Tag Archives: distillery

Gin Cocktails | Lady Patricia Mother’s Day cocktail

Lady Pat

I inadvertently got my start in understanding gin from my mother. She’s a herbalist so I learnt about herbs and flowers and flavours from as early as I can remember. I taste the difference between echinacea angustifolia and echinacea purpurea from ten paces, but I also learned about things like liquorice root and angelica and cardamom and juniper. I learned about essential oils and how they are made through distillation. I learned about the volatility of natural oils, how scent profiles, and indeed flavour profiles, are made up of top, middle and base notes. All the techniques I use to critique gin, all learned at my mother’s knee.

So for Mother’s Day I wanted to design a cocktail especially for my mum. She’s quite particular about what she likes. Nothing too sweet and nothing too strong, but she loves flowers. So I started with flowers; lavender and elderflower. Cocktails are about balancing sweet, sour and strong, so sweet if from homemade lavender syrup, and St Germain Elderflower liqueur, the sour from a dash of lemon juice and the strong from (wait for it…) gin!

Lady Pat composite30mL lavender syrup *
15mL St Germain Elderflower liqueur
7.5mL fresh lemon juice
15mL gin, a light flavoured clean gin like Bombay Sapphire will work well
Sparkling mineral water

Combine syrup, liqueur, juice and gin in a tall glass with lots of ice, stir gently. Top up glass with chilled sparkling mineral water. If you, or your mum, have a sweet tooth you can leave out the lemon juice and use a good cloudy lemonade instead of mineral water. Serve with a twist of lemon peel as a garnish, or with a lavender flower if you have one.

Lavender syrup*To make a small batch of lavender syrup combine 50g of sugar with 50mL of boiling water and a handful of dried lavender flowers. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and leave for about five minutes then strain out the lavender flower. Chill before using. The syrup will last for about 2 weeks in the fridge. And I recommend putting it in the fridge straight away for helpful gentleman gin drinkers clean up the kitchen and throw it out.

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Tasting Gin | Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength

miller 008If money was no object and you just wanted to make the most wonderful gin possible, what would you do? This was the starting point for Martin Miller’s Gin. And it’s not a bad starting point, if money is no object.

Martin Miller the man came to prominence publishing an etiquette guide called Success with the Fairer Sex. I can only imagine what that was about. He established the Miller Academy, a Victorian style salon, but he got bored with burlesque at about the time in became a major plot point in Gossip Girl. I have sympathy for that. Somewhere along the line his attention turned to gin.

The Process

The neutral spirit is flavoured in a single pot still called Angela. No source is mentioned for the spirit so it is probably a grain spirit. The earthy botanicals are infused overnight in spirit and hot water, while the citrus peels are distilled separately. Now, this is where it gets interesting. The heart cut from the distillation is sent to Iceland at full strength where it is mixed with fjord water. We did say money was no object! The Westbourne strength is mixed to 45.2% ABV.

Botanicals

This is not an exact list, it is put together from various hints across the website.

Juniper
Cassia
Coriander
Orange peel
Lemon peel

Tasting notes

This is not a fragrant or perfumed gin. It is very light on the nose with ethanol and juniper detectible, but otherwise it is indistinct. On the palate it is clean and bright and surprisingly soft for 45.2% ABV. It’s well rounded with juniper, citrus and spice in a very pleasing balance. The most remarkable thing about this gin is how clean fresh it tastes. I can’t help but picture shiny, fresh snowfields and adds for toothpaste when I’m drinking it, and I mean that in a very good way.

Drinks

In a gin and tonic you need to use a high quality  tonic water (Fever Tree or Capi) as the flavours are so subtle that a cheap and sugary tonic water will completely overpower the gin. It’s a very soft and clean drink, very enjoyable with a cucumber garnish as the creaminess of the cucumber offsets the softness of the gin beautifully. A sliver of lemon peel also works nicely.

In a martini you want to keep it dry and clean, this is not a gin to dirty up with olive brine. A few drops of vermouth if you must, but I’d suggest Churchill style (look at the vermouth as you pour the gin) with a twist.

What others say

The Gin is In
Gin Time
The Gin Blog
The Whisky Exchange
The Drink Shop

Where to buy

Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength is available in Australia, I have bought it from Vintage Cellars but a quick scout of their website doesn’t prove fruitful. Your better independent bottle shop should stock it, or you can buy online from Nicks, free delivery for orders over $200.

Disclaimer after I had prepared this review I was offered a bottle of Martin Miller’s Gin (not Westbourne Strength) to review. While I appreciate the generosity of Martin Miller’s distributors in sending this sample, my appreciation has not effected this review. 

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Tasting Gin | Beefeater 24

gin, london dry, reviewAfter tasting the Crown Jewel we wanted to try the replacement, Beefeater 24. Of course our gracious host had a bottle on hand.

The Process

Beefeater 24 is infused for, wait for it, 24 hours, then distilled for seven hours. The website describes that the cut for Beefeater 24 is taken in the middle of the distillation an ‘Artisan Cut’ which makes for a ‘more citrusy, softer, contemporary style of gin.’

Tasting Notes

The first thing that struck me about the Beefeater 24, as compared to the Crown Jewel, is that it’s much softer. That’s partly because it’s 45%ABV rather than 50%ABV, but possibly also because of the Artisan Cut process. It’s also much more complex. A heavy juniper base, but the grapefruit is much more distinct. I could also taste notes of black pepper. I’m not sure where the pepper flavour comes from and the only difference in botanicals is the addition of Japanese Sencha tea and Chinese green tea.

