easter cocktail

Mini-Egg Martini – the perfect Easter cocktail!

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

There’s a little debate going on now in gin circles. With all the flavoured gins out there, when does it become too much? For the purists, the very idea of a strawberry-flavoured gin send shivers down the spine. On the other hand, the advent of flavoured gins has opened the door to millions of gin lovers who might have been initially put off by the bitterness of a G&T. The debate will rage forever, but from our perspective, a good gin is simply the one you like. There are plenty of gins and different gin cocktails out there for everyone.
What about an easter cocktail?

From Hot Cross Buns….

This Easter, we thought we’d combine a few of our favourite Easter treats to create the perfect Easter cocktail worthy of celebrating the sunnier days ahead.

Obviously, Easter has many traditions – and they differ from country to country.
Living in Barcelona, I’ll be missing hot cross buns, the traditional soft, spiced buns that are served in the UK in the run up to Easter.
Amazingly, there are even “hot cross bun” available in the UK right now – which may be a step too far, even for us.

…to milk and cinnamon-soaked Torrijas!

In Spain, they’ve never heard of a Hot Cross bun. Instead, they’ll spend Semana Santa chewing on milk and cinnamon-soaked Torrijas, a sweet Easter treat prepared throughout Spain at this special time of year.
There are lots of different variations of this dish (with honey, sweet wine…), depending on what part of Spain you’re in. They’re sort of like a bite-sized version of what Americans call “French toast”. And they’re delicious.
Unfortunately, as far as I’m aware, there are no gin derivatives of Torrijas yet. But who knows, maybe there’s a niche.

Eggs are everywhere…

One Easter treat that does appear everywhere seems to be the chocolate Easter egg. There’s something about chocolate and Easter that go together easily. And while I can’t get some of my traditional English Easter favourites easily here in Barcelona, I can find clever ways of creating those same flavours with some gin and some local ingredients. That’s why we thought we’d brighten up your Easter weekend with a special Easter gin cocktail.

We call it the Mini Egg Martini – and it’s delicious.

So, without further ado, here is a simple recipe to put you in good spirits for the holiday weekend. It’s really easy to make, really easy to drink and makes a lovely, boozy complement to all the other chocolate goodness of the weekend.

Easter cocktail recipe: Mini Egg Martini

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Crush the mini eggs in a pestle and mortar, then tip onto a small plate
  2. Brush the rim of a Martini glass with a little of the honey, using a pastry brush
  3. Dip the glass into the crushed mini-eggs to stick them on to the rim
  4. Place the glass in the fridge until required
  5. Pour the creme de cacao, Baileys and gin into a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice
  6. Shake until the outside of the shaker feels ice cold
  7. Strain into your Martini glass and serve

Happy Easter, everyone!


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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Easter egg

White House switches eggs for gin in new Easter tradition.

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin news | 0

Apparently, Joe Biden has upgraded the annual White House Easter Egg hunt.  After a few years of complaints from parents that it was “no longer as fun as it once was”, the White House has reacted with a statement on April 1st which will make us gin lovers very happy.
According to White House spokesperson Gordon Gin: “Easter is a time for everyone.  For too long, kids have had it all their own way.  Many parents told us that while they pretended to enjoy watching their kids run around in search of Easter eggs what they really wanted was a strong cocktail.  That’s why this year, while the kids are roaming around looking for eggs, we’ll be holding a separate event in the Rose Garden.  

“We’ve hidden 100 bottles of craft gin and 100 bottles of premium tonic water in “hard to find” locations around the grounds.  The idea is that we’ll meet up afterwards. The kids can work off their sugar rush and their parents can chill out with their own cocktail”.

Responding to the White House announcement, 35 year old mother of two, Tina Tanqueray confirmed: “This is a great move from a progressive administration.  The kids have had it their own way for too long.  Now it’s our turn. We’ve spent much of the year sourcing treats for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween – the list goes on.  Now it’s our turn to have some fun”.

Kid’s Union of America spokesperson April Fewell said: “This is fine by us.  Anything that involves chocolate without parental supervision is a great idea. If we can distract them with G&Ts for a few hours, the more chocolate there is for us.  And a happy parent is a good parent. We’re off on a chocolate hunt”.

PS – Happy April Fool’s Day!


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: March gin news!

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin news | 0

Notes from a gin dog

He’s been at it again! Our faithful gin dog, Ruddles has had his nose to the ground this month. He’s been hunting down all the gin news that might have passed us by.
Now, we’ve pulled it all together in our monthly news roundup, The Ruddles Report.  He’s dug up a bunch of stories on everything from the best gin Easter eggs to why Ryan Reynolds’ launched a football-inspired limited edition gin in Wales.
Ruddles has all the answers.  He’s also found an interesting report on something that is increasingly important for each of us – sustainable gin making. This article should make it just a little bit easier for us all to make conscious choices about the gin brands we buy. 

Plus, we’ve shared a story from the UK’s Consumer’s Association who have taken an independent look at the UK’s best gins. There are so many opinions out there, so it’s refreshing to get a fully independent review. Finally, we round off this month’s Ruddles Report with a review of some of the best online gin clubs – are they still a good deal and which ones are the best?

