Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: gin
Showing posts with label gin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gin. Show all posts

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Gin Festival Sheffield - A Review

The splendidly luxurious underground ballroom of the City Hall held host last month to the Sheffield leg of the Gin Festival. We first became aware of the Gin Festival team last year, when we tried out their excellent Gin Explorer box (you can read our review of that here), and so were really excited to be invited along to one of their hugely successful and highly regarded festivals. The Explorer subscription service itself has since been replaced by the "Gin Festival in a Box" concept, which has created a larger range of drink-at-home choices and brought the two brands much closer together.


We arrived to a truly bustling atmosphere, with the sold out hall packed to the rafters with hundreds of gin quaffers. Upon entry, we were provided with a copa style glass and a comprehensive booklet detailing all of the gins available, as well as handy hints for pairings, guides to garnishes and interviews with distillers - a resource which will prove useful in future as well as being a helpful tool on the evening itself.

The layout was well thought through - around the outside of the room, a quartet of bars each served from a pair of gin stations, which allowed queues to be kept to a minimum and the turn around of service to be swift. All of them were dispensing an dizzying array of gins from around the world, all accompanied with a carefully selected garnish. In addition, another handful of stalls showcased individual gin producers, who were dotted around the outside of the room serving samples of their gin along with a chat from a friendly face from the company.

Our first stop was the Tinker stall. Brought to life thanks to a crowdfunding campaign headed up by the Gin Festival team last year, this gin represents a move away from traditional juniper led gins. Drank neat, this stood out for us as a distinctively Spanish style of gin. With bold citrus, reminiscent of salted lemons and orchard fruit. An elderberry finish rounded the whole thing off beautifully. With tonic, it danced across the tongue - beautifully soft and light and a perfect one to start our night with.

Onto the bars themselves and we went straight for a Jaggi Citrus Blend, which was served with a slice of pink grapefruit. Hailing from Perthshire in Scotland. Citrus blend edition. Sweet, almost sherbetty lemon came through in absolute abundance first off, but this gin was more complex than the name perhaps suggests. Nutmeg, bay leaf and thistle are also included in the botanicals list, which gave really interesting notes of spice and a warming, herbal finish.

St Giles, based in Norwich, was our next pick. Another citrus led gin, our Gin Explorer book told us that the distillery is named after an infamous area of London where many gin shops were situated in the 18th century. Laura wasn't too keen on this neat, finding an odd almost vanilla character that was a little cloying, but the flavours really opened up and the juiciness was unleased with tonic and an orange garnish. Would love to try this in a cocktail, and we think it'd work well in other long drinks, especially a Tom Collins.

We moved on to try a couple of slightly more adventurously flavoured gins, and Orkney Johnsmas Gin was our next port of call. Named after and inspired by the midsummer period, with ingredients gathered from the islands themselves. Local heather is included amongst the botanicals and was definitely apparent on the palate, providing a floral yet earthy backbone to the flavour. We also picked up on notes of liquorice root which gave a great depth to the gin. A classic bitter finish.

Next we moved on to a gin from our beautiful home county of Yorkshire, sampling Raisthorpe Manor's Oak Aged edition. A light, almost tropical, oakiness, was instantly apparent and enhanced by a wonderful spruce resonance - bold and earthy. This was served with a slice of lemon which enhanced and brightened the base gin.


Finally, we headed over to try a couple of Belgian gins at the PJ's stand. These guys have an interesting offering of flavoured gins - we tried the raspberry, an initially sweet drink reminiscent of a sticky homemade jam, that dried out on the palette toward the end of the drink. Apple and elderflower varieties were also available. We finished off with their dry gin which was traditional yet potent, with a great hit of juniper that provided a lasting finish. Tasty and straightforward, a good one to end on by taking us back to basics!


Overall, we found this a well organised festival with attention paid to every detail. We really enjoyed the evening and wish we could have made it to another session, as there was so much to choose from we barely scratched the surface of what was on offer. We'll be back next year!

Cheers,

Laura and Jim

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Upcycling with Gin Explorer

It's no secret that I love my gin. The industry is enjoying such a boom that amazing new producers are popping up EVERYWHERE, and it's becoming more and more difficult to choose which ones to try. This is where Gin Explorer comes in. Set up by the team behind the hugely popular Gin Festival events, Gin Explorer is a monthly subscription box that offers four 50ml samples of carefully sourced gins, plus tonics, treats and even snacks.


When my Gin Explorer box arrived, I was excited to discover a BONUS FIFTH GIN in lieu of a snack - especially as it came in a tiny little jam jar and we all know how much of a sucker I am for anything in miniature.

