Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin

UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?

Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  And increasingly, they are just variations on a theme. Some of them are just added flavours. Others barely stand out from each other. And then along came UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin.

One sip and I was taken.

A beautiful bottle for a beautiful gin

And what was so special about Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin?

Well where do I even start? The bottle is an absolute stunner.  A classic rounded shape with a graduated tinted glass where the colours of blue and pink blend into each other in the same way that mountains blend into the sea. This gin is elegantly Japanese and subtly understated. The label is a simple, square with rounded edges and Japanese lettering spelling out its name.  The neck tapers up gently, like the slopes of the nearby Sakurajima volcano and the whole affair is crowned with a gorgeous, chunky flat cap that sets it off beautifully.  Before you’ve even tasted the first sip, you know this is a gin with a difference.

“Floating world” gin for the mindfulness generation

We also love the story behind Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin.  The term ukiyo literally translates in English to “floating world” and it refers to “a state of mind that emphasises living in the moment, detached from the difficulties of life”.  This is a gin worth concentrating on. It will feed your senses. It’s sort of like a gin for the mindfulness generation.

So, what’s so special about it?

So much. This is not your normal gin.  In fact, this is a gin that all starts with Japan’s national drink, Shochu. This traditional Japanese spirit is distilled from barley and these guys have been practicing their art for more than 130 years.  They have drawn on all that knowledge and experience to distill this Shochu base from scratch. First, they distill the barley in a traditional Japanese pot still, which produces a gentler, more rounded flavour.

The fragrant, complex aroma of cherry blossom

They then redistill the mix with juniper, mandarin and spices before infusing it with the bright, citrus notes of yuzu and the subtle perfume of the sakura flower. The final blend offers up a soft, smooth mouth-feel, making this gin very easy to drink.  The Shochu adds a subtle, earthy flavour to the final product, that’s reminiscent of its more famous cousin Sake. This fragrant base is then redistilled with the required juniper, alongside mandarin and spice.  For the final touch, they infuse the gin with the delicate taste of Sakura flower, resulting in a perfumed, fragrant citrus-forward gin to delight your senses.

And on the nose? Boy, do those aromas tickle your taste buds.  Even before you take your first sip, your senses will be assaulted by a sweet, fragrant complex aroma that mimics the gentle scent of the cherry blossoms adorning the beautiful mountains that surround their beautiful Kagoshima base. And at a standard 40% ABV, this gin has just the right blend of strength and flavour.

So, what does it taste like?  Well, on the nose it is sweet and complex.  There is a fragrance that comes from the Shochu that delivers a perfume punch alongside the fresh, complex flavors of juniper, cherry blossom and orange. And there (f you look hard enough) lurking in the background, you’ll pick up more subtle notes such as woody spice, coriander and even a little Parma violet.

Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin perfect pour:

This gin is too unusual and has too many contrasting taste sensations to waste on a flavoured tonic water.  This is one for a premium Fever Tree Indian tonic, large, square cubes of ice and a slice of orange.  Best served in a Collins glass, you’ll need to drop a large, square ice cube (the larger the better) into the bottom of the glass. Then, take a wedge of orange, squeeze it to release the juice and wipe it around the rim of the glass.  Pour a generous shot of the gin over the ice cube.  Then pour a premium quality tonic water such as Fever Tree premium into the mix allowing the bubbles to blend the liquids together naturally. Finally, a brief stir and then drop a sliced orange wheel on top and you’re “good to go”. A delicious, G&T just bursting with bright flavour!

But if you’re looking to try this in a cocktail, here’s one you might like to try…

Ukiyo Cherry Cobbler

Ingredients:

  • 40ml Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin
  • 10ml cherry brandy
  • 10 ml blackcurrant syrup
  • 10ml lemon juice
  • 10ml blackcurrant liqueur
  • 190ml ice
  • 20ml soda

Method:

  • Add ice to a 10oz (300ml) highball glass
  • Pour gin into glass
  • Add cherry brandy
  • Add blackcurrant syrup
  • Pour in lemon juice
  • Top up with a dash of soda water
  • Pour a Creme de Cassis float onto the surface
  • Garnish with a Maraschino cherry
  • Just sit back and enjoy the blossoms…

Kanpai everybody!!


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

  • UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?
    Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  … Continued
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    He’s been getting ready since January and his big moment is coming soon. The Jolly Old Elf (AKA Santa Claus) is already preparing to sprinkle holiday cheer around the world from his festive fleet of flying reindeer. Christmas is almost here and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Santa down the chimney as we celebrate … Continued
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    There’s an old English Christmas rhyme that goes something like this: “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  And while we wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of generosity and kindness that is the hallmark of the festive period, we suspect that it won’t just be the … Continued
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gin entropia

Entropia Gin: lift your spirits with a little ginseng and guarana

Entropia Gin is back in my life. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Looking back, it was probably always inevitable that I would fall in love with gin and tonic. I was born in post-colonial Malaysia, where G&Ts were sipped on whitewashed verandahs by men in Panama hats and linen suits. Later on, as a child in Calcutta, I have vivid memories of my Dad downing a few well-made G&Ts at the legendary 220 year old Tollygunge Club – a throwback to the days of the Raj and a place that was just wreaking of atmosphere.  

A fall from grace

Later in life, I discovered that back home, the traditional English G&T had fallen so far from grace that it had been relegated to the ranks of old ladies. In America, however, it had been elevated to include upscale brands such as Tanqueray, that were barely known in the land of Gordons. Gin in the States was poured in large measures, into large glasses and served with lots of ice.

Reinventing gin

But it wasn’t until I moved to Barcelona that I finally got it. In those in between years, the humble G&T had been completely reinvented. The industry was starting to spawn a legion of new, artisan craft gin distilleries.  These new gin makers were not afraid to challenge preconceptions and to apply creativity and natural ingredients to their gins. It was here that the love affair really began.

Rediscovering an old friend

Today, I stumbled across one of the first gins that I bought after moving to Barcelona, Entropia Gin.  It caught my attention all those years ago because of its distinctive bottle and it’s hero ingredients – guarana and ginseng.  Up until then, this gin was about as far removed from a traditional Gordons and tonic as I could imagine. I was intrigued. These two unusual ingredients were most commonly seen marked up on the outside of a can of Red Bull, so I was curious to find out more. Where was it made? What did it taste like? What on earth did guarana and ginseng bring to the party? And here’s what I found out…

A wild gin from rugged Galicia

Entropia Gin is made with a wheat grain base in the wild region of Galicia in Northern Spain.  It’s triple distilled in small batches using artisan techniques in Allariz, Ourense. This is where the unique botanicals and spices are sourced and distilled to create this complex and unusual Spanish gin. And then, at the end of the process, it is triple filtered to protect the pure essence of the gins complex aromas and clear golden colour.

