gin news

The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin news | 0

Ruddles has been at it again.

Gin news

As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in addition to his current role as Newshound, we’re giving him a promotion to Marketing Director. Or should that be Barketing Director?
Either way, he’s continuing to sniff out the gin news you want to hear. This month, he’s found some interesting stories for us all to enjoy.

Algorithm confirms: curry and gin are a perfect match

gin news

Ruddles has sniffed out a great story about a Japanese firm that has employed Artificial Intelligence to confirm what we all knew already: that curry is a good match for a gin and tonic. Fascinating article, but we didn’t need a robot to tell us that. The research was commissioned by Bombay Sapphire owners Bacardi and apparently gin comes out as curry’s best mate. No more pints of lager required, just a large, civilised G&T (and maybe a separate glass of iced water!).

The question is which gin goes with which curry?
Keep an eye out for next month’s article on the 5 best gins to drink with a curry.
It’s hot stuff!

Virtual reality: the world’s coolest gin labels?

The folks at McQueen gin up in Scotland have come up with something equally unique. They’ve added a full augmented reality (AR) experience for each of the six bottles in their core range. Just point your phone at the label and scan it for an immersive gin experience like no other. You can take a virtual dive into their black cherry and vanilla gin pool. You could even learn about the spirit of Ben Ledi, the beautiful mountain that overlooks the distillery itself.
Welcome to the world’s coolest gin labels.

When is a gin not a gin: how low can you go?

gin news

Plus, there’s some trouble brewing over alcohol free gins. Some people are getting upset that low alcohol spirits are passing themselves off as gins.
By definition, a gin has to be 37.5% ABV (and have juniper as its dominant flavour) to be given legal recognition as a gin.
Low alcohol versions clearly don’t measure up to these requirements but some are still being sold as gin. That’s misrepresenting our favourite spirit (and potentially damaging its reputation).
The good news is that the Gin Guild is taking up the challenge on behalf of the industry.

“Downton Abbey” distillery: 31 international gin awards in first two years

Last year saw a flurry of gins released by the various royal households, including Buckingham Palace Gin and Highgrove gin.
Other members of the establishment are also getting in on the act now. Highclere Castle (otherwise known as Downton Abbey) is only in its second year of distilling, but it’s celebrating with a big smile on its face. In the 16 months of its existence, it’s already won more than 31 international spirits awards and is forecasting sales of 20,000 cases during the course of this 2021.
Not bad for a young one.

Gin-soaked raisins – is this the secret for a long life?

Here’s one to inspire you. Are gin and raisins the secret to a long and happy life? Meet 105 year old Lucia DeClerck from New Jersey, who’s been nibbling these little gin treats for almost a hundred years.
She eats exactly 9 gin-soaked golden raisins every day and she attributed this habit to giving her long, healthy life. There must be something in it – she’s lived through two world wars, survived the Spanish Flu and she has outlived three husbands and one son. And now, she’s one of only a few centenarians worldwide to have survived Coronavirus.
So much better than cornflakes!

Silent Pool gin: ending on a high

Always good to end on a high note.
Last year, the folks at Silent Pool distillery launched their first CBD infused gin. It’s called Colorado High and it was receiving great reviews.
CBD is legal for sale in the UK and Europe these days and they’ve sold thousands of bottles without complaints. So, they were a bit frustrated when a complaint was passed to the UK’s Portman Group (one of the UK’s regulators), who challenged the packaging.

Despite being a totally legal product and with no references to cannabis on its labels or packaging, they found it to be in breach of rules.
They claimed that it created an “indirect connection” with illegal drugs.

This is a claim that the folks at Silent Pool deny consistently and they are challenging the decision with the Portman Group itself. Silent Pool aren’t backing down and have launched a cheeky marketing campaign to make their point.

Drugs or drink. What do you think?



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News
    Ruddles has been at it again. As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in … Continued
  • Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
    Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia. All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added … Continued
  • The Ginger Tom: a spicy twist on a cocktail classic
    Here’s a fabulous cocktail recipe based on one of the most famous gin drinks of all time. Introducing the Ginger Tom. But before we share the recipe, we thought it would be a good idea to check out the heritage and history of this delicious drink. The Cat’s Whiskers The Ginger Tom is one of … Continued
  • Botanicals: gin’s secret stars
    Why is gin so different to vodka or any other white spirit? What makes gin so special? Well, the secret lies in the botanicals. What are these botanicals and why are they so important? And how exactly do they turn a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid into one of the most versatile and exciting spirits on … Continued
Gin Sea

Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain

Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia.
All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added in Spain. And that’s also why this gin combines the best of both worlds.
These guys aren’t in a hurry to get the quickest turnaround. Instead, they’re dedicated to making their gin the old fashioned, way – slowly, by hand. And this is one of the things that distinguishes Gin Sea from some of its upstart competitors. There’s a real dedication to getting this right, no matter how long it takes. The result is a pleasure to drink.

Once the five times distilled neutral grain spirit is imported from England to Galicia, Manuel Barrientos redistills this precious spirit with 11 botanicals including juniper, cardamom, coriander, thyme leaves, chamomile, licorice, peppermint, cinnammon and sweet and bitter orange peels. Each botanical is then macerated separately before being distilled in a 130 year old copper still made by Herve et Moulin in Bordeaux. This is one of the oldest stills still active within Europe. And that says it all, really.

