideal for optics. There are no labels on the bottle. Instead, a design has been etched into the glass with acid using green and black inks, giving the bottle a greenish hue, and features thyme and rosemary.

To the nose it has a distinctive aroma of juniper and citrus and the taste does not disappoint, with citrus and spice to the fore and a glorious spicy aftertaste. At 38% ABV it as the lower end of the gin strength spectrum but with a splash of your favourite tonic, makes for a distinctive and refreshing drink. A definite hit!

Our next gin is Two Birds Countryside London Dry Gin, which is made in batches of 100 bottles from a 25 litre handmade copper pot still in the Leicestershire town of Market Harborough. It is not to be confused with Two Birds Artisan Spirits of Michigan. This is a classic London gin with the traditional set of botanicals – juniper, citrus fruit., coriander and orris root – to which is added an unnamed countryside botanic. To the nose it has a very distinctive and pronounced juniper aroma but to the taste it is more subtle than some of the more straightforward London gins. The aftertaste is quite spicy, not unpleasantly so, but lingers with you for a while.

The bottle is a dumpy, cylindrical shape with a screwcap. Rather like the bottle of Ibz, the information contained on the bottle is etched into it using blue principally as a background and white for the lettering. You won’t be surprised to learn that there are two birds on the lettering, one atop the W and one perched on the bottom of the S. The ABV is 40% and whether drunk neat or with a mixer, its quality shines through. It is a well-balanced gin where everything within it plays its part well. If your taste inclines towards the more traditional type of gin, this is highly recommended.

Gin o’Clock – Part Thirty Three

The next Cornish gin I purchased from the Aladdin’s cave that is Constantine Stores was a bottle of Caspyn Cornish Dry Gin which, according to its rather prosaic label is distilled with passion. There was me hoping that it would have a base spirit and some botanicals but I think I may have misunderstood the intent of the advertising message.

The spirit comes in a bell shaped bottle with an artificial cork stopper. The front label which is fixed at a jaunty angle is a mix of dark blue and gold on a white background. There is a rather off-putting image of a shark with its mouth wide open and a red seal but get past that and you will find much of the information you need. It is handcrafted, a product of Cornwall made in West Penwith in the west of Cornwall and my particular bottle was distilled on 8th July 2017, the seventy-third bottle from batch 18. The hooch has an ABV of 40%.

Cornish Dry Gin is the first gin to have been produced by Pocketful of Stones Distillery and is supposed to have been inspired by the crisp Cornish spring mornings. The base of the gin is an organic (natch) grain spirit to which the botanicals are added. They seem to consist of juniper, orris, lemon and orange peel, lemon verbena, Japanese tea, hibiscus flowers and some locally foraged ingredients including gorse. The mix is allowed to mascerate overnight and then put into a copper pot still for six hours. The spirit is then reduced to the 40% ABV by the introduction of Cornish water before it is left to settle for a few days. The gin is then bottled, labelled and numbered by hand.

So what is it like? On taking the cork out of the bottle there was an immediate sensation of juniper, floral notes and a hint of tea. I tried it neat first and the Japanese tea was to the fore before a rather pleasing spicy, warm feeling hit my mouth in the aftertaste. Perhaps it is my taste buds but I was surprised that the floral components were not so prominent but the addition of a dash of Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water seemed to enhance the floral elements and tone down the tea. Overall, I was a bit disappointed. It will grow on me, I’m sure.

Near the distillery is to be found a Neolithic stone circle called the Merry Maidens, nineteen of whom were turned into stone for having the audacity to dance on the Sabbath. Two megaliths to the north-east of the circle are known as the Pipers and they are said to have been the musicians who accompanied the girls. The name of the gin, Caspyn, is a variant of the Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network, the y added to make the name more mellifluous. I hope I’m not petrified for being sniffy about the product.

What started me off on this long exploration of the ginaissance was a bottle of Elemental Gin I bought in St Ives. I couldn’t mark my return to Cornwall without buying another bottle. I have reviewed it elsewhere but suffice to say it didn’t disappoint, being a well-balanced gin with a pleasant mix of sweetness at the start leading on to a more bitter aftertaste. It is very smooth and it takes an iron will not to pour another glass.

