Corpen Gin

How Corpen launched a no-nonsense gin brand in the middle of a pandemic

Corpen Gin is the most recent addition to the Barcelona gin scene. In the middle of a global pandemic, with shutters going down in businesses across the globe, somehow the company has managed to launch a unique craft gin brand. 

At Corpen, the focus is firmly on the gin, not the marketing: no extravagant back stories written by PR teams here. Corpen concentrates on making a unique gin with modest ambitions and a fabulous taste. 

Barcelona-based founders Brian Burgess (from the US) and Pablo Barrera (from Colombia) met while pursuing master’s degrees and are making their dreams come true. A few weeks ago, they invited us to join them for a socially distanced tour of their small distillery in Barcelona’s bohemian Poblenou district, where we tried their gin. 

It was delicious. And here’s their story.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves

Brian: I was an officer in the United States Navy for eight years before moving to Barcelona to study. My real passions are graphic design, travel, trying unusual spirits and pretty much anything to do with food. Oh, and barbecue, lots of barbecue. But we both enjoy getting deep inside the minds of our customers. 

We love understanding what motivates them, and coming up with new ideas. In this case we’re starting with gin, but we’ve always considered adding other spirits in the future.

Pablo: I have a different background altogether. I began my career as an industrial designer but I’ve done lots of things since then. What I really love is observing people’s behaviour. I love trying to work out what makes them tick. I’ve done that all through my business life and I still try to apply it to any project I get involved in.

How did you meet?

Pablo: We were both studying for our master’s degrees at the Istituto Europeo di Design in 2014. Brian was studying design management and I was going for a master’s in fashion management. Brian came to the city to get back into the design world after being in the Navy. 

I did it to internationalise my career after owning and growing a fashion business in my home city of Medellín. We quickly discovered that we shared the same passion for home brewing. It was that initial shared interest that made us start to think about the opportunities. 

The ideas that would eventually become Corpen really all started at that moment. 

What made you switch from brewing beer to think about starting a gin distillery?

Brian: At the start, our top priority was finding a way of building our careers so that we could remain in Spain. It all began with some casual conversations about how to start a craft brewing business. But then I traveled to the UK and spotted another opportunity.  

One of the things I noticed was that wherever there was a craft beer revolution, a wave of craft distillation soon followed. That’s the evolution that we mapped out and once we identified it, we saw it all over the UK, US and Australia, among others. 

There were consistent shifts in the market away from industrial spirits which made room for small, bespoke craft distilleries.

What gin experience did you have before you started this project?

Pablo: Our experience with gin was limited. We were fully accustomed to the mass consumer brands and we both liked experimenting with new cocktails, but we had no deep connection with the distillation process. Brian also brought a lot of entrepreneurial knowledge with him from the US and spotted an opportunity.

Brian: Yes. At the beginning we really saw the opportunity in craft distilling, but the actual product wasn’t as clear. Truth be told, my gin experiences were not good ones until I had a craft gin at a distillery in Washington DC. The light bulb really came on for me at that moment.  

We dove into gin after that, and spent considerable time studying the market, the process, the profiles of gins we liked, the equipment and space we’d need, before we decided gin was the place to start.  

How did you learn distilling and what equipment did you use?

Corpen Gin

Pablo: We started off using a small, basic 1-litre copper still that we bought online from a Portuguese company. It was very traditional in style, shape and functionality. But that small still gave us a chance to learn the principles of distillation. We did all our first experiments on this little still. It allowed us to create our first recipes, conduct tests. 

We even held some personal workshops, which was a great way for us to validate our ideas and test our recipes.

Brian: Absolutely. That was our starting point. And slowly, as we learned more about the process, it led to larger production batches. We learned about distillation the old fashioned way: by reading, watching videos and talking with other more experienced distillers. That’s the way most businesses start. 

It was a process of mistakes and errors and try and try again.

There are loads of craft gins out there now. What makes Corpen Gin distillery different from other Barcelona gin distillers?

Brian: There are lots of things that make Corpen gin different from the rest. One of those is flexibility. We react quickly to changes. That makes us ideal for companies or special clients who want to customise or personalise their products for events or for their own businesses. 