So, where does this little beauty come from?

This is a classic example of European co-operation. With the purest of neutral grain spirits shipped in from London, the rest of the work is the combination of an ancient French still and a thoroughly modern sommelier.
Manuel is the man who makes the magic happen at the distillery in the rugged region of Galicia in Northern Spain and he had form before he started working in his dream gin project.
He brought 15 years of experience in the hotel industry, including 5 years as a sommelier in some of Galicia’s top restaurants to this project. And he was determined to produce something he could be proud of and which would represent the region of Galicia in all its uniqueness.
Born in London, raised in La Coruña.

As Manuel said: “This idea was germinated in Galicia and our first task was to select the right local ingredients. We had to carry out hundreds of tests until we found our final formula. More than 100 Galician hospitality professionals took part in our different tastings. We took all their opinions on board to develop the delicate and classic flavours of our final product!”

What does Gin Sea taste like?

This is a delicious and distinctive gin at a standard strength of 40% ABV.
Sweet citrus notes and earthy juniper play well against a background of candied ginger, thyme and chamomile. There are hints of lavender and a gentle spiciness that warms the palate nicely. There’s also a noticeable peppery herbal finish which balances the sweetness of the chamomile and the warmth of the ginger is very comforting. We think that Gin Sea (like most good gins) lends itself to a beautiful G&T. But it would work equally well as a cocktail spirit. Perhaps in a classic Negroni or even in the Queen’s favourite cocktail, a “Gin and It”.

The perfect pour

Since this is a Spanish gin, we think it should be served in the Spanish way. And that means digging out your copa glass!

  1. Fill your copa glass to the top with large, round ice cubes (the larger the better!).
  2. Give the ice a gentle stir. Wipe a little orange wedge around the edge of the glass before squeezing the juice into the ice.
  3. Pour a generous serving of Gin Sea over the ice directly into your glass.
  4. Top it up with a premium, fresh tonic water (such as Franklin and Sons premium Indian tonic water).
  5. Garnish with a twist of orange zest or some cardamom pods to bring out the flavour.
  6. Give it a gentle stir before raising it to your mouth, inhaling all those delicious citrus flavours and then diving in for a long sip.

This fabulous, complex, classic, well balanced London Dry gin will get you in the mood for fun. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Hope you enjoy their beautiful add: https://vimeo.com/55014833



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News
    Ruddles has been at it again. As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in … Continued
  • Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
    Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia. All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added … Continued
  • The Ginger Tom: a spicy twist on a cocktail classic
    Here’s a fabulous cocktail recipe based on one of the most famous gin drinks of all time. Introducing the Ginger Tom. But before we share the recipe, we thought it would be a good idea to check out the heritage and history of this delicious drink. The Cat’s Whiskers The Ginger Tom is one of … Continued
  • Botanicals: gin’s secret stars
    Why is gin so different to vodka or any other white spirit? What makes gin so special? Well, the secret lies in the botanicals. What are these botanicals and why are they so important? And how exactly do they turn a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid into one of the most versatile and exciting spirits on … Continued
Ginger Tom

The Ginger Tom: a spicy twist on a cocktail classic

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Here’s a fabulous cocktail recipe based on one of the most famous gin drinks of all time. Introducing the Ginger Tom. But before we share the recipe, we thought it would be a good idea to check out the heritage and history of this delicious drink.

The Cat’s Whiskers

The Ginger Tom is one of a family of gin cocktails that have all derived from a common source: the Tom Collins.
The original Tom Collins drink actually started its life as a John Collins. Apparently, John was a waiter at the infamous Limmer’s Old House in London’s Mayfair. The drink itself dates back as far as 1876, when it was first served by John in its original format.
The original classic began as a simple recipe that combined gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar and soda water. Served in a tall glass (now known as a Collins glass) it was traditionally topped off with a maraschino cherry.
Since those early days, more than 18 variations on the Collins theme have evolved as tastes and ingredients changed over the years. But the original Tom Collins remains one of the all time classics.

The Ginger Tom

With all that choice available, it’s always hard to pick a favourite family member, but the Ginger Tom stands out.
It was adapted in 2003 from a standard Tom Collins recipe by legendary bartender, Jamie Terrell from Lab, London.
Since then it has become the stuff of gin legend! It’s full of fiery warmth and citrus sweetness. And the good news is that it’s really easy to make at home using common ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
So, what’s in this delicious drink? Let’s take a look.

The Ginger Tom cocktail recipe

What do I need?

The first thing you need to do is to find a Collins glass (although any tall, skinny glass will do!) Then get your hands on some sliced root ginger and choose your gin (we recommend an Old Tom, of course!) The only other things you’ll need are simple syrup, lime juice and some freshly opened soda water. Sparkling mineral water will work just as well.
Here’s how easy it is to make this gorgeous drink:

Ingredients:

  • Two slices of root ginger
  • 2 shots of Old Tom gin (or your preferred choice)
  • 1 shot of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 shot of rich simple syrup (2 sugar:1 water)
  • Soda water

Method:

  1. Muddle the ginger in the base of a cocktail shaker
  2. Add two shots of gin
  3. Squeeze in fresh lime juice
  4. Add two shots of simple syrup
  5. Shake with ice and “fine strain” into a Collins glass
  6. Top up with a premium soda water
  7. Garnish it with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry on a cocktail stick
  8. Sit back and raise a glass to Tom, John and Jamie for creating this divine concoction

Sometimes the sequel can be even better than the original!



