Month: July 2010

Gordon’s gin

 - by Dug

The much maligned Gordon’s gin is ubiquitous in bars across the world. The odds are, if you ask for gin in a pub, then you will get Gordon’s. Many view it as the bottom of the pile where gin is concerned, and even the more generous gin-drinker will label it bottom of the palatable pile, rising above only the supermarkets’-own and other budget brands.

Gordon's Gin

Gordon's Gin

However, can something as widespread and successful really be that bad? It is a London Dry Gin afterall – the top tier of legal gin classifications. Well, today I had the opportunity to find out; I was in Lidl buying an ultrasonic rangefinder (don’t ask) and I noticed Gordon’s gin on special for £10, so I jumped at the chance.

100 million bottles of Gordon’s gin are produced each year and it is sold in 150 countries across the globe. Gordon’s is also the only gin brand with the right to bear Royal Coat of Arms by Appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

Gordon’s gin is triple-distilled and its botanicals include juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root. There is one other botanical which is kept under wraps; it, along with the recipe, is reputed to be known to only eleven people in the world.

Upon opening, it smelled like gin. No surprises there, but there was little remarkable about it and the scent of juniper was not huge.

Drank neat, Gordon’s isn’t the smoothest gin and it is quite simple; there are no stand-out citrus, floral or spicy notes and the juniper hit is middling, but it is not unpleasant. It is a similar experience with tonic water; there is nothing that really characterises it as anything more than generic G&T; unremarkable but not unpleasant.

While I am somewhat disappointed, I am not sure this is necessarily a bad thing. Genericy is a trait that will serve Gordon’s well in its niche of the house-gin of choice in most pubs. It will not blow anyone away, but it will satisfy the G&T requirement of the masses, including mine at a push; it is nothing special but it is acceptable.

Gimlet, Cocktail

 - by Dug

A mainstay cocktail of the gin world, the name ‘gimlet’ has somewhat unclear origins. There are two popular theories…

1) A gimlet is a tool used for drilling small holes and the word found colloquial use in describing anything piercing or sharp; hence the name was applied to a cocktail of gin and lime juice.

2) Surgeon General Sir Thomas D. Gimlette of the British Navy is reputed to have introduced this drink in an attempt to stave off scurvy in the ranks. Rum is traditionally seen as the spirit of choice of the navy, but the officer ranks often drank gin in order to distinguish themselves from the riff-raff.

Whatever the history, the gimlet remains a popular drink in the gin fraternity today.

There are many variations on this drink and I suspect, like the martini, no two mixologists will make them quite the same. As with martini, vodka is often substituted for the gin.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Plymouth Gin
  • 1 ounce Rose’s lime juice
  • Garnish with lime wedge

Preparation method:

  • Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice.
  • Stir.
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Verdict:

Boom! This drink screams “GIN & LIME” in your mouth. If you like gin, you like lime and you like powerful drinks, then this is for you. Personally, while it was a great wake-up call, it gave me indigestion.


Sapphire Revelation, Cocktail

 - by Dug

I came across this cocktail recipe while looking into Bombay Sapphire Revelation. The Sapphire Revelation was created as part of the collaboration effort that saw these fantastic bottles created.

Anyway, enough of the blather, on with the recipe; I give you the Sapphire Revelation…

Ingredients:

  • 75ml Bombay Sapphire gin
  • 2 drops rose water
  • 2 tsp elderflower liqueur

Preparation method:

  • Stir ingredients together in a mixing glass filled with ice.
  • Strain into chilled martini glass.
  • Garnish with a single rose petal.

Verdict:

The word ‘revelation’ doesn’t begin to do this drink justice. It is an incredibly heady, floral nose-explosion of a drink. Keep your martini, the Sapphire Revelation is an incredible rollercoaster ride of floral notes that keeps on giving.

I didn’t have any Bombay Sapphire in, so I tried it firstly with Juniper Green, and secondly with Blackwood’s. I used St Germain elderflower liqueur and some rosewater I bought on a business trip to Abu Dhabi.