We can help them make unique, branded personalised gins in small batches at a sensible price.  

Pablo: We also take a unique approach to our customers. We include them in our decisions. We want to be really clear about what they expect from their spirit.  We want to involve them in the process right from the start. We work with them to create new recipes. For us, the customer is the starting point for any product development. 

When we make our gins, the customer is the beginning and the end of everything we do.

What is your mission at Corpen Gin?

Brian: We are distillers that literally started from scratch. We’ve learned everything from the bottom up. And, actually, the fact that we didn’t know too much at the start was probably a good thing. It made us think that many spirits drinkers were in the same boat. 

They’d love to know more about the actual gin that lies behind the glossy branding and marketing hype. We also noticed that many craft spirit brands had started to develop convoluted back stories. Lots of fancy narratives about ancient processes and local legends. This struck us as a bit fake. 

In reality, distillation is a very simple process. You can do it in your kitchen.

Pablo: Yes, part of what we want to do is to open our brand up to the public. We want to empower them to understand how these gins are made. That way, they can make better buying decisions. 

With all the gin choices available on the market right now, we want customers to choose the exact gin that’s right for their tastes, not just the ones the industry decides to push. We want to educate people about gin and other spirits. Distilling alcohol has been done for centuries. 

These days,we are lucky enough to make much better spirits than ever before, even with relatively simple equipment.

Tell us about your brand philosophy

Brian: Our philosophy is built around one of the most important values of business: transparency. We want to show people exactly what our gin is all about. In the same way as the craft brewing industry did in the beer business. 

These days customers already know exactly what type of beer they like, they make an informed choice and have it in their mind at the point of purchase. In the same way that beer drinkers understand about hops, we want gin drinkers to understand about juniper berries.

What makes Corpen gin different from other gin brands?

Pablo: When it comes down to it, a brand is as simple as perception. We want people to think of us as their ‘spirit guides’.  We want them to understand where we’re coming from and what goes into their drink. We don’t want to do this as the sole proprietors of knowledge.

Brian: Yes. Ideally we want people to think of Corpen as open-source, freely sharing what we know. We don’t want to invent imaginative back stories to convince people of their fantasies. You won’t find us telling tales of ancient forgotten recipes found in great-grandma’s drawer in the attic. 

We want to bring our gin to life in practical terms. The ultimate test is in the taste and we think people react better to that reality. Not the one created by marketers.

What are your plans for Corpen going forward?

Brian: We want to scale up our production although we’ll still only do small batches. That’s enough for us to cover the demand that we already know about. We also want to start developing new recipes and collaborate with some companies who we’ve been talking to. 

Some of them are already waiting for us to start working on projects. Once we get rolling, we hope we will find other partnerships with industries, businesses and private customers.

How hard has it been to set up a craft gin business?

Brian: The process has actually been really hard, and especially long. By hard, what we mean is that we’ve been challenged by bureaucracy. No single task was that hard by itself, but the accumulation and sequencing of those tasks definitely tested our patience and resolve. 

Also, since we’re the first official distillery operating in the city of Barcelona, we needed to navigate fresh ground to get the appropriate activity license to sell and distribute across the EU. Being the first is never easy.

Pablo: I agree. Understanding the governmental procedures and regulations here has been our biggest challenge.  Also it was clear that some government institutions, agents and inspectors didn’t know how to deal with us, since nobody had asked these questions before. Time has also been a constant challenge. 

It’s been more than five years since we had our first conversation about this. But it’s all been worth it. We’ve managed to open a new craft distillery in Poblenou, right in the heart of Barcelona. We’re surrounded by some of the most innovative businesses in Europe but we operate from a small facility. 

This is just right for us to produce the volume we need and helps us to control the quality and the production capacity while retaining our flexibility.

What have been your highest moments so far–and your lowest?

Pablo: Thankfully there have been lots of high moments to punctuate some long periods of slogging away. One of the best moments was when we finally found the great location we’re in now. It is an amazing spot, beyond what we could have hoped for. 

After that, the day we got our activity license approved by the Ajuntament of Barcelona was a big day, and it allowed us to start operating. 

Brian: Yeah, that licence was really the capstone of a long process that included a half dozen other licences and permissions, which of course had to be done beforehand. So when we finally got it, it was a cause for real celebration, with a Corpen G&T of course! 

