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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the bramble

The Bramble: a cocktail full of the joys of spring

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Spring is in the air (almost…)

Sometimes, a cocktail comes along that quickly becomes an instant classic.  The Bramble is one such drink.  At some point in the early 1980s, legendary bartender, Dick Bradsell was working in a bohemian cocktail bar, deep in the heart of London’s Soho. This was back in the days when cocktails were still a guilty secret in a city that got its kicks from beer, wine and whisky. 

Right, said Fred!

The bar was called Fred’s Club and it served its slightly dangerous concoctions to an eclectic Soho mix of artists, writers, musicians, drag queen’s and the occasional confused tourist.  That was when Fred said: “Right. Let’s create a British cocktail we can be proud of”.  Dick decided to rise to the challenge and his mind wandered back to his childhood, where he had his happiest memories.  He remembered his early years wandering the beautiful fields, winding lanes and gentle hills of the picture perfect Isle of Wight. 

Island inspiration

For those of you who don’t know, the Isle of Wight is a beautiful little island. It’s nestled just a few miles off the South Coast of England.  This special place is like England in miniature.  It’s surrounded by the sheltered waters of The Solent on one side and the exposed Southern Coast gazing wistfully towards Northern France on the other side.  The island is only 22 miles long and is filled with impossibly cute villages, thatched cottages and beautiful beaches.  Perfect for those long country walks.  The fields and lanes are lined with beautiful vibrant hedgerows bursting with flowers, berries and fruit and teaming with birds, bees and a wide diversity of local wildlife.

Wandering down memory lane

As a  child, Dick wandered these lanes, picking wild fruits and berries under an English sun.  Those perfect days must have made quite an impression on the young Dick.  And this is where the Bramble cocktail first started to take root in the childhood imagination of this soon to be legendary cocktail king. Years later, when the burgeoning bartender was asked to create a new British cocktail for Fred’s Club, this is where he turned for his inspiration.   

The Bramble is born

He knew he wanted to make a spring cocktail, so he combined the distinctly British taste of gin (we recommend Martin Miller’s) with the citrus freshness of lemon.  And then he added his secret weapon – Creme de Mure.  He finished it all off with some simple syrup and when he gave it a stir, this heady, fruity mixture immediately took him back to those childhood walks.  He knew he had cracked it and he called this drink The Bramble (the name given to the local name for  blackberry bush).  Dick went on to greater things and throughout his career, he has invented other world famous cocktails including the ubiquitous Espresso Martini. But this is the drink that made his name.

So, what’s it like?

Well, spring is in the air, so whether you’re already basking in the early sunshine of Barcelona or dreaming of brighter days from the cozy comfort of a UK winter, this drink should be coming your way soon.  Basically, all you need is a few simple ingredients.  Pour your gin into a separate mixing glass.  Add the fresh lemon juice and simple syrup and shake the mixture over ice.  Strain the resulting liquid into a highball glass full of ice. Then, slowly drizzle the creme de mure through the liquid to give the drink a beautiful, marbled effect.  And if you’re all out of creme de mure, then creme de cassis is a perfectly good alternative.

The joys of spring

So, that’s it.  Welcome to The Bramble.
All you have to do now is sit back, give it a gentle stir and sip. If that doesn’t fill you with the joys of spring, nothing will.

The Bramble cocktail recipe:

Ingredients

  • 40 ml gin
  • 20ml of fresh lemon juice
  • 20 ml of simple syrup
  • 20 ml creme de mure 
  • Blackberries
  • Ice

Method

  1. Shake the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup over ice
  2. Strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice
  3. Dribble the creme de mure through the ice and stir gently
  4. Garnish with a blackberry or a slice of lemon

You can check other amazing cocktail recipes here.

 


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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