Tall, round and handsome

The first thing you notice is the bottle. Tall, with a short neck and a round black top, this bottle stands out from the crowd.  And the second thing you notice is the pale golden colour of the gin within. This is not due to  subtle infusion of saffron or years of ageing within an oak soaked whiskey barrel.  Instead, this is a result of the post-distilling infusion of the guarana and ginseng that give this gin its distinctive flavour.

Standing out from the crowd

So, what is it about  these two ingredients that separates Entropia Gin from other gins? Well, let’s start with the guarana. I first discovered guarana in its soft drink form while travelling through Bolivia many years ago.  It was a sweet, golden carbonated drink with plenty of sugar and a unique flavour profile that was hard to define, but delicious.  It kept me going when my energy and enthusiasm dipped. I’ve been a fan ever since.

Brazilian caffeine?

Some people describe guarana as Brazilian caffeine, due to its energy giving properties and it kept me going on many a long, bumpy bus ride as we crossed Bolivia’s Altiplano. It definitely helped to give me energy when I hit a dip. And it’s been associated with other health giving benefits ranging from an appetite suppressant to a diet cure and from sharpening up your mind to improving your staying power between the sheets.

Better sex?

And then there’s the ginseng. It shares some of the same properties including (apparently) improving your sex drive, sharpening your mental awareness and even boosting your immune system.  So, imagine what might happen if both of those ingredients were added to gin?  I knew there was only one way to find out for sure.

So, what did this little beauty actually taste like and did it really have the magic qualities claimed?

On the nose…

I thought I’d start off our acquaintance with a classic taste test – a standard G&T, garnished with a twist of lemon zest. But first, what’s it like on the nose?  There’s an earthy, woody aroma that keeps this gin on the spicy side.  But there’s also a lot of sweetness, possibly from the ginseng and guarana. There’s also a distinctive, fiery alcohol taste which is offset by a complex aroma of tobacco. And somewhere in there is a little citrus and cinnamon to keep you on your toes.

In the mouth…

But the proof of the pudding is in the drinking, so what’s it like? Well the first thing you notice as you take that first sip is that this is a complex gin. That woody spiciness carries on into the palate where it mixes seamlessly with the sweetness of bergamot and cinnamon and the warm heat of ginger and nutmeg. If you look hard enough, you might even notice a spicy chai taste that you might recognise.  

The finish…

And then, on the finish, there’s a smooth warmth with floral notes of hibiscus and the warm spices of nutmeg and cinnamon combining well with the softer, creamier flavour of vanilla.  In fact, this is packed full of seasonal flavours and is not a bad gin to drink at Christmas.  All in all, this is a great gin, well worth trying. At 40% ABV and less than 20 euros a bottle, it’s not expensive and it stands out on your shelf with its striking bottle and golden colour. It could be the perfect stocking stuffer for the festivities ahead.

Entropia Gin. The perfect serve:

Entropia Gin ginseng & guarana would work well with a classic gin cocktail such as a Negroni.  But we think it also makes a very unusual and worthwhile G&T. We garnished ours with a twist of lemon rind and served it with a premium tonic water over lots of ice.  A gentle stir released the flavours nicely and there’s no doubt that this is distinctly different from a standard G&T.

Leave your expectations at the door…

But if you leave your traditional expectations at the door, you might be pleasantly surprised. That spicy taste takes over from the traditional juniper and once you get our head around that, it all begins to make sense. The premium tonic releases the flavours within and brings out the juniper.  And the finish is complex and long and leaves you tasting the citrus notes before being rounded off with a smooth vanilla and cinnamon taste that will linger long after your final sip. 

Ólafsson Gin

Ólafsson gin: the exquisite, natural taste of Iceland

Icelandic gin is on the rise. I suppose it should come as no surprise that one of the most dramatic landscapes on earth has turned to its natural resources for inspiration. Iceland now creates some of the most interesting new gins available anywhere in the world. From the early days of the gin revolution, brands such as Martin Miller’s spotted the gin potential of this bleak and barren landscape.  They were one of the first to make the connection and marketed themselves as a “super premium gin, distilled in England blended with the purest Icelandic water” . This water is filtered through 800 years of glacial melt, so it is as smooth and pure and clean as water can be.

Martin Miller’s found a niche and made a bit of a name for itself at the vanguard of the gin revolution.  And then, a few years ago, some friends returned from a visit to Iceland. They introduced me to the delights of Himbrimi gin, a deliciously unique Old Tom gin. This unique, sweeter and smokier gin is made with pure Icelandic water, hand picked wild flowers and honey. It appeared that the Icelandic gin revolution was now in full flow.

Ólafsson Gin – made from nature

In fact, there are now more than a dozen craft gin distilleries operating on this island of 350,000 people. And it’s starting to build quite a reputation for itself.  So, when a couple of Icelandic friends visited us in Barcelona recently (bearing a lovely looking bottle of Icelandic gin), we were delighted. The classic label and limited edition batch number just made us even more excited to give this one a try. And, we were not disappointed. Ólafsson gin, with its slogan: “Hreint Og Villt” (loosely translated as “pure and wild”) comes in a striking bottle. It has an etched label featuring an image of Iceland’s most famous explorer, Eggert Ólafsson gazing out dramatically at a scene of geysers, rocks and wild animals.

Driven by a taste for adventure…

In the 18th century, Eggert Ólafsson roamed this island to discover more about its native culture and natural secrets. He wandered the tundras, rocks and hills, discovering geysers and glaciers and waterfalls and volcanoes along the way. In 1772, he recorded his findings in one of Iceland’s most famous books, Travels in Iceland. Since then, he has become a part of Iceland’s folklore and a hero to many.  So, when the folks at Eyland spirits decided they needed a name for their new gin, Ólafsson was the first name they thought of.

Iceland’s gin revolution

So, what is it about dramatic, rugged, cold Iceland that makes it such a popular place for gin making? Well first of all, apart from the pulsing heartbeat of Reykjavík the capital, there’s not much to do on those long Iceland days and nights. So, Icelanders turn to their heritage keeping traditional skills alive.  There is a rich craft history here and this has led to a culture of creativity that extends all the way to gin.  That enthusiasm, combined with the natural gifts of the rugged Icelandic landscape, have come together in a sensational blend.

Pure water and unique botanicals

Pure water direct from glacial melt and unique, hard to find botanicals, some of which are unique to Iceland all combine to create a little gin magic.  There are now more than a dozen distilleries on the island, each with their own unique blend and distinctive style.  And we expect more to come.  Icelandic gin might not be easy to find in your local liquor store. But it’s worth the effort to track some down and the proof is in the taste.  So, how about this Ólafsson gin – how did it all begin?

The taste of Iceland in a bottle

Well, the folks at Eyland spirits were determined to capture the purity of the Icelandic landscape in a bottle of gin. That’s exactly what they’ve tried to do in their Ólafsson gin. Their aim was to harness these fresh, clean tastes in a bottle.  To do this, they began with the crisp, clean notes of juniper and a grain base. They then added a range of complex botanicals to deliver floral and citrus notes and earthy spice.