So, let’s get going with this…

Gin and chocolate – Happy Easter!

We all know that Easter is coming – and that means chocolate! But what if we could  combine two of our favourite things into one deliciously festive treat? Well, we can. 
Welcome to the Marks and Spencer’s Gin and Tonic Easter egg

If you’re a chocolate lover and a gin drinker, then this is the perfect treat. Plus, if you like the gin/chocolate combination, you might also want to try Salcombe Gin’s chocolate flavoured spirit. It still tastes of chocolate but it won’t melt in your hands!

Ryan Reynolds honours Wrexham AFC with special edition gin

In a world of celebrity gins, Ryan Reynolds was amongst the first to put his influence and celebrity status behind a gin brand. A few years ago, he invested in Aviation gin.  Since then, his gin has gone from strength to strength. Ryan himself often features in little comedy vignettes that are charming, tongue in cheek and often very amusing.   All good for the brand (which is now owned by drinks giant Diageo) .  But it was a big surprise when he recently announced a bid to buy local Welsh football club Wrexham AFC, from the junior leagues.  So, I guess none of us should be surprised that he has now combined his two passions into a limited edition gin for the club’s supporters.

In partnership with the club, he’s releasing a run of 6000 bottles of Wrexham AFC/Aviation gin. They’ll be snapped up fast, but one day, if you get your hands on a bottle, these could be collectors items.

Sustainable gin – something worth supporting!

The last few years have really brought the climate crisis to the fore – and for good reason. Thankfully, the eco-message is getting through – we only have one planet and we need to look after it. 
So, it’s really refreshing to see the gin industry get behind the idea of sustainability. Last month, Ruddles told you about how Beefeater are making their bottles fully recyclable. We also talked about local innovations such as reusable gin pouches from Eden Mill. 

But how do you know if your gin is sustainable or not?
Here’s an article that lists the major sustainable gin brands out there. Some may surprise you!  Sustainable drinking – we think that’s something worth supporting.

Which gin? Independent gin reviews you can trust

We’re always looking out for great gins and new ideas. But at the end of the day, there are a million different opinions out there and often, it boils down to a matter of personal taste – which gins do you like and not like.

Impartiality and independent views are often hard to find, so when Which? magazine (the journal of the UK Consumers Association) decided to do an independent test of 2021’s best gins in the UK, we thought it was worth paying attention to.  If you want to know which ones they reckon are the best, this is the article for you.

In the club? – the best vs the rest

And finally, many people subscribe to gin clubs – and they are not always satisfied.  In fact, there is a sense that the novelty might be starting to wear off a little bit as unusual gins are increasingly available (at great prices) from local retailers, distillers and on-line sellers. We’re not sure if this is a temporary dip or if there is a sustainable shift.
Either way, Gin Clubs are still very popular, so we thought we’d share a little article that might help you to separate the best from the rest.

That’s all for this month, everybody.  Spring is in the air – and that means it’s gin and tonic season!!!



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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Juniper: the magic berry

Gin is juniper. Without juniper, gin simply is not gin. That’s why juniper is so important. But what is it, where does it come from and why is it found in gin (but not in vodka or rum)? Well, read on as we lift the curtain on this fabulous berry which plays a vital part in our lives.

A tiny pine cone that conquered the world

So, here’s interesting fact number one!

The juniper berry isn’t actually a berry at all. In fact, it’s a tiny pine cone. These little cones can be found on a small, wild shrub called juniperus communis which primarily grows wild in the northern hemisphere. Juniper bushes are, in fact, closely related to the cypress family. These amazing plants can live for as long as 100 years and they can reach a height of 10m.

But that’s not all. Juniper is a hardy plant, with one of the widest geographical reaches of any tree in the world. You can find juniper bushes thriving across different landscapes and climates and a range of countries from Canada to the USA, from Iceland to Greenland, from Europe to North Africa and from Asia to Japan.

No hurry, juniper takes its time!

But juniper is not in a big hurry to flavour your G&T. In fact it takes each juniper bush around 10 years to actually bear fruit. But enough about the mother ship, what about the berry?

Well, this is a weird one. Juniper berries start off green and then, after around 18 months, they start to ripen into a dark purple colour. And they’re quite small – most juniper berries are less than 1cm in diameter. Intriguingly, each berry contains between 3 and 6 rectangular seeds, which birds kindly eat and distribute on juniper’s behalf.

So, where’s the best juniper to be found?

Well, we already know that juniper’s influence spreads far and wide. You can still find it growing in the UK and Spain, but the best stuff comes from Macedonia. And here’s another interesting fact. Juniper is generally harvested directly from the wild, meaning that it is more like foraging than farming. There’s a particular technique for getting the best crop from your tree.
According to long tradition, juniper pickers will circle the tree, beating the branches as they walk around it. They then catch the falling berries in a round, flat basket, often collecting their own body weight of juniper in a single day.

What does it actually taste like?

