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Tasting Gin | Blackwoods Dry Vintage Gin 60%

Blackwood's GinSo I stocked up on gins when I was in London last year. The problem is I get really attached to bottles of gin bought overseas, so attached that I don’t want to open them, let alone drink them. I keep them in my gin cupboard, an oak cupboard that belonged to my great great aunt Peggy, and look at them. I take them out and stroke them occasionally, but I’m too awed to drink them.

Then I got a hold of myself and decided there is no point having gin if you don’t drink it and opened my bottle of Blackwoods Gin.
I purchased the Blackwoods from the magical place where I bought most of my duty-free haul, Royal Mile Whiskies in the heart of London. Don’t be fooled by the name, they have an amazing selection of gins. It is also the best compromise ever for the Gentleman Gin Drinker (who should more accurately be called the Gentleman Whisky Drinker) and I. The delightful staff are knowledgable and helpful and even gave me samples of gin at 10.30am; my kind of people.
The Process
Blackwoods Gin is made on Shetland Island and features local botanicals. The bottle I bought was one of the 60% ABV bottles that they do a limited run of each year. 22,000 bottles are made, which is apparently the population of Shetland Island (I cannot confirm if this includes ponies). 60% ABV was not plucked out of the air either, the island sits at 60 degrees latitude. Their gins and vodkas are made in a traditional copper still in small batches using a barley-based spirit. There is nothing about water on their website, but I’d hazard a guess it is from the island too.
The Botanicals
The botanicals in Blackwoods Gin vary from to year to year based on what is growing well on Shetland Island. There is a list of the standard gin botanicals which remain the same for each vintage.

Juniper
Coriander
Citrus peel
Liquorice
Nutmeg

The rest of the botanicals are listed on the bottle. My bottle is from summer 2007.

Elderflower
Wild water mint
Sea pink
Meadow sweet
Violets
Tasting notes
The aroma is junipery and herbaceous, light and clear with clean citrus top notes. On the palate it is very lightly sweet and floral which is offset deliciously with the warm glow of 60% ABV.
In Drinks
Mixed with a good tonic water like Capi the herb notes really come out. With the addition of lemon peel the sweetly floral notes emerge, particularly the elderflower.

Blackwoods stand up extremely well in cocktails, a particularly enjoyed a Hanky Panky, but this is such a good, clean drinking gin that would suggest sticking to martinis (very dry with a twist) or with tonic water.
What Others Say
RateGin.com

Gin Journey
The Guardian
Gin Foundry
Where to Buy
Acland Cellars
Nick’s

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Tasting Gin | Four Pillars Gin

Four Pillars launch

Last week I was delighted to get an early taste of Four Pillars Gin at soft launch at Kitchen by Mike. I could tell you about the party, the food,  the delicious cocktails from Trolley’d, the costumes! But I suspect what you really want to know is: how’s the gin?!

Well the gin is gooood. This is not a formal review as a party is not the ideal circumstance for a proper tasting, but I manage to sneak in a neat half shot. It’s spicy and flavoursome, with lovely fruity notes from the inclusion of whole oranges in distilling process.

The first batch sold out on Pozible in about 3 seconds, even I missed it! But I am on the list (towards the top!) for the second batch. Once I have my hands on the bottle I promise a more detailed review, but in the meantime, if you see the distinctive black and copper bottle on your travel, try it!

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Tasting Gin | Martin Miller’s Gin

gin, Martin Millers, bottle‘But hang on!’ the most observant of you say. ‘You already reviewed Martin Miller’s Gin!’

That’s true, but I reviewed the Westbourne Strength, which clocks in at 45.8% ABV, this is the regular strength at 40% ABV. From my extensive research (reading their website…) I have gathered that the two versions are made in much the same way, shipped to Iceland, and then this version just has slightly more of the delicious fjord water mixed with it. If you have any better intel, let me know!

So I won’t go over all the making details again, you can read them here, while I skip ahead to the good part, the drinking.

Tasting Notes

Unsurprisingly this gin has a very similar flavour profile to the Westbourne strength, but for mine it loses something without the big fiery ethanol of the 45.8%. The blow-your-mouth-off freshness isn’t there. However, it is a lovely, delicate, well-balanced gin. The softness of the fjord water remains and gives a very clear flavour profile heavy on juniper with light citrus notes and a little spice at the back of the palate.

Drinks

The subtlety of this gin does not hold up especially well in tonic water, however if you are looking for a very light, refreshing drink, try it with soda and lemon peel, or a very good tonic water and cucumber. It’s in a martini that this gin really comes into it’s own. Stirred and a little dirty it is just about the most dangerously drinkable martini I can think of. Also works a treat in a Negroni if you’re looking for a lighter base that lets that Campri and vermouth shine.

