Colombian Treasure Gin

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 a try.

Coffee, cocaine and now gin

Colombia is famous for many things. Delicious, rich coffee, stunning scenery, beautiful beaches and mountains (as well as drug cartels and cocaine). But one thing I didn’t know is that gin is on the up in this part of the world.  So, imagine my surprise when I received a gift of a gorgeous bottle of gin from a Colombian friend of mine.  And this one’s a doozy!

In a land where rum is King, here’s something a little different

Colombia is better known for producing rum-based drinks including the notorious Aguardiente (often referred to as Colombia’s national drink).  Literally translated as “firewater”, this is generally drunk neat and it might not be for everyone. But its sugarcane base gives it a smoother taste and it clocks in at a slightly underpowered 29% ABV – a little low for a proper shot!

But it’s rum that’s ubiquitous in this region with high quality brands available everywhere at very good prices. So, when we discovered that Colombia is now starting to produce some good gins, we were excited to give this one a try.

Dictador: a lifestyle brand for the good things in life…

This exceptional aged gin is from the folks at Cartagena-based lifestyle brand, Dictador. This heritage company has been producing fine award winning aged spirits for more than 100 years. Their story all began long ago in the 18th century, when a Spanish official called Severo Arango y Ferro arrived in what was to become Colombia on a mission to improve tax collection rates for Spain.  It wasn’t long before his strong, powerful character was identified and he became known locally as “The Dictator”.

A taste for rum, coffee and good cigars…

But the Dictator was human, like everyone else, and he soon discovered a taste for the local spirit, rum.  Fast forward to 1913 and his descendants began to research his story and established the Destileria Colombiana with a mission to produce the finest rum in the Caribbean.  Since then, it has made its name with fine spirits, Colombian coffee and high quality cigars and it has a number of famous brands that sit comfortable alongside their world famous rums.

And now, they’ve taken the next step with the development of Colombian Treasure gin, delicious and rum-based, bursting with local flavour and aged in oak casks for a gentle, smooth blend.

Black, bold and beautiful: a striking bottle for your top shelf

Colombian Treasure gin

Colombian Treasure gin bottle itself is confident and striking. With its frosted black glass and bold reverse typeface, it makes an instant impression.  But it’s what’s inside that counts.  As you might expect in this region, the base spirit here is made from sugar cane. But this sugar cane is distilled up to five times to create the neutral spirit base which anchors this gin firmly in the Caribbean. The good folks at Dictador then make the magic happen.  

Exotic flavours, aged in oak

They add an exotic mix of botanicals, berries, citrus peels and local spices and then blend it all together in an ageing process that gives this gin its unique flavour. Then, they place the whole lot into huge oak barrels which have been previously used to store their classic rums for 35 weeks, imparting a unique, subtle smokiness to the final product. But what really sets this gin apart is the citrus flavours that give it a unique and special taste.  

The secret ingredient

Colombian Treasure gin

The secret to this flavour lies in the Limon Mandarina, known locally as the “Paraguayan Lime”.  This unusual fruit combines the sweet taste of the tangerine with the sharpness of lemon. It’s an unusual looking fruit. On the outside, it’s a rough green, like a normal lime. But open it up and the inside is like a tangerine. This is a fruit that is local to Colombia, but hard to find anywhere else. It’s this combination of freshness and smoothness that makes this such an easy gin to drink. In fact, it’s so good, you can enjoy it neat (or with a few ice cubes).

But what’s Colombian Treasure gin actually like?

Well the first thing you notice when you pour it is that it has a unique and distinctive colour.  The liquid is a pale gold, a hue imparted by the oak aged barrels that it ages in. And then you notice the aroma.  On the nose, there’s a distinctive citrus smell.  You can pick up notes of sweet lemon, tangerine and even a slight whiff of burnt orange. This is a citrus forward gin that shines through brightly on the nose.  But dig a bit deeper and you’ll soon spot notes of mint and some interesting herbal fragrances that add to its subtle complexity.

Tantalisingly complex

But it’s when you dive in that you first start to notice the smooth delicacy of this gin. Take a sip and you’ll spot orange and grapefruit in there, alongside an oily, lemon flavour, which becomes more prominent as you drink.  You’ll probably also pick up on the herbal notes and a little spicy pepper, just to lift it a bit further out of the ordinary. This unusual gin is just packed full of character.  And it’s not over until it’s over. On the finish, it moves in the direction of lemon again sitting comfortably alongside the gentle oak.  This is a smooth gin without any bitter edges and the rum subtly informs the flavour, but never over reaches.