This complex botanical (with as many as 70 constituent elements) is most prized for its juniper oil, which represents as little as 3% of the cone. This means you have to squeeze an awful lot of juniper berries to get a decent amount of oil. And just like everything else, juniper has its own unique flavour profile.

Think pine notes, heather and lavender, sitting alongside grassy pepperiness and citrus. These are the dominant flavours that give it such a distinctive, bitter taste. They are also the same notes that make it into your gin once the distillation process is under way. All this work comes at a cost and the average price for juniper right now is around £7 per kg.

How did juniper end up as gin’s main ingredient?

Well, after a long and distinguished career in medieval medicine, in the 16th century, juniper switched seamlessly into gin. It had already been used in health remedies since the Egyptians started using it to make drinks and to embalm their dead pharaohs, so its health benefits had been known for millennia.

By the 1660s, as Amsterdam became the centre of world trade, the Dutch army and navy took to the habit of drinking a daily ration of genever. Then, in a bid to appeal to the growing middle classes, Dutch distillers began to flavour their malt wine with juniper and other spices from the Dutch East India company.
And the news spread, so before long, genever became popular in other European countries including France.

Ready for lift off

By the end of the 19th century, it was being sold in England at half the price of brandy, so its popularity took off rapidly. The rest is history.

The English embraced the idea and adapted it to their tastes and by 1621, there were more than 200 registered gin distillers in London alone.
Since then, it has gone on a journey from the devil’s drink, blighting the social fabric of 17th century London through to the drink of choice in 18th century drinking clubs. Eventually, this spirit became engrained in the history and psychology of England and by the time the G&T took hold in the 19th century there was no stopping it.

Gin goes global!

By the 20th century, this beautiful “juniper juice” had become a cocktail staple and the drink of choice for movie stars, writers, film stars and royalty. But production was still dominated by a few powerful brands such as Gordons and Tanqueray, who did nothing imaginative to this most versatile of all drinks. And then the craft gin revolution arrived in the early 21st century giving birth to a mind-boggling array of flavours and styles that we could only have dreamed of 20 years ago.

So, there it is. This little berry (that isn’t a berry) has taken on the world and won.
Every gin you drink, no matter where you are, will always have one thing in common – the juniper berry. Where would we be without you!

Indian food

Hot stuff: 5 Indian treats (and the gins that make them shine!)

You might have read our recent article introducing 5 amazing craft gins from India.  And that got us thinking of food. Indian food. The stuff we love.
We’ve recently reported that Japanese scientists have now officially given gin the seal of approval as a curry buddy.  We’ve also discovered a burgeoning craft gin industry thriving in the subcontinent. 

So, we thought it was time for us to take the next step and answer the question you’ve all been waiting for…

Which is the best Indian food to eat with gin?

1. Lamb Rogan Josh

This is a traditional Indian curry with a bit of a kick. Lamb Rogan Josh doesn’t have the nuclear heat of a Phall or the vinegary fire of a Vindaloo, but it’s still a spicy curry worthy of respect! 
Its rich flavours and fiery heat means that this works really well with a gin offering a dose of sweetness to soothe the palate. Just as the fiery spice tries to heat it up, the sweetness of the gin brings things back into balance. Buttery or creamy gins work well with spicier dishes like this.

Indian food

Gin’s with sweeter notes such as Bertha’s Revenge (with its milk whey spirit base) initially deliver creamy flavours to balance the heat of the curry. Sweet woodruff, cloves and almonds follow, making it the perfect match for a spicy lamb dish like this.
We recommend mixing up a large traditional G&T and garnishing it with a vanilla pod or a clove to keep the sweetness up front. Just where you need it!

2. Paneer Tikka (with chutney)

Paneer tikka is the perfect dish to be nibbling on while sipping your favourite gin.
These gorgeous little cheesy Indian snacks are the perfect finger food. It couldn’t be easier – you can snack with one hand and hold your glass in the other!
This is a classic Indian snack, made of chunks of Indian paneer cheese (somewhere between cottage cheese and Haloumi) marinated in spices including capsicum, chili, mustard oil, garlic paste and Garam Masala.
It’s then traditionally grilled at high temperature in a tandoor oven (although your home oven is fine).

This gorgeous little snack is a perfect vegetarian treat and goes really well with a honey gin.  We recommend Keepr’s London Dry, infused with British honey.  The perfect balance for the spicy cheese!

3. Chicken Biryani

This perfect chicken biryani rice dish from India is a little beauty.  It keeps the spicy warmth of a curry, but doesn’t rely on the rich, creamy sauces that often sound delicious on the menu but end up being too rich.
This spiced rice dish originated in Muslim India and is generally a mix of Indian spices, rice, meat and vegetables. It often features dried fruits, nuts and even eggs and potatoes.  Layers of Basmati are flavoured with Indian spices before being prepared with cooked chicken or spiced meat. 
This is the jewel in the crown of Indian food and we think it deserves an equally good gin to sip on while you’re taking in all those lovely tastes. 