The Juniper Green, carrying a B52-sized payload of Juniper, retains the strong character of the gin, but underpins it with the sweetness of the Elderflower and follows through with a floral tail that smoothes the whole experience into something almost erotic.

The Blackwood’s was a different prospect entirely. The subtlety of the Blackwood’s gin blended sublimely with the floral notes of the rose and elderflower and left me with a glass of religious epiphany. It was almost hallucinogenic in its silky headiness and its floral complexity suffused my entire being in warmth and desire; not bad from a chilled drink.

It is not often that I am aroused by an alcoholic beverage and even less frequently will I admit to it. If martini is the preserve of James Bond, then the Sapphire Revelation absolutely has to be the preserve of Casanova. Bring this one out for Valentine’s Day.

Bombay Sapphire Revelation hits Hong Kong

 - by Dug
Bombay Sapphire Revelation

Bombay Sapphire Revelation

Bombay Sapphire Revelation has arrived at Hong Kong International airport. You may well ask what Bombay Sapphire Revelation actually is; I certainly did, but a little digging revealed all.

At US$200,000 per bottle, Bombay Sapphire Revelation is a very exclusive, limited edition collection of five hand-crafted Bombay Sapphire bottles. They are a collaboration between Bacardi, crystal maker Baccarat, Garrard the jeweler and design talent Karim Rashid, are crafted from crystal and are decorated with diamonds and sapphires.

These astonishing bottles have been touring key international airports since 2008. Anyone buying one does however also get a year’s supply of Bombay Sapphire to accompany their purchase.

Bombay Sapphire also created a new gin-based cocktail for the unveiling back in 2008, the Sapphire Revalation. With the exception of Bombay Sapphire, I have all the ingredients in the house and will be trying it tonight – watch this space.

Bacardi hands Bombay Sapphire account to WPP

 - by Dug

Bacardi has awarded the global advertising contract for the Bombay Sapphire brand to a group of WPP agencies. This will include TV, digital and experiential advertising.

Bombay Sapphire has traditionally handled its marketing internally, although it has worked with agencies in the US and UK. This is the first time the brand has handed the whole global operation to one agency.

Could we see some interesting new thinking behind the marketing of this premium gin? Or will the size of WPP sink the brand in an unimaginative mire? I guess only time will tell.

Gin soaked raisins

 - by Dug

Gin soaked raisins are reputed to be an effective treatment for arthritis. I am not usually one for toting around old wives’ remedies, but this one both intrigued and tickled me.

Golden Raisins

Golden Raisins

Methods vary, but it essentially boils down to this: Take some golden raisins (not the dark variety) and soak them in gin for a week. Some sources say to leave them open to allow the alcohol to evaporate, some say to keep them in a sealed jar. After a week the raisins should have absorbed the gin and have plumped-up.

Once ready, refrigerate and eat nine or ten raisins a day. Reports suggest that symptoms are gradually relieved until after five weeks when the relief reaches maximum effect.

There is speculation abound about what makes this work for people. Some people think it is the sulphur dioxide that is used in preserving the colour of the raisin (given that dark raisins don’t appear to have the same effect). Some people think it might be something to do with the juniper oils in the gin, having been used historically for treatment of inflammation, amongst other things. Others extol the virtues of the grape (and by extension the raisin), claiming that they are crammed with pain reliving and anti-inflammatory chemicals.

I will point out that I have been unable to find any scientific evidence for the efficacy of this treatment, but there is plenty of anecdotal testimony out there. Whether this actually works, is a placebo effect or whether being slightly inebriated makes people feel better about their pain, I simply cannot say. Please don’t take this as medical advice and always consult someone who knows what they are talking about before self medicating like this.

I am thankfully not afflicted with arthritis, so I cannot really try this myself (except maybe trying it on elderly relatives).However, if I do reach a ripe old age and find myself suffering with arthritis, I will be hitting the gin and dried fruit.

Gin & tonic with mint

 - by Dug
Mint Leaves

Mint Leaves

I swear I read about this on the Blackwood’s site (www.blackwoodsgin.com) but I cannot find it now. Whether it is there or not, I tried gin & tonic with mint because of Blackwood’s – you see, one of its botanicals is water mint.

