I have read some fairly opposing opinions about Bulldog gin and it has never really been high on my list of gins to try. However, it was on offer in Waitrose and my weakness for discounted gin won me over.
Bulldog gin is the creation of a former investment banker, Anshuman Vohra. It’s far from a unique story but Bulldog was launched in 2007, long before the recent gin revival and the raft of new gin launches.
The gin is a quadruple-distilled London dry gin, distilled under contract by G&J Greenall and bottled at 40% ABV. One of the many things that makes Bulldog stand out from the crowd is the rather curious (have Hendrick’s trademarked that yet?) botanical list; there are twelve…
- French Lavender
- Chinese lotus leaves
- Turkish white poppy
- Dragon eye
There are three stand-out botanicals there. The Dragon Eye, which is related to the Lychee, is listed on the Bulldog site as being used in Chinese medicine to promote sexual endurance and calm the nerves (amongst other things). Lotus leaves, apparently, add a “perfume” flavour and are used in Chinese medicine to invigorate the blood. Poppy is listed as being used as a mild sedative (although opium comes from poppies and is more than a mild sedative). All-in-all, this combination seems to be angling at stimulating in some areas and claiming in others. It also claims to be Vegan-friendly & Kosher (although I wonder if most gins can claim this).
The branding seems to back-up the vaguely sexually-orientated theme hinted at by the botanicals; it comes in a shiny black bottle with a studded collar around the neck and would look right at home on the back-bar of a fetish club. The other part of the branding is quintessentially British; the website is plastered with Union Jack flags (although rendered in purple, black and white) and it cites Winston Churchill as the “independent spirit” that was the inspiration behind the name. It is an odd dichotomy.
The Bulldog bottle is topped with a wide-gauge cap and I was expecting an equally wide opening. However, on uncorking, the bottle has a conventionally-sized bottle-top, which gives is a strangely pinched look.
The aroma of this gin is fairly creamy with a strong undertone of alcohol. The juniper is restrained.
Tasting it neat is rewarding. The creaminess of the smell follows through into a creamy taste. There is a warm spiciness and a nicely-rounded sweet fruitiness to this gin. Rather a good sipping gin all told.
Mixing Bulldog with a G&T (Fever-Tree at 3:1) is equally rewarding but very different from the neat gin. Some gins seem to translate unchanged into the G&T and others are transformed – this is one that transforms. It’s fruity and floral with a mild juniper profile (the softness of the juniper is reminiscent of several Scottish gins) and the aftertaste is long and herbal. The spiciness of the neat gin doesn’t seem to make it into the G&T and, for a London Dry, it is surprisingly sweet.
I actually rather like it. It has a powerful flavour profile and while it has some quirks and foibles, but it isn’t utterly dominated by them. It’s fairly balanced and while the juniper profile isn’t strong, it is balanced about right with the soft, rounded fruitiness of the other botanicals.
I can imagine this working well with various fruity cocktails and I need to try it in a negroni to see how that sweetness and fruitiness blends with the Campari and sweet vermouth.