Silent Pool’s complex botanicals, juniper forward taste and floral layers of lavender and chamomile really bring out the best in the biryani.  And the sweetness of local honey mixed up with the citrus notes of kaffir lime takes the heat out of some of the dish, which can be a welcome relief.  A gorgeous gin for a gorgeous dish.  Enjoy!

4. Onion bhaji

We all love an onion bhaji.  What’s not to like? Little fried balls of sweet, shredded onions, dipped in a gorgeous spicy batter mix and then deep fried to a golden crisp.  The crisp, spicy batter on the outside and the soft onions inside are just made to be dipped into a sweet, spicy chili sauce or a mellow yoghurt marinade.
These fabulous little treats are made to be served with gin.

We recommend something crisp and refreshing such as a Bombay Sapphire gin and tonic. Garnish with a traditional slice of lemon or cool it down with a mint leaf.  Either way, it will be delicious!

5. Curried cashew nuts

These curried cashew nuts are a taste of my childhood in Calcutta. Served warm on a shallow plate, these are my favourite snacks with a G&T. Crisp, large cashew nuts are lightly spiced with oil, curry powder and paprika.  They’re then tossed in a shallow tray and bake for 45 minutes. These are the perfect complement to a pre-dinner G&T and we think something light, dry and citrusy would work really well. 

We suggest a Tanqueray Rangpur for a sharp blast of lime to cut through the spicy nuttiness of the cashews. Don’t forget a lime garnish (and a big squeeze of lime into the glass before you drink!)

Gin and curry: made for each other

So, now you have it.  Proof that gin and Indian food were made for each other.  Some great Indian gins to drink.  And 5 great Indian recipes to match your favourite gins with.

Now, all we need is for the skies to open up again and we can try some of these in person!



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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Indian gin

5 great Indian craft gins to watch out for in 2021

Indian gin is having its day in the sun. The world’s largest democracy is host to one of the most complex, diverse and varied cultures on the planet. This enormous and beautiful land is a heady mix of ancient religions, extraordinary food, incredible architecture and rich cultural diversity. Indian history and traditions are legendary and its influence over the centuries has been profound. 

This is a country that is proud to wear its history (and its heart) on its sleeve. Everybody from the Mughal emperors to Genghis Khan to Alexander the Great have left their mark here. The English, the French and the Portuguese took much away, but all added something unique to this rich culture.  The Chinese influence is there for all to see, wherever you go in India.

There is so much richness and diversity that nothing should surprise you – but, in India, it frequently does.

Recently, we posted a link to an article that identified that gin was the perfect pairing for a curry.  And that got us thinking about Indian gin. What is it? Is it any good? Where can I get it? 
The result is our handy guide to Indian gin and a top 5 list for you to try for yourselves. 

So, here’s what we found out…

Gin and India

Gin-making and India are not necessarily the first things that come to mind when you think about the Indian subcontinent.  I know that there are some half-decent Indian whiskey’s out there. I also know (from personal experience) that there are some pretty bad ones!

We all know that gin is usually served with Indian tonic water. In the context of India, it is a drink often associated with staid colonial clubs and wrap around verandas.  
Which is why it came as a bit of a surprise to discover that India has a fast growing (and innovative) craft gin industry.

And the even better news is that some of the Indian gins they produce taste pretty darned good! 

The Indian craft gin revolution

The same couldn’t have been said 5 years ago. Since 2015, the gin revolution in India has gone full throttle. India’s artisan gin makers are now producing some really interesting gins to sip alongside your curry and kebabs.

After all, India is where Indian tonic water first made an appearance as a way of making the antimalarial ingredient quinine, an easier sell. When added to their favourite imported gin tipple, this new “tonic” mixture became increasingly popular – and without it, there would be no gin and tonic! In 1870, Schweppes launched its first tonic water to the Indian market and since then, the G&T has never looked back.

The G&T is now one of the most widely drunk cocktails on the planet. As British colonial rule continued over the centuries, G&Ts became the preferred cooling drink for hot days at the colonial clubs and villas of Calcutta and Delhi.

From middle class tipple to cool craft cocktail

Over the last decade or so, gin has transformed itself from a middle class drink beloved in suburban English golf clubs to the sophisticated drink we know and love today.  Gin has become an exciting, dynamic drink that has captured the imagination of drinkers and distillers the world over.

Luckily for us, it has also led to a breathtaking variety of choice.  As the craft gin movement exploded, thousands of small craft gin distilleries began to appear around the world and India was no exception. Now there are a number of innovative new gin brands who are all tapping into the uniqueness of India.

So, here are some of the top Indian gins starting to make a name for themselves in the sub-continent and beyond. However, please be aware that many other brands use Indian names or references in their product names. But there are still only a dozen or so serious craft gin contenders in India, so choose your Indian gin carefully.

Get ready for a Gin-dian summer!

1. Terai: ABV 42.8%

This gorgeous Indian gin comes from Rajasthan, one of the most exotic and exciting parts of India.
It comes in a very attractive, ribbed glass bottle and is made by the India Craft Spirit Company. 

