Tag: gin

G&T weather

Saturday, 21 April, 2018 0 Comments

It’s going to be warm today. Up around 28C, they say. Ideal for gin & tonic and the shops are filled with the same; now that gin has become the drink du jour. A local outfit is selling both Roku and Sipsmith, the best of Britain and Japan, as it were. In Japanese, roku means “six” and Suntory’s premium gin contains six quintessentially Japanese botanicals: green tea in the form of sencha and gyokuro; cherry, as blossom and leaf and then yuzu citrus and Japanese pepper.

We invested in Sipsmith, which is distilled in London by Sam Galsworthy and Fairfax Hall. They called their distillery Sipsmith because they see themselves as “sip-smiths”, just like writers are regarded as wordsmiths: “I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race,” wrote James Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Galsworthy and Hall forge Sipsmith and their smithery is a mix of philosophy and artisanal delight made with 10 botanicals: Macedonian juniper berries, Seville orange peel, Spanish lemon peel, Chinese cassia bark, Madagascan cinnamon bark, Bulgarian coriander seed, Spanish ground almond, Belgian angelica, Spanish liquorice and Italian orris.

The result is floral and mellow and splendid. The bold juniper is matched by an invigorating freshness and there’s sweetness and dryness in that mix of lemon and orange. This is gin at its finest. Try it straight, to savour the balance, before adding the tonic, ideally, to complete the London picture, BTW.

Roku and Sipsmith

Cheers! Today is the 92nd birthday of a woman who likes to take gin with lunch.


Gin of the week: Helsinki Dry Gin

Saturday, 9 December, 2017 0 Comments

The Helsinki Distilling company was founded in 2013 in the capital of Finland by three entrepreneurs: Kai Kilpinen, Mikko Mykkänen and Séamus Holohan. Thanks to them, Helsinki’s first distillery for over a century is located in Teurastamo, a former slaughterhouse that has become central to the city’s food culture.

Along with akvavit and applejack, Kilpinen, Mykkänen and Holohan also produce liquors, including the very tempting-sounding Puolukka Gin-Likööri, but pure gin is their premium product: “Helsinki Dry Gin is an artisanal, premium gin distilled with nine choicest hand-picked botanicals including the Arctic lingonberry. Blended with the purest Finnish water, Helsinki Dry Gin is full-bodied and balanced, with aromas of the Nordic forest and floral citrus flavours.”

We purchased bottle number 33-717 to celebrate Finland’s 100th birthday on Wednesday and everything about the experience, from removing the stylish glass stopper to inhaling the first rush of timberland aromatics, was sublime. As this Gin Foundry review from 2015 puts it:

“Helsinki Gin has bright and light floral aromas of citrus, rose, fennel and a verdant juniper on the nose, which are echoed upfront on the palate. The piney elements of juniper come to the fore alongside sharp coriander, presenting an unmistakably ginny profile. However, lingonberries and fennel take it in new directions while a delicate citrus zing balances out the gin. The finish is evocative of walking in a deep Nordic forest with mossy herbaceous tones emerging.”

Helsinki Dry Gin

Note: Helsinki Dry Gin is the sixth in a gin series that began with Blackwater No. 5, was followed by Friedrichs and continued with Dingle, Bulldog and The Botanist.


Gin of the week: The Botanist

Thursday, 17 August, 2017 0 Comments

The very talented Robert Macfarlane is presently “Reader in Literature and the Geohumanities in the Faculty of English” at the University of Cambridge. He’s also a prolific tweeter of beautiful words and his pick yesterday, “islomania“, has proven to be hugely popular: “the condition of finding islands irresistibly, even obsessively, fascinating & appealing (Lawrence Durrell).”

For drinkers of single malt whisky, the Hebridean island of Islay is irresistibly, even obsessively, fascinating & appealing. The names on the bottles stimulate the palate: Ardbeg, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila and, of course, the mighty Laphroaig. But those canny distillers know which way the wind blows, which is why they’ve boarded the gin train, so to speak, with The Botanist.

