St. George Gins

Years ago a fabulous friend and former Whisky Lady came for a visit to Mumbai from the US… she brought along some treats!

These California beauties patiently waited for the right opportunity… cracked open to help bring in the new year, in hopes that 2022 would break the COVID cycle!

So what do we know? Well… this isn’t our 1st brush with St. George… We first explored this American craft distillery’s Single Malt – more specifically from their Lot 16. It was a positive experience and I was certainly looking forward to discovering more from these folks.

Enter these St. George Gins – Terroir, Botanical and Dry Rye

Rather than detailed tasting notes, I’ve shared overall impressions…

St. George Terroir Gin 45%

Love this one! It has a fabulously fresh and clean quality – like stepping into a forest during a spring rain. Could completely catch the fir, sage, sweet bay leaf… intoxicating in a delightful herbal way.

Personally, I preferred this one straight on the rocks… letting the chilled water heighten the bright cheerful experience.

What more do we know?

Forest-driven and earthy, Terroir is a profoundly aromatic gin with a real sense of place. We wanted to make a spirit that conveyed what we love about the monumental groves of trees, moist and misty glens, and sun-baked chaparral of our favorite local parklands.

With Terroir Gin, we try to take you there with Douglas fir, California bay laurel, coastal sage, and other evocative botanicals. 


St. George Botanivore Gin 45%

Super sweet and summery, this gin is amped up on botanicals – a cornucopia of scents.

If Terroir was a cool fresh spring rain, Botanivore was hot summer sunshine, bursting with a garden of herbs, flowers and spices….

For me, this one worked well with a slightly bitter tonic which acts as a nice counter-point to the sweet abundance of aromas. I also suspect it could make a mighty fine dry martini. 

What more do we know?

Botanivore, our “botanical eater,” is comprised of 19 different botanicals working in concert. Think of a meadow in bloom—herbaceous, fresh, and elegant.

What’s in it? Count with us… angelica root, bay laurel, bergamot peel, black peppercorn, caraway, cardamom, cilantro, cinnamon, citra hops, coriander, dill seed, fennel seed, ginger, juniper berries, lemon peel, lime peel, orris root, Seville orange peel, star anise!


St. George Dry Rye Gin 45%

OK… This one surprised me. I don’t quite know what I was expecting but imagined it would have just a hint of rye? I certainly hadn’t dreamt of a full-force rye battling with juniper, a curious cross-breed which is neither rye nor gin!

As I sipped and sniffed, I found the Rye side was quite grain forward. Yet it was paired with equally bold gin elements – clear juniper, black peppercorns, citrust twist… 

I confess that I struggled with the Rye Gin. When I first tried it, I had only tonic water and soda as mix options. Frankly either ocmbination didn’t quite work for me.

If anything this made me think of a Canadian rye & ginger ale. So many days later, I pulled Dry Rue out to try again.. this time with the right mix! 

The result? Much better! It was still curious but worked well with ice and ginger ale – something brighter than a standard Rye and deeper than a typical Gin.

The folks at St. George also recommend using it as a base for an Old Fashioned or Negroni. Hmm… perhaps the next try!

What more do we know?

A base of 100% pot-distilled rye makes this a gin for whiskey lovers—and for gin im-purists willing to take a walk on the rye side.

Think genever, then think again—and brace yourself for a gin with structure, spice, and an impossibly rich mouthfeel.

…for Dry Rye Gin we chose just six botanical ingredients: Juniper berries are the star here (50% more than in either of our other two gins), complemented by black peppercorn, caraway, coriander, grapefruit peel, lime peel—which were all selected to play up the peppery nature of juniper that we love so much.

Once again, many thanks to our lovely lady (you know who you are!). We miss you like mad!

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Gin O’Clock in Goa

So there we were, kicking back and relaxing in Goa… in a beautiful old Portuguese villa… just a couple of Whisky Ladies and I. Our plan was to have a small get away and finally make a trek together to Paul John Distillery in South Goa.

But before that, before the sun slipped away and we headed out to dinner, out came a few  gin minis… well timed for “Gin O’Clock“.

  • Da Mhile – From Wales, I purchased this pair years ago in Winnipeg…
    • Botanical Gin 42% – it was light, refreshing, floral and really quite delightful
    • Seaweed Gin 42% – I wondered if the seaweed would be too pronounced, instead it was a slightly salty hint
  • The Duke Munich Dry Gin 45% – From one of many trips to Germany, a terrific standard made even better partnered with a quality tonic
  • Whobertus Dry Gin 43% – A favourite from Munich that needs no tonic – just a small cube of ice and voila – perfection!