Until the next time, cheers!

Gin o’Clock – Part Thirty Two

Scanning the array of gins at the Constantine Store, my attention was drawn to a broad, vaguely rectangular-shaped bottle which tapers slightly to the bottom. The labelling had an art deco feel about it deploying blues and gold to reflect the sea and sand of the Cornish coast. What particularly piqued my interest was that it described itself as “handcrafted Trevethan Cornish Gin infused with tradition since 1929.” The top of the bottle is broad, larger than you would find with a normal gin, and boasts a cork. It is a very attractively packaged gin with a hint of quirkiness and rustic charm.

Having made my purchase I couldn’t wait to get it home and give it a try. Fortunately, my expectations were not dashed. Taking the cork out of the stopper my nose was met with a lovely mix of juniper and citrus and the freshness of herbs and spices. I tasted it neat and the first sensation was that of the citrus quickly followed by the juniper base and then a slight bitterness as the liquid washed around my mouth. The addition of a tonic seemed to tone down the bitterness and accentuate the citrus effects and brought the juniper to the fore. It was a thoroughly impressive, well balances, somewhat bold gin and sits proudly towards the top of the list of my favourites.

There are ten botanicals in play – juniper, coriander, cassia, angelica, cardamom, orange peel, lemon peel, vanilla and to add a touch of Cornwall, elder flower and gorse flowers which are picked from the hedgerows of a dairy farm in Trenelgos. The botanicals are macerated with the base spirit for 18 hours before being put into a 300 litre still. The resultant spirit has an ABV of 85% which is then reduced to 70% before being laid to rest in a stainless steel container for up to 48 hours. Natural spring water is added to reduce the spirit to a still punchy 43% ABV and then bottled and labelled by hand. My bottle came from batch number 047.

Naturally there is a story to this gin – isn’t there always? Norman Trevethan was a chauffeur to Earl and Lady St Germans in the 1920s and drove them between Cornwall, where they lived, and London where they were part of the society set. The Trevethans had been distilling gin for some time and by 1929 Norman created a recipe for a perfect Cornish gin. As gin went out of fashion and later generations were not so keen to continue family traditions, the recipe, which was never written down, was laid to rest. Norman’s grandson, Rob Cuffe, along with his friend, John Hall, decided to resuscitate the family tradition.

The only person left alive who had tasted Norman’s hooch was Rob’s mother and she gamely assisted the duo in recreating her father’s pride and glory. By 2015 the spirit was sufficiently close to Norman’s daughter’s recollection of its taste and this encouraged the duo to surf the ginaissance by producing it commercially. The rest is history, as they say.

Of course, whether the current Trevethan actually recreates Norman’s recipe, as the bottle tries to suggest, is a matter of some conjecture. What is certain, though, is that it is a wonderful gin. When my bottle runs out, my dilemma will be whether to try out the mail ordering system of Drinkfinder.co.uk or to have another trip to Cornwall. Decisions, decisions.

Gin o’Clock – Part Thirty One

The ginaissance shows no sign of running out of fizz. For those of us who cannot get enough of the hooch, there is, mystifyingly in my view, a whole range of products on the supermarket shelves that are trying to cadge a lift on the gin bandwagon. How about having a gin-flavoured yoghurt, containing 0.25% alcohol, for your breakfast or, perhaps, gin-infused salmon for lunch or gin-flavoured popcorn and sweets whilst slumped in front of the telly? Is there no end to this madness?

That said, there is something vaguely appealing about taking a perfectly acceptable product and making it into something somewhat inferior. With this in mind I decided to have a go at making my own rhubarb gin. It all started with TOWT buying a few sticks of rhubarb which I found lurking in the back of the fridge. As she was showing no intention of making good on her original promise of a tasty rhubarb crumble, I negotiated the deployment of said sticks for my gin making.