We’ve had our down moments as well, like when the Spanish government rejected our business plan in our applications for entrepreneur visas. They argued that starting an urban distillery in the city of Barcelona lacked innovation and made no positive contribution to the national economy. 

We also had a subcontractor do some terrible construction work that we had to tear out and completely redo. Luckily, we’re not easily deterred!

What is your ultimate ambition for Corpen gin?

Brian: Our ultimate goal is to encourage people to think of these new gins in the same transparent way that they have begun to apply to craft beer. We want them to appreciate the ingredients and understand how they impact taste. We also want to make sure that the processes are visible for all to see. 

If we do this in the right way, then we’ll have helped people to make better decisions when they go to buy their gin, and really understand what they’re drinking.

How did you cope with the Coronavirus? Did it set you back or spur you on?

Pablo: It certainly slowed things down. We had initially planned to launch in May 2020, but this crisis has been tricky for many people. Despite the fact that the crisis has driven higher domestic alcohol consumption, the industry actually shrank by 40% in 2020. 

We managed to avoid the impact of this drop, since we were only just getting started. We had no track record, no sales to anniversary and no customer base to disappoint.

Brian: Actually, it gave us a great opportunity to understand a new post-pandemic scenario. There will be new rules and new opportunities and we’re agile enough to position ourselves appropriately. For us, existing during the crisis while building the facilities allowed us to keep working, while avoiding any potential bigger impact. 

We wouldn’t call that completely ‘positive’, but the situation we are leaving maybe has favoured us. 

What does Corpen mean and why did you choose that name?

Brian: This is a nod to my naval background. The word corpen is the term used for a naval signal flag used by NATO countries. When a ship formation needs to communicate, they often use flags. The corpen flag literally means a change of course, a change of direction.  

We chose this name after sharing some ideas with a group of trusted friends. We held a creative workshop in which we analysed each name to understand the feelings they evoked and their potential to represent our product truthfully. 

In the end, we listened to all the feedback and decided that Corpen was the most appropriate name for us. Plus it was a visual expression of choosing a new route, which is exactly what we are trying to do with this brand.

Now that you’ve officially launched, what is your business strategy?

Brian: Initially we plan to target the people who are already curious about spirits. People who like to explore new things and who appreciate the love and effort that goes into making a gin with craft processes and unique ingredients. People who want to experiment with new things. 

We want to tap into people’s curiosity for a new gin brand, located in the heart of the city of Barcelona with Mediterranean spirit. We also want to let them know that we’re respectful of the environment. We want them to see beyond the marketing stories to understand the real value of the craft gin process. 

Those are the people that we want to reach.

Pablo: We also don’t intend to only make one recipe forever and ever. Our plan is to have three or four gins at a time, each named after a classic Mediterranean wind. Ideally we’ll have two all year, and rotate seasonal recipes in the spring/summer and autumn/winter, using seasonal ingredients. 

Tell us about the process. How did you settle on the right flavours and balances?

Brian: This is a real collaborative effort. In the early stages, we both worked together experimenting with about 40 different botanicals. Then we validated our findings in a workshop with people close to us. We asked them to mix things up. We wanted them to experience different flavours and combinations. 

Based on their feedback, we started mapping out our first recipes. 

Pablo: Yes, that’s the same way we do all our product development these days. We try not to decide on any recipes without testing them with somebody who gives us independent feedback. We like to try different combinations of flavours.  

These are then adjusted to a small scale for the initial tests before being ramped up to see how it works in a bigger production run. Then we test the final result, check what is right regarding the balance and complexity we’re after and figure out what needs to be fixed.

Tell us about your gin. What is its flavour profile? What are the botanicals? Why did you choose them?

Corpen Gin botanicals

Brian: Clients will always have significant input into the product development. Of course, juniper is a given. But in our recipe profiles, we try to build deeper combinations of flavours that are different from what the market usually offers, which tends to be led by  fruity/floral or citrus/spicy flavours. 

We want to discover more rooty, moody, earthy, herbal and dry flavours. But we want to be careful that we don’t stray into eccentric or extravagant combinations just for the sake of being different. That requires some discipline. 

