Whitley Neill Scottish Raspberry gin: a real gin, bursting with red fruit

If any of you saw my post on our Facebook page the other day, you might know that I’m on a bit of a Whitley Neill tasting drive. I like their gins anyway, but this little bottle was courtesy of a lovely birthday gift from my sister. Well, I broke out the Whitley Neill Scottish Raspberry gin (paid link)  just the other day and I am pleased to report that it was absolutely delicious. Much better than I had expected. 

So, let me tell you all about it.

Powerful, but not overpowering

I know that Whitley Neill flavoured gins are not to everyone’s taste, but I love them. I think they’re  great value and in the past, they’ve come up with some really creative and unusual combinations. These include rhubarb and ginger (paid link) and one of my favourites from last year, their Lemongrass and Ginger gin. So, when I opened the bottle, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. What I got was a big blast of raspberry on the nose, which I found powerful, not overwhelming – a very seductive start.  This is a full-on gin , sweet (but not too sweet!)

When I poured it (long) into my brand new Silent Pool gin tumbler (paid link), I could really smell the raspberry. Then I loaded the glass up with giant ice cubes and filled it to the top with some standard Nordic Tonic Water. Finally, I added a slice of orange and took a long deep sip.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Big burst of “raspberry-ness”

I got a full on hit of pure Scottish raspberry – but not the kind of raspberry taste you get from a Raspberry Ripple ice cream. It was the kind you get from freshly picked raspberries from a hedgerow. It was packed full of delicious raspberry-ness. It tasted of lush, slightly over-ripe fruit, but it also had a little edge of bitterness which stopped it becoming a “bubble gum” gin.

A big blast of flavour opens the account, with a tangy fruity burst that lingers in the mouth. The Scottish raspberries come through loud and clear and it doesn’t taste fake. The guys at Whitley Neill have added coriander, licorice and hibiscus (amongst other botanicals) all of which give way to delicious red fruit. But it’s well balanced and not too much. Whitley Neill first  introduced this mouth-watering gin to the Whitley Neill range in 2018 and, I’m pleased to say that it’s not as sweet as I had expected.

The perfect pour: At 43% ABV, they have not sacrificed strength or flavour. Whitley Neill seem to have the knack of producing  great gins at great prices. I highly recommend this one. Somebody has suggested that it tastes even better when paired with frozen raspberries and elderflower tonic.

I think I’ll have to give it a go.

www.whitleyneill.com

www.silentpoolgin.com


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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Tarquin’s Dry (England): a Cornish gin, handmade by Tarquin

As far as we know, Tarquin’s Cornish Dry Gin (paid link) was the first gin to be distilled in Cornwall for over 100 years. And we think it’s a real beauty. Tarquin himself builds his light, floral Cornish gin around the typical characteristics of a London Dry gin.  But he has added 12 carefully chosen botanicals to make this a delicious and unusual gin that really stands out from the crowd.

All of this love, effort and attention to detail makes it a very easy to drink gin – so you’d better watch out!

He bases his botanicals on Kosovan juniper and includes Devon violets, citrus zest and Bulgarian coriander to mellow the taste. And then for good measure, he throws in some orange, lemon and grapefruit zest to add a little citrus zing.  He rounds this all off with angelica root, almonds, orris root, licorice root and cinnamon.

The result – a really smooth and interesting drink.

Handcrafted on the wild Cornish coast

This fabulous gin is truly unique. He crafts each batch by hand, high up on the wild Cornish coast in a little distillery nestled on top of a windswept cliff and he passionately believes in the human touch.  He even picks the violets from his own garden. Tarquin then blends each batch of spirit with Cornish spring water (of course!) before bottling it at 42% in his own unique and beautiful bottles . Tarquin only makes this gin in small batches of 300 and he has built his reputation by doing things the old fashioned way.  It’s now a thriving, family run business with a proud tradition and the results clearly pay off.