Recipes are easy to find on the internet and boil down to three components – gin, caster sugar and rhubarb. The secret, of course, is in the ratios. The two constraining factors are the amount of rhubarb you have at your disposal and the amount of gin – I used cheap supermarket gin – you are prepared to sacrifice. Chop your rhubarb, after washing it and getting rid of the harsh exterior string – into segments of around 2 to 3 centimetres long. Weigh them and put them in a jar, adding 62.5 grams of caster sugar for every 100 gram of the vegetable. Seal the jar, shake vigorously and leave for 24 to 48 hours, stirring the mix  from time to time.

What you should find is that the sugar gets to work on the rhubarb and extracts the juice. By the end of 48 hours you will be surprised by how much juice you have in your jar. Then you add the gin – the ratio I used was 175 millilitres of gin for every 100 grams of rhubarb. Seal the jar, shake vigorously and leave for 4 to 5 weeks, agitating the liquid occasionally. The resultant liquid has a distinctive rhubarb smell. You then need to remove the pieces of rhubarb, strain the hooch a few times to get rid of those bits of the rhubarb that have broken off and pour the remaining liquid into a bottle.  My gin was distinctly cloudy but absolutely delicious.

There are two types of bar staff in my experience. There are those whose grasp of the basics of addition and subtraction are so tenuous that the time taken to complete any transaction defeats what urge to engage in conversation  you may have had and those who are the fount of all local knowledge. Fortunately, Emily at the Trengilly Wartha in Cornwall, a fellow gin enthusiast, was definitely in the latter camp. On learning that I was on the hunt for Cornish gin she recommended that I went to the Constantine Stores in the rural hamlet that is Constantine, near Falmouth.

Never judge a book by its cover. I parked up at an unprepossessing village shop, the type you might be lucky to get your papers, fags and a bottle of chateau grog in. But I was astonished to find upon entering the establishment that it had a stack of shelves groaning under the weight of upwards of seventy or so different gins. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The boot of my car was laden with a wide range of gins which will give me enough material to review for the foreseeable. It is also the headquarters of drinkfinder.co.uk, an online wholesaler that ships around the world. It is well worth a look.

Until the next time, cheers.

Gin o’Clock – Part Thirty

My exploration of the ginaissance has exposed my taste buds to a wide array of sensations. I am beginning to get a bit choosy, eschewing those which have gone overboard with presenting the toper with a smorgasbord of sensations for those which add botanicals to enhance rather than overwhelm the basic taste of juniper berries. Perhaps I’m a bit old school in that respect. This week’s featured gin, Langley’s No 8 Distilled London Dry Gin, launched in 2013, is very much in the style that I enjoy.

The gin comes in what can best be described as a medicine bottle with a screw cap. The labelling is rather fetching, being silver-embossed against a black background. The foil at the neck of the bottle proudly proclaims that the hooch is made in England. The front label informs us that it is hand crafted in small batches and that the base is a 100% English grain spirit. The label at the back of the bottle provides a little more information, principally that it is distilled in a copper pot still and that what has been produced is perfectly balanced. I should hope so.

There are two reasons why it is called No 8. The distillers were experimenting on various strengths and blends of gin and it was their eighth incarnation which passed muster. It also contains eight botanicals, the identity of which is somewhat shrouded in mystery. What is for certain is that there is juniper, coriander seeds, sweet lemon and orange peel, cassia bark and ground nutmeg. The final two botanicals are unnamed but are said to be staples of classic gin.

The gin is crystal clear and weighs in at 41.7% ABV, putting it around the middle of the gin strength spectrum. To the nose the juniper is pronounced but there is a hint of the citrus coming through. To the taste it is quite dry with juniper to the fore but with spice and, perhaps, liquorice making their presence felt as you roll it in your mouth. There is a strong after taste in which liquorice and black pepper can be detected. It is a strong, old-school style, heavy gin which goes well with a good mixer and is none the worse for that.

The distillery is based in Langley Green which is just outside Oldbury in the West Midlands which has been a centre of the brewing and distilling industry since the early 19th century. Crosswells was the original brewery which was built atop an ancient underground water source. It was not until 1920 that gin production started there, after it was realised that the purity of the water upon which the distillery was sitting made it ideal for producing top quality spirits.