Many of our inspirations for flavor combinations come from the food world, and translating those into liquid is fascinating and fun. 

Pablo: We chose these flavour profiles not just to offer variety and choice to the market, but also because we believe that gin is a drink that is good enough to be consumed in cocktails but also good enough to be sipped neat. Corpen is a gin full of complex and complementary flavours. 

It’s been made to be enjoyed in the right atmosphere. We think it’s best served in an elegant glass with a large ice cube and a generous serving of our 45% ABV gin. 

Anybody can enjoy the elegant taste of our gin, whether it’s sipped in their living room, enjoyed while reading a beautiful book, relaxing in a calm space or with people you love. That is what it’s all about. 

What production method do you use?

Brian: We use two different capacity stainless steel stills. Each of them has different copper plates that help us to purify the spirit in the distillation process. Having two still sizes gives us flexibility for different batch sizes. 

We’re happy to do short personalised distillations or medium/small industry size batches for bigger, more specialised demand.

What’s your perfect recommended serve for your gin?

Pablo: Our gin began its life during the explosion of gin and tonic consumption here in Spain. Classic G&Ts really let our gin shine and we garnish with a squeeze of fresh orange peel. We always recommend using a neutral, high-quality tonic water. The brands may vary, but key is that it’s made with natural flavours and no artificial stuff. 

That way, you’ll be able to appreciate the ingredients better, with no interferences of distractions from unnecessary flavours. The classic gin cocktail will always be the Dry Martini. We think that our first gin, Corpen Llevant, is the perfect pour for a Dry Martini, allowing its delicate and complex flavours to stand out in the drink. 

We like Dolin Dry vermouth in ours, but we’re always open to experimentation. 

What is your personal favourite gin and why?

Brian: I’m not sure if I have a singular favorite, but I have favorites in certain categories. We’re lucky in Spain, we have many good Spanish gin brands and a great tradition of gin drinking here and I love Gin Mare as a new-style gin. On the traditional end, I love Plymouth Gin, and not just for its historical connection to the Navy. 

Also that distillery in Washington DC that opened my eyes to craft gin all those years ago must be mentioned: it’s called New Columbia Distillery and they make Green Hat Gin. 

Do you have a particular gin hero?

Pablo: There’s not one in particular. But all those whose curiosity has led them to experiment at home have taken the first step. They will be the ones who drive change in the next phase of gin production. We encourage all of these gin heroes to be a part of a new generation, taking this old spirit to new places. 

Besides those, Brian is definitely an unstoppable entrepreneur who has put his passion into the development of the company but also into gathering all the processes and technical knowledge that have helped us both to understand gin and the distillation process.

Can you recommend a great cocktail to make with Corpen Gin?

Pablo: Corpen gin is packed full of flavours. Our recipes suggest different aromas and tastes that we think are enjoyed best with as few additional flavours as possible. But we would love to hear back from any bartenders or gin enthusiasts to find other combinations. 

The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and your personal tastes. There is a perfect gin for everyone.

Brian: We have received lots of positive feedback from people who’ve tried our gin, including many suggestions about how they think we should pair our gins. We believe in the sense of community, sharing. 

So, we’re happy to share all the results of our experiments with gin and all its possible combinations with anybody who might share our passion. That’s how we’ll be able to identify the right combinations for each palate and for every taste.

Any unusual anecdotes or stories?

Brian: During our three-year research and development phase, we were able to share our recipes with more than 1,000 people visiting Barcelona. We did this in a workshop called ‘Make Your Own Gin’. In those workshops we discovered many things that helped us to prove our assumptions. 

We held these workshops in a beautiful historical protected building in Plaça Real, Barcelona. They were held in a small room on the third floor, with no lift. We had many guests complaining about the stairs on the way up. But for some reason, they seemed more than happy on the way down. 

Pablo: It was wonderful to see them arrive and watch their surprise as they discovered that gin doesn’t come from fermented juniper, but juniper infused into a neutral spirit, vodka. We watched the smiles appear on their faces as they watched the first drops of gin appear in their little personal stills. 

