We were lucky to be invited to a housewarming party over the weekend. The host is a passionate spirits enthusiast. He has custom built shelves with down lights to house his collections. He even brews his own bitters.
My first gin sample of the evening was St George’s Terrior gin. I’m not going to write up full notes on this gin as it is very strongly flavoured with coriander, which I absolutely cannot abide. Coriander and its root a quite common ingredients in gin, and as long as I can’t taste or smell it, that’s fine, but it was so over-powering in this gin that I really couldn’t do it justice. Aaron at The Gin Is In has a very favourable review of it here.
Towards the end of the evening, in fact I think we were the only guests left, our gracious host dug out a bottle of Beefeater Crown Jewel. The Crown Jewel was the Beefeater premium before the Beefeater 24. It was discontinued it 2009. Our host found this bottle at the back of a dusty shelf in a Wellington bottleshop and snapped it up.
As this gin is discontinued it’s very difficult to find out exactly how it was made. Being familiar with the Beefeater process, I’d assume it is macerated and infused then distilled, in true London Dry style.
At 50%ABV this is a firey alcohol hit, spicy and warming. The flavour feels heavy on spice, but I think that is the interaction between the juniper and the very strong alcohol. There is also a slight metallic tingle at the front of the tongue. I tasted this late at night, so these are not my most detailed notes, but there isn’t a lot of subtly in this one, I guess it’s hard to be subtle when working with 50%ABV.
What others say
Summer Fruit Cup
In a previous post I went through what goes in gin, but each style is made in a different way.
The most basic style is compound gin, which is made by adding natural or artificial oils and flavours from juniper and botanicals to neutral spirit. This style is generally frowned about by serious gin drinkers.
The more recognised style is distilled gin. This can be made by vapor or maceration. The vapor technique involves passing the vapor of the neutral spirit through dried juniper and botanicals. The maceration technique consists of soaking the botanicals in neutral spirit until the desired flavour is achieved then distilling the spirit to bind the flavours.
Any distilled gin can be called ‘distilled gin’ according to EU naming standards and additives such as sugar and flavourings can be added. Distilled gin with no additives can be called London gin; it does not have to be produced in London.
The other historical style is Plymouth gin. Only gin made in Plymouth can be called Plymouth gin. Plymouth is less dry than London gin and to my palate more rough with a slight flavour of the sea, but that might be my overactive imagination. Plymouth original strength is 41.5% alcohol, which may be why I find it a bit rough. (I like rough by the way!) Plymouth also make Navy Strength gin which comes in at a whopping 57% alcohol which apparently is the proof that will prevent gun powder from igniting if it is accidently spilt on it.
As I mentioned when I taste-tested Aviation, there is a new style emerging, New Western Dry gin. While not officially recognised in the same way as London and Plymouth, this style is used to describe gins that allow juniper to share the starring role with other flavours and botanicals. While London and Plymouth are different, juniper is clearly the dominant flavour. Western Dry is more democratic allowing other traditional and non-traditional flavours to shine.
After plowing your way through all those rather dull facts, you have probably earned yourself a gin. Make it London, Plymouth, New Western or just distilled, doesn’t really matter as long as you enjoy it!
The simple version is gin is a flavoured white spirit. Ethanol, neutral spirit or white spirit can be made from anything really, grain, potato, sugarcane etc. This is made in a distillery. Straight ethanol must be at least 96% pure alcohol. This is mixed with distilled water in roughly equal measures so the spirit come to around 40% alcohol, and that is vodka. To make gin, the vodka is flavoured with juniper primarily, and other botanicals to make it delicious! There are a number of ways to flavor gin, some of the better than others, but we’ll get to that in another post.