The Gin and Tonic test

As with all our gins, we think the true test is in a standard gin and tonic.  We tried Colombian Treasure gin with a 1:2 ratio, poured over ice and topped with Fever Tree premium tonic water. We garnished it with a thinly sliced wedge of lime to highlight that refreshing sharpness. It was delicious. Just as we expected. All those citrus notes are agitated by the pouring of the tonic to bring to life all the playful flavours that lurk within. Smooth, citrus and herby, this gin is a worthy contender. And it’s really nice to see gin of this quality coming from South America.

Is Colombian Treasure gin a gin for cocktails?

Unhesitatingly, yes! That combination of sweet and citrus, mellowed by the oak barrel ageing and the unique citrus fruitiness of the “Paraguayan Lime” make it a perfect ingredient for citrus cocktails. We’ve done a little research and we think we’ve come up with something a little special to help you to turn this unusually smooth, citrus gin into a deliciously refreshing drink. So, we’ve done a little searching on your behalf and we’ve found a doozy of a cocktail that works really well with the smoky, citrus, smooth notes of Dictador’s Colombian Treasure aged gin.  Plus, like all great cocktails, it’s really easy to make – and even easier to drink

Triple Citrus Gin Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Dictador Colombian Treasure gin (or your preference)
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 2 oz fresh, unsweetened grapefruit juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime
  • 2 oz Club soda or sparkling water
  • 1-2 tbsp simple syrup (to taste)
  • Ice
  • A shaker (or a jam jar with a lid)
  • A shot glass
  • Glasses

Method:

  1. Fill your shaker halfway with ice
  2. Add Dictador Colombian Treasure gin
  3. Pour in Contreau and grapefruit juice
  4. Add the simple syrup (to taste) and fresh lime juice
  5. Top up with 2 oz fresh soda water
  6. Shake until it’s all blended nicely
  7. Strain into a rounded Coupe glass (or Martini glass)
  8. Garnish with a grapefruit wheel
  9. Sit back, put your feet up and enjoy (preferably with a good cigar!)

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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Ólafsson Gin

Ólafsson gin: the exquisite, natural taste of Iceland

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

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

Ólafsson Gin – made from nature

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

Driven by a taste for adventure…

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

Iceland’s gin revolution

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

Pure water and unique botanicals

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

The taste of Iceland in a bottle

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

Getting under the skin of the gin

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

The taste test

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

Ólafsson Gin: the perfect pour

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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


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

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


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Oxley Gin

Oxley Gin: the gin that came in from the cold

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

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

How it all began

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

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

Eight years to make, but worth the wait

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

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

So, what exactly does it taste like?

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

The perfect serve: Oxley classic Dry Martini recipe

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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


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Larios Provenzal: the sweet taste of the Med

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

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

Expanding the brand…

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

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

Larios Provenzal: exclusive and elusive

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

A corn base for a smoother taste

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

There’s only one way to find out…

The perfect pour

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

Citrus notes and herbal overtones: a taste of the Med

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

Sweet, smooth and complex

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

Just the tonic

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

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



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

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


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Puerto de Indias

Puerto de Indias: is blackberry the new pink?

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

The story begins…

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

Blackberry is back

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

Recipe for Puerto de Indias Blackberry perfect serve

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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


RECENT POSTS

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Rawal gin

Rawal Gin: a taste of the sea from the beating heart of Barcelona

posted in: Gin and Juniper | 0

El Raval. For centuries, it has been one of Barcelona’s most raw and exotic neighbourhoods.  Just behind the gentrified, touristed street that is known as Las Ramblas, sits one of the greatest food markets in the world. La Boqueria is known globally for its bustling, buzzy atmosphere and its generations old connection to this amazing city.  It’s true that tourism has started to eat away at the real, authentic local market that has served the people of Barcelona with fresh fruit, seafood, meat, nuts and treats for generations. But it still retains its extraordinary character and its well worth a visit if you’re ever in Barcelona. And just behind this Barcelona landmark lies a genuine local barrio, with a colourful history of tolerance, integration, culture and hedonism.

Barcelona’s edgy melting pot

For years, El Raval was the place where the immigrants settled.  With it, like every port area, it brought with it a slightly edgy, bohemian atmosphere.  It has been known as Barcelona’s Chinatown. It has been called Rawalistan (due to the influx of immigrants from India, Pakistan and the Middle East).  And taking up the centre ground in the area are the hipsters and bohemians that embrace that diversity and who love a sense of adventure.  So, it’s no wonder that this diverse, hip and tolerant barrio gave birth to some of Barcelona’s best cocktail bars and Barcelona’s first boutique gin. A local gin that reflects the diversity and edginess of this extraordinary neighbourhood.

So, when we heard about the latest craft gin offering from Rawal Gin (pronounced Raval in English!), we were more than excited. Our heads were full of questions.  Why Rawal? Why gin in Rawal? What’s this all about?