Meet the ladies…

Plus, he likes nothing more than getting to know his customers. So, if you ever find yourself down Cornwall way, you might want to pay his little hilltop distillery a visit. He’ll offer you a distillery tour, before introducing you to his four beautiful ladies:Tamara, Senara, Ferrara and Tressa. These are the names he’s given his four copper stills. The tours include a Tarquin’s G&T, a talk on the history of Tarquin’s, a Botanical masterclass, a guided tour and a complimentary tasting of his 4 core gins.

Tarquin’s Gin School

So, if you’re in the beautiful Cornish town of Padstow, why not pop in to Tarquin’s Gin School and Shop? It’s only a 10 minute drive from the distillery itself and you can browse and buy the full range of Tarquin’s products. You can even enjoy a Gin Masterclass and even make your own gin.

We think this is a delightful, well balanced gin, presented in a beautiful bottle, built on a pure vision of what craft gin is all about. It’s well worth a try.

What’s not to like!

Perfect serve:  Tarquin serves his delicious gin in a beautiful blue bottle topped with a gorgeous wax seal. We suggest that you pour a large shot of Tarquin’s into a large copa glass. Pair it with a Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic, loads of ice and a slice or wedge of fresh grapefruit. Ooo,err! 


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 late summer gins to keep you cool

There’s nothing like a long, cool, refreshing gin on a hot summer’s day. There’s something about hearing the ice cubes plop into the glass. Watching the little bubbles of refreshment fizzing up inside. The smell, the garnishes – and that first taste! Bang!

So, here are 5 gins that we think are the ultimate way to cool down on a hot day. And these gins are perfect for that Indian summer that we’ve been hearing about. The gin’s are here, so let’s hope the good weather follows!

Choose one, put your feet up, add ice and your favourite mixer and drink. As always, serve chilled!

Chase pink grapefruit and pomelo gin (England); citrus zest – and so easy to drink!

This has fast become one of my favourite summer gins. Refreshing and well balanced, it combines the citrus tang of pink grapefruit and the fruity zest of pomelo to create a perfectly refreshing summer drink. Not too sweet, not too citrusy, it’s just a very easy drink to drink. Made in a copper pot still by our friends at Chase (near Hereford) this will brighten up your summer. Whether you like a cheeky pre-lunch aperitif or a long evening watching the sun go down in the garden, this is the gin you want by your side.

Perfect serve: Wipe a little of the grapefruit wedge around the rim of a large glass. Fill it to the top with large ice cubes and a premium Indian tonic. Then garnish it with a large, juicy wedge of pink grapefruit. Aaaah!

www.chasedistillery.co.uk

Puerto des Indias, strawberry gin (Spain): the taste of summer

This beautiful, fruity gin is from the south of Spain and (unlike Tanqueray Sevilla), so it’s not simply inspired by the hot sultry south – it’s actually made there. This exotic gin pays homage to Spain’s great trading past and is built on a solid citrus base. Once you’re through the carefully sourced strawberries, your palate will start to pick up even more citrus flavours like lime, lemon and orange – and even a little grapefruit.  So, all in all, this is a great summer gin, perfect to take on holiday.

Perfect serve: pour  50ml of Puerto des Indias strawberry gin into a long glass and top it up with 100ml of Mediterranean tonic water (or 150ml if you like a longer drink). Garnish with a strawberry wedge or a simple slice of lime for the ultimate poolside G&T.

www.ginpuertodesindias.com


JJ Whitley elderflower gin (England): a summer classic

JJ Whitley does it again. The Whitley family have been making gin in Cheshire since 1762 but this one has definitely been inspired by the British countryside. It could be the perfect gin for a gentle summer evening, this is the gin you want to be drinking poolside as the sun goes down. Built around the classic citrus taste of English elderflower, JJ Whitley have added a little twist of cinnamon for good measure. This quintessentially English gin retains its floral roots with a little sweetness and warmth that will tickle your taste buds all through the day and on into the night. With soft scents of juniper, coriander and cinnamon to round it off, this gin combines a fresh, floral bouquet with a velvety sweetness that you will find irresistible.


