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!

gin news

The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin news | 0

Ruddles has been at it again.

Gin news

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

Algorithm confirms: curry and gin are a perfect match

gin news

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

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

Virtual reality: the world’s coolest gin labels?

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

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

gin news

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

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

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

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

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

Silent Pool gin: ending on a high

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

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

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

Drugs or drink. What do you think?



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

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


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Gin Sea

Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain

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

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

So, where does this little beauty come from?

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

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

What does Gin Sea taste like?

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

The perfect pour

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

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

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

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



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

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


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botanicals

Botanicals: gin’s secret stars

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

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

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

Without juniper, there is no gin.

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

Juniper’s medicinal history

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

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

Botanicals: a world of fragrant opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laverstoke Mill: a temple to botanicals

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

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

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



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

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


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Malfy Gin con Limone

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

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

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

A family affair, oozing Italian chic

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

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

Lemons are the star here

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

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

A taste sensation

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

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

Splash a little sunshine in your glass

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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    Canadian gin is on the rise.  This week, we thought we’d take a look at some of the best brands from the Great White North (with a little inspiration from our Barcelona Gin friend, Sylvia Short).  Here in Barcelona, we’re blessed with a beautiful year-round climate.  But, like everyone, we complain about the weather even … Continued
  • Goodbye cocaine and coffee, hello Colombian Treasure gin!
    We’d like to introduce you to the delights of premium Colombian Treasure gin from the folks at Dictador (43% ABV). This deliciously smooth, sugar cane-based gin is packed with local citrus and aged in oak barrels to give it a rich citric smoothness that makes it stand out from the crowd. And it’s well worth … Continued
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  • Merry Gin-mas everybody: 12 tips for a tipsy holiday!
    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

RECENT POSTS

  • The rise of Canadian gin: 5 of the best from the Great White North
    Canadian gin is on the rise.  This week, we thought we’d take a look at some of the best brands from the Great White North (with a little inspiration from our Barcelona Gin friend, Sylvia Short).  Here in Barcelona, we’re blessed with a beautiful year-round climate.  But, like everyone, we complain about the weather even … Continued
  • Goodbye cocaine and coffee, hello Colombian Treasure gin!
    We’d like to introduce you to the delights of premium Colombian Treasure gin from the folks at Dictador (43% ABV). This deliciously smooth, sugar cane-based gin is packed with local citrus and aged in oak barrels to give it a rich citric smoothness that makes it stand out from the crowd. And it’s well worth … Continued
  • 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
  • Merry Gin-mas everybody: 12 tips for a tipsy holiday!
    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
bitters and cocktails

Bitters: what are they and why should we care?

Anybody who enjoys a good cocktail will have come across the word bitters every so often.  And if you’re a gin drinker, you need to know what they are.
Basically, these are small bottles of highly alcoholic flavouring agents, generally infused with herbs and botanicals.  Like many things, they started off life as a medicinal potion. In fact, they have a medicinal history that has seen them prescribed as cures for everything from stomach aches to hangovers. They are also often the mystery ingredient in your gin cocktail.
But what are they and why should we care?

Back to basics

At their most basic, bitters are simply neutral spirits infused with aromatics such as spices, seeds, fruits, tree bark  etc.  Some of the more traditional flavours include cassia root, orange peel, cinchona bark and cascarilla. Generally, they contain a potent mixture of water, alcohol and herbs and they come in all strengths, ranging from the strong to the very strong.
As a mark of respect for their potency, they generally come in tiny bottles and are added to cocktails in small drops. This is due to their intense flavour and industrial strength.  The most commonly referenced brand of bitters is Angostura.
But what do these tiny drops of flavour do?

Smoothing out the edges

Cocktails often contain a delicate balance of flavours, generally in the sweet and sour range.  But by adding an additional primary taste bartenders can help to smooth out a cocktail neutralising any sharp or sweet edges and adding a little balance to the mix.  This complexity adds an extra layer of character to drinks and can subtly change your entire drinking experience.

So where did this all begin?

Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians were ahead of their time.  While they were constructing their mind-boggling pyramids, they also began to experiment with medicinal herbs.  Interestingly, they were also partial to a drop of wine.  They started to infuse their wine with those bitter herbal potions.  This not only changed the flavour profile of the wine, but also claimed apparent medicinal benefits.
Fast forward to the Middle Ages and the advent of organised distilling.  Preparations with deeper combinations of flavours started to appear, seemingly influenced by these ancient medicinal practices.
By the 19th century, the Americans started to add bitters to Canary wine as a preventative medicine.  And then the cocktail arrived.

Bitters become brands

That was when things started to make real progress.  Commercial distillers began to produce their own bitters – the most famous of which is Angostura (named after a Bolivian town of the same name).  As the years moved on and tastes became increasingly accustomed to these new flavours, other brands began to appear including Peychaud’s from New Orleans. This brand is now most generally associated with the Sazerac cocktail.
You may also  be familiar with bitters appearing in classic Pink Gin or Old Fashioned recipes.  This is where Angostura continues to make its mark.

During the latter half of the 19th century, orange bitters began to make their presence felt and began to appear in more and more cocktail recipes.  And then, in 1862, legendary bartender Jerry Thomas championed them in his book “How to mix drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion”.
This was the inflection point that brought them firmly into the territory of a mainstream cocktail ingredient.

The age of the cocktail

Bitters have added subtle flavour and aroma to drinks for centuries.  They are often drunk neat, as a digestif, in both Europe and America. But with the resurging interest in craft gins and bespoke cocktails, they are continuing to add an extra layer of complexity.
You will increasingly see them appearing in a range of cocktail recipes (not least in the common and garden G&T!).
And bitters have another excellent property which should not be ignored: they make a rather unpleasant tasting but highly effective hangover cure.
These days there are a plethora of new brands on the market and more and more people are experimenting with making their own craft versions at home.
Here are some of the most well known bitters, just in case you fancy mixing up a proper
pink gin (especially if you’re expecting a giant hangover any time soon!).

Some of the most popular bitters brands (paid links)

bitters selection



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

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


RECENT POSTS

  • The rise of Canadian gin: 5 of the best from the Great White North
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  • The rise of Canadian gin: 5 of the best from the Great White North
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Larios Citrus

Larios Citrus: orange gin, big flavour, great value

We often get asked about our “go to” gins. The kind of gins that are well made, great value and perfect for every day drinking. We find ourselves going back time after time to a few favourites. Larios is one of those. Many of us will be familiar with Larios as a popular pour when we visit Spain on our holidays (remember those?).

How it all began

The Larios brand has a rich pedigree that goes all the way back to 1866, when French businessman Charles Lamothe and his Spanish friend Pedro Jimenez founded a small distillery in Malaga. Meanwhile, the third Marquis of Larios and his family had been involved in the business of sugar cane processing for generations before branching out into distillation in 1863. In 1934, the Marquis acquired the Larios business and it is the number one gin brand in Spain and one of the top 10 best selling gins globally. They must have been doing something right.

The Larios collection

The standard Larios Dry is a great gin for those who want a decent taste and character without breaking the bank. But recently, under their new owners (France’s Pernod-Ricard Group), they’ve launched a number of premium gins. These new gins deliver pots of flavour at a great price. The standard Larios Dry gin is a 37.5% ABV gin made with Mediterranean orange and lemon botanicals. Then there’s Larios 12 (a 40% ABV gin made with 12 botanicals including the essence of orange blossom). The third in their trilogy is Larios Rose (37.5% ABV and infused with strawberries).

Double-distilled and bursting with citrus flavour

And now, they’ve done it again with Larios Citrus a delicious premium Mediterranean Gin, bursting with flavour. This little beauty has been distilled (not once but twice) with Mediterranean oranges, wild juniper and citrus fruits. In a world of orange gins, Larios is following a well highlighted trail blazed by the outstanding Tanqueray Sevilla. But somehow, Larios manages to deliver a powerful blast of complex flavour at a fraction of the price of other premium orange gins. It has an intense orange colour and comes in an attractive retro bottle.

Easy on the eye, easy on the tastebuds, easy on the wallet!