A beautiful gin in a striking bottle

So, let’s be clear.  I first saw a bottle of Rawal gin on my Facebook feed.  I was on the hunt for new Barcelona Gins and this one popped into my feed. The first thing that struck me was its beautiful label.  At this stage, I hadn’t even sniffed the gin.  But the label said it all.  It had a Barcelona vibe written all over it.  The diving figure demonstrated risk taking and adventure.  It spoke of the daring spirit of this extraordinary city and it paid homage to its willingness to think differently.  So, I reached out to the man behind the brand to find out a little more about his story. And this is what he told me:

Tell me a little bit about yourself.  Where are you from, what’s your background and how did you get into gin?

My name’s Sergi and I’m from Barcelona. I grew up in El Raval, so it’s been part of my life since the beginning. I feel very connected to this barrio. This story starts after I had been the chef-owner of my own cocktail bar for around twelve years.  Bartending was my passion and I’d been working as a bartender for all that time. The cocktail bar was called “Pesca Salada”. In Catalonia, “Pesca Salada” (salted-fish) is a generic name that the locals use to describe shops that sell salted cod, anchovies and canned fish.

The bar itself had a great atmosphere.  It was oozing with all the memories and shadows of its ancient origins and all the interior decoration was inspired by the sea.  The bar was on the same street that I’d grown up on and it specialized in gins.  It was a tiny bar but it served more than 40 different brands of gin. For all that time, I existed in this small island in the heart of Barcelona’s iconic Raval neighbourhood.  And this is where I first became familiar with the world of distillates and creative cocktails. Submerged in this gin and tonic sea, I had the idea of concocting my own, special Barcelona gin.

What made you start a gin brand/distillery?

I come from a home distilling background and as with most obsessions, it all began as a hobby. But I soon found that I enjoyed making my own fermentations so much, building my own copper stills, designing condensers, capturing the essence of botanicals through experiments. It eventually became a passion and I decided that it could become a part of my way of living. So, after some “Breaking Bad” style experiments, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and I went off to study Brewing and Distilling at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University.

My dream was to create a one hundred percent local, handcrafted, organic gin. After a lengthy journey, the dream finally came true.

We started to produce Rawal Organic Dry Gin in Barcelona City’s first gin micro-distillery. It was anchored in a small spot, in a tiny neighbourhood, in this beautiful city.  And just like the neighbourhood in which it was born, it has a seafaring spirit. So, in April 2019, I decided to moor the “Bar Pesca Salada” for a while and I set sail for my new adventure.

What was the hardest thing for you to do as you launched Rawal Gin?

The hardest part is getting people to know about your product.  If you don’t have a large marketing budget it takes much more time and effort to make your product stand out. Especially now. That was definitely a challenge in the early days and it remains challenging now.

Is there a clear philosophy behind your brand and what do you stand for?

Rawal Gin is a local product, organic and environmentally friendly. My original purpose was to bring a level of environmental awareness into the world of distillation. It was also a formidable challenge to build a micro distillery in the city.

Over the last decade, we have been lucky enough to see many successful craft breweries open up in our country. So, it’s a really good feeling to be able to say that I built Barcelona’s first micro distillery and that I’ve transferred this philosophy to distillates.

The main philosophy behind Rawal Gin is “do-it-yourself”. As you can imagine, making gin  requires a lot of time and effort. But if you make it yourself, it can also be very rewarding indeed.

Tell me about the gin: what process do you use to make it and what makes Rawal Gin stand out from the crowd?

Rawal Dry Gin is a natural product.  We add no sugars or chemicals. The neutral spirit is made from organic wheat and all botanicals used to flavour this high quality neutral spirit are organic certified.

We infuse 12 distinctive botanicals for 24hours in the diluted neutral spirit and then we distill it using a hand-made copper still that we call Rufino. Even the copper still is home made and I built it myself through a combination of speculation, imagination and the practical  soldering of large diameter copper pipes. The result was a still that was perfect for my needs. Rawal Organic Dry Gin is craft-distilled in small batches of one hundred bottles. That’s because the slow pace of distillation requires a full working day to produce this number of bottles.

What botanicals do you use and how would you describe the flavour profile of your gin?

These are the basic botanicals that make up the unique flavour profile of Rawal gin:

  • Juniper berries
  • Coriander seeds
  • Angelica root
  • Liquorice
  • Cassia
  • Allspice
  • Cardamom
  • Orris root
  • Almond
  • Lemon peel
  • Orange peel
  • Kombu

Through accurate doses and increasing familiarity with each other, Rufino still continues to delight us with a distillate where juniper berries are still clearly in charge. It delivers the essential and familiar character of gin, offering up the refreshing notes of pine leaves with a slight bitterness, which leaves the palate crisp and dry.  This delicate distillate balances sweet and bitter tones with warm spice and floral mellowness, all rounded off to deliver a drink that has the unmistakable taste of the sea that inspired it.

