Month: November 2010

Tanqueray Rangpur gin

 - by Dug

Last weekend, @BlackPlastic asked me, via twitter, if I had ever tried Tanqueray Rangpur gin.

Tanqueray Rangpur

Tanqueray Rangpur

Now, before continuing, I feel I need to explain the seemingly misleading Tanqueray link above; in spite of Tanqueray’s accessibility statement professing that they have “designed this website to be accessible to as many users as possible“, it is in fact, an unutterable train-wreck of accessibility compliance. I cannot link to the Tanqueray Rangpur page because it is part of an inaccessible Flash journey, so you are on your own once you get there.

Also, the website says the this gin is only for sale in the United States. Quite frankly, the whole Tanqueray site is a bit crap.

Anyway, on with the story.

I confessed to @BlackPlastic that I hadn’t tried it, but that it was firmly on my “to try” list. A little over 36 hours later, I found myself on a train, inbound to London Paddington; with a little planning, I swung by a Waitrose before jumping onto the tube, to pick up a bottle of this exotic-sounding gin, four bottles of Fever-Tree tonic water and some limes.

One working day and several meetings later, we found ourselves, along with @BeccaJB, in the basement of the Atlantis Building pillaging for glasses and ice.

Before we move on to the tasting notes, let’s have a little run-down on the gin itself.

Weighing in at 41.3% ABV, it is no weakling of the gin world, but it is a distilled gin. As far as I can work out, all the botanicals are added during the various distillation phases and it is only the sweetener that is added afterwards that places this gin outside of the London dry gin category.

Rangpur

Rangpur

Tanqueray Rangpur’s unique selling point is the Rangur botanical. Often misleadingly called Rangpur limes, these citrus fruit are not true limes, but a hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin orange. Originating in India, they seem to have a different name in each country and are becoming increasingly popular in Florida as a decorative potted plant.  Outside of the US, it is primarily used as rootstock, presumably having a degree of hardiness that stems (forgive the pun) from its hybrid nature.

The rangpur tree looks very similar to the lime tree, but its fruit are round and orange in colour. The fruit tastes very much like a lime, it is highly acidic but it is as juicy as an orange.

The exact botanical list of this gin are hard to come by, but the following come readily to hand…

  • Juniper
  • Rangpur
  • Bay leaves
  • Ginger
  • Corriander

Tanqueray Rangpur is bottled in the traditional Tanqueray bottle shape, but is a lighter shade of green; almost lime green – can you detect a theme? It is screw-capped, so won’t be delivering that nice squeek-pop combo that corked spirits provide.

Upon giving the opened bottle a quick sniff, I was rewarded with a very fresh, yet mellow, lime aroma. You could tell it was gin, but the lime was greater than the juniper.

Trying it neat saw a pattern start to build up; there was an almost overwhelming, yet still mellow, taste of lime that was underpinned by juniper. Normally you would expect that quantity of lime to be aggressive and harsh, but the Tanqueray Rangpur manages to keep it smooth and gentle, yet still strong. The juniper blends very well with taste of the rangpur – almost too well, in that it combines and almost gets lost under the velvet-gloved lime-avalanche.

Adding a dash of water yielded much of the same.

So far, so… interesting. It was time for the tonic water and given that Fever-Tree tonic water doesn’t dominate the gin it is paired with, I had a suspicion that the result was going to be distinctly limey.

I wasn’t wrong.

While pleasing to drink, this is not really a G&T as we know it and I doubt it will appeal a great deal to the traditional G&T drinker. The tonic adds some extra bite, but the lime really does still dominate. It is a very refreshing and crisp drink with some of what you expect from a G&T. Attack, body and tail were all dominated by lime, but there is a sweetness that peaks in the attack and fades to a more typical G&T biting tail. Adding a wedge of lime really completed the holistic lime experience, although it was better without.

I wouldn’t call it a vodka-gin, but the Juniper loading isn’t huge – more of a medium payload. I think Tanqueray Rangpur might be trying to appeal to the gin-drinking equivalent of the flavoured vodka fraternity. It may well be a good introduction to gin for those who have yet to take the plunge, but I am not convinced it will become a mainstay of the traditional gin drinker.

Update

Mixing equal parts of Tanqueray Rangpur and Aldi’s Oliver Cromwell 1599 makes an excellent G&T when mixed with Fever-Tree tonic water. There is no need for lime (provided by the Rangpur) and the Cromwell delivers a juniper boost. I am not sure that I want to get into gin blending as there are plenty of fine gins out there that stand well alone, but it is one way of tempering that lime.

Are Blackwood in trouble again?

 - by Dug
Blackwood's Gin

Blackwood's Gin - A sinking ship?