Getting under the skin of the gin

So, let’s get under the skin of this special gin. With a classic juniper base, the unique flavors of Iceland are brought out by the native notes of Arctic thyme, birch and mountain moss.  All of this is then blended with its pristine arctic water for a unique, smooth and refreshing drink. On the nose, you’ll pick up complex notes ranging from lime zest to kiwi. There are hints of ginger, Earl Grey tea and peppercorns to give it a little extra spiciness and angelica and juniper also shine through.

The taste test

And then, the best bit – the taste. There’s a lovely citrus zest from the lime and the complex warmth of the spices comes through to make this a sophisticated treat for the senses.  The overall impression is of a smooth, complex gin featuring classic botanicals in a refreshing. modern style. As with all gins, we think it goes best with a simple premium tonic water, but Olafsson gin is also a dependable gin for cocktail making.  In fact, we think it works particularly well in a Dry Martini, a Gimlet or even a French 75.

Ólafsson Gin: the perfect pour

While we would normally recommend a classic gin and tonic recipe as our perfect pour, for this gin, we’re going to go with a Dry Martini.  That’s partly because it shows off the complexity of this smooth gin, but it also just happens to have been awarded a Gold Medal as the Best Gin for a Martini by the Beverage Tasting Institute, so we thought we’d go with that.  Here’s all you need for a deliciously smooth Icelandic Martini!

Ingredients:

Ólafsson Gin
  • 2 shots of Ólafsson gin
  • 1/2 shot Extra Dry vermouth
  • 1/2 shot Martini Bianco vermouth
  • Ice
  • Lime twist

Method:

  1. First, find yourself a classic Martini glass (even better if it’s been in the freezer for half an hour!)
  2. Next, pour 2 shots of Ólafsson gin, ½ a shot of extra dry vermouth, a ½ shot of Martini Bianco vermouth into a cocktail shaker.
  3. Half fill the shaker with ice and stir for 20 seconds.
  4. Strain into the martini glass. 
  5. Peel a twist of lime over the glass and drop into the drink. Et voila!

Enjoy this little piece of Iceland. And don’t forget the ice!


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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  • UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?
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    He’s been getting ready since January and his big moment is coming soon. The Jolly Old Elf (AKA Santa Claus) is already preparing to sprinkle holiday cheer around the world from his festive fleet of flying reindeer. Christmas is almost here and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Santa down the chimney as we celebrate … Continued
  • Gin and tonic lemon tart: getting into the Christmas spirit
    There’s an old English Christmas rhyme that goes something like this: “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  And while we wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of generosity and kindness that is the hallmark of the festive period, we suspect that it won’t just be the … Continued
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    Entropia Gin is back in my life. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Looking back, it was probably always inevitable that I would fall in love with gin and tonic. I was born in post-colonial Malaysia, where G&Ts were sipped on whitewashed verandahs by men in Panama hats and linen suits. Later on, as a … Continued
snacks

Gin snacks: 5 amazing recipes to spice up your gin and tonic

There’s only one thing better than sipping on a freshly made G&T, built with care and garnished with love and that’s having the right snack available as you sip on our favourite drink. So, we thought we’d suggest some simple, nutty accompaniments which will make your G&T go down a treat. From sweet almond nibbles to a simple chickpea Bombay mix that you can make at home, these are the treats that will make your cocktails shine.  We love the spicy chili lime peanuts and the sweet spicy rosemary nuts the most.  But everyone’s different, so it’s up to you.

Because these are so moreish, we suggest that you make up a batch of these in advance and store them in a jar with a lid.  That way, you’ll always have something handy for happy hour (or any other time!)

Here are our 5 favourite snack mix recipes to help your G&T go down – you decide which one’s the best.

1. Honey sesame almonds: keep everyone sweet

Sometimes you want sweet. Sometimes you want savoury. Sometimes, it just depends on what kind of mood you’re in or what you’re drinking at the time. But if you like the best of both worlds, then here’s a perfect little 15 minute honey sesame almond recipe that blends honey and almonds together for a sweet, salty, spicy nut mix.  This delicious blend of sweet and savoury is just perfect for nibbling alongside your favourite cocktail. Plus, it’s full of healthy, natural goodness and it’s really easy to make. You can whip a portion up in no time and dispense them as you please.  These little beauties are simply delicious and they’ll work with a range of gins and cocktails. They’ll also pair well with gin liqueurs.

Best with: Hayman’s Old Tom

We think the sweet, nutty flavours here would complement a similarly sweet gin such as Haymans Old Tom gin with its notes of nutmeg, cinammon, cassia bark and licorice. Haymans led the Old Tom revival and we think these softer flavours will work really well with these honey sesame almonds.

2. Curried cashew nuts: heat things up with a taste of the East

As you’re sipping your perfect G&T, allow your imagination to transport you in the direction of the exotic far east. You’re sitting on a white verandah, sipping on a freshly made gin and tonic. The air is thick with humidity and the smell of rain and flowers sprinkles it’s exotic incense for us all to enjoy. Crickets chirp and parrots squawk in the background and the moon is lighting up the scene from on high.  The only thing that could improve this scene is the addition of a perfect snack to complement your gin. And here it is! Curried cashew nuts are the perfect snack. You can whip up a batch of these tasty treats in around half an hour using three simple, easy to find ingredients – curry powder, lemon juice and cashew nuts.

Best with: Bombay Sapphire

This classic colonial concoction can be found from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and from Delhi to Dubai.  Spicy nuts with a citrus cut-through make this combo especially delicious alongside a high quality standard London Dry gin such as Bombay Sapphire or Beefeater.

3. Chickpea Bombay mix: an easy 3-ingredient spice mix to tickle your tastebuds

All you need is three simple ingredients to make this delicious gluten-free Chickpea Bombay Mix. This may not be the classic Bombay Mix that contains fried chickpea flour noodles known as Sev.  Sev is hard to find and harder to make, so this recipe dispenses with it entirely, in favour of curried chickpeas.  And you’re going to have to make those first. This will take around 25 minutes. Then, you’ll need to add the chickpeas together with salted peanuts and raisins and pop them all into an oven to roast them to perfection. It takes less than 15 minutes to make this delicious, healthy snack. If you can’t live without your Sev, then you can buy pre-fried Sev from most Asian grocery stores.

Best with: Opihr

We think this might work well alongside a similarly spicy beverage. Opihr is one of those gins that divides opinion.  Some are put off by what is described as a “whiff of curry”.  But for those who think that’s a good thing rather than a bad thing, these tasty snacks, with their curried flavours, might be just the thing you’re after to keep your tastebuds in balance.

4. Sweet and spicy rosemary nuts: honey and heat to make your mouth water

These gorgeous snacks are just completely irresistible. I first fell for their charms in my favourite (now defunct) Barcelona cocktail bar, Toto.  They served these sweet and spicy rosemary nuts in a small dish, (beautifully flavoured) alongside a few thin triangles of manchego cheese.  It was love at first taste.  So, we thought we’d share a recipe that replicates that experience.  All you’ll need is a ration of mixed nuts, some honey, a little brown sugar, some cayenne pepper, a twist of sea salt and the most important ingredient of all, fresh rosemary.  The result is a totally irresistible mix of sweet, spicy, crunchy and salty.  These are so moreish that we think you ought to mix up a large batch of them to store for the holidays.  We don’t want you running out on Christmas Eve, do we!