Perfect serve: Fill a copa glass with large ice cubes. Pour in 50 ml of Gin Mare, top it up with Fever Tree light or Mediterranean tonic, garnish a slice of lemon and sip slowly!

www.jj-whitley.com

Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin (England): where Spanish passion meets English elegance

Right now, orange flavored gins are everywhere. But Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla nailed it first. It is the orange gin that paved the way for the others but it’s still one of the very best out there. This beautiful summer gin with its classic Tanqueray London Dry botanicals blends effortlessly with the fresh citrus boost of Seville oranges. The result – a perfectly balanced, smooth orange gin that will instantly transport you to the hot orange groves of Southern Spain. But the best thing about Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla? It does it all without any of the unpleasant after tastes and synthetic sweetness in some other orange infused gins.

Perfect serve: Pour generously into a large copa glass. Fill to the top with large ice cubes. and add Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic water. Rub the rim of the glass with an orange wedge and drop into the glass. Pretend you’re in Spain.

www.tanqueray.com

Gin Mare (Spain): a true taste of the Mediterranean 

If you’re looking for the authentic taste of the Mediterranean, then you” love this award winning Spanish gin. Distilled in a 13th century chapel not far from Barcelona this has quickly become a Spanish classic. Made in the sunshine of Catalunya, Gin Mare has become a “go to” brand with summer written all over it.  An unusually savoury taste reflects its Spanish heritage. The gin features local Mediterranean ingredients such as olives, rosemary, thyme and basil. It’s also balanced by citrus and cardamom notes. Plus, its distinctive bottle looks great on your gin-shelf, any time of year.

Perfect serve: fill a copa glass with large ice cubes. Pour in 50 ml of Gin Mare. Top it up with Fever Tree Mediterranean gin and garnish with fresh orange or lemon slices. Or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, a sprig of burned Rosemary. Then, simply sit back and enjoy!

www.ginmare.com

Junipero (USA) – extra strength gin from San Francisco

Junipero (USA)

This month, we feature Junipero – an extra strength gin from San Francisco whose name says it all. Junipero weighs in at a hefty 49.3% alcohol (98.6 proof). Hand crafted and pot-stilled, this gin brand has been around since the 1990s and can rightly be called the forerunner of the current gin revolution in the USA.  Anchor Distillery on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill make this powerful classic. And with more than a dozen botanicals, this is a very juniper forward gin. 

Junipero (Spanish for Juniper) is a complex, crisp, clean gin with a subtle spiciness. It is a gin that will warm you from the inside. Look for notes of citrus and violets alongside the juniper and coriander. While the other exact botanicals remain a closely guarded secret, the result is a triumph.  Not for the faint-hearted, this over proofed powerhouse of a gin is a real belter. It tastes great in a classic G&T or a Negroni and also pairs well with Sicilian lemonade. This gin may not be for everyone, but if you like a strong gin with a big heart, this might be the one for you.

Perfect serve: Pour a large measure of gin into a copa glass and fill to the top with large ice cubes. Top up the glass with a premium tonic water such as Fevertree tonic water (or if you want to spice things up a little, serve with Schweppes premium pink pepper tonic). Garnish with grapefruit, ginger or lavender, according to taste. Then, sit back and enjoy!

www.junipero.com

100 years of gin making in Menorca: Spanish gin, the old-fashioned way.

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Most gin lovers have already heard of Gin Mare – probably the best known of the Spanish brands. But Spain, having changed the way the world thinks of gin, is now starting to discover a range of new gin brands to add to its traditional gin distilleries. This new attention is also helping to revive the fortunes of some older Spanish gin brands that have been around for a long time.

One of these is Gin Xoriguer, made by Destilerias Xoriguer on the tiny and beautiful island of Menorca, set like a glittering jewel in the beautiful Balearics – it’s the perfect setting for a gin and tonic.

Gin and Menorca – not something you would always connect, but there is a reason why this little distillery exists. In the mid-18th century, Menorca was briefly under Dutch and British rule and the locals were encouraged to make gin to keep the naval forces happy. At one stage, there were 5 distilleries on the island, producing a diverse range of gins, but now there’s just one.