Which brings me quite neatly onto the gins themselves. First up, the aforementioned Yerburgh's Jam Jar gin, the result of a phenomenal crowdfunding success, reaching it's target in just three days! Bottled/jarred at 43%, it's creamy and fruit driven and worked well with a raspberry garnish - raspberry leaves are one of the botanicals, which provides a lovely berry freshness.

With the main flavour component being one of my favourite fruits, I was looking forward to trying Ely Pink Grapefruit Gin, 30%. The pink grapefruit shines through in abundance with a graceful mixture of tart, bitter, dry and sweet. For me, this was almost more like a liqueur in nature than an outright gin and I didn't want to drown out the delicacy, meaning I drank it neat, although it'd also work well with lemonade or as part of a fruity cocktail.

I tried the Gordon Castle Gin, 43%, next, with a bottle of the BTW tonic also provided in the box. Classically aromatic, with an underlying herbal nature which added a lovely elegance and balance. The BTW tonic worked well as it was clean and crisp enough to enhance the complex flavours through the gin without overwhelming them. I added a sprig of mint and a slice of lime too, which gave just enough freshness to really lift the gin.

Edinburgh is becoming quite a hot spot for gin production, and Pickering's Gin, 42%, was the only gin in the box I'd tried before. I found this fairly sweet and citrus led, very quaffable with Fever Tree tonic and with a refreshing lemony bite in the finish. These guys have created GIN BAUBLES this year which quite frankly sound amazing.

From Manchester's first distillery, the last gin I sampled was the Zymurgorium Sweet Violet Gin, 18.75%... what a GREAT name for a distillery. The gin itself was highly perfumed and very unusual - you'll love this if you're a fan of parma violet sweets! I was surprised to find however that this wasn't sticky or syrupy, but pleasantly light. I'd love to try this as the drizzle in a lemon and lavender drizzle cake!

But that's not all! As part of my Gin Explorer mission, I was challenged to come up with a way to reuse and recycle the bottles, and the box everything came in. As it's coming up to Christmas, obviously the bottles needed to be a part of something festive and I think they look great as little fairy lights!


And the box? I'll let the photo do the talking...

Cheers!

Laura

Big thanks to the kind folk at Gin Explorer for sending me a box to try out, and a thank you from Gincat Tosin for his new favourite seat!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Zuidam: Gin vs Genever

I've accumulated quite a few Drinks by the Dram samples over the past year or so, and upon sorting through the collection I found two little bottles from Dutch distillery Zuidam - a classic gin, and a rustic genever. I couldn't resist drinking the two alongside each other and having my own mini tasting evening. Here's what I made of the juniper-ridden little gems...


Dutch Courage  Dry Gin, 44.5%

More floral and zingy than the standard London dry gin, but still a familiar nose with hearty juniper at the core. Flavour starts sweet but develops into a rich, oily and almost savoury herbal palate. As I only had a sample bottle of this, I drank it straight up with no garnish, but a slice of grapefruit would work really well. The finish is long and a pleasing balance of bitter and sweet. Really good stuff.

5 year old Zeer Oude Genever,  38%

The ageing is definitely apparent on the nose, with a rounded vanilla oakiness softening the juniper edge along with a hint of fudge. The taste is more like a light whisky than a traditional gin to me... Beautifully smooth, with a fresh and gentle minty note coupled with caramel and a hint of liquorice root. A silky mouthfeel leads to a full, long finish. My first ever genever certainly won't be my last.

Cheers,

Laura

Monday, 1 December 2014

The Lakes Distillery

Set in a beautiful old barn that was once home to a Victorian model farm, a stones' throw from the River Derwent, at the northernmost tip of Lake Bassenthwaite lies the soon-to-be fully operational Lakes Distillery.

We were thrilled to be invited along to visit the distillery before the Grand Opening (pop 15th December in your diaries!) and even more delighted when we were greeted by "Is it too early for a whisky?" at 13.07 (you probably won't be surprised to read that a resounding "no" filled the room at this stage). The whisky in question, ahead of their own production, is the Lakes Distillery's blend, The One: a tasty, versatile, easy-drinking dram which worked just as well in the early afternoon as the evening (you can read our full review here). Whilst we sipped on our first taster, we got chatting to Katie Read - business development manager of the Lakes Distillery and the very epitome of a woman who loves her job, combining her passion for malt whisky with a drive to promote Cumbria in the very best way.


The building itself took Paul Currie, Founder and Managing Director, 9 months to find, due to the extremely strict regulations regarding new buildings in the Lake District. How
ever, this "impossible dream" has been achieved in spades - the distillery itself is stunning, and the use of original buildings gives it a feeling that it always been there, a natural fit to the surroundings. The abundant natural resources and the quality of the water source also ensure that the distillery remains at one with its environment.