There are six stills in the distillery including what is claimed to be the oldest working copper still in the UK, dating back to the early 1800s. Our gin is macerated in a 4,000 copper pot still called Constance which, in the scheme of things, is a bit of a youngster, having been built as recently as 1917 by John-Dore. Once the gin concentrate is removed from the still it has an ABV of between 77 and 80 per cent. It is then transported to the Burlington Bottling plant in Witham in Essex where the strength is diluted to commercially acceptable levels and put in bottles which are hand labelled.

It’s a complicated old business!

Gin o’Clock – Part Twenty Nine

When in Rome, do as the Romans do – a piece of advice that dates back to at least 390CE and St Augustine. So, naturally, when I was in Spain a little while back, in order to extend my exploration of the ginaissance, I drank Larios, a local hooch, but part of the Beam Suntory stable. I tried two – Larios London Dry Gin and Larios 12 Premium Gin.

Whether it is the Brexit effect, I know not, but the London Gin has been rebranded and now goes under the sobriquet of Larios Ginebra Mediterranea, a welcome indicator of its land of origin. The bottle boasts a rather splendid label which is a riot of yellow and orange colours, informing us that Larios was established in 1866 and that the hooch was double distilled. The label at the back of the stubby, rectangular bottle confirms that it is London Dry Gin. The cap is a rather incongruous purple screwcap. At 37.5% ABV it as the weaker end of the gin spectrum but as I picked up a bottle for a very acceptable €8 at the local Aldi in Benijofar, I couldn’t complain.

As you might suspect from the labelling, citrus plays a key part in the flavour, the six botanicals used being juniper, lemon, bitter oranges, coriander, cinnamon and almonds. To the smell it is rather disappointing with the aroma of alcohol overpowering what hints of juniper and citrus can be detected. The clear spirit is quite harsh and the juniper has to fight hard to establish its presence, dominated by the citrus. Adding a tonic to it just provokes the citrus to overwhelm the drink to such an extent that it is difficult to consider it a London Dry Gin where juniper should take the lead. Perhaps that is why it has been rebranded and the spices may as well not have been there as they made little impact on my palate.

It wasn’t an unpleasant drink and one of the better budget gins I have tasted. But I suppose you get what you pay for.

Larios 12 comes in a tall blue bottle with an orange screwcap. The labelling is more subdued, using a white script with orange highlights. At least at the back the botanicals are listed, twelve in all which go through five distillations – orange, mandarin, coriander, tangerine, lemon, angelica root, lime, orange blossom, grapefruit, nutmeg, clementine and, oh yes, juniper. This gin has no pretensions to being a London Dry Gin and is firmly in the contemporary gin camp, where the juniper takes a very definite back seat.

To the smell there is a very distinctive orange feel to it with, perhaps, a hint of spice. The clear spirit, which is 40% ABV, provides a refreshing taste of citrus to the mouth but as I played with it in my mouth I began to detect the juniper struggling to make its presence felt, only to be overwhelmed by the more tart grapefruit in the aftertaste. On the whole I was a tad disappointed because the taste was a bit one-dimensional – not unsurprising given the heady cocktail of citrus. It is a perfectly acceptable gin but I think if you are looking for a contemporary gin, there are much better, even if they are more than twice the price.

Often I find that booze that was acceptable to swill when on holiday tastes awful when you get it home. I have to say that was not the case with either of the Larios hooches. If you are interested, they also seem to do a Rose gin, although a drop has not passed my lips (yet!).

Gin o’Clock – Part Twenty Eight

The ginaissance keeps rolling on. In 2016 the Treasury received £3.4 billion in tax revenue from the sale of gin, up 7 per cent from 2015, and exceeding the £3.2 billion levied from beer. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association reckoned that 43 million bottles of gin were sold in 2016 and that there are now more than 80 brands on sale. And Charles Rolls, who founded Fever-Tree, cashed in some of his shares in May and trousered £73 million. Where will it all end?