This is a classically floral gin but with a character that evokes bogs, turf and Atlantic surf. The Joycean drinker would say that it reveals itself as a nostrilfill of meadowsweet, a tonguetaste of purity, a mouthfeel of spice markets and a throatfinish of agreeable astringency. Upon deeper reflection, there’s juniper, ginger, turmeric, citrus, orris root, coriander seed, cassia bark, rose, cucumber and blackcurranty things.

Botanist gin

Note: The Botanist is the fifth in a gin series that began with Blackwater No. 5, was followed by Friedrichs and continued with Dingle and Bulldog.


Gin of the week: Bulldog

Wednesday, 2 August, 2017 0 Comments

The expert’s nose will detect floral notes with hints of lavender, lime, orange and, of course, juniper, which is sourced from Tuscany, no less. The piney nature of that same juniper is pronounced on the palate and it’s complemented with an array of botanicals, including orris, cassia, liquorice and almonds. But so much for the ordinary. Bulldog adds the extraordinary in the form of the longan, a small fruit native to south-east Asia. It’s common in traditional medicine and in the soups of contemporary Asian cuisine.

This is an elegant gin. Global in structure, Bulldog is essentially British in substance. The subliminal connection with Churchill cannot be overlooked and Bulldog is an ideal base for a Churchill Martini. Ingredients: six parts Bulldog, one part dry vermouth. Method: Pour ingredients into mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with an olive or two. Legend has it that Sir Winston liked his martinis served without vermouth, and he’s quoted as saying of the cocktail, “Glance at the vermouth bottle briefly while pouring the juniper distillate freely.”

Bulldog

Note: Bulldog is the fourth in a gin series that began with Blackwater No. 5, was followed by Friedrichs and continued with Dingle.


Gin of the week: Dingle

Wednesday, 26 July, 2017 0 Comments

Remember the real estate mantra? Location, location, location. And when it comes to location, the town of Dingle has it tripled. Perched on the edge of the Atlantic in Ireland’s southwest, picturesque Dingle looks out across the water to the Blasket Islands and further beyond, America. Geography is destiny and the locals know how to make full use of their good luck. By the way, although Dingle is one of Ireland’s largest Gaeltacht towns, its people voted to retain the name Dingle rather than the officially sanctioned — and signposted — Gaelige of “An Daingean”. Branding is destiny, too.

Would all those Dingle tourists like to take away a bottle of gin infused with wild Kerry flowers and hints of rugged Kingdom heather? Liam La Hart and Oliver Hughes, founders of the hugely successful Porterhouse Brewery chain, thought so and thus was Dingle Gin initiated and distilled. The juniper element is pure London Dry and the Irish botanicals include rowan berries, fuchsia and hawthorn. Present, too, are angelica and coriander. In every sense, this is a glocal gin.

Jette Virdi, who describes herself as “a food stylist, workshop host and a mentor for big hearted creatives”, drinks her Dingle Gin with thyme and tonic. Sláinte!

Note: Dingle is the third in a gin series that began with Blackwater No. 5 and continued with Friedrichs.


Gin of the week: Friedrichs

Wednesday, 19 July, 2017 0 Comments

Shouldn’t that be “Friedrich’s”? Asks the punctuation pedant. Actually, no. You see, Friedrichs Dry Gin is German and the German language doesn’t do the possessive form as English does by suffixing a morpheme, represented orthographically as ‘s.

Geographically, Friedrichs comes from Steinhagen, which is located on the southern slope of the legendary Teutoburg Forest, and the town is famous for its Steinhäger, a Schnapps flavoured with juniper berries and traditionally sold in long brown earthenware bottles. Given the current popularity of gin, it’s not surprising that the distillers of Steinhagen put 2 + 2 together and came up with Friedrichs Dry Gin, and the bottle design they picked is meant to reflect the tradition of the old earthenware ones. Obviously, optics are just as important as orthography on a crowded spirits shelf.

