Fill your stocking: the 5 gins of Christmas

Well, it’s almost here. The festive lights have been strung out across the streets of Barcelona. London is bedecked in all its Christmas splendour. Cities, towns and villages across the world are about to celebrate Christmas in what are the strangest of circumstances.
Who would have thought this time last year, that an unknown virus would turn our world upside down. Hopefully, most of us will find a way of spending these precious days with the ones we love the most. But many of us won’t be able to.
The thing about Christmas is that it goes on, whatever the circumstances and wherever you are. The festive spirit cannot be beaten and (in one way or another), I’m sure we’ll all be raising a glass of Christmas cheer. Whether it’s toasting the ones closest to us, or raising a glass to absent friends, nothing will stop us from celebrating the best festival of the year.
If you’re a gin lover, you’ll probably be looking for something a bit out of the ordinary. Something different. Something seasonal. So, we thought we’d make it easy for you by sharing some of the festive gins that we think might add a little Christmas sparkle to your celebrations. Check our 5 gins of Christmas out and let us know what you think.

M&S Snow Globe: 20% ABV

The M&S Snow Globe is fast becoming a Christmas classic. This gorgeous bottle contains a blizzard of 23 karat gold leaf flakes which fall gently through the gin to give the effect of falling snow. But this year, they’ve given their globe an upgrade – it’s now illuminated. Yes, that’s correct. The team at M&S have added an LED light which brings the scene to life in the most delightful way.

So, we know the packaging is going to knock you out, but what does it taste like? Well there are two types available this year. We’ve tried the clementine version, which comes in at a modest 20% ABV, (typical for a gin liqueur) and it’s pretty good. Sweet, thick and syrupy, it has a subtle warmth from the alcohol and a lovely, sweet orange flavour. It’s not just fancy packaging – this liqueur is surprisingly nice. It could be the perfect tipple for the Christmas season.

The perfect pour:

  1. Serve neat in a liqueur glass or pour straight over ice in a brandy snifter.
  2. Alternatively, try it long with ice and premium tonic and a slice of orange or cinnamon.
  3. For the full festive treatment, pour just a little into a champagne flute and top up with some delicious Christmas cava.
5 gins of Christmas

Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger: 43% ABV

This gorgeous, winter gin will give you a glow that’s warmer than a log fire. The sweetness of the rhubarb combines with the pepperiness of the ginger to create a gorgeous drink which will make you smile on even the coldest winter day. When those logs are crackling in the grate and it’s dark outside, this is the perfect way to beat those winter blues. Comforting, warm, sweet, fruity and spicy all in one go, Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger (paid link) gin is definitely one you want safely stored in your gin bar to be taken out and enjoyed when the time is right. Some people find this a bit sweet for their tastes, but I love it – especially with lashings of ginger beer to top it up. The guys at Whitley Neil don’t usually get it wrong. This is truly the spirit of Christmas.

The perfect pour:

  1. Fill a large copa glass with large ice cubes.
  2. Pour in a decent measure of gin and fill it to the top with Fever Tree Ginger Beer.
  3. Garnish it with a slice of lemon or a sprig of rosemary.
  4. Throw another log on the fire, sit back and sip.
5 gins of Christmas

Sacred Christmas Pudding gin: 40% ABV

We know everyone has their own tastes and preferences and that’s good – each to their own. We certainly aren’t here to judge. But we’ll go on the record by saying that we’re not big fans of confectionery based gins. That’s why you won’t see many reviews of Candy Cane gin, Chocolate Orange gin, Kola Kubes gin or other crazy, sweet gin-based concoctions.

But we are big fans of truly creative combinations that stand on their own two feet without being diminished with Tizer top-ups or cans of cream soda. We put Sacred Christmas gin (paid link) firmly into that category. Over the years, the guys at Sacred have built a solid reputation for unusual, well priced creative gin styles and we can highly recommend them at any time of year. So, this Christmas, why not treat yourself to a bottle of Sacred Christmas Pudding gin.