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News
    Ruddles has been at it again. As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in … Continued
  • Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
    Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia. All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added … Continued
  • The Ginger Tom: a spicy twist on a cocktail classic
    Here’s a fabulous cocktail recipe based on one of the most famous gin drinks of all time. Introducing the Ginger Tom. But before we share the recipe, we thought it would be a good idea to check out the heritage and history of this delicious drink. The Cat’s Whiskers The Ginger Tom is one of … Continued
  • Botanicals: gin’s secret stars
    Why is gin so different to vodka or any other white spirit? What makes gin so special? Well, the secret lies in the botanicals. What are these botanicals and why are they so important? And how exactly do they turn a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid into one of the most versatile and exciting spirits on … Continued
botanicals

Botanicals: gin’s secret stars

Why is gin so different to vodka or any other white spirit? What makes gin so special? Well, the secret lies in the botanicals.

What are these botanicals and why are they so important? And how exactly do they turn a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid into one of the most versatile and exciting spirits on planet earth?

We thought we’d spend a little time looking at these secret ingredients. We want to help us all to understand what makes these little blasts of flavour so important in the world of gin. So, let’s start with the most obvious: juniper.

Without juniper, there is no gin.

For a drink to be classified as gin, Juniper is a must. According to legal definitions, gin must always be a minimum of 37.5% ABV and Juniper must be its dominant spirit. That seems pretty simple and clear. But this is actually where the fun begins! Once the minimum requirements are met, distillers are working on an empty canvas where the art is only as good as the artist. From here on out, all you are limited by is your imagination.

Juniper’s medicinal history

The juniper berries you are most likely to find in your gin are actually a type of pine cone from a shrub called juniperus communis. This is generally found growing wild across most of the Northern hemisphere. It’s what gives gin that distinctive taste of pine, camphor and lavender.

In fact, its medicinal qualities have been recognised for millennia. An ancient Egyptian papyrus from 1500BC refers to juniper as a cure for tapeworm infestations. Juniper berries have also been found as part of the embalming process in ancient Egyptian tombs. Through the ages they were used to cure infections, prevent epilepsy and even cure the plague.
These days, the best juniper is grown on the hillsides of Macedonia and Italy and is rich in aromatic oil. This is one reason why its important for distillers to try a number of different samples to get the mixture exactly right.

Botanicals: a world of fragrant opportunities

Most of the botanicals that we use in gin have medical roots that go back hundreds (sometimes thousands) of years. Some of them are still used for their medicinal qualities.

As we know, juniper berries are integral to creating gin. Unsurprisingly, they feature in every gin that is produced.

As well as juniper, there may be some other common botanicals that may surprise you.
Wormwood (more commonly associated with absinthe) is a popular botanical for many distillers. Others such as coriander are extraordinarily popular and you will see it make an appearance in many gins imparting a fresh, spicy sage and lemon flavour.

Beyond that, you enter a world of opportunities with more fragrant botanicals such as frankincense (sweet and oily) and cassia bark (sharp and pungent) appearing more and more often.

Many other gins feature angelica (woody and earthy), citrus and orris root (aromatic and floral).

But the list goes on to include almonds (marzipan sweetness), bergamot peel (musky, perfumed) and cardamom pods (warm and spicy). These are becoming increasingly popular alongside cubeb berries (peppery), elderflower (sweet and floral).
Citrus peels are always in demand and ginger (spicy and warm) and even licorice (woody and sweet) are making more frequent appearances.

Each of these botanicals help to build up the complex layers of flavours that we enjoy in our G&Ts today. As gin makers experiment and become more comfortable with the possibilities of ingredients that they are using, they have become increasingly bold.

Laverstoke Mill: a temple to botanicals

If you’re interested in learning more about botanicals, it’s worth paying a visit to the stunning Bombay Sapphire distillery in Hampshire.
Here, the main distilling process takes place in Bombay Sapphire’s converted 18th century Laverstoke Mill straddling the crystal clear waters of the River Test. But in a stroke of architectural genius, a swooping glass extension (reminiscent of the river that flows underneath it) covers a fascinating gin museum with wonderful gin tours. You will have the opportunity to taste a wonderful Laverstoke cocktail too!
Inside this extraordinary glass building they grow some of the botanicals that they use to make Bombay Sapphire. They have dozens of different botanicals beautifully presented in jars and bags for guests to touch and smell.

In their Discovery Experience they’ll help you map out your flavour tastes and even offer a well crafted cocktail mixed in their on-site bar. Their drinks are made to recipes by their in-house mixologist Sam Carter – and they’re delicious. The variety of botanicals on display is breathtaking and the flavours so individual and eclectic, that this will definitely need to be on your list for a fascinating visit once life returns to normal.

So, next time you try your latest gin, see which ones you can identify and raise a glass to our secret botanicals. They are the reason the magic happens.