What is the perfect serve to enjoy Rawal Gin?

For first timers, I always recommend simply mixing Rawal Gin with a good, premium tonic water.  They are a perfect match for each other and by starting off like this, you’ll be able to notice more of the subtle nuances of this delicious gin. We all know that perfection doesn’t exist.  But we think a Rawal G&T with a twist of lemon peel and a small strip of Kombu is about as close to perfection as any of us are likely to get.  

You have a very distinctive brand and label. What’s the significance behind the design and who designed it?

The design relates to my old cocktail bar, the “Pesca Salada”.  This is where the initial idea of creating a gin began. Also, I was born in a port city, so the sea has always been part of me. It was an essential requirement to create a gin that was related to the sea.  After a long period of research I realized that an algae called Kombu would be my partner in crime.

I came up with the idea of using a swimmer for the brand design – but the folks at Dorian Studio were able to really bring the design to life. In Spain, we have a saying, which is: “tirarse a la piscina”.  This is used to indicate that it is time to take a risk.  The closest English expression would be: jump in the deep end. This image of a guy diving head-first into the sea is also a metaphor of my own sense of daring and adventure.

What are your ambitions for Rawal Gin? Will you be producing more gins?

I’m not an ambitious guy but if making gin is enough to make me a good living I will be very happy. I love experimenting with new botanicals so it’s highly likely that I will produce more gins to add to my range. I’m already thinking about organic vodka too.

Where is your gin stocked and how can people buy it?

Right now, you can buy it online from my website.  You can also find it in many of Barcelona’s best bars and liquor stores.

Any final words of advice for our readers?

Please taste it!! And if you like it, please taste it again…


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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Aspersand gin

A great value citrus gin for under 15 euros: it can be done!

Are you looking for a great value, sub 15 euro gin? If so, you could do a lot worse than keep a bottle of Ampersand London Gin on your shelf for those unexpected visitors. This tasty little number shares its DNA with both the UK and Spain and the result is a delicious, smooth, accessible gin with refreshing citrus notes.

Ampersand London Gin: easy-to-drink gin with citrus zest

Ampersand London Gin is a classic London Dry that has been 4x distilled in the UK before being shipped to Spain for bottling. The predominant taste here is citrus.
Ampersand London Gin gets its flavour from a wide selection of botanicals. These include the obligatory juniper, cilantro, angelica, pepper, hand-peeled sun-dried orange and zesty lemon peels. The result is an easy-to-drink London Dry with intense citrus aromas on the nose.

Smooth and zesty – great for a G&T

But sip on it and you’ll find a smooth, pleasant drink which allows the fruits and citrus to dance on your tongue.  Then there is a lovely, warm spicy finish driven by the pepper that will stay with you long after you’ve finished your sip.  This is a great choice for a G&T, served with a good, freshly opened tonic water. And it comes in at 40% ABV so you still get a blast of alcohol that makes you feel like you’re sipping a proper gin.

Tastes good, looks good..

Plus, this delicious gin comes in an attractive frosted bottle with a narrowed waist. It’s topped off with a cool-looking metallic cap and a striking yellow Ampersand logo reflecting its citrus roots. This is a bottle that will stand proud on your gin bar. Plus, its frosted texture and gathered waist make it very tactile. So much so that your guests will want to pick up and touch it before pouring.

Ampersand London Gin perfect pour

One of the things we like about this gin is its versatility – it’s smooth, citrus notes work well with good quality mixers, premium tonic waters or even juice. It will also work well in citrus based cocktails.
But we like to enjoy this gin in a standard gin and tonic, which allows the citrus and spice up front:

  1. Pour a decent sized measure of Ampersand London Gin into a copa glass filled with large ice cubes.
  2. Cut a wedge of orange and wipe the rim before squeezing dropping into the glass.
  3. Fill to the top with a premium Indian Tonic water such a Franklin & Sons.

Pull up a chair, put your feet up and enjoy.

Please note: this gin is made by Osborne and Co in Europe and should not be confused with gin’s made by Canada’s Ampersand Gin co.


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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barrel-aged gin

Barrel-aged gins: welcome to a world of wonder

We all know how far gin has come over the last decade or so.  It has moved from being an old fashioned, last generation drink to the coolest cocktail base in town.  There has been an explosion of gin making over that time period, with major distillers taking risks with unusual flavours and new techniques while small, imaginative boutique distilleries are inventing gorgeous new gins from spaces as small as most people’s kitchens.  Flavours, infusions and new techniques have become the clarion call for gin lovers everywhere and variety is only restricted by our imagination. 