What a treat and ideal way to unwind…

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Sipsmith’s Sloe Gin Martini

Every once and a while folks move on to different lands, leaving behind a gift or two. In this case, it was a bottle of Sipsmith Sloe gin…

For those not familiar with sloe gin, what makes it distinctive is soaking blackthorn ‘sloe’ drupes and sugar in gin, bringing both colour and flavour to the gin.

sipsmith-soe-gin

I met up with this friend recently in Singapore and so on my return, decided to enjoy a summery Sunday (yes – it is still hot here in Mumbai!) cocktail.

Here is what I made…

Sipsmith’s Sloe Gin Martini

  • 2 generous drams of Sloe Gin
  • 1/4 dram of Vermouth
  • Few dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Shake or stir over ice until cold
  • Garnish with an orange peel
  • Serve in a chilled martini glass

If you want it even lighter, add a splash of sparkling water or soda…

This particular Sipsmith Sloe Gin is from 2013 and has a juicy sweet plummy flavour which becomes more refreshing chilled and diluted with ice.

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Gin gin gin! Gin Mare, Queensborough, Few, Tanqueray

Our gin explorations continued… with gins from a jaunt around a few countries with:

  • From Spain… the Mediterranean Gin Mare
  • From the west coast of Canada,  the classic dry Queensborough
  • From south of the border in Illinois, USA a blind sample from FEW
  • And finally… a step back into familiar territory with the very British Tanqueray Ten

We sampled them on a lazy Sunday sundowner in South Bombay, anchored by a collection of a travelling friend, augmented by a few more offerings!

Here are our tasting impressions…

Gin Mare 42.7%

  • Very dry, olives, has the biggest nose of all sampled so far, yet less rosemary than expected, a bit of cardamon and mint, juniper there but supporting, basil, thyme
  • Green pepper, spice, olive, quite warm

One of our tasting companions has spent time with the Gin Mare team and shared how they distill 12 different gins – one for each element – then blend together. A painstaking and meticulous process. It is a bit different, not for everyone.

A  few remarked on a shift – previously finding it both more olive and rosemary forward yet now sweeter. For more info, check out their website Gin Mare.

Queensborough Small Batch Dry Gin 43% (BC, Canada)

  • Very classic, spruce tree, lots of juniper, nice clean citrus, lightly floral
  • Nice light spices, juniper and pine forest, direct, clean, lightly floral
  • Nice clean citrus after taste

This was my offering to the evening and one brought in by a friend who picked it up after researching the “best classic dry gin” from BC. It is produced by Central City Brewers + Distillers. It uses Juniper from the BC interior and Spruce Tips sourced from Vancouver Island.  (Central City)

Above all it can best be described as “classic and clean” with a nice fresh forest feel. No crazy experiments here just a solid dry gin.

Mystery gin 

  • Initially was surgical spirit, floral perfume, fruits like peaches or apricot?
  • Very anise or fennel on the palate, then finishes with a salty pear
  • Not something very appealing initially then adjusted and began to enjoy

One of tasting companions brought this carefully concealed gin to the party… just to see what we thought. To be honest it wasn’t for everyone but it grew on us too.

And what was it? While I can’t confirm the full details it was a barrel gin from FEW Spirits from Illinois, USA.

Tanqueray Ten 47.3%

  • Lower on the botanicals, spice dry
  • Citrus, sweet
  • An easy one to enjoy in a G&T… which is exactly why it was picked!

Which is exactly when our attentions shifted from comparing different gin profiles to pairing with different tonics. Which will be a topic for another day…

Other gin experiences:

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Gin gin gin! Rock Rose, Tarquin, Silent Pool

Once upon a time a lad discovered he a certain penchant for gin… so he travelled far and wide, collecting a bottle here and there… Sparking an idea to have an evening or two or three to explore his booty properly back in India.

It took a few aborted attempts till we finally managed to get calendars to align… it was a lovely Sunday sundowner in a sultry Mumbai…

And what did we check out? Our plan was to explore four “different” gins with a standard to contrast and settle down for G&Ts…. Somehow that morphed into seven gins.