The team behind the gin took their inspiration from the countless local feasts and religious celebrations that India celebrates daily. They wanted the bottle to tap into this vibe without it becoming a pastiche of Indian cliches.

The result is attractive and sophisticated, inspired by temple architecture, local handicrafts and religious icons. And as for the gin, Terai takes a “grain-to-glass” approach using home-made rice grain spirit as its base.

It’s distilled in a handmade German still before being infused with 11 botanicals including fennel and coriander. This brings a unique green freshness to the gin. There are also strong perfumed notes, driven by lavender and rose. And then there is a distinctive nutty flavour at the end. 

All the botanicals have been sourced from within India, with the exception of the juniper which is imported from Europe.  This dominant juniper taste places it firmly in the London Dry camp.

2. Hapusa: ABV 43%

Hapusa is Sanskrit for juniper.  And that’s what the team at Nao Spirits have called their latest premium Indian gin creation to avoid any doubt that this is an Indian gin.

With juniper berries sourced directly from the Himalayas, this unusual gin also includes coriander seeds, turmeric, almonds and even mango as its key botanicals.  The delicious result of all this hard work is a unique premium gin that tantalises with delicate floral notes up front before taking you on a journey towards an earthy spiciness that works beautifully in a fresh, ice-filled G&T. 

This gin is building quite a reputation in India and is currently only available in New Delhi, Goa and Mumbai.  But keep your eyes peeled, I think it might break out of the subcontinent soon! 

3. Stranger and Sons: ABV 42.8%

Stranger and Sons is a great gin.  It’s been around since 2018. It’s made by the Third Eye distillery in Goa, but it has gathered botanicals from across the country as well as some produced in their own garden. 

As with most Indian gins, there’s a healthy hit of juniper.  But then comes the spice – black pepper, mace, nutmeg, coriander seed, angelica, licorice, cassi and citrus peels all make an appearance.  The result is an intriguing mix of citrus and spice that makes an extraordinarily complex G&T. It has a citrus forward character, driven by Gondhoraj lemons from the East. sweet limes and nimbu from Goa.

This is best served in a delicious G&T, with a slice of lemon if you want to bring out the citrus. Alternatively, add a little piece of ginger to release some of that warming spice. However you try it, this is delicious.

4. Jaisalmer: ABV 43%

Now, here’s something a bit different.
Jaisalmer gin from the Golden City – one of the most exotic and beautiful places in the whole of India.  Rising out of the Thar desert lies a walled fortress city of gold, peaked with crenellations, towers and turrets. Inside the city gates lies a vibrant citadel city packed with twisted alleys, hidden surprises and stunning views across the desert towards the Pakistan borders in the far distance.
This is a place straight out of the Arabian Nights and one of the most unique and atmospheric towns in all of India. 
The last place I would expect a modern craft gin brand to appear.

Made by the Rampur Distillery, this gin features botanicals such as lemongrass, Darjeeling Green Tea, juniper, citrus peels and other Indian herbs.


This gin is triple distilled in a copper pot still and was recently named the Best gin in Asia in 2019 by the Gin Guide Awards, UK so it is building quite a reputation internationally.

It’s packed with complex spicy notes from the pepper and the tea and balanced with citrus and floral notes from the orange and lemon peel.  Then, it’s all rounded off with a little blast of licorice from the angelica, licorice and caraway seeds. A gorgeous blend of flavours, this gin has something for everyone.

5. Jin Jiji: ABV 43%

This beautiful gin is from Goa, an area rich in Portuguese heritage as well as its reputation for partying backpackers. In fact, this gin is appropriately named.  The name JiJi is a derivation of the world jijivisha, which is an ancient Hindi word used to describe a lust for life. 

The JiJi team wanted a gin that would showcase the extraordinary diversity of India’s botanicals. They started with Himalayan juniper, foraged in some pretty hard to reach places on the highest mountain range on earth.  The guys add some unique local ingredients including high quality, locally grown cashew nuts, which were first introduced here by Portuguese rulers over 400 years ago. Other ingredients such as tulsi (basil) and chamomile are distilled in a copper pot still in Goa resulting in a beautiful sipping gin. 

Juniper dominates here, but backing it up are citrus notes, floral chamomile and spicy cloves and peppers.  All of this is rounded off with spicy black pepper and tea and a distinctive nutty aftertaste from the cashew nuts. This is not a subtle gin and it packs a lot of flavour in tribute to all corners of the great Indian subcontinent. 

Keep an eye out for these Indian gins. When the world’s largest democracy, with the world’s fastest growing middle class catches on, Indian brands are bound to make their mark. 
Try them now and be the first to tell your friends.

Fascinating fact: Apparently, there’s no specific word for cheers in India. They just say cheers.

Cheers!



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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venison stroganoff

Cheers, deers! Venison stroganoff (with a drop of gin to keep you warm)

Venison. It’s the dish of royalty, beloved of chef’s everywhere and it’s one of the most delicious, full-flavoured meats out there. It’s highly sought after in high end restaurants from London to Barcelona and it’s a must have meal at posh Scottish hunting lodges. But it’s strangely undervalued for every day eating.