Best with: Gin Mare

Gin Mare is a Mediterranean favourite and we love it. With its savoury olive notes and the gorgeous Mediterranean flavour of fresh rosemary, we think this is a match made in heaven. And that little twist of cayenne pepper just amps it all up a little bit.  The result is an addictively delicious mix that you can whip up in no time.  They’re addictive, so don’t say we didn’t warn you!

5. Spicy chilli lime peanuts: so addictive, you’ll keep coming back for more!

These spicy chilli lime peanuts are the snacks that have it all.  Peanuts for a little nutty protein, the spicy heat of chilli and the sharp cut through of fresh lime make this little mix an intriguing concoction.  And they’re so moreish, we think you’ll keep coming back for more.  It shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to whisk up the basic mix.  Then simply pour the mix onto a baking tray and heat in the oven for around 30 minutes.  You’ll start to smell those wonderful flavours as the oven brings them all together.  And I wouldn’t blame you if you chose to mix a drink while you wait in anticipation for these little beauties to be served. They also work really well with an ice cold beer or even a Tom Collins

Best with: Tanqueray Rangpur

The spice and lime in this snack is a perfect match for the citrus notes of Tanqueray Rangpur.  The citrus notes of the Rangpur lime blend well with the juniper forward flavour of this London Dry gin make it one of the purest and most refreshing gins around.  So, a little bit of citrus heat is just the thing to keep you sipping your G&T.  It might also work well with Brewdog’s Lone Wolf Cactus and Lime gin or Sipsmith’s Chilli and Lime gin.  Whatever you choose, you’re going to love these nuts.


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

  • UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?
    Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  … Continued
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    He’s been getting ready since January and his big moment is coming soon. The Jolly Old Elf (AKA Santa Claus) is already preparing to sprinkle holiday cheer around the world from his festive fleet of flying reindeer. Christmas is almost here and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Santa down the chimney as we celebrate … Continued
  • Gin and tonic lemon tart: getting into the Christmas spirit
    There’s an old English Christmas rhyme that goes something like this: “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  And while we wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of generosity and kindness that is the hallmark of the festive period, we suspect that it won’t just be the … Continued
  • Entropia Gin: lift your spirits with a little ginseng and guarana
    Entropia Gin is back in my life. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Looking back, it was probably always inevitable that I would fall in love with gin and tonic. I was born in post-colonial Malaysia, where G&Ts were sipped on whitewashed verandahs by men in Panama hats and linen suits. Later on, as a … Continued

RECENT POSTS

  • UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?
    Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  … Continued
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Oxley Gin

Oxley Gin: the gin that came in from the cold

If you like a classic juniper-forward gin with a twist, then we might have just discovered the perfect gin for you. Welcome to the wonderful world of Oxley Gin, a classic blend of tradition and innovation that delivers one of the most well balanced, smoothest and easiest to drink gins around. With 14 different botanicals (each individual batch is vacuum-sealed and frozen to make sure that the flavour is protected) you’d expect this to be a complex and sophisticated blend – and you’d be right!

So, how did this smooth, juniper-forward classic come about and what’s the secret behind its subtle, elegant flavours?

How it all began

Well, Oxley Gin is now part of the Bacardi family and it all began as an experiment.  In fact, the folks at Oxley spent 8 years developing this beautiful gin.  And along the way, they invented a completely new way of distilling gin. Traditionally, gins are distilled using heat.  This reduces the spirit and the botanicals to vapour.  However, the Oxley team decided to turn conventional wisdom on its head.  Instead of using heat to create the vapour, they did the exact opposite. 

They create an intense vacuum, which reduces the pressure within the still. In turn, this takes the temperature down to around -5C, at which point the spirit (already in its 15th hour of maceration) vapourises.  Then, a cold finger probe (frozen to -100c) is introduced, which returns the vapour back into a liquid with a beautiful, smooth blend of flavours that set this gin in a league of its own

Eight years to make, but worth the wait

Despite being owned by such a big brand, this is still a small batch gin. It took them 8 years and 38 recipes to get it right, but it was worth the wait.  The 14 botanicals include juniper, coriander seeds, vanilla, grapefruit peel, cassia bark, grains of paradise, nutmeg and cocoa nibs.  The cold distilling process means that the gin leads with a big hit of fresh fruit, citrus , herbs and floral flavours for a delightfully smooth, yet complex gin that works very well in a standard G&T but which also adds a rich complexity to cocktails.

Plus, the bottle is as classy as the gin itself. Tall, with a short neck, it tapers into a textured, indented base. It is decorated front and back with a classic rectangular, green edged label which contains the recipe number and the unique batch number

So, what exactly does it taste like?

Well this is one classy gin!  On the nose, you’ll find licorice notes alongside orange and tangerine, followed by a smooth (but unmistakable) juniper blast.  Then, when you take a sip, you start to get a sense of the complexities that lie within. One by one, you start to unravel the botanicals within and peppery notes and complex aromas begin to appear.  It all finishes with a clean, sweet finish that lingers with a delicate mintiness, lengthened by a touch of aniseed, juniper and even a little mace. 

The perfect serve: Oxley classic Dry Martini recipe

This is one of those rare gins that is so smooth and mellow that it can be sipped neat (or with a bit of water to bring out all the tastes).  It also works brilliantly in cocktails that require a smooth, well balanced taste profile that complements rather than detracts from the cocktail itself.  And,  like most classic gins, we think it makes a great G&T. 

At 47% ABV, this gin is no shrinking Violet, but its subtle composition doesn’t allow the alcohol taste to be over dominant, allowing for a great G&T.  But its smooth, subtlety means that it is a perfect companion for a classic Dry Martini.  With its delicate flavours and smooth, mellow tones, it works really well in a 3:1 ratio with a dash of orange bitters that allows the botanicals to shine through delivering a crisp, complex and delicate drink.  Best garnished with a little orange zest to bring out the best of the citrus notes, this could become your “go to” brunch cocktail.  We think you’ll enjoy it…

Ingredients:

  • 45 ml Oxley Gin
  • 15 ml Noilly Prat vermouth
  • Dash of orange bitters
  • Orange zest

Method:

  1. Stir all the ingredients over ice
  2. Strain into a martini cocktail glass
  3. Garnish with orange zest

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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Larios Provenzal: the sweet taste of the Med

Let me be clear. Long before I discovered Larios Provenzal. I was a big fan of Larios gin. I have been a fan ever since I first moved to Barcelona, almost a decade ago. With a local heritage and a long tradition, it has been quietly making a name for itself as a great value Spanish gin. It has been offering excellent flavour at a great price for many years. It’s become one of those gins that you should always have behind your bar.  And it’s a gin with a history that goes back to early 19th century Malaga, when the Larios family moved into the distillation business.  