In 1910, master distiller Miguel Gusto established a little distillery on the harbour front of Mahon and the Xoriguer distillery is still making 60,000 litres of Mahon gin every year along with a couple of budget gins and almost a dozen local island liqueurs.

This local gin doesn’t get much airplay outside of the island and is heavily juniper dominant. In fact, that’s the only botanical they use in their domestic version. The berries, hand picked from the Pyrenees, are stored in hampers for a couple of years to concentrate the oils before being macerated and added to the neutral grape based spirit.

While the ingredients and the process are simple and the product perhaps lacks some of the complexity of a Monkey 47 or a Silent Pool, it packs a big juniper punch with a hint of pine sap and a soft, oily palate. Peppery and with a hint of tobacco, it’s a great drink to sip on while watching the sun set over the Mediterranean, nibbling on local cheese and sucking on plump, juicy giant olives. Drink it with tonic, by all means. But to drink it like a local, have a “Pomada”, traditionally made by mixing the gin with freshly squeezed local lemon juice. And at only 38% ABV, you can afford to have a couple of them!

For more information, click here

Barcelona in a bottle

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Barcelona – the capital of gin and one of the design centres of the world. Think Gaudí, Miró, Picasso, Tàpies and more, Barcelona is a design classic. It’s so laid back, they even named a chair after it, so why wouldn’t they name a gin?

Barcelona GINRAW isn’t actually made in the city of Barcelona but in a little town down the coast called Vilafranca del Penedes by four avant garde, Barcelona-born entrepreneurs with a real passion for their city. Either way, this gin is a design classic that deserves its place in your cocktail cabinet, for looks alone. This 42.3 ABV gin packs a reasonable punch and its bottle and label will make you look twice.

The striking design is a tall, thinnish bottle with a curved necknad a subtly frosted exterior, topped by an extra wide ash wood cap, covered by a subtle metal band. The label is a trendy sideways one and a little leather tag on the neck gives it that extra edge in the style stakes. But gin isn’t just for looking at, it’s for tasting as well, so what’s this one like?

Distilled at low temperature in a traditional copper still it’s made in small batches of 5000 (my bottle is labelled 953 out of the first batch they produced!)

The labels describes it as a gastronomic gin and claims a low temperature distillation process to make the most of the botanicals inside, which include lemon peel, kaffir lime, laurel leaves, black cardamon and coriander seeds. This mix delivers a citrus twang and the notes from the spices such as the smokey black cardamon and coriander lifts it from the ordinary.

Serve this with some ground black pepper, a generous slice of lemon or maybe even some burned rosemary to give it an extra Mediterranean twist. Sit back, pour into a long glass, add your favourite tonic water and ice, garnish to taste – and drink. You’ll love this on a hot summer night in Barcelona – and it will add an extra element of style to your gin cabinet. Enjoy!!

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Vive la France!

posted in: Gin of the month | 2

France and gin are not two words that you’d often put together. But the land of the grape is starting to make some pretty decent gins including the well known Citadelle and the delicious G-Vine, but here’s one you might not have heard of. Introducing Saffron Gin, imported by Gabriel Boudier from Dijon.

Dijon is more known for its mustard than its saffron, but these guys have they’ve infused one of the most distinctive and expensive ingredients in the world into a beautiful old school bottle to give the gin a golden colour more suited to a scotch whiskey or an Irn Bru than a simple gin. The result: an unusual gin, probably best for a special occasion to impress your friends rather than as a cocktail cabinet staple.

Gabriel Boudier have been making Cassis in the French countryside since 1874, and you can see that in the bottle.

But why France and gin?

