Gin Review: Loch Ness Gin 43.3% ABV

There are three things we like about Loch Ness gin. The first is that it shows the fantastic things that a couple can achieve. It is made by a wife and husband team Lorien and Kevin Cameron-Ross, with said husband spending his days off hand-picking juniper. Passion and commitment, what more can we say, they are values that speak for themselves and that were recognised by the industry with Loch Ness gin picking up a Spirits Masters gold award in the ultra premium category. The second is the history and connection to the landscape. Lorien’s family has lived in the Loch Ness area since 1520 and the Juniper used for Loch Ness Real and Rare gin comes from family land. The third thing we like is that it is a damn fine gin. They don’t reveal anything about the botanicals they use, other than that they use local botanicals from the banks of Loch Ness, so we were very much carrying out a blind tasting with this gin, and so what did we think?

On the nose there is bold, refreshing, cooling piney juniper with underlying floral notes and a honey sweetness. There is also subtle green herb note that ebbs and flows in the background. Overall the nose is bright and heady and invites you to take a sip…

Tasted neat, cooling pine juniper leads, followed by a confident hit of bitter and pepper. We picked up a pleasantly astringent bitter, with warm spice notes and what we felt was the mouth activation that comes with pepper, this yields to an underlying sweetness. Overall it has a long, bitter sweet profile.

With tonic the nose is reduced but still present. To taste the floral sweet notes are amplified, however what is most beguiling is that the profile starts with the bitter astringent notes with the floral notes kicking in afterwards, the reverse of what one would typically expect. This is a most satisfying, excellent and unusual gin; it’s great on the rocks and makes an excellent gin and tonic.

Another fine gin coming out of Scotland and the Cameron-Ross team have hinted they will be creating new gins in the future which we look forward to trying.

Gin Review: KI NO BI Kyoto Dry Gin 45.7% ABV

KI NO BI Kyoto Dry gin has us very very excited. We’d heard about it a while ago and were very intrigued by the idea of a Japanese Gin. After all there are Japanese whiskies on the shelves of prestigious Whisky bars rubbing shoulders with the finest single malts and so how would an artisan Japanese craft gin fair in a crowded marketplace?

The first thing of note is the base sprit, KI NO BI Dry Gin uses a rice base spirit. Then there are the botanicals, the team at Kyoto Distillery use a selection of Japanese botanicals sourced where possible from in and around Kyoto, the obligatory juniper accompanied by orris, ginger, bamboo leaves, red perilla, lemon peel, yuzu peel, sansho pepper, kinome leaves, Gyokuro green tea and Hinoki wood.

So it’s true to say that for us tasting this gin was going to be a completely new flavour experience, and so how does it taste?

The nose is bright and has intriguing subtlety. It leads with fresh eucalyptus juniper accompanied by round green herbal notes, there is an underlying sweetness and a hint of ripe fruit.

Tasted neat the lead is crisp bold juniper followed by dry spice and a very pleasant wave of pepper activation which yields to a full mouthed warm round sweetness. This gin is really very, very good sipped neat on ice. The creamy mouth feel comes into its own and the flavours build as you sip with a subtle warmth and the tea notes coming through with successive sipping. This is a rewarding gin that deserves to be sipped, contemplated and lingered over. It will make an exceptional Martini (we will switch out the vermouth, watch this space!).

With Tonic (Fever-Tree regular, we added less than usual settling at a 1:1 proportion) the bright bitter notes really pop at the start, the citrus and floral top notes are accentuated and pleasing biscuit tea notes come through in the linger. Hints of warming ginger comes through with successive sipping but never overwhelm.

KI NO BI Kyoto dry gin sets a very high bar for artisan craft Japanese gins and we look forward to welcoming to our shelves.

Gin review: The West Winds: The Captain’s Cut 63% abv

The team at The West Winds have a vision “to produce distinctive Australian gin that would rival the best in the world” and so far we have been very impressed by their work, with three of their gins: Sabre, Cutlass and Broadside on our shelves. Their forth gin, The Captain’s Cut has finally arrived on our shores and so we were very eager to try it out.

The West Winds don’t reveal much about the botanicals in their gins although they do concentrate on local sourcing and indigenous plants which make for original and distinctive flavour profiles. The Captain’s Cut is described as having fleshy pink grapefruit and a palette of peppery native sage and thyme, with an undercurrent of violet and pine. At a whopping 63% abv we were somewhat unsure if we were heading into stormy waters or set for plain sailing but there was nothing to do except splice the main brace and trust that the captain has a firm hand on the helm. And so onto the gin.

The nose is fresh and clean, bold piney juniper and sweet violet with subtle but distinct savoury hoppy notes at the end.

Tasted neat, we would describe it as sweet herbaceous, however summing it up in two words does not do it justice. There is an initial punch of pink grapefruit, a quick snap of juniper and then a wave of sweet herbaceous notes that yield to a bitter peppery swell that ebbs to a long sweet menthol linger.