Since then, Larios has been building a solid reputation across Europe before being bought by the Pernod-Ricard Group back in 1997 before ending up with the Beam Suntory group. This partnership has catapulted Larios into the big time and it is now the number one gin in Spain and continental Europe and one of the top 10 gins internationally.

Expanding the brand…

Once the brand was built and established, they did what many gin brands have done over the last decade – look for ways to expand with new flavours and propositions.  I thought I’d tried most of them, including their original London Dry version (now rebranded as Larios Mediterranea). With its subtle notes of juniper and orange peel, this is a gin you should always keep in your cupboard just in case). I’ve also tried the sumptuous Larios Citrus (with a bitter orange sweetness that gives Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla a run for its money) as well as Larios 12, their premium version, with its 12 exotically sourced botanicals and its complex flavour balances. 
I’ve also heard good things about Larios Rose. One day, I’m looking forward to trying Indigo by Larios with its deep blue Macedonian juniper berries and citrus notes.  And I thought that was about it for the Larios range.

And then, I stumbled across Larios Provenzal while perusing the Duty Free store at Gatwick airport. At just over £12 for 1 litre, it was too good a bargain to refuse. I slipped one into my basket and boarded the plane in anticipation of a nice welcome home cocktail once I had landed back in Barcelona.
And I’m pleased to say, that’s exactly what I did.

Larios Provenzal: exclusive and elusive

Larios Provenzal is an unusual and particularly elusive gin – and now I know why it to be “as rare as hen’s teeth”.  This gin appears to be a “one off” that has been created exclusively for travel retail. That’s why it can only be found at duty free stores, so keep your eye out for it as travel starts to open up again.  It comes in the same distinctively shaped bottle as all the other Larios brands, but this one has a particularly attractive green label that somehow transports you to a Provencal forest.  

A corn base for a smoother taste

This gin has been exclusively created for travelers and it features four distillations of wild juniper.  But what makes Larios Provenzal different is that it uses a corn base during distillation.  The purpose of this is to smooth out the flavour profile of the gin. Once they are happy with the smoothness of the base, they then flavour the resulting liquid with a selection of Mediterranean fruits and herbs. The result is an easy to drink gin with a twist that is both unique and exclusive.  Well that’s what the PR material says, but does this drink live up to its promotion?

There’s only one way to find out…

The perfect pour

I tried this as a perfect G&T.  Larios is as Spanish as it comes, so a large copa glass was the obvious choice for my new experience.  I gingerly dropped two giant, round tonic water ice cubes from my mold into the glass. Then, I squeezed a juicy lemon wedge directly over the ice and wiped the wedge around the rim. Then I dropped it into the glass (with a satisfying “plop”) and drizzled a generous double shot of Larios Provenzal over the ice cubes.  Finally, I poured a bottle of Fever Tree Premium tonic water over the blend to naturally shake up and mix it all together before the big reveal.

Citrus notes and herbal overtones: a taste of the Med

The first thing you notice is the colour – the liquid has a lovely herbaceous green tint that works well with the new label. The packaging instantly transports you to Provence. On the nose, this gin delivers instantly with notes of rosemary, thyme and basil up front.  This is all rounded off with a soft injection of citrus from the oranges and lemons that Larios have become known for.  And then, the all important taste test.  Smooth and well balanced (as promised) with an unmistakable Mediterranean character and a refreshing blast of juniper. So far, so good. 

Sweet, smooth and complex

Larios Provenzal has all the ingredients of a great gin. But that corn base gives it a distinctive sweetness that feels a little unfamiliar to a palette more used to drier, juniper forward gins. It’s this subtle sweetness that pervades the overall taste – and sometimes even dominates it.  If you’re looking for a traditional dry, crisp gin this is probably not the one for you.  But if your tastes errs on the side of sweetness and smoothness, this will not disappoint.  

Just the tonic

At first sip, it was not what I’d expected but now that my brain has caught up with my senses, this gin is really growing on me.  I served it with a Fevertree Indian Tonic water, but I suspect this will also go really well with the new generation of flavoured tonic waters such as the delicious Franklin & Sons Rosemary and Olive tonic water. It would also work with a Fevertree Mediterranean or even a ginger beer topper.  Garnishings can range from Basil leaves to toasted Rosemary sprigs and from lemons to oranges depending on your taste.  This will also be an excellent cocktail ingredient for any gin drink that requires smooth, sweet herbal and citrus notes.  

I have a feeling that this is a gin that will divide opinion.  It may not be to everyone’s tastes but give it a chance. I did and I keep going back for more, so it must be good after all.



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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Lind&Lime

Lind&Lime: the perfect gin in the perfect bottle?

Lind&Lime could just be the perfect gin for me. Sometimes you unwittingly discover a beautiful gin hidden inside a hideous bottle. Other times, you stumble across a terrible gin cunningly disguised inside an expensive looking bottle.  But the greatest delight of all is when you spot a gorgeous bottle and then discover that the gin inside is even more delightful than the packaging itself. And this week, that’s exactly what I found – and I might never go back. 

Welcome to Lind&Lime…

For me, the taste of refreshing lime drinks is a throwback to my childhood days, growing up in Calcutta. We would sit on a hot evening on our balcony in Chowringhee, listening to the parrots squawk and the frogs sing. We would watch the monkeys fooling around at the bottom of the garden in the humid post-monsoon heat.  Then, out of nowhere, our cook (and friend), Appaya, would quietly appear. He would be balancing several glasses and a jug full of delicious Nimbu Pani on a small tray.  Nimbu Pani is a simple, cooling local drink made from freshly squeezed lime, sugar syrup and soda water.

It was always served in a long glass filled right to the top with cooling ice.  And it was even better when Appaya followed up with a plate of warm, curried cashew nuts served straight out of the oven. It’s funny how, even all these years later, these things still feel as real as they did all those years ago.

The Holy Grail of lime gins

It’s a flavour that has eluded me in gin for many years now.  And these days, I’ve moved up the ladder to cocktails – and gins in particular. But until now, the closest I could find to the taste of Nimbu Pani was the tangy lime flavour of Tanqueray Rangpur.  And, since I discovered it 18 months ago, that has fast become my “go-to” summer gin drink.  And then last week, the world changed. I tried a glass of Scotland’s Lind&Lime gin, poured straight from its gorgeously sophisticated, classically-ribbed bottle and my summer was instantly transformed. 

Perfect way to cool down on a warm day

This is definitely my new “special occasion” gin for warm days and summer evenings.  But at Barcelona Gin, we believe all good things should be shared. So here are a few reasons why I think you should add this summer stunner to your birthday list (or at least drop some subtle hints around your gin loving friends around that time!).

So, what’s Lind&Lime like?