However, this delicious meat is increasingly recognised not only for its delicious taste, but for its health giving qualities.  It’s blessed with a low fat content and loads of vital minerals and vitamins. 
Different (and ultimately more flavoursome) than traditional beef and other roasted meats, it’s worth taking a step out of the ordinary when it’s on the menu.

But what makes venison so different?

Venison is very lean with a rich, earthy flavour that generally mimics the landscape on which it has been raised. Often, you can pick up notes of acorns and wild herbs that were its staple diet during its life. Also, due to its lower fat content, it’s not quite as juicy as traditional beef.  But as if to make up for this deficit, it also has a firmer, smoother texture which works perfectly in this rich, creamy recipe.

So, what does all this have to do with gin, I hear you ask?

Well, we love venison and we love gin, so we thought we’d investigate how best to combine these flavours into a beautiful, hearty dish to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring. 
Welcome to our delicious Venison Stroganoff, a warming, spicy, earthy recipe that will heat you up from the inside. Meals like this are best enjoyed in front of a roaring fire in a country pub somewhere in the Scottish Highlands.  But it’s delicious anywhere!

It contains a decent slug of gin to give it a juniper kick and to keep us reminded of the things we like most.  There are some mushrooms, a kick of mustard, some juniper berries and a generous helping of rich double cream to bring it all together. Oh, and did we mention a large portion of gin instead of the traditional Cognac? Honestly, this is a delicious recipe, easy to make and best drunk with a hand crafted Scottish gin from the Highlands for an extra dash of respectability and style.  So, here’s our recipe. 

Dive in and enjoy.

Venison Stroganoff with gin recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 500g tenderloin of venison
  • 250g of field mushrooms
  • 50 ml of Scottish gin
  • 3 juniper berries
  • 1tsp Dijon style mustard
  • 2 tbsp of thick double cream
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

Method:

  1. Finely slice the onion and garlic so that it cooks quickly
  2. Heat a shallow frying pan on low heat and add a few drops of oil, the garlic and the onion
  3. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper
  4. Slice the mushrooms and add to the garlic and onions
  5. While they are cooking slice the venison into thin strips and season with salt and pepper
  6. Finely chop the rosemary and sprinkle over the venison
  7. Drizzle with olive oil and rub all the flavours in
  8. Add to the pan and brown evenly
  9. Add the gin, the juniper berries and the mustard
  10. Pour in the double cream and stir
  11. Serve with pasta or sauteed potatoes and green beans
  12. Pour yourself a large Scottish G&T and dig in.

We think you’re going to love this one!


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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St. Patrick's day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

St. Patrick’s Day. Today is the day that everyone is Irish.

No matter where you are in the world, Irish pubs will be full of people celebrating. Much Guinness will be drunk, many songs will be sung. In Chicago, the river will be died green. In Dublin, Boston and New York, parades will be held with marching bands and leprechauns. From Ulan Bator to Papua New Guinea, everybody will claim to have a little Irish in them – and why not?

Separating the best from the rest

So, with St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, we set out to find a perfect gin-based cocktail to accompany the celebrations and general Irish shenanigans. But it proved much trickier than it first appeared. While most of the “St. Paddy’s Day” cocktails that we found were definitely shades of green, many of them achieved their nuclear glow from additives, food colourings or other dubious ingredients. Then there seemed to be a whole swathe of cocktails that had simply added an Irish name to the title – Leprechaun’s Milk or Finnegan’s Rainbow are two that come to mind.
And finally, there are the real gems (but most of them seem to be based on other traditional Irish spirits such as Whiskey or Bailey’s).

Introducing “The Paddy”

But we wanted a gin-based drink on St. Patrick’s Day – and those proved harder to find. After a long search, we stumbled across a good one – no artificial flavours or colours, no whiskey. Just a lovely, easy to prepare green drink using gin as its dominant spirit.
We think it’s delicious and we’ve named it for my Dad, Paddy – who would have been the first to raise a glass in celebration of his Saint’s Day.
So, without any further ado, let’s introduce you to the “Paddy” – a beautifully green drink that will put you in the mood for a party – Irish style.
A refreshingly light and easy to drink cocktail this little gem combines gin and Midori with a squeeze of lime juice, some chunky cucumber and a mint and apple garnish.

It goes down a treat – and it’s really easy to make. So, here we go:

St. Patrick’s Day cocktail: The Paddy

Ingredients:

Method:

St. Patrick's Day
  1. Muddle the cucumber and the gin together
  2. Pour into a shaker with the rest of the ingredients
  3. Add a scoop of ice and shake hard
  4. Strain into a coupe glass
  5. Garnish with mint and apple slice

Slainte!



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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Irish Gins

Bertha’s Revenge vs Dingle: the battle of the Irish gins

Irish gin has come a long way.  Building on ancient traditions of whiskey making, a well-known Irish love of a good drink and the growing reputation of Irish cuisine, it’s not surprising that gin is Ireland’s next big thing.  And now, there is a mini boom as small batch (and larger) distilleries across Ireland get creative.
The result is a plethora of new gins, often based on locally foraged ingredients, creative thinking and hand-picked (sometimes unusual) botanicals.