The gin explosion

There have been many gin trends introduced over this period – some welcome, some not.  Flavoured gins are making a name for themselves with classics such as gooseberry, lemongrass, strawberry and rhubarb gins competing with more novelty flavours including Christmas pudding, toffee apple and candy cane gins.  We’ve seen gin made from ants, gin built around Asian flavours such as fresh chili and ginger.  There are gin liqueurs, gin shots, retro gins and even zero alcohol gins.  

All shapes, styles and flavours

Some of these you may love, others you may hate – but one thing’s for sure, gin is one of the most versatile spirits out there and it now comes in all shapes, styles and flavours. There are also different taste experiences that sometimes vary by country.  In the UK and Spain, we are blessed with a rich history of alcohol production going back hundreds of years and that has influenced many of the gins we have come to know and love.

When gin meets whiskey…

In the Philippines, they still have a penchant for sweeter gins and that dictates some of the styles that have become most popular over there. But in some countries, where there has been a rich tradition of whiskey making, gin has absorbed many of traditional skills and techniques from the whisky industry and applied them to gin making – with extraordinary results.  Scotland and Ireland led the initial wave as small, local whiskey distillers began to experiment and jump onto the gin bandwagon. 

New ideas and old techniques 

Many of them found old whiskey barrels lying around and began to decant their distilled spirits into these barrels to see how it affected the taste, colour and complexity of gin – and the results were delicious.  Subtle infusions from the wooden barrels slowly transferred their flavours into the liquid. This process imparted subtle, complex, smoky whiskey tastes, oak tones and other flavour notes from the aged cask itself.  Scotland and Ireland in particular now produce a number of beautiful, barrel-aged gins that are each unique, subtle and which add real character (and colour) to the distilled spirit that lies within.

The American Revolution

But, with all the competitive gins flooding the UK market, barrel-aged gins never took off in the UK in quite the same way as they did in North America.  The rich whiskey traditions of both the USA and Canada lent themselves to experimentation.  And the entrepreneurial spirit and “anything goes” attitude of the American micro-brewery tradition was the perfect fermenting ground for these two great drinks.  Bourbon flavours from American or French oak barrels subtly infused the gin within. Similar flavours are imparted from the small oak barrels that are used in Canada, which can be new, old, charred or uncharred.  But it’s in North America where barrel aged gins have become a “thing”. 

What makes barrel aged gins taste so different?

So, let’s take a look at the world of barrel aged gin and see if we can come up with a few stunners for you to enjoy as you start to get to know this subtle variation on a standard gin.  It’s not for everyone, but if you love it, we think you’ll be hooked for life.  What is it about barrel aged gins that makes them so delicious? First of all, it’s worth noting that barrel aged gins are not a new thing. In fact, they’ve been around for years. The original Genever gins from Holland were often cask-aged, but the crisp, more easily mixed English styles eclipsed them over the years and have been the dominant global style for several hundred years now.

Experimentation and innovation

But in recent years, more and more gin distillers, eager to explore new flavours and to set them apart from the crowd, have begun to experiment with barrel aged gins and they are starting to have quite an impact.

Gins aged in barrels absorb the subtle, complex characteristics of the wood within the barrels.  The type of wood, the size of the barrel, the previous liquids that have been stored in it and its age all contribute to making barrel aged gins truly unique – and that’s part of the charm. But with gin, the ageing process is usually done in a matter of months, not years.

Roll out the barrel…

Some distilleries use barrels made from virgin oak, which means that the cask has never been used for storage at this point. American oak delivers a cleaner, softer taste (think caramel and vanilla). European oak tends to be a bit more flavoursome and spicy and is often sourced from Spain, Portugal or France.  While most barrel aged gin distillers use these sorts of casks, experimental distillers are now trying out new woods such as mulberry, chestnut or cherry. Some people use virgin casks, others prefer whiskey and still others prefer sherry, Bourbon, wine or vermouth – all of which will leave their own unique mark on the colour, taste and smell of the final product.

Barrel-aged gin that is worth seeking out

So, just as you thought the gin revolution has gone as far as it can go, it surprises us with a new angle – and this time, North America is leading the way. Here are a selection of barrel aged gins from around the world that are making their mark on gin:

Citadelle Reserve (France): 44% ABV

Citadelle gins come with a well deserved reputation for excellence. Citadelle was one of the first modern gins to embrace the barrel aged process, back in 2008.  The brainchild of Alexandre Gabriel, Citadelle Reserve has been wood-aged in an egg-shaped 8 foot tall barrel for around 5 months.  The gin features botanicals including cherry chestnut, french oak and mulberry and the result is a pale gold gin with herbal notes of tobacco and bitter orange.  There’s loads of pepper and spice in there as well. But the ageing process mellows all the flavours into a smooth, easy to drink gin that is perfect in a classic Dry Martini.