Deliciously complex, dry and very refreshing, Lind&Lime gin has a beautiful balance as a result of seven carefully chosen and complementary botanicals.  There’s an unmissable juniper taste that runs right through this premium gin. Then there’s a clear citrus blast delivered by the fresh lime rind that this drink is built around.  This zestiness on it’s own might not be enough. But the folks at Lind&Lime gin have compensated for that with an infusion of pink peppercorn that adds just the right level of complexity through the pink peppercorns that sit alongside the distinctive lime zest.

What’s the story, morning glory?

But every gin relies on a good story, and this gin is no exception.  It’s the first Scottish delight, from Scotland’s Port of Leith Distillery Co at its Tower Street Stillhouse. Born in the Port of Leith, just on the edge of Scotland’s beautiful capital city of Edinburgh, this is the product of one of Scotland’s most historic trading centres. Way back in the 17th century, there was a fellow called James Lind, who hailed from those parts.  He was born in Edinburgh, but life took him a long way from from there over his career and he ended up serving as ship’s surgeon aboard the Royal Navy ship, HMS Salisbury. 

Scottish Limeys…

Like most ships that spent a long time away from land, there was a big problem with scurvy due to a paucity of Vitamin C on their long voyages.  By all accounts, Lind was a curious man. And he had a curious surgeon’s mind.  So, he conducted a number of trials on serving members of the ship’s crew. It quickly became apparent that sailors who ate more citrus fruit were generally in better physical condition than those who didn’t. This observation was made and recorded and eventually led to the adoption of limes on board Royal Navy ships to keep the sailors fit and healthy. And that’s why the American’s call us Limeys.

How do they make it?

These guys take a base spirit of 96% ABV and then carefully re-distill it into a London Dry gin that stands out from the crowd. The result is a 48 ABV gin with a natural, crisp lime flavour that doesn’t taste of children’s sweets. This is because the taste is infused directly from the rind itself into the distillate.  The whole concoction is then brought together in a stainless steel electric still, powered by sustainable electricity from renewable sources. This gin has only been around since 2019 but it’s already making quite a name for itself.

The bottle and the brand

The bottle itself is a minor work of art.  As a trading port, Leith had always been associated with the European wine trade. As more and more cask wine arrived over several centuries, they needed bottles and the area soon became a centre for glass production. The Leith Glass Works was built to make sure that the port could stay ahead of demand.  Lind&Lime gin taps into this tradition and pays homage to the industrial heritage of the area.  Traditional wine bottles have inspired the stunning shape and design. The result is a design classic that adds real aesthetic value to an already delicious gin.

Lim&Lime perfect serve:

This is one of those gins that’s so good that the less you add to it, the better.  We think for this gin to shine, pour it straight over ice (the larger the better) into a long glass. The bigger the ice, the longer your drink will remain fizzing!) Then, fill it up to the top with your favourite, freshly opened premium tonic water and wipe the rim of the glass with a fresh lime. Then, squeeze the rest of the lime juice into the drink before giving it one final, gentle stir.  We recommend a traditional 2:1 ratio of gin to tonic. But if you prefer a cocktail, this gin works really well in a French 75. 

This distillery also gives daily tours, so if you find yourself at a loose end in Scotland, it might be worth popping in to see what all the fuss is about. 


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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Puerto de Indias

Puerto de Indias: is blackberry the new pink?

It seems like flavoured gins have been around forever. But in fact, they are a relatively new invention.  While many people may have experimented with home infusions for domestic consumption, it was only recently that commercial brands began to recognise their full potential. 
One of the originals was Puerto de Indias who led the way with their pioneering strawberry gin. They were amongst the first to experiment with natural strawberries and claim to have been the inspiration for the current wave of pink gins that seem to be everywhere. 
It’s a Spanish gin from Sevilla but it has a global reputation and is now available in more than 50 countries around the world.  Since those early days, it seems that everybody has jumped on the bandwagon.  Pink gins are everywhere and at every price point, but being first does not always guarantee you’re the best.
But in the case of Puerto De Indias, they are definitely right up there. 

The story begins…

It all began in the exotic Andalusian town of Sevilla when two brothers got together to buy one of the oldest distilleries in the region and set about producing their own artisan gin.  Little did they know that they would be in the forefront of a gin revolution that would change the gin landscape forever. Their gins are made with water from an underground spring that has been quenching Spanish thirst for centuries and they use traditional techniques and copper stills to make this modern version of a summer classic. 
But nothing sets a business back quicker than resting on your laurels. 
Since introducing the strawberry gin a few years ago, they have continued to innovate and now produce a classic gin, a strawberry gin, an orange and peach blossom gin and a floral black gin that’s flavoured with orange blossom.  So many gins, so little time.

Blackberry is back

And then I spotted another one that caught my eye. Puerto de Indias have now launched a blackberry gin with a unique flavour all of its own. 
Blackberries dominate this gin, but there’s a fresh, citrus backdrop with hints of caramel on the nose. And then, it’s time to take a sip.  This gin is smooth on the mouth and eases its way gently into those complex wild fruits and rich blackberry flavours, with a slight bitterness and a touch of sweet cinnamon spice to round it all off.
This is a fabulous new gin and I think it stands up very well to its competitors including Bombay Bramble and Tanqueray Royale (both in taste and value). This is definitely a gin for those with a sweet tooth. We think it is a great match for a lightly sweetened tonic water such as Fever Tree Elderflower.
Or you could go straight to the Seven Up to keep the sweet vibe going even further.  

Recipe for Puerto de Indias Blackberry perfect serve

Ingredients:

  • 5cl Puerto De Indias Blackberry gin
  • 20cl of Seven Up or Tonic Water
  • Fresh or frozen blackberries
  • Cinnamon sticks

Method:

  1. Fill glass with large ice cubes and swirl to chill glass
  2. Empty water from glass and place several blackberries inside
  3. Drop in a cinnamon stick or two and add the gin
  4. Pour tonic or Seven Up over ice and stir gently.
  5. Sit back and enjoy!

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

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classic gins

5 “go to” classic gins you can rely on

In this new world of 1000 gins, sometimes too much choice can be your enemy.  We all know about the recent explosion of craft gins and often they can be quite expensive.  So, it’s good to have a handful of “old faithfuls” classic gins that you know you can rely on for a good, standard G&T.  There are times in life when it’s okay to  be a little adventurous.  And these days, there is literally a gin for everybody.  Whether you want gin with gold flakes floating around or gin made from crushed ants, you can simply log in and order one for next day delivery.  Whether you want an ordinary gin in a beautiful bottle  or a beautiful gin in an ordinary bottle, there’s one for you. 

Spoiled for choice

These days, we are spoiled for choice.  But sometimes, these gins can be a little expensive.  The Anty-Gin  for example sells for around £220.  But there are other times when you just want a simple, recognisable flavour that does the basic job well.  These are the gins that everybody should have in their bar, the “go to” gins.  They might not set the world on fire with their innovation or impress your friends with their complex infusions, but these are classic gins that won’t let you down.  And that’s good to know. 