The thing I found really interesting in tasting these two Beefeater premiums, as well as the regular Beefeater, is the distinct flavour palate across the three gins. They certainly have a very consistent house flavour which is very identifiable in each version.

Botanicals

Almond
Angelica Root
Angelica Seed
Chinese green tea
Coriander Seed
Japanese Sencha tea
Juniper
Lemon Peel
Liquorice
Orange Peel
Grapefruit Peel
Orris Root

What others say

The Gin Blog
Gin Journey
Drink Hacker

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Tasting Gin | Beefeater Crown Jewel

BeefeaterCrownJewelPeerlessWe 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.

The process

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.

Tasting notes

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.

Botanicals
Almond
Angelica Root
Angelica Seed
Coriander Seed
Juniper
Lemon Peel
Liquorice
Orange Peel
Grapefruit Peel
Orris Root

What others say

Summer Fruit Cup
Everyday Drinking
Proof 66

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Tasting Gin | G’Vine Floraison

I’m in Melbourne for Christmas and popped into Acland Cellars for a scout around their interesting range of imported spirits. (We’d had dinner at Blue Corn Mexican around the corner first, highly recommended!). They had a reasonable collection of uncommon gins, 47 Pink, both Martin Millers, Bulldog, as well as the usuals. I’ve had my eye on the G’Vine for a while so I decided to splash out and put down $90 on an untried gin. Spolier alert: not disappointed.

gin, g'vine, review, florasionG’Vine is a French grape  based gin. The neutral base is made from grape spirit. This makes for a very smooth base to the botanicals. The grapes are Ugni Blanc from the Cognac region, well regarded for their high acid and neutral flavour, a perfect blank canvas spirit.

The first note on the nose is floral and herbaceous with a hint of citrus. On the palate the first thing I thought was cinnamon. Then cardamom and myrtle. It doesn’t actually have any cinnamon in it, but the warmth and spice from cardamom, ginger and nutmeg and the earthy cassia fooled my tongue. The myrtle I think is from the the slightly eucalyptus note in the cardamom along with lime. The unique botanical in the G’Vine Floraison is vine flowers. They are the delicate flowers that bloom on the grape vines just before they turn into fruit and give this gin the most delightful floral note that hits right in the middle of the tongue after the earthy spice dissipates from the front. The base spirit really is so smooth that it just leaves a gentle warming glow at the back of the throat. You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about juniper, it’s almost undetectable. Similar to the way cassia or angelica root are often used as a binding earthy note rather than a distinct flavour.

As we’re away from home and staying in a hotel we had not much option but throwing in some ice and Schweppes tonic. It’s surprisingly delicious even in the most basic of gin and tonics. The cardamom really sings and the floral sweetness along with the bubbles give it an almost buttery mouth-feel. A perfect summer gin and tonic.

G’Vine also make a Nouaison style with the slightly older vine flowers that have hit small berry stage. Looking for to finding and tasting that one soon.

Don’t just take my word for it, there are lots of very experienced people writing about gin on the internet so I’m going to start sharing links to reviews from other bloggers and websites on my tasting notes.

What the others say

The Gin Blog
The Gin Is In
Everyday Drinkers
I would have linked to Gin Reviews but their notes are horribly sexist, so no.

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Tasting Gin | Beefeater

I bought a bottle of Beefeater. I’ve always been suspicious of Beefeater. For a start I don’t eat beef. Yes, I know that’s not what it means, but it’s so inelegant it always struck me as the wrong name for a gin. Anyway, I was lulled into a false sense of security after enjoying a couple of terrific negronis with Beefeater at Eau de Vie.

Just as a by-the-by, if you are heading to Eau de Vie (and you should, it’s lovely), it’s hidden at the back of the Kirkton Hotel with no street number or sign. Elusive.

Image from Eau De Vie

Eau de Vie have a pretty good range of gins, some hard to finds like Junipero and Sipsmith, but the bartender steered me towards Beefeater for a negroni. ‘Beefeater’s great,’ he said. ‘A big juniper hit, and that’s what you want in a negroni’. And he was right; it was a great negroni, not too sweet up front, big round mouth feel and a nice bitter hit at the back of the tongue. Could have done with a touch more orange zest.

So when I was in the very small bottle shop with the very small range that is vaguely close to my house, I saw that Beefeater with it’s alluring $40 price tag and thought, I’ve changed my mind, I’m going to give it a shot!

In a straight tasting, Beefeater is like being punched in the mouth with juniper. I honestly couldn’t detect any other botanicals. It also had a very big ethanol hit to the sinuses, which surprised me as at 40% it’s not a huge proof.

Beefeater’s ingredient list boasts orange, liquorice, coriander seeds, angelica seeds, angelica root, almond, lemon and orris root, but as I said the juniper really dominates, not even the citrus cuts through. It is a London Dry gin and is made through a maceration distillation. They soak the botanicals for 24 hours, maybe it could be a little longer for a more complex flavour, but I am certainly not a distiller!

I probably don’t even need to tell you that mixed with tonic I got a pretty disappointing result. No subtlety of flavour, no complexity, to be blunt it almost could have been a vodka and tonic. On the suggestion of some friends who were unfortunate enough to visit when Beefeater was all I had, we added a squeeze of mandarin, which was really very nice. But once stocks are replenished, Beefeater will be going to the back of the cupboard for negroni times.

Just to really stick the boot in with this, my harshest review to date; their website is annoying.

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Making Gin | Gin styles

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!

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