What also was the most remarkable about our explorations was the different tonics! Which should be a focused topic for another day…

For now… enjoy the first part of our foray into gin territory…

Rock Rose “Scottish Botanicals” 41.5% 2017, Batch 61, Bottle 452

  • Fresh clean, citrus, coriander, cardamon, green peppers, dry with lemon zest… and yes rose but of a wilder variety
  • Orange sweet (sea buckthorn?), more coriander finishing in… could it be fennel? Or something else?
  • Quite the contrast between the nose and palate

From Dunnet Bay Distilleries Ltd, based in Caithness, Dunnet Bay, is one of Britain’s most northerly mainland distilleries and established in 2014. Rock Rose is produced by a wife / husband duo – Claire and Martin Murray – using 18 botanicals, of which 5 are grown locally and distilled in their coper pot “Elizabeth.”

The name was inspired by the “Rhodiola rosea” which grows on the cliffs of Pentland Firth. According to Celtic folklore, the Vikings allegedly harvested wild, exposed cliffs to gather Rhodiola rosea with the thought that it would give them the extra strength to continue on their long arduous journeys. (Dunnet Bay Distillers)

Tarquin Gin 42% Batch 488

  • Sweet subtle perfume, lots of other botanicals, strong coriander, pink peppercorns, cardamon, mild, sweet violet
  • Cardamon, very sweet, orange, dry pine forest, paprika
  • Started soft then took on more spunk and character

From North to Southwest, Tarquin is made at Southwestern Distillery by the coast in North Cornwall. They use Devon violets fresh orange zest – both quite pronounced qualities… and it also had a distinctive pine forest dimension too. (Southwestern Distillery)

Silent Pool 43%

  • Surprisingly briney. very orange and forward,  some detected a bit of olives, brussel sprouts, vegetable cabbage, sea salt, sour kraut… how could that be?
  • Mandarin, sweet, soft, caramel, salt water taffey
  • Orange blossom, spice finish

Silent Pool Gin is produced on the Albury Estate in the Surrey Hills, next to the Silent Pool, a spring-fed lake.The gin features 24 botanicals, including kaffir lime, chamomile, local honey and lavender. (Silent Pool Distillers)

We found it a bit curious and the quite vegetal quality which came out originally wouldn’t be for everyone. But then it settled into a lovely orange sweet gin – with a distinctive character.

Up next Sunday we continue with:

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Impromptu Gin Delights

So here we were… a couple of gal pals finding ourselves with a free evening. What to do? Why get together of course!

And what would accompany our merriment? Wine? Whisky? Or…. gin? Yes indeed we shifted to an impromptu  evening sampling and then settling down with a few gins…

We couldn’t decide which gin, so out came assorted bottles… and wee shot glasses to taste, compare and decide which would be our evening companion.

What all did was wander through?

Photo: Nikoulina Berg

Whobertus Dry Gin 43% – Munich, Germany

  • This gin was a discovery from Munich. And I LOVE it!
  • There is something so pure, almost delicate or tender about it, beautiful and silky smooth. There is no distracting dimensions, just delightful!
  • Fresh thyme, coriander, light sweet citrus, juniper
  • This is no peppery gin, there is straightforward but lovely quality
  • While generally sweet gin isn’t my thing, this has just the right touch of sweet
  • My favourite way to enjoy? Ice.. that’s it, nothing else required

Caorunn’s Gin 41.8% revisited – Balmenach Distillery, Speyside, Scotland

Most of us were no stranger to Caorunn gin…

  • Light sprightly and delightful, fresh like springtime
  • Perfect with a few cubes of ice, splash of tonic and topped with a slice of apple

Sipsmith’s London Dry 41.6% – London, UK

Equally, for many Sipsimith is a ‘go to’ gin for G&Ts

  • Heavier than the Caorunn, shifting seasons from spring to summertime!
  • Classic London Dry style with citrus, juniper with a hint of spice

The Botanist Gin 46%  – Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay, Scotland

Bruichladdich is a fav whisky distillery yet its gin sales have soared in recent years.

  • Multi-layered, multilevelled, there is a lot going on with The Botanist from floral aromas to a slightly spicy finish
  • Berries, barks, seeds and peels, this is no light gin however it is full of flavours just begging to be sipped and enjoyed

Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin 47% – Black Forest Distillers, Schwarzwald, Germany

Monkey 47 has recently entered the Indian market with launch parties and more! From Germany’s black forest, it is named for its 47 botanicals and strength of 47%.