Here are 5 of our “go to” favourite classic gins that are always worth keeping in the cupboard for when the posh stuff runs out.  In the end, it’s all a matter of personal taste, but we think these standard gins are well worth keeping in reserve.

Beefeater: 40% ABV

Beefeater ginA classic London Dry, Beefeater has been synonymous with gin since 1876. Surprisingly complex it combines the piney notes of juniper with the hoppiness of angelica flowers.  There’s a blast of coriander somewhere in there and lots of fresh citrus notes delivered by the orange peels.  You’ll also find notes of almond and liquorice to give it a rich, complexity. 

All of this results in a well balanced gin perfect for long lunches or early evening G&Ts.  This is a classic gin that doesn’t try to do too much and what bit does, it does very well.  This is a great drink for anybody who loves a classic G&T, but it also works well in cocktails such as a Negroni.

The perfect pour: Fever Tree Indian tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lemon

 

Bombay Sapphire: 40% ABV

The brand that kick-started the gin revolution in the UK with its lighter, more subtle recipe, Bombay Sapphire has a delicate nose with a refreshing blend of citrus, pepper and angelica along with plenty of juniper.  Most people think that this totemic gin has been around for centuries, but it actually first saw the light of day in the 1960s when New York lawyer Allan Subi saw an opportunity to create a brand new “English” gin to take on the likes of Tanqueray and Beefeater in the USA. 

He approached Greenalls to create the gin to match his brand and they built a drink based on an old Greenalls recipe from back in the 1760s.  This gin took off fast and its easy-to-drink blend of 8 botanicals includes cassia bark, liquorice and almonds.  Then in the 1980s, chef Michel Roux got involved in creating a new version of the gin that used Bombay Original Dry as a base to which he added 2 kinds of pepper, Grains of paradise and Cubeb berries resulting in a floral, peppery tasting gin with a sweet nose and a fresh clean taste. And that was how Bombay Sapphire came to be.

Fragrant and spicy, this is a great gin for a Negroni, but it really works best in a long, tall glass filled with ice and a slice.  You can’t go wrong with a bottle of this beauty. And if you’re ever in Hampshire, pop in for a fascinating gin tour in their award winning distillery on the banks of the beautiful River Test.

The perfect pour: Schweppes Premium Tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lime

Tanqueray: ABV: 43.1%

One of the classic gin brands, Tanqueray have been tickling our taste buds with this bone dry gin for centuries. With its notes of pine and coriander building on a strong juniper base, it all works well together. Its Christmas tree notes have made it a classic and reliable “go to” gin for all occasions. Made for a Dry Martini (with just the smallest drop of vermouth) or equally good in a long, refreshing G&T. Charles Tanqueray began distilling spirits in 1838 but it took him a few more years to come up with his classic gin recipe, which has stood the test of time and is as good now as it ever was.

In the 1950s, Tanqueray joined the Gordons family and was used to spearhead a marketing drive to secure it as a prestigious gin in the United States. It soon became the favourite tipple of evergreen stars such as Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior.  We think it’s one of the best classic gins out there and it’s a favorite of bartenders worldwide.

The perfect pour: Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic water, loads of ice and orange zest

Gordon’s (export strength): ABV: 47.3%

While we, in the UK, get to drink standard Gordon’s gin, this one is available overseas (or in duty free) so it’s worth keeping an eye out while you’re on holiday. It is considerably stronger than its domestic cousin (which clocks in at a rather feeble 37.5%).  It is also a very different beast as far as taste is concerned. With top notes of lemon peel and bittersweet lime, warming coriander, lavender and juniper in the mix and a lovely, lemony edge, this is a great gin. 

While regular Gordon’s gin struggles to retain its place in this brave new world of artisan gin, this one is still worth seeking out.  In the UK it may still be sold as Gordon’s Yellow Label, but you’re most likely to find this in a duty free shop somewhere around the world.  It’s a great gin for taking on holiday or for drinking on your return. Try this if you’re looking for an extra strong, extra spicy Tom Collins or in a Negroni.

The perfect pour: Britvic Indian tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lime

Plymouth: ABV: 41.2%

As befitting its Naval connections, Plymouth Gin once supplied more than 1000 casks of its Navy Strength gin to the Royal Navy but it fell out of fashion. The brand was revived in the late 1990s by Charles Roll, who went on to found the ubiquitous Fever Tree brand.  He increased the strength and created a heathery,  juniper gin with a lovely balance of savoury sage, sweetness and smoothness.  This has become a gin classic with its piney finish and well judged injection of citrus. 

Light, balanced and smooth, this is a great gin if you’re into G&Ts.  Strong enough to have some character but not so strong it will knock you out.  And great taste is not its only claim to fame – it was the favourite gin of Winston Churchill, it was the gin used in the world’s first Martini recipe and is the official gin of the Royal Navy. Keep a bottle of this in your cupboard at all times.

The perfect pour: Fentiman’s Premium Indian tonic water and a slice of grapefruit.

So, there you have it. Five classic gins that you can rely on. Like an old friend, these gins will be with you forever, ask no questions and never let you down. 

Now, how about a G&T?

 


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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Cornish gin

Cornwall’s Gin 7 – inspired by a beautiful landscape

With the world’s attention turning to the little beach town of Carbis Bay as the G7 leaders gather together to discuss great issues of state, we thought we’d have our own G7 in Cornwall. Welcome to our “Cornish G7”, where the “G” stands for gin.  We’ve rounded up 7 of Cornwalls’ finest bottles of juniper juice to celebrate this great occasion.  Plus, it’s a lovely little reminder of just how beautiful this remote and wild part of the UK really is. 

Rugged and rough – a land of unique traditions

Lush, green landscapes and deep valleys typify this dramatic region. Rugged cliffs tower dramatically over often turbulent seas.  Golden sands and beaches are fed by the warm, wet, westerly winds of the Atlantic which, when the sun shines, becomes a surfer’s paradise (wetsuit on, of course!) Old pubs still exist that resound with locals singing sea shanties eating Cornish pasties and drinking local ale.  From Lizard Point at the furthest tip of Southern England you can look out to sea and feel like you are at the end of the earth.  In fact, there’s a little town there that’s literally called Land’s End.  Then there’s, the fabulously romantic St. Michael’s Mount, a castle on a rock separated from the mainland when the tide is in (the little brother of Mont St. Michel in France).  

St. Michael’s Mount

There are cream teas all around Cornwall (with jam first, clotted cream second please) and plenty of freshly caught local seafood including amazing crab and lobster. There’s Tintagel Castle, legendary home of King Arthur’s Camelot. There’s pints of beer and local cider waiting for you at the bar of a Cornish pub. And  more sunshine than anywhere else in Britain. These all sound like cliches, but anyone who has been to Cornwall will recognise the ring of truth that lies behind these words.

Cornwall is a beautiful place and a perfect location to host a gathering of world leaders.