For many years, the French and the British had competing interests in the Indian subcontinent, especially in Southern Indian cities such as Pondicherry. Somewhere in that period exotic spices started turning up in France, the culinary centre of the world, and some of these recipes were recently discovered into the Boudier archive and were resurrected to make this startling gin. The look is dramatic and the saffron is quite forward and gives the gin a dry, savoury taste which dominates any tonic water. In addition to the Saffron other botanicals in the mix include Juniper, Coriander, Lemon, Orange Peel, Iris, Angelica seeds and Fennel. When mixed, it takes on a golden colour but despite its unusual history, I like it as an occasional drink and it’s complex enough to be drunk “on the rocks”. It’s only 40% ABV, so it’s not a heavy hitter in the alcohol department, but as a curiosity and a talking point, it’s well worth a go.

http://www.boudier.com/gamme/gin/

Bertha’s Revenge Gin: gin made from milk!!

posted in: Gin of the month | 2

In our relentless quest to find the most unusual and interesting gins from around the world, let me introduce you to Bertha and tell you a story about her revenge. Bertha was a lovely cow from the beautiful green fields of Co. Kerry in Ireland. She lived a happy life, chomping her way through the famous green grass of her homeland and was so well looked after that she lived to the ripe old age of 48. By the time she passed on to chomp on the Elysian fields, she had become the world’s oldest cow and gave birth to a staggering 39 calves over her lifetime.

She became a living legend in Ireland and her memory now lives on in Bertha’s Revenge, a fantastic, flavour packed small batch gin made by the Ballyvolane House Spirits Company, who have honoured her existence by creating a unique Irish gin made from (wait for it…) MILK.

Using whey alcohol from Irish dairy farmers, and incorporating a formidable mix of locally foraged and grown botanicals including many of the usual suspects (and some unusual ones such as sweet woodruff, elderflower, almond) alongside other listed ingredients such as “love”, “laughter” and “childish enthusiasm”, this is a delicious drink full of complex flavours. But don’t try pouring it on your cornflakes, since it packs a decent punch at 42% ABV.

But all the clever marketing in the world can’t disguise a bad gin, so what’s it like?

We had a little gathering to find out and in a blind test of 4 of our favourite small batch gins, this was our runaway favourite with a unanimous 4 out of 4 tasters making it their top choice.

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WE LOVE GIN. WE ARE WARRIORS IN THE GIN REVOLUTION. GIN LOVERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!

Silent Pool Gin

posted in: Gin of the month, Ginspiration | 0

Silent Pool Gin – April’s Legendary Gin of the Month

Hand made in small batches in the beautiful Surrey Hills, south of London, this is not only one of the tastiest gins we’ve tried recently, but it comes in one of the prettiest bottles we’ve ever seen.

It even has a 600 year old legend attached.

Named after a local beauty spot near Guildford known as the Silent Pool, legend has it that some time in the 14th century, wicked King John of England was passing by the pool on his horse when he spotted the local woodcutter’s daughter, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, bathing in the crystal clear water. He wanted his wicked way with her and she refused to yield her honour to the evil monarch and waded backwards into the water to escape him, when she stumbled and drowned.

Even now, her ghost is said to be seen at midnight in the reflections of the dark water of The Silent Pool.

And now for the legendary gin itself – the bottle is stunning, with an unusual glass stopper and a beautifully intricate design of autumn colours set against an aqua tinted bottle reminiscent of the pool itself. The bottle features scenes illustrating the legend (including tiny figures of the King and the Maiden hidden among the leaves). The gin is made on site by Master Distiller Cory Mason who uses a copper pot still heated by steam from local wood, burned in its wood fired burner.

The result is a delicious full-bodied, fresh gin full of complex flavours derived from its blend of 24 specially chosen botanicals including local lavender and honey. These well chosen ingredients enliven the senses and play tricks on the mind, but the result is a taste sensation that is sure to get people talking. Its dominant botanicals include locally sourced chamomile, kaffir lime, elderflower, coriander, lavender, orange and pear (amongst others).

It tastes of the English countryside and is fed from the same spring that feeds the legendary pool itself. Mix it with a decent tonic water such as Fever Tree and garnish it with a thin orange wheel or a wedge of lime (to bring out the citrus notes). You could even add a mint sprig (or two) to give it a fresh twist and wait for the honey and lavender to come through on your tongue. You’ll love it.

ABV 43%

Gin tours available by arrangement

Other products available (including seasonal gins)

Order on line www.silentpooldistillers.com

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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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