But the less beautiful thing was hand-washing dozens of valuable glasses and fragile equipment in a 20 cm² stone sink in the corner of a 17th century building in Barcelona’s Gothic quarter. That made us dream about having the fastest and biggest dishwasher on the market. Luckily, we have already bought it and it’s working. 

So feel free to join us any time you like. One thing we won’t have to worry about is the washing up.

What’s next for Corpen gin?

Pablo: Now we’re up and running, we’d like to spend as much time as possible delighting people with our creations and exceeding their expectations. We want to show people what gin is about so that we can build this craft industry together, not only in Barcelona but also across Spain and Europe. 

We understand that by combining our knowledge and enthusiasm we can reveal to you the joy behind the gin that some of the bigger spirit brands hide under a blanket of made up marketing.

Corpen Gin Facebook page

Corpen Gin Instagram account

Gin Lane

Gin Lane: a descent into hell

Gin Lane. It’s one of the most iconic British images of the 18th century. But behind the familiar characters of Hogarth’s most famous engraving lies a fascinating insight into the highs and lows of the first English gin revolution.

In those days, gin had become a scourge on society. It was cheap, unregulated and having a negative impact on the social fabric of England. There came a point where the problem could no longer be ignored. Hogarth’s extraordinarily detailed “Gin Lane” etching shone a bright light into the darkest corners of this new craze. For the first time, gin was exposed for what it really was and for the damage it was doing to the fabric of society. By 1730, gin consumption in England had spiraled to 13, 638, 276 litres of gin in a single year. Moral opposition was on the rise and gin became the enemy – blamed for everything from moral decay to murder.

London in crisis

This was a bad time for England’s capital city. In the mid-18th century, annual infant mortality soared to more than 240 deaths per 1000. Poverty was driving people to alcohol. And gin was becoming affordable and easy to get. The result of this notoriety was the inevitable passing of another Gin Act to control its sale and to reduce consumption.
Then in 1756 the grain harvest failed and small distillers had to close their doors. Prices rose , as did quality. Gin was no longer so accessible to the masses and returned to its original status as a wealthy persons drink and the big players moved in.

In 1769, Alexander Gordon started his distillery in Bermondsey, south London. Thomas Dakin set up a plant in Warrington and the Coates family started making Plymouth Gin in…
Plymouth! These are names that have stood the test of time and they all have a place in the long history of gin.

The devil is in the detail

Gin Lane and Beer Street

The storytelling in these etchings is extraordinary and it illustrates (in graphic detail) the devastating social impact of cheap gin on 18th century society.
But look carefully at this extraordinary piece of satire and you will discover a depressing, but instantly recognisable, scene.

There, in the starkest terms is the story of gin. In the images and the characters Hogarth brings to life so vividly, the grim reality is there for all to see. Drunkenness, hunger, social decay, violence, suicide, murder and madness are all on display. And the warning to society was clear. Beware the evil drink – it will be our destruction.

This is in direct contrast with Hogarth’s twin engraving, Beer Street. This was a civilised, convivial place where people drank, laughed and made merry in clean, safe pleasure palaces nice enough for even children to enjoy. But why this difference in attitudes and what was the point of these two engravings?

The truth is never simple

At the end of the war of Austrian succession, more than 80,000 soldiers returned home to Blighty. With them, they brought the normal demands of life – food, water and shelter. But these fighting men (many of whom had returned psychologically or physically damaged) had a predilection for drinking and fighting. And gin was the perfect lubricant!

The great English public were concerned of the consequences of such an influx and the pressure was on to manage the social problems before they got out of control. They demanded the Government pass another Gin Act to control the scourge before it got out of control.

Social commentary: gin versus beer

And that’s where Hogarth stepped in. As a piece of social commentary it was extraordinary. Satire was at its peak and this graphic expose made it crystal clear. Gin was going to lead to a steady slide towards immorality, violence and eventually death. While beer was a social lubricant to be encouraged for the benefit of society.

Nothing new in this world

If you think the media has been propagandised in the 21st century, it was even worse 300 years ago. This was pure politics. Many believed that Hogarth had been in cahoots with the brewers to demonise gin, their greatest competitor.

In any event, it’s worth taking a detailed look at this painting to reveal the true horror of the warning message that Hogarth was trying to deliver. And it’s one of those pictures where the more you look, the more you see. Even a few minutes of scrutiny reveals a horrific tale.