And the gin itself? On the nose, juniper takes a background positon, surprisingly, given the Steinhagen juniper history. The more prominent botanicals include orange blossoms, coriander, angelica, rosemary and a hint of the laraha citrus fruit, which is grown on the island of Curaçao. In other words, Friedrichs is floral and herbal. On the palate, the taste is herbaceous and earthy and green. Taken straight on ice, the orange aroma fades and the juniper comes to the fore. This is a intricate gin and a welcome addition to the family.

Friedrichs Dry Gin


Gin of the week: Blackwater No.5

Thursday, 13 July, 2017 1 Comment

Famed for its salmon runs, the Blackwater River rises on the Cork-Kerry border and flows east into Waterford before entering the Celtic Sea area of the Atlantic Ocean at Youghal. Along its meander, it passes by the town of Cappoquin, home of the Blackwater Distillery, which produces Blackwater No. 5, a recent addition to the Irish gin spectrum.

Before the botanicals, the optics. The elegant rectangular bottle comes with an embedded map of the region. This attractive detail is an argument for repurposing the bottle as a paperweight or a container for a sprig of juniper. And talking of juniper, it’s very up-front here, along with hints of lemon balm, lavender and lots of other delicate botanicals. The result is a subtle, serious gin that rewards regular tasting. Those looking for a refreshing twist on the traditional G&T might consider a decent measure of Blackwater No. 5 with a slice of pink grapefruit and a top-up of Poacher’s Well tonic water from nearby Wexford. Now we’re hurlin’, as they say in the sunny South-East.

Blackwater No.5


Life and death in the Gulf Stream

Friday, 27 January, 2017 0 Comments

Life: Crew members of the US Coast Guard cutter Cushing from Atlantic Beach in North Carolina have released 27 “rehabilitated sea turtles” into the Gulf Stream. The turtles had been treated for “cold water shock” they suffered earlier this winter.

Death: Further down the coast, in Key West, Ernest Hemingway created the “Death in the Gulf Stream” cocktail in 1937. Here is how the great man himself mixed it:

“Take a tall thin water tumbler and fill it with finely cracked ice. Lace this broken debris with four good purple splashes of Angostura, add the juice and crushed peel of green lime and fill glass almost full with Holland Gin… no sugar, no fancying. It’s strong it’s bitter, but so is English ale strong and bitter, in many cases. We don’t add sugar to ale, and we don’t need sugar in a Death in the Gulf Stream… Its tartness and its bitterness are its chief charm. It is reviving and refreshing; it cools the blood and inspires renewed interest in food, companions and life.”

Drinks links: Angostura bitters, Holland Gin

This excellent illustration of “Death in The Gulf Stream” by Yoko Ueta is from The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris by Colin Peter Field.

Death in the Gulf Stream


Short story: The first of the day

Friday, 28 June, 2013 0 Comments

“Morning, Bill.”
“The usual, Sir?”
“That’s right. And lots of Hendricks.”

Is there a word in English, or any other language for that matter, that describes the sensation of anticipation felt on the top lip deemed to be the recipient of gin, tonic and lime.

“Here you are, Sir,” said Bill.

The silver liquid flows, courses, sluices through his system.
Outside, it’s a hot pulsing city morning, but inside, he is all cool silver and steel.
Whether in Mumbai, Mombasa, Madrid, Munich or while watching the masses stroll around St. Mark’s, it always tasted just right.

“Thanks, Bill.”
And he left a note on the counter before heading out.

“See you at lunch time, Sir,” said Bill

G&T


The Botanist: Gin from… Scotland

Thursday, 24 May, 2012

New in the Rainy Day drinks cabinet is the latest creation from the island of Islay, a dry gin called “The Botanist“. The aroma is classically gin floral but with a Hebridean character that evokes hazy hills, bogs, turf and Atlantic surf. Upon sipping, The Botanist reveals itself as a tonguetaste of purity, a mouthfeel […]

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