Ingredients:
35ml Blackwood’s Vintage Dry Gin
200ml Fever-Tree tonic water
Ice – lots
2 or 3 mint leaves

Method: Add the ice to a tall glass, add the mint and muddle. Pour the gin over the ice and leave for 30 seconds before adding the tonic water.

Verdict: The mint makes what is a cool, crisp drink into a tremendously cool, crisp drink. You need to be careful not to add too much mint so as to not override the other flavours. But, if you get this right, you will be rewarded with an incredibly refreshing, long drink with uplifting freshness; great for hot summer days.

Juniper Green Organic Gin

 - by Dug

In search of a gin with a bigger juniper hit than the Blackwood’s Vintage, I found myself once again in the booze isle is Sainsbury’s. This time I settled, quite quickly I might add, on Juniper Green Organic Gin.

At £11.07 it was almost disturbingly cheap, but I had read a great review of it over at Gin & Crumpets, so I confidently placed it in the trolley.

Juniper Green Gin

Juniper Green Gin

Juniper Green has a very short list of botanicals, including only four in its makeup: juniper (funnily), angelica root, coriander and savoury. It is a London dry gin and is packaged in a no-frills bottle with an understated label.

The juniper is very evident upon opening the bottle and in a glass it is no different; this is a big gin with a strong juniper component. I might have even found a candidate for combination with the Fenimans tonic water.

Sampled neat, it is a fairly smooth gin and while the juniper hit is big, the other flavours are well balanced. I disagree with a lot of reviews in that I didn’t find it a particularly complex gin; it doesn’t have much in the way of citrus or floral highs but it screams herbaceous.

Next up was the gin & tonic. I read an interesting article on Liquor Snob about a study commissioned by Miller’s Gin where 200 mixologists were asked about how they thought the perfect G&T should be made. It turns out that 44 per cent thought that 25% gin and 75% tonic was the right balance.

Taking this to heart I made up a G&T with Juniper Green and Fentimans to these proportions. I left out the lime as, to my mind, Fentimans is already heavily citrusy (is that even a real word?). The juniper of the Juniper Green was in evidence and wasn’t totally overridden by the tonic water, and I suppose it was quite pleasant but the strength of the tonic made it into a different drink – it wasn’t a G&T to my mind. I think I might need to consign the Fentimans to the “never-buy-again” category.

So, I tried another Juniper Green G&T with faithful ol’ Schweppes tonic water (and lime). This was more the ticket; a big, clean, crisp gin and tonic with more subtlety than expected. The tonic seems to drag out some sweeter, floral notes. All-in-all, this was a very satisfying drink.

Juniper Green Organic London Dry Gin is a great gin! In many ways I am excited by this find; It is like I have discovered some sort of secret – I have that feeling that you get when you find something with the wrong price-tag on and you end up paying half of what you were expecting. It is a big, bold, well-balanced gin and is fabulously priced. I can see this becoming a common sight in my drinks cabinet.

Update – 18/07/2010

Today I tried the Juniper Green with Fever-Tree tonic and I am in love. This makes for an astounding G&T!

Fentimans Tonic Water

 - by Dug

Yesterday I spotted some Fentimans Tonic Water in the delicatessen near where I work, so I jumped at the chance to pick up a few bottles.

Firstly, I was a little confused by the bottling; some were in brown bottles and some were in green. After some judicious label inspection, I came to the conclusion that there was just some inconsistency in packaging.

Secondly, I nearly coughed-up my own pelvis when I found out the price; at £1 per bottle, I was about to fork out four of my hard-earned English pounds on half a litre of tonic water. Now, Chandos Delicatessen isn’t cheap; in fact I would go as far as saying it is eye-wateringly expensive and situates itself well within the ripping-off-the-middle-classes niche that so many trendy little places like it inhabit. But it is within 20 yards of where I work, it sells sandwiches (which aren’t cheap either) and I am lazy.