Gin Street: unsavoury characters on every corner

In Gin Street, right up front, there’s a distressing image of a drunken mother. She has dropped her infant child over the edge of a precarious staircase while she picks at a snuff box. She has a leering, slightly dangerous look on her face. Just in front of her is an emaciated man. He’s clutching a flask of gin while holding a manuscript called “The Downfall of Madam Gin”.
A bit further back an old woman lies in a barrow sharing shots of gin with a group of rioters outside a gin distillery.
And then there’s the pawnbroker sign (in the shape of a cross) indicated the populations preference for a gin spirit over the holy spirit.

But there’s more. The background shows images of death, destruction, self-abuse. If you look carefully, there’s even a dead child on a spike. All very gruesome and the message is clear. Don’t mess with gin. It will be the ruin of you.

Beer Street: happy and glorious

By contrast, Beer Street is a far more salubrious place. Its residents are portrayed as happy and healthy. In contrast to the destitute and immoral citizens of Gin Street, the Beer Street gang are far more wholesome.

Far from being addled by addiction, they appear nourished by the life-giving ale of England. The residents display positive virtues such as good health, trade, community and industry. Everything (and everyone) on Beer Street is happy and healthy. Except for one.
In the Beer Street engraving, the pawnbroker is about to go out of business due to having no customers. He lives in the only crumbling building in the picture.
In contrast the other residents of the street are positively prospering. Sturdy, humorous English workers wander the street. It is the King’s birthday, so the flag is flying over the church. Under the Barley Mow pub sign healthy residents sip foaming ales out of large tankards while eating roasted meats.

All in all, Beer Street doesn’t seem like such a bad place at all. It is heaven to Gin Street’s hell.

The decline of Mother’s Ruin

Between the campaigning engravings of Hogarth, a clear and real social problem that was plain for all to see and Government pressure to stop the scourge, gin’s decline was assured. It eventually returned to the rarified atmosphere of the middle classes and became more refined, safer and fashionable. Major brands such as Gordon’s, Tanqueray, Booths and Langdale’s built gin’s reputation with the more affluent members of society. Prices went up and it was no longer as affordable for the masses. By 1751 gin consumption in London had fallen to less than 20% of its volume a decade earlier.

Then, by the beginning of the 19th century, the upper classes took to gin in their gentleman’s clubs. By the 1820s, its popularity was undoubtedly on the rise again. Prices began to fall so that it was once again, cheaper than beer.

The rise of the gin palace

This time the big distillers spotted a gap in the market and they targeted these working class gin drinkers with a new phenomenon – the gin palace.

These wonderfully extravagant and over the top establishments gave gin some middle class respectability and gave ordinary people a nice place to drink safely and in style.
Later in the 19th century, more distinctive styles of gins started to appear including the classic Old Tom. By the 19th century, with the addition of tonic water with quinine (to prevent malaria) gin became the go-to drink for Britain’s colonial masters and the gin and tonic was born. Later that century, it became popular in gin Punches at Gentlemen’s Clubs such as the Garrick.

From cocktail classic to grubby pub drink

In the 20th century, gin had become a classic cocktail ingredient as sophisticated drinks such as the Negroni and the Dry Martini became fashionable. And then, in the 1970s it fell out of fashion again. The market became dominated by big brands from big businesses who had lost their imagination. Gin became a rather grubby, down market pub drink served without any pretensions of style or sophistication.

The devil made me do it!

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the dawn of the craft gin revolution.

Since 201, there has been an explosion of craft gin making across the world. London and Barcelona became the meccas for sophisticated gin drinking and reinvented the way it was served. The humble G&T was elevated into a deliciously theatrical cocktail served in large copa glasses and garnished with exotic fruits and fancy things like pink peppercorns and grated nutmeg. These days there are literally thousands of imaginative craft gin distilleries, a plethora of flavoured mixers and loads of surprising options. These now include many thousands of distinctive, beautiful gins (flavoured and non-flavoured). And some increasingly bizarre versions made from things as diverse as lobsters and red ants.