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News
    Ruddles has been at it again. As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in … Continued
  • Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
    Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia. All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added … Continued
  • The Ginger Tom: a spicy twist on a cocktail classic
    Here’s a fabulous cocktail recipe based on one of the most famous gin drinks of all time. Introducing the Ginger Tom. But before we share the recipe, we thought it would be a good idea to check out the heritage and history of this delicious drink. The Cat’s Whiskers The Ginger Tom is one of … Continued
  • Botanicals: gin’s secret stars
    Why is gin so different to vodka or any other white spirit? What makes gin so special? Well, the secret lies in the botanicals. What are these botanicals and why are they so important? And how exactly do they turn a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid into one of the most versatile and exciting spirits on … Continued
Malfy Gin con Limone

Malfy Gin con Limone: the best lemon gin out there?

I love it when a gin does exactly what it says on the tin. Malfy Gin con Limone is just such a gin.

As you’d expect, it’s literally a gin from the Amalfi coast of Italy that has been infused with juicy, sweet sun-ripened local lemons. They’ve even added some rare local Sfusato lemon peel alongside their hand-picked juniper and a small selection of other locally sourced botanicals. It’s that classic simplicity that shines through in what is, for me, the best lemon gin out there. This is a gorgeous, crystal clear gin with lashings of citrus on the nose and a complex lemon finish that lingers long after the last sip has been taken.
Somehow, this stunning gin manages to avoid the synthetic flavours of some other lemon gins. It doesn’t simply try to nostalgically mimic childhood sweets or recreate lost recipes from the past. This is a thoroughly modern gin that makes the most of its sunny location to dial up the citrus in every sip.

A family affair, oozing Italian chic

Malfy Gin con Limone absolutely oozes Italy. Its gorgeous modern bottle is decorated, with stunningly cool Italian designs and lemon circles, which suit this gin’s sunny vibe perfectly. Even looking at the bottle puts you in a holiday mood – but the drink inside is even better.

What makes this particular lemon gin the real deal? Well first of all, it’s a family affair. This gin is lovingly made by the Vergnano family. While this is a thoroughly modern gin, its roots go deep and the ingredients are intrinsically connected to the Italian landscape. The distillate base is Italian wheat and the juniper is from Tuscany.

Lemons are the star here

But the star of the show here is definitely those lemons. The team at Malfy have also dialed up the citrus by adding some extra botanicals including Italian coastal oranges and Sicilian grapefuits alongside the lemon, licorice and coriander.
The result is the perfect summer gin – ideal for long G&Ts to cool you down on those hot evenings we’re dreaming of.

But here’s a little secret – those lemons aren’t just any lemons. They’re special lemons, only produced in limited quantities (most of them go to make Limoncello). The ones they use at Malfy are ultra-rich in oil glands giving them a uniquely potent aromatic quality that really makes this gin stand out.

A taste sensation

So, what is it like? Well the first impression on the nose is that it is immediately and noticeably citrus. There’s loads of lemon in there up front, with a bit of orange and even some underlying pine notes. But when you take a sip, it all comes together in a fiesta of citrus flavours. There’s a little spiciness from the coriander, but mostly this is all about the lemon which dances on your tongue in a frenzy of Mediterranean flavours that are hard to resist.

This is one of the best flavoured gins out there to make a classic Mediterranean G&T – and I think that’s a great way to start.

Splash a little sunshine in your glass

Just imagine yourself in a little rooftop cafe, perched on the edge of a steep cliff in a little village on the Amalfi coast. You’ve had a long hot day at the beach and now you want to unwind watching the sunset over the beautiful Mediterranean Sea sparkling below. The drink you want with you is Malfy Gin con Limone.

Malfy Gin con Limone: the perfect serve ( ABV 41%)

We think that there’s only one glass for this drink: a large copa glass.

  1. Fill the glass to the top with large ice cubes.
  2. Add a generous shot of Malfy Gin con Limone.
  3. Cut a lemon into wedges and then wipe the rim of your glass with the lemon wedge.
  4. Squeeze the lemon into the glass and fill to the top with a premium Indian Tonic water letting the fizz of the tonic water gently mix all the flavours together.
  5. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel and drink.

You’ll be transported to the Amalfi coast in no time.

TOP TIP: this gin works equally well in any citrus cocktails. I tried it last night in a classic Tom Collins and it was delicious. Really pumped up the citrus!



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News
    Ruddles has been at it again. As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in … Continued
  • Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
    Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia. All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added … Continued
  • The Ginger Tom: a spicy twist on a cocktail classic
    Here’s a fabulous cocktail recipe based on one of the most famous gin drinks of all time. Introducing the Ginger Tom. But before we share the recipe, we thought it would be a good idea to check out the heritage and history of this delicious drink. The Cat’s Whiskers The Ginger Tom is one of … Continued
  • Botanicals: gin’s secret stars
    Why is gin so different to vodka or any other white spirit? What makes gin so special? Well, the secret lies in the botanicals. What are these botanicals and why are they so important? And how exactly do they turn a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid into one of the most versatile and exciting spirits on … Continued
cherry julep

Cherry Julep – Wow! Just wow…

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Tailgating… Southern style

In my 20s I lived in America. Richmond, Virginia, in fact.
Every year, my family would gather with friends for a great Virginia tradition, The Strawberry Hill Races. This was a traditional American steeplechase, but I knew nothing about horses.
What I did know was that this was a great party. Every year, we’d roll up in our American station wagon, packed to the gills with English treats such as Coronation chicken, fresh strawberries and cream and a big silver punch bowl full of Pimm’s.