It’s not only easy on the tastebuds but it’s easy on the eye as well. And even better, it’s easy on the wallet. Larios Citrus has fast become one of my standby drinks and works superbly on its own, in a Spanish style gin and tonic. But it’s equally at home in any cocktail recipe that could do with a little extra orangy zestiness. This gin will make you happy. It will make you think of Mediterranean beaches, sunshine and joy. And at around £12 a bottle, it’s a small price to pay for happiness.

Keep it simple

This gorgeous gin is so tasty that it works well as an aperitif. It also adds a little extra character to some of those citrus cocktails you’ve been thinking of making. But for us, the best way to drink this is in a Spanish style gin and tonic. Our recommendation is to keep it simple. A premium Indian Tonic water is the best option to make the most of the complex layers of flavour that lie within.

Larios Citrus perfect serve:

  • Find a tall glass, fill it with the biggest ice cubes you can find
  • pour your Larios Citrus
  • Squeeze in a little orange and wipe the rim with the squeezed fruit
  • Pour in your mixer (Fever Tree Mediterranean also works well for a more refreshing mix)
  • Garnish with a twist of orange and serve.

As those Mediterranean flavours dance on your tongue, imagine yourself on a sunny Spanish terrace watching the world go by.


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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  • The rise of Canadian gin: 5 of the best from the Great White North
    Canadian gin is on the rise.  This week, we thought we’d take a look at some of the best brands from the Great White North (with a little inspiration from our Barcelona Gin friend, Sylvia Short).  Here in Barcelona, we’re blessed with a beautiful year-round climate.  But, like everyone, we complain about the weather even … Continued
  • Goodbye cocaine and coffee, hello Colombian Treasure gin!
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Dux Bar

Dux Bar: Barcelona’s hidden gem

Down a narrow, twisted alley in Barcelona’s ancient and atmospheric El Born barrio, lies a little bar dedicated to all things gin. It’s hard to find if you don’t know where you’re going, but it’s well worth the effort once you find it. In the city that reinvented gin for the 21st century, Dux Bar was a pioneer. It was among the first cocktail bars to recognise the gin revolution that was coming.

All the best secrets are hard to find

Walk through the dark ancient streets of the old town and soak up the atmosphere before opening the doors to this vibrant little bar. They still take their gin here as seriously now as they did the first day they opened their doors. The atmosphere is convivial. Somewhere between the coziness of a pub and the cool buzz of a stylish cocktail bar. This place has got the balance just right.

Gins, cocktails (and much, much more…)

In addition to the wide selection of gins available behind the bar, they serve up signature cocktails with care and attention. Dux Bar even makes its own infused gins that can’t be found anywhere else. This is a classy place with classic gin drinks made to order with unusual creativity and flair. And if you’re not in the mood for gin then they have the standard range of inferior spirits available. They also have a decent selection of cold beers on tap.

Get in the swing – music to drink gin with

The other thing they’ve made a name for is their live music. More often than not, wander into this bar and relax to the sound of cool jazz. Or on another night, you might find a local DJ providing a relaxing and fun soundtrack to a memorable evening. This is a proper hidden gem and it’s hard-to-find location means that it is not over run with tourists in the way that some bars in the neighbouring Barrio Gotico can be.

Style, flair and imagination

This is a grown up place and the bartenders know their stuff.
Drinks are made with a certain style and flair that is common to Barcelona’s best bars. We think they are some of the very best cocktails in a town that’s already well known for its cocktails.
The vibe is nice, the crowd is fun and the cocktails are every bit as creative as the mixologists they employ.
The menu contains an entire page of infused gin and every drink is layered with several depths of hidden flavours and unexpected surprises such as gin cocktails infused with smoke, prepared at your table by Angel, the talented bartender and showman who runs the bar.

The decor is equally eclectic with everything from a working piano (for those impromptu jazz moments) to a beautiful collection of lead soldiers in an illuminated case. There’s even a welcoming fireplace complete with framed paintings of cartoon dogs. Another unique touch from this classy bar is that in addition to infusing their own gins, they offer personalised “gin boxes” and bespoke “gin packs”. These make ideal presents for your gin loving friends.

