By now, it is well known in the spirits world that Gin has made a major comeback – and how! With an explosion of distilleries launching gin expressions, from classic London Dry style to some highly creative concoctions, using different ingredients and methods from distilled, vapor, vacuum, infused… there are so many choices!
Once and a while, our merry malt meanders bring us to explore spirits beyond Whisky alone… Originally intended for a larger more sociable gathering, our Bombay Malt & Cigar lads and I kept to our very tiny tested “bubble” (COVID times and all) to crack open an interesting quartet featuring:
- Portobella Road No 171 London Dry 42%
- Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish 43%
- Brockmans 40%
- Sacred No 205 – 5509 London Dry 43%
Before we got down to a tasting, we whet our whistles with a chilled gin martini… a most civilized way to begin…. then did wee pours neat before considering how best to enjoy that particular gin.
First up was Portobello Road No 171 London Dry 42%
What did we think?
Such a classic London Dry! A nice clean aroma of juniper, pepper, and coriander continued through on the palate, joined by fresh citrus and closing with herbal and slightly peppery notes.
It struck me this would work exceedingly well in a Martini with a citrus twist or a classic gin tonic.
The 171 is a “true” London Dry gin, part of a line-up of spirits from The Distillery London which was started on Portobella Road, four friends in 2011, who now run The Ginstitute with a distillery, tasting and creating experiences, restaurant, hotel, and shop.
What more do we know? Their Portobello Road No 171 takes a traditional approach with nine botanicals. What do they have to say?
On the front of the palate, Portobello Road Gin has a generous slug of juniper, the mid-palate has a sustained, fresh citrus character from our use of lemon, bitter orange and coriander, which then develops into a sweet peppery finish, achieved by the use of liquorice and nutmeg. Best served simply with tonic and a twist of pink grapefruit!
Would we agree? Absolutely!
Next came Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish 43%
What a contrast to the 1st! This one was bursting with fresh floral notes, sweet citrus pomelo, rose rooafza, herbal, light licorice candies, utterly enchanting.
As for the palate? Also a contrast – here is where the clear gunpowder tea quality reveals itself, joined by fresh herbs, sweet peppers… Complex yet effervescent – an absolute delight.
As I sniffed and sipped, I considered… how best to enjoy? As simple as possible – just a cube of ice. In many ways, this reminded me of a favorite Munich gin – Whobertus – another which needs no embellishment.
The concept behind this gin is Ireland meets Asia…. with founder/creator PJ Rigney setting out to create a unique gin combining gunpowder tea with oriental botanicals in his shed near lake Drumshanbo.
What more do we know? The folks at Drumshanbo, share an interesting tale – including the ‘trail’ to explore the different elements used in this gin here!
This was followed by the very berry Brockmans 40%
Woooah! Crazy berry aromas – mostly black currents, almost overly sweet. The first sip was equally bursting with berries – raspberry joining the black currents… in short, there was nothing subtle about this one!
So far it was an evening of contrasts – classic London Dry to a crisp exquisite floral number to the almost overwhelmingly berry Brockmans.
As I considered the best way to serve, I thought of something akin to a Poinsettia -typically a combination of vodka, prosecco, cranberry juice… just in this case the berry quality could come from the gin!
What more do we know? Well the folks at Brockmans set out to delibertly make a “properly improper” gin bursting with dark berries. On this score, they succeeded!
Here is what they have to say about their gin:
Brockmans unique recipe of naturally grown aromatic botanicals are steeped in pure grain spirit for many hours to release their natural oils and aromas. The more traditional notes of gin are combined with a refreshing influence of citrus and aromatic wild berries. Bulgarian coriander plays its part, providing an aromatic, gingery orange top note. This blends perfectly with the soft and rounded harmonies of blueberries and blackberries, all of which is supported by the bottom note of Tuscan juniper berries. Dry, bittersweet Valencian orange peel elongates the deeper tones and gives an intensely smooth finish.
Thereafter, Brockmans is slowly distilled in a 100 year old traditional copper still, where we capture the heart of the gin distillation. The distinctive gin notes derived from Brockmans unique recipe deliver an exquisite intensely smooth gin, with a uniquely defining sensual taste experience.
Indeed… cocktails would be the way to go here….
We closed our gin tasting with Sacred No 205 – 5509 London Dry 43%
With this gin, we returned to a London dry style – greeted with a clean, sweet perfume, a hint dusty citrus… It was absolutely lovely on the palate, subtle white pepper, a nice balance of fruits… closed on a refreshing citrus note – perhaps grapefruit? When we returned, it was the aromas of juicy fruit gum!
As for the serve? I would recommend an elegant straight dry Martini….
From Highgate in London, distiller Ian Hart founded Sacred Spirits in 2008 with vacuum distillation (vs Pot Still). Here is what they have to say about this gin:
Our classic London Dry Gin. Each of the organically sourced botanicals is distilled under vacuum to create a fresh, creamy, beautifully balanced gin like no other. Made with fresh cut organic Spanish & Italian Pink Grapefruit, Sweet Orange, Lemon & Lime, perfectly offset by Tuscan & Bulgarian Juniper, Angelica & Orris Root and rounded off by subtle Cinnamon & Frankincense (Boswellia Sacra) from the Sultan of Oman.
All I can say is this is one fine gin… and at GBP 30 still a great deal for quality.
Sometimes its good to shake (or stir!) things up!
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