Japanese Whisky’s are known for their nuanced flavours and so we were keen to try Roku Gin, made by the Japanese distilling giant Suntory.

Roku is made with 6 traditional Japanese botanicals selected and balanced to represent the four seasons, with an underlying scaffold of 8 traditional gin botanicals (juniper, coriander seed, angelica root & seed, cardamom, cinnamon, bitter orange, lemon peel).

The Japanese botanicals are Sakura flower and Sakura leaf (cherry blossom and cherry leaf), Sencha tea (green tea) and Gyokuro tea (refined green tea), Sanshō pepper and Yuzu peel. Sakura, the ornamental cherry is the spirit of Japan with the delicate blossoms representing renewal and the brilliant and ephemeral nature of life. In Japan Sakura begin to bloom in late January, with the cherry blossom front moving north through the islands till April. As we are in mid blossom season, with a few blossoms in Regents Park despite the snow, this is perhaps an auspicious time to be tasting Roku.

The nose is delicate and inviting. There is fresh pine with citrus top notes. Fruity floral notes of sakura (almost vanilla) ebb through, with underlying green savoury notes of tea.

Tasted neat Roku is aromatic, clean and fresh. Clear heady fresh pine with fruit floral hints lead followed by underlying notes of green tea. In the mid palate there is a bold punch of fizzy, fiery pepper which yields to a long dry, citrus bitter linger which rounds out with a hint of light vanilla sweetness. This is a clean, refined, elegant gin which is very good neat and makes an excellent martini.

With tonic (Fever tree regular) the nose is clean and fresh. Citrus leads and the green tea notes open out to initially give a dryer profile with a clear pepper bite and a long citrus bitter, dry linger. Give Roku a little time in the glass and the fruit floral notes of Sakura open out and literally blossom in the glass.

An elegant, nuanced and refined gin which makes an excellent additional to our shelves.

 

There is an art to making gin. Which botanicals, in what proportions? The variations are literally endless, and for every successful recipe there will be hundreds of also rans strewn across the distillery floor. Making a good gin is hard work, but making a good savoury gin is about as tough as it gets and so we were very intrigued when we obtained a bottle of Lilliput Dorset Gin; a small batch gin based on a london dry recipe made with Bosnian juniper to which rosemary, basil, thyme, kalamata olives are added.

And we weren’t disappointed, Lilliput is really is quite a remarkable, fresh, savoury gin.

The nose is fresh, fragrant and full. Sweet, citrus, almost floral notes of basil sit at the top with vibrant, green, almost juicy savoury herb notes and ample dashes of fresh, clean pine.

Tasted neat Lilliput gin is punchy and flavoursome. The lead is cool super-fresh juniper with hints of floral lemon citrus. This gives way to a sweet anise with a building bitter peppery bite. There is a teasing hint of warmth, but the middle profile builds to a pleasing green, bold pine and rosemary freshness. Like waves on a summer Dorset beach, satisfying, lip-smacking savoury notes roll underneath, all packaged in a satisfying silky mouthfeel.

With tonic the nose is still full with Citrus, basil and camphor. The profile leads with floral citrus and piney juniper. The peppery bitter is more subdued and the underlying juicy savoury tone is accentuated with the thyme and the savouriness of rosemary & olive shining through. There is a sweet, almost fruity linger of olive & basil.

Lilliput gin is a cooling, fresh, vibrant and satisfying marriage of juniper and the lemon camphor deliciousness of fresh savoury herbs, all balanced with a subtle sweetness. It makes a cracking martini and a great gin and tonic which we garnish with a cherry tomato and lemon peel.

There is nothing better to combat the post-Christmas blues than a tasty new gin and what a fabulous specimen we have in Gin Wala. This London Dry gin is inspired by the Chaiwalas of India, the entrepreneurial street vendors who sell and serve spiced tea. The recipe took a year to perfect and uses the spices of chai: Assam tea, cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger and black pepper.

And so how does this chap taste?

The nose is vibrant and inviting. Bright notes of aromatic cardamom and ginger sing out with an underlying hint to pepper.

Tasted neat the lead is perfumed juniper followed by a flood of warming spice; bright cardamom with cinnamon and ginger undertones pleasantly mingling with a light peppery finish that yields to a soothing, smooth, slightly sweet linger.

Tasted with tonic (Fever-Tree regular) the nose is still strong and inviting. The chai spices open out and the overall profile is of the same form but lighter; warming spice, pepper activation and a soothing sweet linger. There is a hint of pleasant savouryness not noted when sipped neat which makes this gin extremely tasty and very more-ish.

This gin really is fabulous, the combination of warming spice with the sweet elements from tea working remarkably well to create a smooth, perfumed, spicy, yet soothing gin which is quite unique. So hats off to Gin Wala. Yet again we see the boundaries of artisan premium gin being pushed into new creative flavour areas.

2018 is already shaping up to be an exciting year gin wise. We have three cracking gins that will be making an appearance on our menu in the coming weeks.

First we have Citadelle No Mistake Old Tom. The ‘No Mistake’ was a slang name for gin in the Victorian era of the gin palace (along with the ‘good for mixing’). There is no mistake this offering from Citadelle is rather fine, it makes a cracking old-fashioned and is a great sipping gin.

Gin Wala is hot out of the still, and inspired by the Chai Wala in India. Made with Assam tea and the authentic chai spices of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and black pepper, we look forward to putting it on our spring tasting menu.

Lastly in this early line up is Lilliput Dorset Gin, a lovely savoury gin made with rosemary, basil, thyme and fermented olives, it makes an excellent G&T.

So tickle your taste buds and put the January blues to bed with a visit to the gin club to try one of these fine chaps.

 

It’s been a busy few weeks here at the London Gin Club. We launched our new autumn / winter tasting menus a few weeks ago and they are going down a real storm!

There are 4 wonderful gins in each tasting menu, carefully balanced together.

Tasting menu No 1

  • Burleigh’s Distillers cut 47% – A lovely dry gin using, amongst the usual suspects, dandelion and burdock  and elderberry giving a light berry sweetness with floral top notes.
  • Hidden Curiosities 42% – Using 20 botanicals, this sophisticated gin has 5 peppers, Japanese Yuzu, white mulberries, violet and lavender.
  • Salcombe 44% – A Devon gin with 3 citrus peels and bay, giving a crisp citrus element coupled with  a delicate savoury  finish.
  • Poetic License Old Tom 41% – Bold and spicy with floral sweet notes from hibiscus. Rounded out nicely by barrel aging.

Tasting menu no 2

  • Bimber 42% – 10 botanicals make up this dry, clean gin. Together with traditional botanicals of cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander seed, orange and lemon.
  • Lakes Explorer 47% – Using some locally grown botanicals including Cumbrian juniper, this is a lovely herbal, dry gin with a black pepper hint.
  • The Wrecking Coast 44% – A most interesting gin, using Cornish Clotted cream, giving a rich, silky mouth feel with delicate notes of vanilla.
  • Inshriach 43% – Again using local juniper and rose hip, this gin is punchy and robust with a refreshing hint  of eucalyptus.
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