Classy (but affordable)

G&T lovers will be pleased to know that prices are in the 8-14 euro range, so there’s something for everyone. Given current restrictions, we’re not exactly sure what their opening hours are right now. But we definitely think this is one to put on your list for when things finally return to normal. We think it will be well worth the wait!

Saludos!

Dux Bar, C. dels Vigatans, 13, 08003, Barcelona, Spain


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

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


RECENT POSTS

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Gin nut

NUT gin: the clue is in the name!

We stumbled across a lovely little gin the other day. It’s from right here in Catalunya and frankly it was too good for us not to share.

Go nuts!

Introducing NUT gin, craft-distilled in the Emporda region of Catalunya nestled between the rugged drama of the Pyrenean mountains and the cooling breezes of the Mediterranean coast. This is an area that is sure to inspire you with its natural beauty. The guys at NUT have created a unique gin in the traditional London Dry style and have infused it with a special blend of locally grown fruits, flowers, herbs and Mediterranean spices. The result is a distinctive tasting gin that really stands out from the crowd. At 45% ABV, NUT gin doesn’t hold back on the alcohol, yet it still delivers a smooth tasting, unusual and delicious gin with a long, smooth orange finish.

Inspired by rugged beauty and local botanicals

Like most Catalans, the team at NUT have a deep respect for beauty and nature. The rich, productive soils here allow flora and fauna to both survive and thrive. So, what is it that makes this London Dry style gin so special?

Only the best ingredients

They only use the best base alcohol, distilled four times. They then infuse it with a delightful combination of locally sourced botanicals, which they macerate for a minimum of 24 hours. These include the required juniper, but also 12 others including coriander, cardamom, angelica root, lemon peel, orange peel, rosemary, thyme, olive leaves and licorice. Then it gets interesting. They’ve added some local ingredients that are not often found in gin and which give it a unique character. The clue is in the name. In a stroke of genius, the guys at NUT have added walnuts and bitter almonds.

Complex, smooth and just a little bit nutty…

So, what does this unusual gin actually taste of? Well, the first impressions on the nose are that it has an elegant intensity. There are strong notes of citrus (in a nod towards its Mediterranean origins). There is also a noticeable herbaceous element. This brings out the best of all the other spices just waiting to be released into your mouth. And finally, there is a smooth, long finish to this gin where you should pick up traces of orange peels for a bittersweet ending.

Good enough to drink alone

All in all this is a great value treat, delivering confidently on all its promises. In fact, this gin is so good that it actually tastes rather nice all on its own. Just pour a measure into a rocks glass over a large ice cube and add a twist of orange peel. And if you’d like even more Mediterranean adventure in your drink, simply swap the orange peel for a sprig of burned rosemary. You could even a little fig for added sweetness.

However, drinking gin neat is not necessarily to everyone’s taste. You’ll be relieved to know that this gin is outstanding in a Mediterranean style G&T and is a great gin if you’re looking to give your cocktails a unique twist.

The perfect pour

This is a Mediterranean gin and we think it should be served in the Mediterranean style. Take a large copa glass and fill it to the top with big ice cubes (the bigger, the better!) Pour in a decent slug of gin (you decide what that means!) Fill it up to the top with a high quality Indian tonic water such as 1724 or a subtly flavoured premium tonic such as Fevertree Mediterranenan. Add a garnish such as a cinammon stick or a fresh orange wedge to bring out the best of the botanicals. You could even add a pinch of nutmeg if you’re feeling really adventurous. Your reward will be a distinctive gin, packed with intense Mediterranean flavours. Take that first sip and prepare to be instantly whisked away to the beautiful heart of Catalunya.

Saludos!