  • Complex, an intense range of aromas and flavours
  • There is a lot going on – more wood, spice and more than some of the other gins sampled, bursting with robust character
  • Those that reached for the Monkey 47 also tended towards tonic with either a slice of apple or twist of citrus

Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin 41% -Rheinland Distillers, Germany

  • Lots of pink peppercorns – almost too much…
  • There is some ‘oomph’ here – bold juniper, light spice, ginger, bitter orange
  • It is also a bit bitter and while it can be had neat, we found the best to have is with lots of ice and a splash of tonic, with a citrus twist!
  • If I was to be honest, the Whobertus is just such a class act that having the Siegried next required a real switch in expectations

Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin 45.7% – Kyoto Distillery, Kyoto, Japan

Distinctly different, Ki No Bi is made from rice spirit with botanicals from Japan like yellow yuzu, hinoki, sangho pepper, bamboo leaf, gykouro tea.

  • We found it had more pepper and kick than some of the others, a strong ginger, pronounced citrus
  • The tea adds a different dimension as well
  • We found it worked best with tonic water and ice with a twist of lemon

It was a refreshing departure from our usual structured whisky tasting evenings. The range of botanicals used, profiles and personal preferences made the discussions animated and most enjoyable.

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Of all the gin joints… Native Brews early experiments

Whisky Lady in India is all about exploring the world of whisky, one dram at a time, with friends and solo adventures too.

However there are reasons rules should be broken every once and a while to spice things up.

And that’s exactly what the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai decided to do one February Sunday.

The venue was perfect… a desultory sunset overlooking the Arabian sea.

The slight chill that comes with a Bombay winter replaced by the growing heat… not quite scorching by day but inching upwards… enough to appreciate the wind off the waters and something a little cool to whet your whistle…

We began with a quick lesson on gin’s standard botanicals with an opportunity to take a whiff of the core ones, neatly packaged by our host and master alchemist – Susan Dias of Native Brews:

  • Juniper berries (Juniperus communis)
  • Coriander seeds
  • Angelica root and/or angelica seed
  • Lemon and/or orange peel
  • Coriander
  • Orris root
  • Cassia
  • Nutmeg
  • Black peppercorn
  • Cinnamon

Then came the real fun! An opportunity to try her new gin experiments…

#1 Gin “Sweet Delight” 42% 

  • Classic nose
  • Citrus on the palate with lemon peel, very sweet, coriander and pepper
  • After taste had spice, slightly bitter

Pairs well with guava, green mango

#2 Gin “Pushing the peppers” 42.8%

  • Lots of spices on the nose, particularly pepper
  • More coriander
  • Finishes with lots of wet peppery fennel

Reminds of Indian salami or… don’t laugh one even said  Axe body spray!

#3 Gin “Classic Style” 47%

  • All the elements pop out – distinct yet married well together
  • Just a hint more bitter than the others with a punchy finish spice

We closed our tasting with a chilled shot of “Mahua” a desi flower native to Maharashtra used to make a country liquor popular with the tribal community. Alas the restrictions and complications of India’s archaic liquor laws means you won’t see it on your shelves anytime soon…

Naturally our evening progressed from sampling to a sociable rather tasty Gin & Tonic made with the 3rd gin which worked perfectly!

Other gin explorations include:

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Whisky Ladies visit the Far East – Kavalan + Nikka

Our whisky ladies tend to travel – both for business and pleasure.

This is a huge bonus when you are a whisky fan based in Mumbai as our local offerings are relatively limited.

When one member was stopping at Singapore airport on her return from a conference, she asked for suggestions and ably rose to the assignment to acquire a whisky from Taiwan.

Another runs her own travel adventure company plus her spouse shares her passion for exploring whiskies. Compliments of their procurement prowess, we already sampled the yin yang contradictory character of Nikka Blended Whisky. So when a theme of ‘anything but Scottish whisky’ morphed into the ‘Far East’…. naturally she had a whisky from Japan to share!

We began our evening with an experiment… our host infused grapefruit and rosemary with a local gin to create a highly refreshing aperitif – delightful!

Kavalana Concertmaster, Solist + Nikka Coffey Grain

Kavalan Concertmaster, Solist + Nikka Coffey Grain

We then moved on to our main focus where we contrasted and compared:

From the shores of Taiwan and Japan, we hit mainland China to try a country liquor that was much more fun to puzzle out how to open than taste! It was, in short, undrinkable.

Finally closed our evening with a thimble of JD Tennessee Honey liqueur to go with our chocolate pizza – yum!

It was a delightful change to explore whiskies beyond Scotland for an evening and a reminder that there is a very good reason Kavalan attracts attention for its Solist range.

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