Made from distilling real Christmas Puddings steamed for 8 hours according to Great Aunt Nellie’s Victorian recipe (yes, really!) this gin is brimming with familiar Christmas smells. Think raisins, candied peel and a cake-like feel that will take you right back to Christmas lunch, whenever you drink it. This rich and unusual drink works best on its own but also combines well with a G&T, Martini or a Negroni.

The perfect pour:

  1. Best served in a small glass, straight out of the freezer after a meal. Seemples!
5 gins of Christmas

Two Birds Winter Fruits: 37.5% ABV

Sweet, fruity and built around the aromas of winter, this is a beautifully unusual Christmas gin, made with style and panache by the guys at Two Birds. In addition to those lovely Christmas notes on the nose, there’s also plenty of juniper to be found here, reminding you that this is a real gin, not simply a sweet gin liqueur. With its natural sweetness balanced by the warming spices, this is most definitely one for pouring in front of a warm fire, while settling back in your favourite chair.

The perfect pour:

  1. Pour 50ml of Two Birds Winter Fruits gin into a highball glass.
  2. Fill the glass up with large ice cubes, an orange slice and a cinnamon stick to bring out those winter aromas.
  3. Top it up with ginger ale for an extra blast of warmth and you’ve got the perfect fireplace drink.
5 gins of Christmas

Haysmith’s Spiced Plum and Clementine: 37.5% ABV

Haysmith’s Spiced Plum and Clementine gin is one of my personal favourites and the gin buyers at Aldi rarely let us down.

This full strength gin is packed with winter flavours such as plum and clementine.

The result, a gorgeous mixing gin, clean, refreshing and with a warm, rich fruitiness. The ripe plum flavour shines right through this intriguing blend of warm winter spice before succumbing to a seasonal blast of fresh clementine. This gin is delicious at any time of year, but fits the winter season nicely. A full strength gin, in a really pretty bottle, this clocks in at 37.5% ABV. But the good news is that you can check out with one from Aldi for less than £15.

Definitely stick one of these of your Santa’s list this year – it goes perfectly with his favourite mince pies. Don’t give any to Rudolph though – he’s driving!

The perfect pour:

  1. Serve in a copa glass, filled with large ice cubes
  2. Fill to the rim with Fevertree Indian Tonic Water
  3. Or if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, pair it with ginger beer or Fevertree Clementine tonic water
  4. Garnish with a slice of orange or a cinnamon stick and you’re all set to get into the Christmas spirit.
5 gins of Christmas

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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Whitley Neill

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

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

So, let me tell you all about it.

Powerful, but not overpowering

I know that Whitley Neill flavoured gins are not to everyone’s taste, but I love them. I think they’re  great value and in the past, they’ve come up with some really creative and unusual combinations.

These include rhubarb and ginger (paid link) and one of my favourites from last year, their Lemongrass and Ginger gin. So, when I opened the bottle, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. What I got was a big blast of raspberry on the nose, which I found powerful, not overwhelming – a very seductive start.  This is a full-on gin , sweet (but not too sweet!)

When I poured it (long) into my brand new Silent Pool gin tumbler (paid link), I could really smell the raspberry.

Then I loaded the glass up with giant ice cubes and filled it to the top with some standard Nordic Tonic Water. Finally, I added a slice of orange and took a long deep sip.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Big burst of “raspberry-ness”

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

A big blast of flavour opens the account, with a tangy fruity burst that lingers in the mouth.

The Scottish raspberries come through loud and clear and it doesn’t taste fake.

The guys at Whitley Neill have added coriander, licorice and hibiscus (amongst other botanicals) all of which give way to delicious red fruit. But it’s well balanced and not too much.

Whitley Neill first  introduced this mouth-watering gin to the Whitley Neill range in 2018 and, I’m pleased to say that it’s not as sweet as I had expected.

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

I think I’ll have to give it a go.

www.whitleyneill.com

www.silentpoolgin.com


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

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


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