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

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


RECENT POSTS

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gin punch

Gin punch: a giant cocktail served in a bowl

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

We all like a cocktail. But 200 years before the term was invented, we had to resort to other creative ways of getting our alcohol fix. In those days, there were no cocktail glasses, fancy recipes or bartender’s tools in those days – so they turned to punch! In its earliest days, in the 18th century, a typical punch would contain ingredients that were considered exotic for the time. Often, these would include fruits that seem normal to us now, but which were extremely rare and expensive three centuries ago.
These included rare treats such as oranges from Asia, fragrant spices from the East and sugar, all the way from the Caribbean, which became the perfect match for the strong flavours of rum and brandy. The trouble was that rum and brandy were very expensive. On the other hand, English gin was increasingly affordable. It wasn’t long before gin became recognised as a better value concoction than some of its contemporary spirits and that was when it entered the mainstream world of punch.

A drink for the middle classes

The relative accessibility and affordability of gin quickly made punch more accessible to the burgeoning English middle classes.
However, strangely enough, the 18th century reveals no published gin punch recipes at all. According to a contemporaneous journal, “a hornful of punch should be administered to cattle in a bid to cure their distemper”. This is a clear indication that in those early days punch was initially considered something of low quality and not of much use to actual humans. However, towards the end of the 18th century, reports of its human medicinal qualities began to appear alongside suggestions that it could help to treat a variety of ailments. Gin Punch was soon believed to be a cure-all for everything from dissolving kidney stones, to curing Berri-Berri. It was also (bizarrely) considered a great way to encourage toxins to leave the body efficiently, in the form of sweat.

1776: the punch revolution

In 1776, at around the same time as the American’s were plotting their revolution, diarist James Boswell wrote (after a particularly good night on the town) that he: “drank rather too much gin punch. It was a new experience to me and I liked it much”.
By the end of the 18th century gin punch had elevated itself from its humble position at the heart of the local gin palace, into something more fitting. This elevation made it suitable for the more sophisticated and rarified atmosphere of London’s gentleman’s clubs. Stalwarts such as the Garrick or Limmer’s Hotel became the places that finally established punch as a popular and respectable, middle class drink. In fact, one of the first gin recipes at the turn of the 18th century, sounds rather nice (but very strong):
two pints of gin, oranges, lemons, orange sugar syrup and white wine.

Punch goes upmarket

A few decades later, London’s Garrick Club added a new twist to its own “house punch” – soda water. The original Garrick Club Punch recipe called for:

half a pint of gin, lemon peel, lemon juice, sugar, maraschino, a pint and a quarter of water and two bottles of iced soda water.

It didn’t take very long for its fame to spread around London and before you know it, punches and punch bowls were popping up everywhere. Over time, these punches evolved into more complex single serve variants which were popularised by Americans in the 1870s. They gave them personal names such as the John Collins and the classic Tom Collins. By the end of the century, punch had been truly established in English culture and English Dry Gin had become a mainstay of many of the best punches. But why is punch served in a punch bowl?

Why is punch served in a bowl?

It’s simple, really. As strong punch loosened inhibitions, it helped reserved Englishmen come out of their shell. It helped them to add a little well-lubricated wit to social gatherings, political discussions and business occasions. Drinking punch was always a fabulous social occasion and gathering around the punch bowl ended up becoming the popular focus for many a high spirited evening, loosening inhibitions and encouraging conviviality, conversation and sharing in a way that had never been seen before.

From simple punch bowl to sophisticated cocktails

These days, punches have fallen out of fashion, but that’s a real shame since these simple-to-make, sociable drinks can be a lot of fun. And they can be deceptively strong. Over the years, people’s tastes evolved once more and the simple punch bowl morphed slowly into the next big alcoholic fad in the 19th century – cocktails. Bartenders began to mix drinks to suit their specific customers and the approach to alcohol became increasingly bespoke and sophisticated. Now, the cocktail is definitely king – of that there is no doubt. But there are still some great gin punches out there – and it would be a great shame to let this fabulously simple tradition die out. Check out our recent article on a classic New Year’s Eve punch. And here’s another variant on the gin punch for when the weather gets a bit better.

Gin Punch recipe

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Cut and combine all the fruits into a large punchbowl
  2. Add the gin, juice, syrups, creme de framboise (or alternative fruit liqueur) and water
  3. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours
  4. Before serving: add ice, fill to top with cava and stir
  5. Ladle into punch glasses with plenty of fruit (and ice)
  6. Repeat frequently!


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

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