Big Gin – peat barreled (USA): 47% ABV

Big Gin’s peat barreled gin is handmade in Seattle in small batches before being aged in Ardberg and Laphroaig scotch whiskey barrels.  This earthy gin has a twist of bitter orange and warm spicy notes derived from 9 unique botanicals including Tasmanian Pepperberry, grains of paradise and bitter orange peel. It’s a perfect drink to sip on as you nibble on a plate of cheeses for charcuterie – and great on its own or in a smokey Negroni. And at 47% ABV, this carries a big kick.

Twisted Nose (UK): 40% ABV

This delicious gin is cask aged gin is made in the heart of the beautiful Hampshire countryside (alongside its delicious watercress infused original gin).  This time, the folks at Twisted Nose have mellowed some of the more astringent notes of herbs and peppery watercress through cask-aging for a few weeks in German oaked barrels, imparting a softer, creamier, vanilla flavour. This results in a smoother, more fragrant spirit which shares some flavour characteristics with the original Genever gins. This delicious gin can be drunk neat, on the rocks – or in a classic gin cocktail. And at a manageable 40% ABV, you can afford to have a few of them.

Stillhead London Dry Gin – Barely Aged gin (Canada): 43% ABV

This award winning London Dry gin from the Stillhead Distillery in British Columbia, Canada has been barrel aged for a year in an oak bourbon barrel which imparts the flavour of holiday spices into the gin. Take a sip and you’ll immediately get a sense of complexity as the star anise, cloves, cinammon and vanilla start to come through. The colour of this gin is a delicate golden yellow and it delivers a deep complex , balanced gin with the oak barrels and spicy vanilla working beautifullyb with the botanical. The finish is citrusy and clean and we think this one works really well in a gin and tonic made with Fevertree mediterranean tonic.

Avva Cask Finish Scottish Gin (Scotland): 55% ABV

This is the first cask gin to be made in Speyside, the spiritual home of malt whiskey. Avva Cask Finish Scottish gin is made annually in a limited edition and is matured in a Bourbon barrel sourced from the famous Speyside Cooperage. Only 200 bottles of this gin have ben produced, making it harder to find than the Loch Ness monster, but if you get your hands on a bottle, you’ll find it’s delicious. Rich juniper notes blend seamlessly with a floral bouquet. Then vanilla, butter cream and spices kick in to reveal an incredibly smooth, rich tasting gin. And with a long, warming finish, it’s almost whiskey like in its characteristics. This is another one that works well with ginger ale and a slice of orange. But make no plans for the morning after – at 55% ABV, this is a gin you should handle with care.

Boatyard Double Gin (Ireland): 46% ABV

This young, but innovative distillery is only a few years old, but it’s making quite a name for itself.  Made in the Boatyard Distillery, on the shores of the beautiful Lough Erne, this place has already established a reputation for its delicious Boatyard Double gin.  But this one is a touch different, aged in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels and sweetened with local Fermanagh honey, this smooth tasting barrel aged gin dispenses with locally produced Irish whiskey casks in favour of the stronger flavors of Kentucky bourbon. The result: a sweet and smokey gin with a distinctive Old Tom flavour. This gorgeous gin with its rich bourbon notes works well with a Fever Tree ginger ale and a slice of apple. And at 46% ABV, make sure you’re sitting down while you’re drinking.


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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Harahorn

Harahorn: the legendary beast behind the gin

We’ve been searching for the Harahorn gin for all our lives – we just didn’t know it.

Somewhere. way up in the rugged mountains of Norway, the Harahorn lives.  But few people have ever seen this mystical beast. In the high mountains, this elusive, shy creature has been glimpsed occasionally, but never captured.  Regardless, the mountain men of Norway have a clear recollection of what this magical creature looks like from their stolen glimpses over the centuries.  And this is what we are told.

Harahorn: The story of the beast

As its name suggests, the Harahorn is a large hare with the horns of a deer. It lives its reclusive existence far up between the majestic beauty of the Fjords and the heavenly show of the Northern Lights.  But this mystical creature is not unique. Similar legends appear in other remote areas across the world.  And for some reason, these mythical beasts have all become associated with gin.
In the USA, they talk about the Jackelope (but the basic story is the same). And, just as with the Harahorn, the Jackelope has also inspired a gin. In fact, Peach Street Distillers in Colorado have named their Jackelope Gin after it. And back in Ireland, one of my favourite distillers has been inspired by a similar legend. This time, it’s Drumshanbo Gin (infused with gunpowder tea and Irish botanicals) who claim to have seen this timid creature tiptoeing around the green fields of Co. Leitrim.