Cornish gin comes of age

But one thing that probably won’t be on the summit agenda this week is Cornish gin. And that’s a shame because it’s gathering quite a reputation now. So, we thought we’d celebrate this great county with a little tour of some of Cornwall’s best gins. This is our own Cornish G7 and we suggest you try to get your hands on them as soon as possible.

So, in no particular order, here we go:

Tarquin’s Gin (Tarquin’s Distillery)

Tarquin’s gin is making quite a name for itself.  For the full lowdown on these Cornish gin pioneers, check out our recent blog article

With its distinctive rounded bottle and wax-dipped top, this is a gin that is just chock-full of character on the outside as well as on the inside. The iconic frosted bottles now contain an ever widening selection of gins, handmade by Tarquin in his Higher Trevibban Farm (their little distillery high up on a cliff on the North Coast of Cornwall). They offer distillery tours (which need to be booked in advance).  They’ve also got a little shop in Padstow and you can find them on the menu at Rick Stein’s famous restaurant in the same town. In addition to his original Cornish Dry Gin, Tarquin now has The Seadog (a navy strength gin). 
They have an increasing range of Cornish fruit gins (such as rhubarb, raspberry and blackberry) and a constantly changing selection of limited edition gins. They even have their own Pastis (but that’s for another website! )

Their original Cornish Dry gin is delicious and highlights Devon violets and fresh orange zest alongside more exotic ingredients such as Guatemalan cardamom, Madagascan cinammon and Moroccan Orris root. The result is a lively gin with orange blossom on the nose and a crisp, dry finish.
Perfect for a refreshing gin and tonic with a slice of grapefruit.

Rock Samphire Gin (Curio Spirits Company) 

This one comes in a pretty bottle that highlights the hand foraged rock samphire that is gathered regularly from Cornwall’s dramatic and inaccessible clifftops. 

The guys at Curio have quadruple-distilled this gin at their distillery on the Lizard Peninsula at the furthest extremes of Cornwall itself.  As well as a beautifully designed bottle that will stand proudly on any gin shelf, this gin has managed to capture  the taste of the wild waves that pound the coast and the salt air that hovers in a mist above the lush green fields.  Inside is a gin that is full of complex flavours with just the right amount of saltiness to appeal to the seadog in you.  With a long finish and a full flavour this captures the essence of Cornwall and works really well in a cocktail such as a White Lady.

Clotted Cream Gin (Wrecking Coast Distillery)

When in the land of cows and clotted cream, even the gin echoes the landscape. If your mouth is watering at the thought of a delicious scone with home made jam and lashings of clotted cream, fret no more.  That beautiful and unique taste is now available in a bottle of Cornish gin. 

This Tintagel distillery sits in the shadows of the legendary castle and is destined to become an equally legendary gin.  For two long weeks, a dozen botanicals are macerated in grain spirit before being run through a still that is controlled by a computer. Yes, really!  While this process is underway, Cornish clotted cream is cold distilled in a separate still before the two are united  in a marriage that is made in heaven.  Think creamy softness, earthy juniper and floral notes with a honey edge.  There’s a little peppercorn in there somewhere as well.  This is a fab gin, different, but delicious.

One worth seeking out when your mind turns to cream teas

Tincture Cornish Rose Gin (Tincture Gin)

This is an interesting new arrival on the Cornish gin scene.

This classic London Dry style gin is presented in a gorgeous bottle that will assume a front row position on your bar shelf Tincture’s Cornish Rose Gin is made on the Cornish coast using fresh, organic ingredients distilled by hand in copper pot stills. 

The good news for those who are eco-conscious, is that they join a growing number of distillers who are making their gins available in reusable bottles with eco-friendly refill pouches. If you like your gin light and elegant with a little lemony sweetness, then this could be the one for you.  It’s also got complex notes of juniper and coriander to give it a blast of warmth that will come in handy by the fireplace of one of those Cornish pubs, as the sea shanties start. 

There’s another neat reason to try this gin.  Not only does it look, taste and smell lovely, but when you add tonic water, the natural golden colour of the gin changes to a pretty pink colour.  What’s not to like!

Trevethan Gin (Trevethan Gin Distillery)

This smooth London Dry gin was inspired by a recipe created by Norman Trevethan, way back in the early part of the last century.  A regular visitor to the buzzing nightlife of roaring 20s London, Norman partied in town, but put his inspiration into practice back in rural Cornwall.  He foraged for ingredients in the local hedgerows and scoured old family recipes for new ideas and perfected his recipe more than 100 years ago. 

The gin is now made by hand at the distillery’s Cornwall base. Each batch is made in small quantities and has its own unique signature character.  This is a complex gin with floral notes and a subtle citrus edge and many of the botanicals are still sourced from the local hedgerows.  Amongst the exotic flavours in this gin, look out for local Elderflower and Gorse flower, handpicked from the Trewonnard Dairy Farm in Cornwall’s Treneglos. You’ll also pick up more exotic botanicals such as orange and lemon peel and vanilla, which leaves a soft, oily texture on the palette.  We think you’ll love this oiliness alongside the citrus and floral notes.

St. Ives Gin (St. Ives Liquor Company)

This local Cornish gin from the St. Ives Liquor Company begins with the gathering of 13 local botanicals sourced from the cottage gardens and clifftops of the Cornish coastline.

Cornish Gin

With a beautiful bottle with a label that is pure Cornwall, this gin has vanilla and orange peel alongside basil and cardamom. On the palette, you’ll discover minty thyme and smoky seaweed with pink peppercorns delivering some extra spice to keep you warm.
This gin is a family affair and the brothers behind the brand pride themselves on their sustainability. They use a cold compound gin process that infuses neutral spirit with its carefully sourced botanicals to deliver a naturally flavoured gin that is bottled and labelled by hand . This gin is proud to have no preservatives, flavours or additives so you know that everything you taste comes straight from the botanicals within.

A lovely tasting gin that you can drink with confidence.

Caspyn Cornish Gin (The Pocket Full of Stones distillery) – ABV 40%

This local gin, born in the shadow’s of St. Michael’s Mount, is named after a stone circle near Penzance and it’s a classic dry gin.

Cornish gin

The brainchild of a bunch of friends who worked together in London bars, they brought their knowledge down to Cornwall with them and set up the Pocket Full of Stones distillery. In addition to local gin, these guys also produce whisky, absinthe, cideer brandy and a variety of classic and unusual gins. We’ll stick with the classic Cornish Dry gin that made their name.

There’s loads of floral notes from (hibiscus flowers) and citrus (from the lemon and orange peel and lemongrass). You’ll also detect the subtle notes of Japanese tea and a long finish delivered by the unusual gorse that is used in the recipe. This delicious, fresh gin works really well in a plain gin and tonic (with a twist of orange to let the flavours of the gin shine through). Take a sip and be inspired by the tastes of the sea air and the Atlantic ocean for a crisp and refreshing gin.

Yeghes da, everybody!

So, this weekend, we’ll leave the politics to the politicians and concentrate our efforts on the Cornwall Gin 7. Cheers, everyone. Or as the Cornish say: yeghes da!


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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