I had a useful insight the other day into the power of branding to attract or deter a consumer. I had noticed the bottles of Daffy’s Small Batch Premium Gin on the shelves of our local Waitrose for some time and always found a reason to pass them over. Thinking about it, it was the image on the front of the bottle – a tousle-haired blond above a cocktail glass. It seemed a bit – well, girly. This time, though, as I was anxious to replenish my depleted stocks and this was the only one I hadn’t tried, I swallowed my male chauvinism and bought a bottle.

The bottle is a slightly dumpy one with a natural cork stopper and the hooch, which is crystal clear, weighs in at an acceptable an pedantically precise 43.4% ABV. Leaving the imaging aside on the bottle, it has a helpful strip to the right hand side identifying the botanicals. Pride of place is given to a salad mint from the Bequaa valley in Lebanon – something I had not experienced before in a gin. The rear of the bottle states that this is “the finest copper pot single-batch distilled gin” – no probably here – and “the adventure started with our discovery of what Lebanese mint can bring to the finest gin.

The other six botanicals listed are juniper (natch), coriander, angelica, lemon peel, cassia and orris. The bottle states that the Lebanese mint is mixed with eight other carefully chosen botanicals; so we are missing a couple. I suspect one is orange peel but as to the other, who knows? The botanicals are steeped in a neutral grain spirit from northern France for four days, distilled in the Midlands and then sent to Edinburgh where it is blended with Scottish water, minus minerals, until the desired ABV is reached.

Having made a great play about the mint, I was going to be fascinated to see what it did to the taste. To the nose the aroma is fresh and floral and in the mouth the liquid tastes rich and slightly oily. There is a hint of mint but it doesn’t overpower the other botanicals, rather adding some freshness to the overall taste. The after taste is warm and nutty and stays long in the throat. My fears that the mint would take over in the way that the horseradish does in Thomas Dakin Small Batch Gin but my fears were unfounded.

It is a lovely gin and one to sip and savour rather than to swill. The moral of the story is never judge a book by its cover.

And if you were wondering, Daffy was the name of an elixir given to children in Victorian times, often mixed with gin or, if there was none available, replaced by gin. As Mrs Mann explained to Mr Bumble in Oliver Twist, “’why, it’s what I’m obliged to keep a little of in the house, to put into the blessed infants’ daffy when they ain’t well’..as she opened a corner cupboard, and took down a bottle and glass. ‘It’s gin, I’ll deceive you not, it’s gin’.

Gin o’Clock – Part Twenty Seven

Perhaps it is my inner Brexit spirit buried deep within me but with so many British gins to sample during my extensive investigation of the ginaissance, I have fought shy of any distilled abroad. A staple on the shelves of our local Waitrose is Gin Mare which comes from Spain. Having run through all the other gins in their section and noticing that it was available at a heavily discounted price which with an eight pound voucher, it seemed that now was the time to put my prejudices to one side.

Gin Mare is made in the small fishing village of Vilanova i la Geltru near Barcelona on the Costa Dorada. The distillers are a family firm, Destilerias MG, who have been making aromatic cordials and dealing with wines since 1835, although to obtain global reach it has been part of the Global Premium Brands group since 2007 when this incarnation of the hooch was developed. As you might expect, it has a very distinctive Mediterranean feel about it as most of the botanicals are sourced from the region.

There are of course the traditional botanicals that you would expect to find such as juniper – the berries are hand-picked from the owners’ estate in Teruel and have a very soft skin – coriander seed, cardamom and citrus. The citrus is a custom blend of oranges, sweet from Seville and bitter from Valencia,  and lemons from Lleida, which are macerated for a year in a neutral spirit in clay jars before use. But the Mediterranean flavour is provided by rosemary from Turkey, thyme from Greece, basil from Italy and Arbequina olives which are local to the area.

Other than the citrus, each of the other botanicals are macerated separately for 36 hours and then distilled individually in a 250 litre Florentine still for around 4.5 hours. The separate distillations are then blended with a neutral spirit and water to produce the hooch which comes in a distinctive pale blue, rounded, pyramid-shaped, heavy bottle with a grey screw cap. The hooch weighs in at an acceptable 42.7% ABV and the label has a picture of herbs and towards the top of the bottle is the legend “Mediterranean gin, coleccion de autor.