Three measures of gin (and no Bourbon)

We would lay out all our treasures on a big folding table and, understandably, we quickly became the centre of a big tailgating party. But everyone else was drinking Mint Juleps, made with Bourbon, sugar and mint.
As the years passed, I became less and less enamoured with the taste of Bourbon and more and more enamoured with the taste of gin. So, imagine my delight when I discovered a recipe for a Cherry Julep made with not one but three measures of gin (and not a drop of Bourbon to be seen!)
It almost sounds like my perfect drink, so this week, I thought I’d give it a go. And I’m delighted to report that it is truly lovely.

A Julep – but not as we know it!

Forget everything you imagine a mint julep to be. This is different for sure. Fruity, instead of minty. Sweet cherries, sugar and gin. Plus an extra measure of Sloe Gin for depth and natural flavouring. All served up ice cold in a highball glass, this promised to be a real treat. And it didn’t disappoint. Fruity, rich, cooling, this drink ticks all the boxes for a delicious spring cocktail. Plus, almost all the ingredients are likely to be somewhere at the back of your bar (or easy to find in your local grocery store).

So, what exactly is a Julep?

Traditionally, a Julep is an American cocktail. It’s generally made from Kentucky Bourbon and it’s often drunk at major social events in the southern states of the USA. From the Kentucky Derby to the Master’s in Augusta, Mint Juleps can be found in the hands of Southern gentlemen and Southern belles from Richmond, Virginia to Lexington, Kentucky. But it’s also a cocktail staple in bars across the globe. Normally served in silver or pewter cups, these drinks should be held by the bottom and top edges only to guarantee a chilled drink every time. However, these days you are just as likely to be served yours in a highball glass.

The Spanish connection

Interestingly, this classic American drink has a Spanish connection. A Julep is generally defined as a sweet cocktail. But the word itself is derived from the Spanish word “julepe”, taken form Spanish Arabic and derived in turn from the Persian word Golab, which means rosewater. Who knew?

Introducing the Cherry Julep

Juelps continued to be popular throughout the 19th and early 20th century and, as I mentioned, they are generally associated with Bourbon. But these days, as gin takes centre stage and cocktails are increasingly “de rigeur”, my eyes lit up at the discovery of the Cherry Julep. This little beauty is a perfect combination of gin, sloe gin, cherry brandy, grenadine and sugar syrup. No need for a silver chalice here – just a glass that doesn’t leak!

The finishing line…

I mixed one of these up the other day and I think this works particularly well with an Old Tom gin such as Haymans. That slightly sweeter edge seems to marry well with the soft, fruity ingredients of the drink. Honestly, this drink was a revelation. I may not be able to swig a Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby this year, but there’s every chance that I’ll be sipping on one for the Grand National, while waiting for my annual betting spree to end in its customary disappointment. No stress. As long as I have a Cherry Julep in my hand, I’m already a winner. Cheers, dears.

The Cherry Julep recipe

Ingredients

  • 3-4 ice cubes (plus crushed ice to serve)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of grenadine
  • 2 measures of Old Tom gin
  • 1 measure of cherry brandy
  • 1 measure of sloe gin
  • Lemon rind strips to garnish

Method

  1. Place the ice into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Pour the lemon juice, simple syrup, grenadine, cherry brandy, sloe gin and gin over the ice.
  3. Shake until a light frost appears on the outside of the shaker.
  4. Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice.
  5. Garnish with strips of lemon rind.

Top tip: if you really want to dial up the cherry, add a maraschino cherry straight form the jar and drizzle a little of that gorgeous cherry juice (straight from the jar) directly into your mixture.
You won’t regret it!

Place a bet on your favourite horse and wait…



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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5 pink gins

Love is in the air: 5 pink gins to set your heart a-flutter

5 pink gins to get you in the mood for romance.

This Sunday is Valentine’s Day. And for many of us, it won’t be quite the same as usual. No romantic restaurant dinners gazing into each other’s eyes, whispering sweet nothings. No flickering candle-lit dinners, romantic balloon rides or weekend breaks in Paris. This year, it’s more likely to be a domestic dinner, with the kids in tow . But we all know that a little gin can help to get that sparkle back.
So, here are 5 pink gins to help get you “gin the mood” this Sunday.

1. Eden Mill’s Love Gin, ABV 42%

The name says it all. This romantic gin from the team at Eden Mill is guaranteed to make your heart beat faster this Valentine’s Day.
This innovative Scottish distillery knows that love is in the air this weekend.
Eden Mill’s Love Gin is a delicious gin infused with juniper, coriander seed and angelica. Then things get a bit frisky.
It has flavours including rhubarb root, rose petal, goji berries, marshmallow root and raspberry leaf.  And for a whiff of floral notes, Eden Mill has infused this mix with hibiscus flowers. 
The result is a delicious gin with notes of juniper, lime and strawberries on the nose.  Love Gin’s taste is unique. Red berries and rose shines through on the palate, then fade into a refreshingly dry finish. And it comes in a classic white ceramic bottle.
This is exactly the kind of gin you should be sharing with someone you love this Valentine’s Day.