What others say

Gin Journey
Storied Sips
Gin Time

Disclaimer I was given a bottle of Martin Miller’s Gin for the purpose of this review. While I appreciate the generosity of Martin Miller’s distributors in sending this sample, my appreciation has not affected this review. 

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Tasting Gin | City of London Distillery

City of London Gin bottleFirstly, a confession. Somewhere between my aunt’s house in London and my house in Sydney, my notebook with all my gin notes from my trip to Europe went missing. Hence it’s been months and I still haven’t written up my gin tastings. I’ve finally accepted that the notes are gone for good and I’m going to attempt to recreate them, please forgive me if anything is a bit hazy.

On one of our days in London, the Gentleman Caller and I indulged both our geek out interests. First we headed out to Bletchley Park, where the Engima Code was broken and the first computers were built. This place is like a pilgrimage for the Gentleman Caller, but I really enjoyed it too.

Then we trained back to London and indulged my obsession with a visit to the City of London Distillery. COLD, as it is known, is the first distillery within the City of London in over 200 years. (Sipsmith opened earlier, but they are in Greater London, but not within the square mile of the City of London. It’s complicated.) Just off Fleet St, COLD is home to both the distillery and a lovely contemporary bar serving more than 180 gins.

COLD run daily distillery tours every hour between 12 noon and 3pm for £8. We spent too long at Bletchley Park and arrived too late for a tour, but I got chatting with some of the delightful staff, and Jamie Baxter, the Master Distiller, was still around and gave us a bit of an impromptu tour, which was extremely generous.

The Process

The gleaming copper still is behind glass for everyone to see and enjoy when they visit the bar. She’s a gorgeous creature (I forgot to ask her name!). The woody botanicals go in the belly of the still, but they add the fresh citrus in a basket further up in the pipes.

The base is a grain spirit which is pushed through the still a few times before the botanicals are added, the copper ‘pores’ open up and absorb all the nasty impurities out of the spirit leaving a very clean ethanol.

Botanicals

Juniper
Coriander seed
Angelica root
Licorice root
Fresh orange
Fresh lemon
Pink grapefruit

Tasting notes

Given the botanicals list it will be no surprise that this is a very citrus forward gin. As we were tasting in a bar I didn’t taste in an exacting way, but it was delicious and dry and flavoursome.

Drinks

We started off with a gin and tonic, served with a veritable slab of pink grapefruit, I’m not usually a big fan huge citrus wedges in a gin and tonic, but wedges of pink grapefruit seems to be the done thing in London’s finer gin drinking establishments. We followed up with a love dry martini with a twist, here the citrus really shines with lovely background of earthy base notes. Ended the evening with a French 75, again the citrus played beautifully with lemon and champagne.

What others say

The Gin Blog
Master of Malt
Summer Fruit Cup

Where to buy

City of London Distillery Gin is not widely available in Australia. You can import it from Master of Malt or The Whisky Exchange, but as always be aware of the delivery fees.

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Tasting Gin | Farmer’s Organic Gin

// FarmersMy beloved Gentleman Caller recently took a business trip to the States, and bless him, used up his entire duty-free allowance on gin for me. Didn’t bring home a single bottle of whisky for himself. Now that is true love.

My first tasting is of a gin I hadn’t heard of before. Farmer’s Gin is a small batch organic gin made by the distillery behind Crop Harvest Vodka. I’ve been trying to work out where the distillery is, but their websites and Facebook pages give little away.

The process

The base spirit is made with certified organic grains. Its small batch distilled, not sure if it is vapor infused or macerated, but it doesn’t have that distinct copper/metallic flavour that a lot of contemporary American gins have. It’s also a strong gin at 46.7% ABV, but not quite Navy Strength.

Botanicals

Again, a bit cagey about their botanicals, though they do give more away than [Stone Pine].

Juniper

Elderflower

Lemongrass

Coriander

Angelica

& other select botanicals

Regular readers will know I strongly dislike coriander, but in this instance the coriander seeds do not dominate, rather they, along with angelica root, create a lovely earthy base note.

Tasting notes

The bouquet is sweet and spicy with sharp ethanol and distinct juniper. On the palate the elderflower hit the middle of your mouth and blossoms. Along with the warmth from the ethanol you can feel the warmth and floral flavour explode and fill your mouth. The earthy notes come in underneath and linger with a slightly strange aftertaste.

Drinks

Farmer’s really comes to life mixed with Fever Tree tonic. It’s warming and sharp without overwhelming. All of the notes balance out beautifully with the tonic, the base notes of coriander and angelica root ground the flavour with the juniper making of soft bed for slightly subdued elderflower top note.

What others say

Gin is in

Gin Reviews

New York Times

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