Personally, I’ll stick with a nice G&T made with a good craft gin, a squeeze of lemon and a premium tonic water. And I will drink to the return of Mother’s ruin.
The devil made me do it!



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

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khao san

Khao San gin: a fiery trip back to Thailand

Khao San Gin – the spirit of South East Asia and named after a street I remember well. 
It was many years ago now when I flew to Thailand to meet my girlfriend. She’d been backpacking across Asia for 6 months.  I’d heard her saying how she had been dreaming of hot showers and clean sheets. I thought I’d surprise her with a couple of nights at a smart hotel for a bit of soul-reviving luxury. She met me at the airport with a big banner welcoming me to her world and after a giant hug, I told her my plan to whisk her off for a few days of comfort. But the look on her face was not at all what I expected. 

The street that changed my life…

Instead of a broad, happy smile, an unmistakable look of disappointment appeared.  When I asked her what was wrong, she was very clear. She didn’t see the point of coming all the way to South East Asia and then staying in a cookie-cutter American hotel.  The whole point of travelling, she said, was getting in among the people and experiencing life a bit differently.  She told me about a street called Khao San Road, where adventures were to be had.  That conversation changed my life and led to 20 years of backpacking that I still find hard to give up.

The next day, we checked out of our characterless, modern hotel and checked in to a small, Chinese B&B just off the main Khao San strip, built around a pretty courtyard.  It had the best banana pancakes in town and it was less than $10 a night.  And that was where our adventure really began. So, imagine my excitement when I discovered that Tarsier were bringing out Khao San Road gin, infused with red chili peppers, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf (three of my favourite ingredients). I just had to try it. And this is what I found.

The back (packer) story

Well, here’s the thing. It seems like the folks behind Khao San gin had a similar experience to my own. Inspired by the sights, smells and sounds of this buzzing backpacking district, they harnessed the flavours they found on the street and created an amazing gin.
They cold-distill their three prime ingredients separately in a vacuum still before blending it with an additional 10 botanicals. Everything in the gin is carefully selected to conjure up the sights, smells and sounds of Thailand. In fact, the gin has been bottled at exactly 41.2% ABV, a little nod towards the length of the street which is exactly 412 metres long. 

Virtual reality

But, not satisfied with real world senses such as taste and smell, they’ve also come up with another clever idea to take you right to the heart of this buzzing street. Point your mobile phone toward the QR code on the back label of Khao San gin and click.  You’ll immediately be transported to a fabulous collection of content that is iconic to this famous road. See photos, videos and recipes that will allow you to enjoy the sights and sounds of Bangkok without leaving the house.  Very handy in these quarantine times. 
But enough of the marketing – the real question is does it taste good. And the answer is a resounding YES!

The verdict

Khao San Gin is made by the team at Tarsier Spirits and they’ve packed a big blast of flavour into a beautiful bottle. The result is a fragrant, spicy gin with plenty of juniper up front. There’s loads of citrus in there from the Kaffir lime, which cuts through the peppery heat from the chilli peppers. There is also a subtle, fragrant lemongrass flavour that is unmistakably Thai and which is a nice counterpoint to the fire of the chilli. But running through it all, there is still an unmistakable piney juniper reminding you that this is, after all, primarily a London Dry gin.

Plus, the squat, white bottle is as beautiful as the gin it contains, with a show-stopping red label featuring a large chilli, so you will be in no doubt of what the main ingredient is here. The bottle is then finished off elegantly with a stylish wooden stopper. It is bound to enhance any gin shelf and the virtual reality label offers an extra level of fun and fascination.

The perfect serve

We think this is so good, you really won’t want to dilute it with a flavoured mixer. Instead, we say serve this tall, in a Collins glass.

  1. Fill up your Collins glass to the top with large ice cubes.
  2. Pour in the required amount of Khao San Gin.
  3. Cut a large fresh lime wedge and squeeze it directly into the glass.
  4. Rub the rim of the glass with what’s left of the lime.
  5. Fill the glass to the top with a freshly opened premium Indian tonic water such as Fentimans or Fever Tree.
  6. Then garnish it with a thin lime wheel or a spicy, dried red chilli pepper.
  7. Take a sip, turn on the VR and you could almost be back in Thailand.

This may be as close as we all get for a while.



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 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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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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