So what is it like? To the smell it is distinctly herby with juniper and thyme to the fore. The clear spirit has a bold taste, initially of juniper and then the herbs give it a drier consistency, marking it out as a gin the like of which I have not tasted before. The aftertaste is dry and the spices come into play. It is a very flavoursome gin and with such a high herbal content could even be used as an accompaniment to a meal, Mediterranean style of course. My prejudices have been dispelled.

With so much care taken by the distillers, not just of Gin Mare, to create a distinctive taste, it behoves the toper to take some care over which tonic to pour in. I came across a new one on me the other week when I was browsing through the supermarket mixer section, Qcumber.  As its rather contrived name suggests – the marketeers have worked overtime – it has a predominant cucumber flavour, although it also has beet sugar and citrus, and is manufactured using spring water from the Welsh hills in Radnorshire. It is light with a very fresh taste and not so overpowering that it ruins the carefully crafted flavours of some of the more complex gins. My preference would be to use it with more floral gins.

Gin o’Clock – Part Twenty Six

Boodle’s Club, still going, was founded in 1765 and it moved to its current premises on St James’ Street in London in 1782. It took its name from its head waiter, Edward Boodle. The gin which bears the name of this famous London institution was first created in 1845 and went on to shape what is now known as the modern London style of gin. Reputedly it was Winston Churchill’s favourite gin.

Truth be told, this gin has had a rather chequered history. It was originally produced by Cock Russell & Co and then fell into the hands of James Burroughs Ltd whose most well-known gin in its stable is Beefeater. It then ended up being owned by Seagrams in 2000 but in the following year its assets, were sold to a number of companies with Pernod-Ricard taking over Boodles. There was another change of ownership in 2012 when Proximo Spirits of New Jersey. By this time the gin had disappeared from the UK market, although it has always been distilled here.

Fortunately for British gin drinkers, Proximo struck up a deal with our old friends, G & J Greenall of Warrington to continue distilling the hooch and to return it to the shelves of UK retailers. And so since 2013 we have been able to discover it again and enjoy its unique taste.

The British version of Boodles’ British Gin London Dry – there is a stronger version at 45.2% ABV available in other parts of the world – comes in a squat dumpy bottle with a silver screw cap and weighs in at an acceptable 40% ABV. The label at the front is navy blue in colour, bears the original distillers name of Cock Russell and Company and proclaims the fact that it was established in 1845. The label at the back has a pale blue colour with black lettering and advises that it consists of “100% grain neutral spirits” and that it is “fashioned with a proper balance of traditional herbs and botanicals without the addition of citrus.” It also comes with the rather strange advice that to appreciate its fine flavour, it should be used sparingly. That’s hardly likely to happen!

Boodles’ has carved out a unique position amongst London Dry Gins by not having any citrus flavouring specifically added to the distillation process. If you like your gins with a touch of citrus, then this is not one for you. You could add it by slipping a slice of lemon or lime into your glass or use a citrusy based mixer but that sort of defeats the purpose.

It uses nutmeg, rosemary and sage amongst the nine botanicals that give the grain spirit its flavour – no other gin, to my knowledge, does this but with so many coming on to the market it is difficult to be categorical on the point. The other botanicals are juniper (natch), coriander seed, angelica root, angelica seed and caraway seed. The gin is made in a vacuum still which allows the spirit to retain more of the texture and taste of the botanicals.

So what is it like? It is a clear spirit and to the nose the smells of juniper and coriander are to the fore. In the mouth it is smooth and surprisingly sweet with a clean, long and slightly peppery aftertaste. It makes for a very smooth drink and, dare I say it, quite moreish. After all, warnings are to be disregarded. If you like your gins to be juniper prominent and for the other botanicals to complement and allow the juniper to shine, then this may well be one for you. As an added bonus, it is reasonably priced. I picked up my bottle for just £20.