With tonic (Fever-Tree Indian) the nose is still present and has taken a savoury edge. The profile is quite astonishing; an explosive collision of sweet and savoury. Like the ocean crashing in on coastal rocks there is simultaneous burst of citrus with a strong undertow of savoury that rounds out to a long sweet linger that begs for another sip. The Captain’s Cut makes an extremely refreshing gin and tonic, literally making it taste more effervescent, more sparkling and surprisingly light on the palette for such a punchy abv gin. We will garnish with thyme and grapefruit peel for an extremely moreish G&T.

A truly excellent gin and a fabulous addition to the West Winds Fleet.

Captains Cut

The tastes of Elizabethan London Tasting Event 12th April

The London Gin Club is delighted to be working with the CityRead project this April. We have created a unique tasting event in conjunction with CityRead’s chosen book this year, Prophecy, an Elizabethan thriller by S.J. Parris.

We will take you on a journey back in time to explore the history and tastes of 16th century Europe and London including the links between alchemy, witchcraft, spirits and along the way unravel the genesis of gin.

In this 90 minute whistle-stop journey you will sample a series of historic tipples: Aqua Vita, Strong waters, Purl, Genever and finish off with an Old Tom.

The event will be held here at the London Gin club on Wednesday 12 April 2017. Tickets are £32 in advance and can be bought from our friends at London Peculiar here >> The tastes of Elizabethan London Tasting Event 

About Cityread
Cityread London is a celebration of the power of reading to bring communities together.It is celebrated every April, across all of London’s 33 boroughs, with libraries at its heart. Our 2017 book is Prophecy by S. J. Parris, a gripping Elizabethan spy thriller set in London 1583.

Cityread invites you read Prophecy by S.J. Parris and step into the crowded, dirty and dangerous streets of Elizabethan London. Meet maverick thinker and ex-monk Giordano Bruno, as he’s enlisted by royal spymaster Francis Walsingham to uncover a plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth.

Immerse yourself in Elizabethan intrigue and train as one of Walsingham’s spies in our interactive performances at The Charterhouse; discover the origins of 16th century gin and the secrets of Dr John Dee’s library; hear S.J. Parris talk about life in London in the 1500s in conversation with historian Tracy Borman at Lambeth Palace, and at local library events.

Read extracts of the book on our website and download the ebook for free from your library. For more information about all the City Read events and the book follow their link here Cityread



A purly punch on the nose

Happily once again we have been asked by our friends at the Dickens Museum to do a tasting, this time based around the contents of Dickens drinks cellar and forgotten Victorian cocktails. Lucky for us, Dickens had an 18 gallon cask of gin in his cellar (good man!) and was a prodigious and expert gin punch maker so we were confident there would be much to tickle our fancy in this collaboration. What we did not realise is just how interesting this journey would be, as Dickens novels and his own drinking habits illustrate the evolution of English drinking – as the late Georgian leisurely conviviality of the punch bowl made way for the Victorian efficiency of glass based cocktails.

Along the way we have perfected a fantastic purl. A drink mentioned in a number of Dickens novels and that in Victorian times was sold to labourers on the river. The ring of the purlmans bell would signal the availability of warm porter, gin and ginger. This was fertile ground, the vast array of craft porters, from smoked, London and coffee had us reaching for the many gins on our shelves until we hit on a winning pairing. A Dog’s nose is a hasty purl, being cold and wet like the proverbial!

Dickens was also an expert punch maker who  “brewed a bowl of punch, an accomplishment in which he stood pre-eminent” and some time with his correspondence reveals he was partial to gin punch, for which both he and his father had a singular reputation. This sets the bar quite high, however we were intrigued to discover that Dickens had a secret weapon – borage, and so we have riffed on his punch habits to perfect a most singular receipt.

Most interestingly of all is that Dickens was a cocktail drinker – he was introduced to American ‘sensation drinks’ on his reading tours of the USA in 1842 and 1867 where he was acquainted with the Gin-sling, Cock-tail, Sangaree, Mint Julep, Sherry-cobbler, Rocky Mountain sneezer and the Eye-Opener – which he described as “rare drinks” and “meritorious drams”. Cocktails were originally anti-fogmatics, taken in the morning to preserve from the effects of the damp and unwholesome air. Dickens did write home that

“Did I tell you that my landlord made me a drink (brandy, rum, and snow the principal ingredients) called a “Rocky Mountain sneezer?” Or that the favourite drink before you get up is an “eye- opener”?

However we were heartened to discover this singular quote “Last night I was drinking gin-slings till daylight, with Buckstone of all people, who saw me looking at the Spanish dancers, and insisted on being convivial.” What can we say, Spain being the birth-place of the copa serve – all things are circles in circles, with a drop of Madame Geneva putting all thing in perspective.

Tickets for Dog’s Nose & Shandygaff: an evening of forgotten cocktails can be bought from the Dickens Museum. And look out for our new tasting event tasting event based on historic drinks.

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