2. Pinkster, ABV 37.5%

This gorgeously fruity gin is made with real raspberries. It was launched eight years ago as an “agreeably British gin.” 
Pinkster‘s distinctive raspberry flavour arises from fresh fruit steeped in the gin. The fruit lends it a beautiful pink hue.  On the nose, keep an eye out for notes of orange peel and angelica, backed up by sharp raspberries.
Take a sip: you’re also likely to detect a bit of pepper alongside the vanilla, resulting in a well-rounded taste. Pinkster finishes with a blast of raspberries that lingers long after the final sip. Its squared-off bottle and modern label make this a great way to melt your partner’s heart this weekend.

Try serving it with a garnish of well-spanked fresh mint and a raspberry for that extra touch of romance. Let’s raise a glass to love!

3. Edinburgh Gin (Valentine’s edition), ABV 43%

5 pink gins

Edinburgh Gin has released a deliciously subtle gin that we think you’ll just fall in love with. First bottled six years ago, this is a limited edition gin that is made romance.
There’s a nice fresh crispness to this gin. It’s courtesy of a well-considered blend of lemon balm, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf. Add to that a delicate infusion of rose and hibiscus which introduces a pink hue to the spirit. And a light, perfumed taste which will keep you feeling in the mood for love.

This is a great gin on its own (with tonic and ice) or served up in a romantic cocktail. It’s definitely too good to drink alone. Share it with someone you love.

4. Larios Rose gin, ABV 37.5%

5 pink gins

Spain’s love affair with gin has been going on for centuries and Larios Rose is a pink gin you can rely on. Part of the growing Larios range, this is a great-value gin.
It has a beautiful pink colour to match the roses that are bound to arrive on this most romantic of days. The Larios team has combined delicious strawberry sweetness with classic Mediterranean citrus notes.
It results in a smooth, refreshing easy-to-drink gin that we think you’ll love.

Serve it with some Fever Tree elderflower tonic and a strawberry garnish.

5. Mermaid Pink gin: ABV 38%

Mermaid pink gin

Our final romantic gin is Mermaid Pink gin. This is from the folks at the Isle of Wight distillery. It’s another beautiful gin infused with island strawberries. It uses 10 ethically sourced botanicals including lemon zest and grains of paradise.
Rock samphire balances out its sweetness with a little salty taste of the sea. The result: a beautifully balanced pink gin. And without some of the overpowering sweetness of some of its rivals.
Plus, it is the colour of romance, making it the perfect drink to share with the one you love this Sunday (or any other day of the year!). Serve this with a premium tonic water and garnish it with lime, mint or strawberry.

This gorgeous gin come in one of the most stunning bottles around. And it is dedicated to reducing the impact of plastic on the oceans. Mermaids have rights too!



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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how gin is made

The secrets of the stills: how gin is made

A few years ago, I was having dinner with some friends in London. One of them had been pontificating about wine. It was getting to the point at which he was describing how different soils in neighbouring fields can produce radically different grapes and wines with completely unique flavours. That was when I brought up gin and its infinite variety. I started the conversation making the point that gin was essentially a flavoured vodka. But he was adamant that I was wrong.
“Gin is gin”, he said. “Completely different!”
For the sake of the evening, I didn’t challenge him but it got me thinking. While we all love drinking it, most of us don’t know how gin is made. So, this is for all of us gin lovers who have managed to master the art of drinking the stuff but haven’t yet mastered the art of distilling it.

What is gin?

There are three basic rules that gin has to follow to be classified as gin:

  1. Gin must be based on a neutral spirit (unflavoured vodka, ethanol etc).
  2. It must also be bottled at a minimum alcoholic strength of 37.5% ABV.
  3. Finally, it must contain juniper as its dominant flavour.

The rest is up to you. Some prefer London Dry gins, others prefer Genever gin or Old Tom. Some prefer fruity gins or glorious floral infusions. Others prefer citrus or earthy tones. And there’s now a huge industry churning our what we call “flavoured gins” (some good, some not so good!).

Complex flavours, infinite variety

But the real beauty of a good gin is its complexity and its infinite variety. There is a subtlety to a good gin that is almost an art form on a par with Scotch whiskey.
This complex, sophisticated mix is achieved through the expertise of each individual distiller working diligently to achieve the exact flavour profile that they prefer. For many of us, we either picture big brand distilleries such as Bombay Sapphire pumping out industrial quantities of gin (think the big brands here!) Or, you could be imagining something more niche – a bit more like Breaking Bad, with people in white coats staring at bubbling potions to create their own small batch gin delights. The truth is it’s both of those (and everything in between).

Back to basics

So, let’s start at the beginning.
Gin is one of a group of spirits that include Akvavit and a number of anise-flavoured products that get their character directly from the supplemental flavours added during the distilling process instead of the raw material they are made from.
Essentially gin is simply a neutral spirit to which juniper and other flavours have been added. The base spirit can be fermented from a wide rage of things from grain to milk (and plenty in between). The resulting clear, neutral alcohol gives the distiller a blank canvas on which to create a masterpiece.