The Blackwood brand has been dogged by problems from its inception. Originally set up to build Shetland’s first whisky distillery in 2002, the project faced severe delays and stock theft. In May 2008, Blackwood Distillers went into administration and then in August of the same year, were forced into Liquidation. A new company, Catfirth Ltd, was set up to continue the  whisky distillery project, and is part-funded by a project to mature whisky from mainland Scotland, in Shetland.

The white spirit brands that were produced by Blackwood were handed to Blavod Extreme Spirits in a seven-year licensing deal. This includes the Blackwood’s vintage dry gin I reviewed back in July.

With a rocky and painful start in life, the brand is now facing new issues. The domain that hosts their website (blackwoodsgin.com) expired on the 2nd November this year. Currently the site displays a standard Tucows domain-squatting page. The domain appears to be registered to London-based digital agency, Airlock.

Is this a sign of things to come for Blackwood’s? Has Airlock forgotten to re-register the domain after the initial four years? Or is it just an admin error at Blackwood’s?

Whatever the answer, it is bad news for an already beleaguered brand.

Fever-Tree declared Cool Brand

 - by Dug
Cool Brands Award

Cool Brands Award

For the third year running, Fever-Tree have been awarded Cool Brand Status, along with the likes of Aston Martin, Green & Black’s and Apple.

The awards are judged on style, innovation, desirability by canvassing experts and consumers to produce a benchmark of cool. There is no application to this process; all are considered and you are either “cool” or you are not.

The fact that Fever-Tree has been dubbed a Cool Brand for three years on the trot is testament to the quality of their product and the tastes of the wider public. Their premium tonic water is just spectacular and makes a tremendous G&T; it is widely considered to be the best tonic water on the market and is recommended by many gin brands (Sipsmith included).

In celebration of this, Fever-Tree are giving you the chance to win a CoolBrands book, which would be a fine adornment to any coffee table. You can enter the cometition here: http://www.fever-tree.com/competition.php

Aldi gin – Oliver Cromwell 1599

 - by Dug

A little while ago, a particular gin was brought to my attention; Aldi have produced a premium gin and it has won a rather prestigous award. Oliver Cromwell 1599 premium gin won the 2010 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), Gin & Vodka Association trophy – two months before it launched. A full list of awards and their winners can be found over at BarLifeUK.

Oliver Cromwell 1599 Gin

Oliver Cromwell 1599 Gin

I find it rather amusing that this gin is named after the famous Parliamentarian, Oliver Cromwell (as well as the year of his birth). This famous puritan was rather well-known for being a bit of a kill-joy; while ruling as Lord Protector, Oli managed to close down inns and theatres all over the country, banned make-up, Christmas and most sports, as well as being savage toward the Irish, massacring thousands of them following the sieges of Drogheda and Wexford.

All-in-all, Oliver Cromwell was a warty gimp that changed the face of England through a series of wars and repression. The saying “warts and all” is actually attributed to Cromwell who instructed a portrait painter to paint him faithfully and not flatteringly.

Anyway, enough about Cromwell. As a London dry gin, it has a guarantee of a certain underlying quality but its botanical list is hard to come by – although the label proclaims some of the usual flavours. I would have assumed that it was distilled by J & G Greenall, but it appears to be a product of The Netherlands.

It is sold in 50cl bottles and retails at £7.99. Although in a smaller bottle it still comes in at the lower price-bracket: £12 on the 75cl or £16 on the litre.

The sniff-test was rewarding; loads and loads of juniper streaming out of the bottle-top.

The initial neat tasting revealed a powerful but not particularly smooth gin. Is carries a tremendous load of juniper; almost too much in that it overrides absolutely everything else. It is powerful in the mouth and leaves you reeling – almost like being beaten with a branch from a juniper bush.

Mixing up a gin and tonic drove off heaps of powerful juniper aromas. Using either Schweppes or Fever-Tree tonic water produced an intense G&T that saw the tonic water take a back-seat to the indomitable power of the juniper. There are very few citrus or spice notes in the attack, middle or finish and nothing to round it out; to my palette, this gin is too potent and too simple.

In an attempt to provide more subtlety to the drinking experience, I reached for one of my few remaining bottles of Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic water. I also dropped a hearty slice of lemon into the glass after giving it a little squeeze to liberate more juice and oil. The added citrus and floral flavours made this a more palatable G&T but the juniper still rode proud at the head of the column. A dash of Angostura aromatic bitters added some spice to round off the experience into something a little more like what I expect from a gin and tonic, but while balanced, the taste was fierce and potent, like drinking concentrated G&T.

While it is hard to argue with over 300 experienced judges and the chemical analysis of the IWSC, I personally can’t see how this gin beat the likes of Sipsmith and Whitley Neill. It is too single-minded in its pursuit of of juniper.