Fentimans Tonic Water

Fentimans Tonic Water

Anyway, back to the Fentimans Tonic Water. I got back to my desk and ate my tasty (but overpriced) steak pie and cracked open a bottle of (overpriced) tonic. I will hasten to add that you can get this stuff for 60p per bottle online and £1 doesn’t appear to be indicative of its retail price.

My first impressions were those of shock and mild horror. The stuff is incredibly lemony – too lemony – in fact it is Lemongrass that is providing the overriding taste. It sort of tastes like posh lemonade (the harsh lemony stuff, not the sweet cloying type) but the quinine gives it a chemically post-mix taste. At £1 a bottle, I was heartily disappointed.

But, its main purpose is to be mixed with gin and as I learned with the Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water, first impressions can be deceptive and I had to reserve judgment until I had used the Fentimans for its intended purpose, to make a G&T.

It is at this point, I hit a quandary; I finished my Plymouth Gin a couple of nights ago and I strongly suspected that the other gin in the cupboard, the Blackwood’s Gin, was going to be too subtle for the rampant lemonyness of the Fentimans Tonic Water. I felt I needed something with a little more juniper hit.

I have a bottle of Oxley in the cupboard, but it is the 75th bottle they produced and I am loath to open it. Do I open the Oxley to try with the Fenimans or do I keep it? If I do open it, it wouldn’t last forever, but then, gin is created to be drunk. I could keep this bottle and buy another, but that wouldn’t solve my immediate problem and it is £45 a bottle. What to do?

I left the Oxley alone and made a G&T with the Blackwood’s and I was right.

Firstly, the bottles are only 125ml, so with a 40ml shot of gin (I said I like them large) the thing was 25% gin, but it wasn’t too unpleasant. Note the emphasis on the word “too”. At this strength, the gin was in dominance, although the overpowering lemongrass wasn’t far away and it was still fairly astringent in the mouth. Adding a second bottle of the Fentimans was a mistake; all I could tast was the tonic water and it still didn’t fill my glass.

So as predicted, with the Blackwood’s, the Fenitmans wasn’t very good at all and with that inside me, I am not driving to the co-op to buy a bottle of Plymouth – don’t drink and drive.

I have one more bottle of Fentimans Tonic Water, so I will buy another bottle of gin (maybe Plymouth, or maybe something new) to try it with, but I think it will take a very big gin indeed to make a good gin and tonic with this stuff.

Update – 17/07/2010

As I wrote up in my review of Juniper Green Organic Gin, I tried this big gin with the last bottle of Fentimans. It was a pleasing drink but it wasn’t a G&T to my mind. The Fentimans contributed too much to the drink and the boldness of the Juniper Green was still playing second fiddle to the overpowering Fentimans.

Ginness, Cocktail

 - by Dug

Okay, this is an odd one. I found out about Ginness from this, well,rather eclectic blog. Have a look; there is all manner of stuff there: http://havingapoo.blogspot.com/

The premise behind the Ginness is a simple one; take half a pint of Guinness and add to it a Gin & Tonic. Not to be put off by the prejudice of unconventionality, I decided to put on a brave face and give it a go.

Here is the recipe, straight from its inventor…

Ingredients:
• 4 ice cubes
• 2 oz Hendricks gin
• 4 oz Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water
• 10 oz Guinness Original Stout
• Lime wedge for garnish

Preparation method

1. Gently pour Guinness into a straight pint glass.
2. Place the ice cubes in a tall, narrow glass.
3. Add the Hendricks and the tonic water onto the ice cubes.
4. Stir gin mixture well with a long spoon.
5. Upend gin into the pint glass with the Guinness.
6. Garnish with lime wedge and serve immediately.
7. Rinse and repeat.

This wasn’t the abomination that I initially thought it might be. The inherent bitterness of the Guinness blends well with the natural bitterness of the G&T, but the freshness and cleanliness also lift the Guinness to less cloying, lighter heights. The citrus and quinine cut through the heavy stout, cleaning the palate as one drinks. Personally, I would like to see this served in volumes smaller than a pint as it does get a little heavy toward the end, but the result is a strangely compelling drink.

You might not go back for a second, but at least give it a go.