Ireland’s brave new world of gin

Ireland is blessed with a new breed of distillers who aren’t afraid to experiment. These brave souls are innovators and the result of their work is a myriad of delicious and imaginative gins including gin made from seaweed, gin made with tea and gin made with Irish heather.
Foraging for local botanicals is also a major theme in Irish gins with everything from locally sourced samphire to sweet Irish honey and from wild heather to spruce appearing in local gin brands. In fact, right now there are around 50 distilleries operating in Ireland and many of these small batch brands are finding a significant market in the UK and beyond.

The St. Paddy’s Day challenge: Bertha versus Dingle

Two of my favourite gins of all time are Irish, so today (in honour of St. Patrick) we thought we’d put my two favourite Irish gins head-to-head to see which is the best.
So, here we go with a little competitive gin review to see who wins the battle of the Irish gins.  

We’ve chosen Bertha’s Revenge from County Cork (made in small batches by the Ballyvolane House Spirit’s company using cow’s milk as its base) and Dingle Original Pot Still Gin (made in the Dingle Whiskey distillery on the beautifully rugged Dingle Peninsula in Co. Kerry, South West Ireland).  Both gins are exceptional and brimming with integrity.

But which one tastes better?
Who will win the battle of the Irish gins?

Bertha’s Revenge: ABV 42%

Made in small batches in County Cork, this is an Irish milk gin. That’s right, I said milk. From a cow.
But this was no ordinary cow. This was a cow called Bertha and according to local legend she was at one stage the oldest cow in the world. Having giving birth to around 39 calves during her lifetime, she has now become the inspiration behind one of Ireland’s most unusual (and delicious) gins. Alas, poor Bertha died in 1993. But she lives on in local legend and now she’s been immortalised in the gin that bears her name.
Using whey alcohol, their own natural spring water and locally sourced and foraged ingredients, the team have come up with a truly unique gin that would have made Bertha proud.

On their ingredients list, they mention everything from juniper to coriander, from cinammon to cloves and from elderflower to almonds. Apparently, they’ve also managed to bottle laughter, love and childish enthusiasm, all of which come through with every sip. So, what does this milk gin actually taste of? Well, there is a soft, creamy fragrance up front on the nose. Complex, rich and creamy you know you’re in for a treat. Then take a sip and warming, spicy notes appear in your mouth bursting with complexity and flavours that will keep you guessing. And then, to end there’s a long, smooth finish that leaves a blast of fruit lingering on the taste buds long after the final sip has been taken. All in all, this is a delicious gin.

The perfect serve

We think you should keep this simple so that all the flavours of the gin come out.

  1. Place some large ice cubes into a highball glass and fill up with ice.
  2. Squeeze a juicy wedge of lime into the glass and wipe the lime around the rim.
  3. Pour a large shot of Bertha’s Revenge over the ice.
  4. Open a fresh bottle of premium tonic water such as Fever Tree and pour gently over the ice.
  5. Garnish with a slice of lime and sip.

You will be amazed!

Dingle Original Pot Still gin: ABV 42.5%

A two hour drive away, dangling on the edge of Europe, lies the Dingle Peninsular.
Blasted and cleansed by the strong winds blowing across the Atlantic, this is a place of fresh air, green hills, craggy cliffs, dramatic landscapes and crashing waves. And those are the feelings that are evoked by Dingle Gin, made by the Dingle Distillery in Co. Kerry. While this gin is officially classified as a London Dry, its unique flavour combinations take it into new territory through a carefully selected botanical range. These include unusual botanicals such as rowan berry, fucshia, bog myrtle, heather and hawthorn.

These unique flavours are macerated first for 24 hours to bring out the depth and complexity of the spirit. Then, when the spirit is ready, the maceration is passed through a basket in the neck of the still which imbues the gin with the subtle and complex flavours that are so reminiscent of the Kerry landscape. The result of all this work is a deliciously well balanced gin combining nine traditional and home grown botanicals. Each bottle is then cut with pure water taken from their own well, 240 feet below the distillery. But what does it actually taste like?

Well, this gin was named the best in the world at the 2019 World Gin Awards, so they must be doing something right. It is quite sweet and bursting with flavour. Leave it in a glass for a bit to fully appreciate its spicy, floral notes. You can taste the summer berries in every sip – it’s almost “jammy”. Then, just when the fruit blast starts to fade, you’ll pick up loads of fresh herbs including peppery ginger and minty eucalyptus. This is a gorgeous gin with loads of character and is perfect in a cocktail or a long G&T.

The perfect serve

  1. Serve this in a large highball glass which you have filled with large ice cubes.
  2. Pour a large measure of Dingle into the glass.
  3. Wipe a grapefruit wedge around the rim of the glass.
  4. Top it up with a premium Mediterranean tonic water and finish it all off with a slice of grapefruit.

This is an absolute delight!