As rare as hen’s teeth…

But back in Norway, while the rugged mountain men have sworn to have seen the Harahorn, this extraordinary creature, nobody has actually managed to capture one on film – yet.
It is this shyness and timidity that keeps this creature so elusive. It is a rare and beautiful thing, like a great gin, waiting to be discovered.  So, imagine our delight when a bottle bearing an image of this mythical beast appeared in front of me on a gin shopping trip. With bunny-like grace, it almost hopped into my basket and this weekend, I cracked open a bottle to see if the gin really is as good as the back story – and I’m delighted to say, it is.

Juniper berries, blueberries and rhubarb

On the slopes of the mountain bearing its name, this mythical creature avoids the hunters. But the Harahorn need not fear them. These Norwegian hunters aren’t coming for him. They’re coming for the berries. Juniper berries, to be precise.
There, beneath the extraordinary majesty of the Northern Lights, on the gentle slopes of this Norwegian mountain, juniper berries grow.  They are picked by hand before being added to hand harvested rhubarb stalks from abandoned farms on the lowland slopes of the mountain. Natural blueberries are then plucked from thorny bushes in the deep forests of the lowlands.  They source carefully measured quantities of angelica and marjoram, which they add to the mix before it is all (as if by magic) transformed into a magnificent and unusual small batch gin from Norway.

What’s it like?

But does this interesting little gin with a big legend really stack up to the tale behind it?  Well, we think so!
And this is why.

Let’s start with the bottle. Small, but perfectly formed, this small, round-necked 50cl bottle is charming. With its blue-tinted glass and a beautiful etched image of the elusive Harahorn taking a starring role on the front, it’s topped by an attractive metallic silver top. This is an elegant bottle that will stand out on any gin shelf.
And it’s chock full of local Norwegian botanicals which contribute to its complex, well-balanced and distinctive flavour profile. The Norwegian juniper and the blueberries complement each other perfectly, while the fruity sharpness of the rhubarb shines through to give it a bit of an edge.
And at 46% ABV, it is strong enough to make you see things. Perhaps that’s the secret of the Harahorn after all?

The real deal – hand made in Norway

So, if you’re looking for a true craft gin experience, then this gin might just be the one for you. The folks at Harahorn are rightly obsessed with quality. That’s why they only make these gins in small batches of 300 litres at a time. And it features more unusual ingredients beyond the juniper and blueberries. You’ll find Bladderwrack seaweed from the Grimstad region, angelica from Oppdal and wild marjoram from Sunndal. The result is a delight for the senses.

Crisp, clear and deliciously complex

On the nose, it has a crisp, clear smell with strong, clean juniper notes backed up by citrus. Take a sip and you’ll unleash the fruitiness of the blueberries amidst the wild spiciness of the bladderwrack seaweed, the tartness of the rhubarb and the subtle and savoury taste of marjoram which comes through at the end.

The verdict:

This is a great drinking gin. Fruity, crisp, smooth and complex, it works beautifully in a simple gin and tonic (but there are a number of other great cocktail recipes on their website). In fact, here’s their recommended mix for the perfect G&T – easy to make in the comfort of your own home.

Welcome to the classic Harahorn G&T – a few of these and you might start seeing things as well!

The perfect pour: the Harahorn G&T

Ingredients:

  • 4cl Harahorn gin
  • 2 cl freshly squeezed lemon juice (or lime juice)
  • Ice cubes
  • Premium tonic water (dry is better)
  • Blueberries

Method:

  1. Take a large highball glass
  2. Pour in 4cl of Harahorn Gin
  3. Fill with large ice cubes
  4. Wipe the rim of the glass with a wedge of lemon or lime
  5. Squeeze in the fresh lemon or lime juice
  6. Top up the glass with a freshly opened, premium, dry Indian Tonic water (such as Franklin and Sons)
  7. Garnish with blueberries (or your preferred choice of herbs or botanicals).

Sit back and sip (and keep your eyes peeled for giant, horned rabbits – you never know when one might pop up!)

As they say in Norway, Skol!



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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GinCity London

GinCity, London: the star of your bar

I love GinCity.
Every so often, you come across a gin that takes you by surprise. So, when I received a bottle of GinCity London this Christmas, I was initially seduced by the beautiful bottle.  Elegant and tall, the glass is intricately etched with a map of my home city in exquisite detail.  Every London street seems to exist and I had some fun finding all the different places I had lived over the years.  And then, I discovered the disco button.

Under an adhesive strip on the bottom of the bottle is a little bump.  Push it once and this beautiful bottle lights up with a gentle, blinking, pulsing red glow. Push it twice for a slower, gentler vibe. Or push it three times for a steady glow of red. Whichever you choose, with a simple push, this bottle is turned into a talking point. GinCity, will be the undoubted star of your bar.