Maceration, distillation and infusion

Flavours can then be added through any one of three recognised methods:

  1. Maceration: Firstly, through a process of simple maceration which extracts both flavour and colour from the ingredients to give its own unique profile. For a clear colour, the maceration liquid still needs to be distilled.
  2. Distillation: The second approach is known as “re-distillation”. Once the product has gone through an initial distillation to create its neutral spirit, it is then “re-distilled”. During this process, the vapours that boil off carry selected flavour-frequencies on into the final product, while leaving the colour behind.
    The result is an aromatic mix of complex compounds within a clear liquid, with a distinct concentrated smell.
  3. Infusion: The third approach is to add “off the shelf” compounded flavours to a neutral spirit, mixing it up in the same way as you would mix your own bespoke cocktail. This is the easiest method and the result is the sort of cheap gin that you find on the bottom shelves of supermarket.

So when does the magic start?

Well the first stage is fermentation. This is where the alcohol is created before it is distilled into gin. Alcohol can be created from a huge range of foodstuffs including grain, grapes, potatoes and even milk. Grain is the most common source and it is often ground down to help it to release starch, which then converts into sugar. These sugars are then mixed with water to make a mash before being transferred to the mash “tun”. This is where the fermentation fun starts.

Fermenting fun

Fermentation is simply the natural process of decomposition. But you’ll need to add some yeast for the real fun to begin. The yeast feeds on the sugar and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks depending on the process used. The resulting liquid is a low alcohol brew, commonly known as the “mash”. It’s not dissimilar to beer.
But how does this beer-like liquid become distilled alcohol?

The distillation process

And now we can reveal the secrets of the stills.
The fermented wash is heated to boiling point in a “still”. During this process, the “wash” evaporates before condensing at lower temperatures. These vapors are then captured by the distillers and separated to create a new mixture.
After several distillations, the resulting spirit is generally filtered through charcoal or carbon to remove any remaining sediment and impurities. The resulting clean, pure, alcoholic spirit is now ready for bottling, flavouring, aging or drinking.

Adding the ingredients

As we know, gin is essentially vodka that has been distilled with added botanicals. But, while Juniper berries have to dominate the flavour for your spirit to qualify as gin, other common botanicals are generally added at this stage including cumin, wormwood and coriander. More unusual ones include cassia root and frankincense.
With the rise of craft gin, ingredients are becoming increasingly exotic with the rise and rise of flavoured spirits. The final blend is only limited by the distillers imagination.

The stills: tradition vs efficiency

But to make all this come together, you need a still.
If you’re interested in trying this out at home, you can actually purchase individual desktop stills from Amazon for under 100 euros.
However, for the professionals, there are only two main types – pot stills and column stills.

Pot stills: smaller and more traditional. They’re generally made from copper and they can be quite labour intensive requiring regular cleaning . But actually, the process is quite simple. Heat the mix up in the boiler and watch it vapourise and separate. This happens because alcohol and water boil at different temperatures.
This results in the alcohol vapours condensing to leave behind a strong alcoholic liquid. Generally, this liquid is then redistilled again for a smoother taste.

Column stills: more efficient but more industrial and less historical.
Multiple chambers allow the producers to enable fractional distillation – or separate distillations within the still.
This gives distillers more flexibility and precision and they produce higher alcohol spirits. Some producers also pass steam directly through the ingredients to distil alcohol or to extract essential oils from the plants or botanicals.
The final mixture is then mixed with water before bottling to reduce it to the final desired strength. Definitely more efficient (but less character).

Know what you’re drinking!

So, there you go – a brief guide to distillation.
If you’re inspired to have a go yourself, then pick up a still and have fun experimenting with your own flavours. Otherwise, just carry on drinking the gin, smug in the knowledge that you actually know (and appreciate) exactly how this beautiful, complex and subtle drink is made.



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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gin and tonic cupcakes

Gin and Tonic cupcakes: sweet dreams are made of this!

OMG. I don’t think it gets much better than this. We’ve already delved into the delights of cooking with gin. We’ve shared recipes for gin trifles, we’ve told you how to make gin scampi and we’ve given you an easy recipe for gin baked salmon. But that was all just a preamble to this moment. We are giving you the gin and tonic cupcakes recipe!
All joking aside, this recipe will make you feel like you’ve died and gone to gin and tonic heaven. If you like gin and tonic and have a sweet tooth (guilty!), then this is a gin lovers dream come true. A huge thank you to Janet patisserie for publishing this gorgeous (and easy) recipe that is perfectly suited to any Mad Hatters looking for a tea party.

Soft, sweet (with loads of gin and a buttercream topping)

These little gin and tonic cupcakes are simply delicious. Soft and sweet, these delicious bundles of gin delight are packed with flavour. From an almost impossibly light sponge base to an extraordinary buttercream frosting, with a little hint of lime, this could fast become your go-to Sunday treat.
The buttercream dominates but the gin comes through clearly. And the lime really brings it all together with a gratuitous burst of citrus that will pep you up in a moment. So, without further ado, here is the recipe you’ve been waiting for. This recipe makes around 12 cupcakes and you can rustle up a baker’s dozen of these in as little as 30 minutes.
Plus, it’s always a good idea to keep the gin bottle near you on these occasions. Just in case the chef needs that little extra bit of gincouragement!
I hope you’re as excited as I am about this…

Gin and tonic cupcakes recipe:

Ingredients

The cupcakes

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 150 caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 3 tbsps of gin (very important!)
  • 3 tbsps of tonic water

The buttercream

  • 150 g unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 375 g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsps gin
  • 2-3 tbsps tonic water

The gin syrup

  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp of gin
  • 3 tbsp of tonic water
  • Decorations: lime zest, lime slices

Method

For the cupcakes

  1. Heat the oven to 180c/160 fan and line a cupcake tin with 12 large cupcakes cases.
  2. With a stand mixer, beat the butter with the caster sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Combine the eggs and self-raising flour with the butter/sugar mix until well combined. It won’t take too long!
  4. Add in the gin, tonic and beat again. Don’t worry if the mix looks runnier than usual – that’s why we add more flour.