The Verdict:

Two amazing Irish gins, two great stories, two different tastes – but there can only be one winner.

Despite Dingle’s appearance as one of the world’s best gins in 2019, for me, Bertha’s Revenge wins by the smallest of margins.
I love the complex background of different botanicals, the mix of flavours and the fabulous story of Bertha and her offspring. But most importantly, there is a rich creaminess to this drink that really brings out the flavours in a way that no other gin does. It is complex, and bursting with character. For me, this is right up there amongst my very favourite gins in the world.
Well done Ireland – you have much to be proud of on St. Paddy’s Day.

Slainte!


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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Corpen Gin

Corpen gin: refreshingly honest!

Corpen Gin – refreshingly honest. 
That’s the perfect way to describe this brand new gin from Barcelona’s newest gin brand.
This gin is refreshing in two senses. Not only does it taste refreshing, but the brand is driven by a philosophy that is also refreshing. In a world where everybody seems to want to be a gin maker, these guys are the real deal – small, artisan and passionate about their product. 
Too many other “craft gin” brands are happy to add gimmicky flavours (think bubble gum or cola cubes). Others spend their money on fancy bottles and still others create exotic back stories made up by an ad agency they barely know. At Corpen, they stick with the basics.  They just want to make really good tasting gin – and they have succeeded!

It’s the gin that matters here!

We went to visit Corpen for an interview recently at their new craft distillery in Barcelona’s bohemian Poblenou district. We chatted with co-founders Pablo Barrera and Brian Burgess and they revealed the philosophy behind the brand and the challenges of launching a new gin in the middle of a pandemic.
They made it clear that they want to concentrate on the gin (and not the marketing!). Handmade in small batches in Barcelona, Corpen Gin was tested on hundreds of gin drinkers before the team finally decided on their gorgeous recipe.  So, what does it taste like and does it really live up to all the “non” hype?

Getting it right takes time

The Corpen team are not afraid of experimenting.  In fact, they tried more than 40 different botanical combinations before they settled on their final flavours.  They validated those findings in personal workshops, taking on the feedback and adapting the recipe to get the combinations just right.  They then ramped up production to make sure that the balance and complexity remained true in larger production runs.

According to Brian: “Instead of the fruity/floral or citrus/spicy flavour combinations that dominate the market, we wanted to develop a gin which celebrates more rooty, earthy, herbal, dry flavours. But we were also careful not to stray too far into eccentric or extravagant combinations just for the sake of being different”. 

And Pablo added: “We chose these flavours to bring something a bit different to the market. But we also believe that gin should be good enough to be consumed in cocktails but also good enough to be sipped neat. Corpen Llevant is full of complex and complementary flavours. It’s been made to be enjoyed in the right atmosphere”.

The verdict: elegant, sophisticated, complex

This sophisticated gin is subtle and complex.  First of all, the bottle is simple and elegant featuring a Corpen flag. This is a nod to Brian’s career in the US Navy and is a signal command for a change of direction. It is the perfect symbol for this gin. At 45% ABV, there’s plenty of strength here. There’s a strong blast of juniper on the nose, which keeps it true to its London Dry roots.  But linger a little longer and you’ll begin to notice complex notes of toasted coriander and fresh orange peel to get your taste buds tingling. Take a sip and those notes are joined by their playmates eucalyptus, black pepper, orris root and angelica root which dance a refreshing jig on your tongue.  The finish is smooth and lively. All in all, this is a really well balanced gin and a pleasure to drink.

A classic G&T – with an orange twist

We tried ours in a classic G&T but Corpen Llevant is definitely good enough to drink neat. Paired with a decent tonic water, you’ll taste a fantastic blend of refreshing citrus, with a warm blast of spice to add to its complexity. Plus, there’s a lush herbaceous flavour that comes through to keep your senses tingling until the last drop is finished. This gin is so good that it will stand on its own in a classic dry Martini.  The Corpen guys go with a drop of Dolin Dry vermouth in theirs. But you can find the one that works best for you.  Remember, the gin is the real star here.

Corpen Gin the perfect pour:  Corpen Llevant is definitely good enough to be drunk neat. But we think it is a perfect gin for a classic G&T.  We poured a large shot of Corpen Llevant gin into a copa glass. We added a few large, round ice cubes and gave the glass a little swirl. Then we wiped the rim with a wedge of orange, which we squeezed over the ice.  Next, we poured a freshly opened bottle of Franklin and Sons delicious, Natural Indian Tonic water, which had just the right balance of flavour and fizz.  No added sugar here, so it complements the gin rather than detracts from it.  We finished it all off with a simple twist of orange peel which we dropped in to the glass.

Wow! It was a gorgeous G&T – simple, elegant and refreshing.

Bespoke gin, distillery tours and more…

For more information about Corpen gin, check out their website on Corpen Barcelona. Not only do these guys make a delicious gin, but they host small tastings, distillery tours and offer bespoke gin making for corporates, special events and anybody who is looking to make something unique and special.
If you’re ever in Barcelona, check them out. You won’t regret it!