The real deal…

But here’s the thing. My experience with gimmicks and promotions isn’t good.  Generally, the hype gets you in the door and the taste often makes you want to lock the door from the outside.  That’s why I didn’t rush to open this bottle.  I knew that its time would come. And so, this weekend, I turned the lights down low, switched the bottle to disco mode and poured.  I was pre-conditioned to be disappointed.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Not only is this a stunning addition to my collection, but it tasted delicious.  And that’s what really matters.

So, what is this new gin, where does it come from and what does GinCity taste like?

A tale of two cities

GinCity London is one of two GinCity branded gins from their collection.  The one I tried is red and is etched with a detailed map of London. The other one is yellow and is etched with a beautiful street map of Valencia.  GinCity gins have been made by the team at Bodegas Vegamar, who have made their reputation from wine, but have recently turned their attention to gin. Their GinCity brand currently features the two gins we have mentioned.  Each of them have been meticulously produced and each has a completely different character. 

The Valencia version is the sweeter of the two and is made from a Muscat base that has been infused with the sweet aromas of orange blossom. Mediterranean flavours are then added, including chamomile, thyme and marcona almonds to give it a real warmth and softness.  Or at least that’s what it says on the website.  We haven’t tried it yet, but we will.

GinCity London – it’s all in the detail!

On the other hand, we’ve dived straight into the London version and we were deliciously (and pleasantly) surprised. This is no average gin in a novelty bottle. This is actually a delicious gin in a beautiful bottle. So, let’s take a look beyond the flashing lights and find out what it’s all about. 

This is a modern London Dry gin. It’s elegant and contemporary, with a beautifully blended selection of botanicals that include ginger, cardamom, cilantro, angelica, orange and lemon peel and mint. There’s also plenty of juniper, which helps retain its London Dry characteristics. This is a good thing. The result is a delightful gin, that despite being named after London, is actually packed full of Mediterranean flavour, as befits its birthplace, sunny Valencia.  But it’s not just that Spanish sunshine that makes this gin special. 

Five macerations…

These guys do it properly.  They divide the base spirit into three separate tanks, each of which macerates a different selection of botanicals.  In the first batch, they mix up juniper, cardamom, cilantro and angelica root.  In the second tank, they macerate a mixture of ginger and peppermint. And in the third tank, they macerate the citrus fruits including the lemon and orange peel. 

After 24 hours, each tank is redistilled with its own botanicals and with each distillation, the “heads and tails” of the gin mixture are discarded, leaving only the best of the gin in three new, high quality distillates.  Then, in a final flourish, all three mixtures are distilled for a fifth and final time, resulting in a fresh, powerful and flavour-packed gin that is easy to drink and deceptively intricate.

The verdict: oranges and lemons (and a hint of Yuzu)

Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I absolutely loved this gin. It is a complex mixture but its five distillations ensure a smooth, rounded and sophisticated drink that will suit most tastes. On the nose, there are the distinct floral notes of orange blossom. The lemon and orange peel lends it a citrus aroma that is a lovely signpost to the treat that awaits you. You can certainly smell the juniper bitterness, which is softened with hints of verbena and almond. These delicate notes linger on long after you’ve put the glass down.

And then when you taste it, you’ll probably pick up the silky smoothness of the blend that releases big, fruity citrus notes and a rich flavour that is rounded off by the sweet warmth of the Marcasa almonds. Long after I took my last sip, I was tasting the citrus notes, which almost tasted like Yuzu. The result is a gin to remember.

GinCity London: the perfect pour

This worked well as a Spanish style Gin and Tonic. I served a double shot in a copa glass filled with large, round ice cubes. Ice in first, then a gentle stir. Pour in your preferred amount of gin. Then cut a wedge of lime, squeeze the juice into the glass, wipe the rim with the wedge and drop it in. Top up with a freshly opened bottle of Franklin and Sons Premium Indian tonic water, sit back and enjoy. This is a gin to sip and respect.

The Gin Apple cocktail recipe

But, while this works really well as a G&T, it’s also a great gin for cocktail making with its lemony/ginger roots and yuzu like taste, it lends itself to your imagination. The folks at Gin City have recommended a few cocktails and we’ve chosen one to share with you if you fancy pushing the boat out one of these days. Introducing the Gin Apple, from the good people at Gin City.

Ingredients:

  • 30ml of GinCity London gin
  • 30ml of apple liqueur
  • 120ml of premium Indian tonic water
  • Plenty of ice
  • 4 apple slices

Method:

  1. Pour the ice, the gin and the apple liqueur into the glass
  2. Stir gently and add tonic
  3. Garnish with 4 apple slices