For the buttercream

  1. Beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few minutes (to loosen it).
  2. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until well combined (this can take up to 5 minutes).
  3. Add in the tonic and gin, one tbsp of each at a time and beat fully each time. The mixture will be slightly slacker than usual, so be aware. This is where the flavour comes from!
  4. Spoon the mix into the cupcake cases evenly and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean and they are springy to touch).
  5. Leave them to cool fully on a wire tray.
  6. If making the gin syrup, add the sugar, gin and tonic water to a pan on boil for a minute so the sugar dissolves.
  7. Brush/spoon over the cupcakes.

For the decoration

  1. Once iced, add a lime or lemon wedge to the cupcake.
  2. Sprinkle on some lime/lemon zest and enjoy!


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

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tanqueray rangpur

Tanqueray Rangpur: my new gin hero

I know it’s not new and most of us have probably locked our lips around this already. But sometimes’ it’s worth reminding yourself the excellence that’s right in front of you. Having tried a few lime gins over the last year, I’ve developed a little taste for it. As a child, I grew up in India and my childhood memories form comfortably around a simple Indian drink that kept me cool on many a hot Calcutta day. It was called a Nimbu Pani and it was basically a freshly squeezed mix of lime juice, simple syrup and soda water, served with loads of ice. To this day, it evokes fabulous memories. Ever since, I’ve had a taste for lime.

A lime classic, delivered at a decent price

Whether it’s baked into a Key Lime pie or muddled with mint in a Gin Gin Mule , it’s a flavour I keep returning to. So, having tried several lime gin brands over the year, yesterday I returned to revisit Tanqueray Rangpur, one of my standard favourites. And it didn’t disappoint.
Sometimes, the standard brands are overlooked in favour of the trendiest bottles or the best back stories. But this classic lime gin deserves a place in everybody’s bar. And it’s not as expensive as some of those other fancy labels, so might be worth keeping one in stock for those lime emergencies.
So, why is it so good?

Tanqueray Rangpur does exactly what it says on the tin

Following in the footsteps of its siblings (including the ever popular Tanqueray Sevilla) this gin does what it says it will do. This is a straight, no-nonsense injection of lime infused into a standard London Dry Tanqueray mix.
Made with rare Rangpur limes (famous for their sweet, juicy zest) and then combined with juniper, coriander, bay leaves and ginger, this drink just screams “Passage to India”. It is a truly delicious drink, right down to the last drop. The resulting spirit retains a full-bodied flavour with a surprisingly smooth finish. On the nose, it is distinctly limey in a soft, perfumed kind of way. On the tongue, it’s a little explosion of lime with overtones of citrus dancing around to reveal hints of pineapple and lemon. There is no lack of lime flavour here. And the finish lingers long after you’ve swilled that last drop of this delicious elixir.
Fresh and clean, the taste hangs around for a little while, before a slow fade with no bitter aftertaste.

A refreshingly honest gin

What I like most about this drink is its honesty. If you want a lime gin, here it is. No convoluted, exotic backstory. Just a trusted Tanqueray pedigree. There’s no massive marketing hype around this like there was around the launch of Tanqueray Sevilla a few years ago. No gimmicky names required, it manages to avoid some of the slightly synthetic, artificial taste of some of the other lime gins. It’s a refreshingly honest gin. While the juniper taste is present for sure, it never dominates or gets in the way of the lime. This is an exceptional gin at a decent price.

So, how do you drink this delicious gin?

Well, preferably on a veranda, with a large ceiling fan wafting the delicious scents and smells of India all around you. But if that’s impossible, them make do with your own kitchen. Arm yourself with some simple ingredients. Franklin and Sons Natural Indian tonic water works a treat with this drink. Don’t ruin it with fancy flavours, there’s enough juicy zest in this to enjoy without any distractions. Serve it long in a tall glass, with ice. That’s what I did last night.

And it tasted just like a Nimbu Pani (but much more fun)!

Save me a seat!

Tanqueray Rangpur: the perfect pour

  1. Place a whicker chair onto the veranda.
  2. Fill up a tall highball glass with large ice cubes.
  3. Slice up two wedges of fresh lime.
  4. Wipe one around the rim of the glass and drop it in.
  5. Pour a decent shot of gin over the ice (Tanqueray Rangpur).
  6. Fill it to the top with a freshly opened premium Indian tonic water.
  7. Drop the second lime wedge into the glass.
  8. Sit back and imagine you’re in India.

PS – this is a great gin to give an extra lime edge to some cocktails (think Gin Gin Mule!)



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News
    Ruddles has been at it again. As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in … Continued
  • Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
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