Beautiful scenery surrounding the distillery
Whilst we listened to Paul share his insights about the distillery, we had an absolute feast of a buffet created by Michelin-starred chef Terry Laybourne, who will hold responsibility for the bistro once the distillery opens next month. Our lunch had the theme of a top-class autumnal English picnic - beef and horseradish sandwiches, and homemade pork pies, Scotch eggs and sausage rolls. The miniature puddings were beyond delicious - pistachio and raspberry macaroons which just melted in the mouth and were the perfect pairing for The Lakes Gin (review of this to follow), and a sumptuous chocolate caramel tart (which Laura ended up absolutely covered in - can't take her anywhere). We'll definitely be back in the future to sample the full menu, and this enterprise helps to ensure that the distillery's appeal will reach out beyond the spirit it produces.
Plans!
Once replete, we headed on over to the distillery building itself to take a look at where the magic will happen. Our tour was conducted by Master Distiller Chris Anderson - an Ileach! After a career spanning distilleries including Caol Ila and Aberfeldy, Chris has now come to take the helm at the Lakes Distillery. Chris is partnered by John Drake, distillery manager, who is passionate, super knowledgeable despite being relatively new to the whisky scene, and just generally an all-round top bloke. The whole whisky-making process takes part under the one roof, with the stainless steel mashtun and washbacks on one side, and the beautiful stills on the other. Traditional at heart, unusual touches adorn the workings of the distillery - our favourite was a little window on the stills, rather than the traditional copper door, meaning you'll be able to peek inside to have a look at just what exactly goes on in there!


As well as their gin, The Lakes Vodka production is due to begin in early December. Both these spirits will be produced in "Chemmy" - a rather cute still named after distillery ambassador and champion skier Chemmy Alcott.

Being situated outside of Scotland (although this will be the closest English distillery to the border), the Lakes Distillery won't be bound to the laws of "Scotch", and it seems they are going to use this very much to their advantage. One idea which really made us prick up our ears is the prospective concept of "Mad March", where each year this month will be spent doing something a little bit different - for example, as the distillery won't necessarily need to use oak casks, they are thinking about exciting possibilities including chestnut, birch and maple. In a world first, there's also the option to use a condenser made from copper and stainless steel, which is hoped will add more character to the final spirit. 

The Lakes Distillery is the perfect mix of old and new - it already feels full of tradition and heritage, yet with an industrial edge. This is mirrored by the whole ethos which we got from our trip: traditional ideas and knowledge make up the core values of the distillery, blended with experimental flair and innovation.

Watch this space!

Cheers,

J&L

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Advent - the final batch of drams! 18-24

As Christmas day draws near, so more and more of our little advent windows are emptied. Here are our reviews of the last few drams...

Day 18
Laura - Greenhook Ginsmiths Gin. Another American one and I have come to expect good things from across the pond. This is a fine example of a classic gin, with a clean juniper flavour and a beautiful aromaticism. A good one to sip on!
Jim - Yellow Spot. An Irish whiskey of great quality with a nose of vanilla poached apricots, and a bourbon sweetness. This is accompanied by a velvet caress across the tongue tasting of fruits and a nutty touch down the neck.

19
L - St George's Rye Gin. You can definitely taste the rye! It's hearty, smooth and very rich. Once again this month, I have found myself surprised at just how unique a gin can be. It's described on the St George's website as "a gin for whiskey lovers" which I would definitely agree with - it even won over my usually gin-hating uncle, who was drawn in by the delicious malty aroma.
J - Auchentoshan Three Wood - two sherry casks and a bourbon come together to make this sweet, tropical fruit nose and a palate of treacle and dark fruits such as cherries. The colour of red bronze brings with it light nuts and a long finish of sticky sweet oak.

20
L - City of London Dry Gin. A fairly harsh (but not unpleasant) juniper flavour that softens into a lovely warm finish. I love the history and story behind gin, as well as just drinking it, and this company truly embodies this, even down to featuring plenty of fantastic Hogarth-esque imagery on their website. I'd really like to pay the distillery a visit!
J - Johnnie Walker Platinum Collection. Smells of pudding... fruits, custards and (oddly) smoke. All round, a very festive nose. A tickle of smokiness continues across the roof of the mouth. Fades to a nutty dark chocolate.

21
L - Professor Cornelius Ampleforth's Bathtub Gin Navy Strength. Surely a good sign when your gin is ever so slightly brown. This is 57%, and in Jim's words, "fucking incredible". It smells cinnamony, and a bit like a very tipsy gingerbread man. The key notes I got on the taste were brown sugar and cardamom, a winning combination. The finish lasts for AGES, and as well as the cardamom spice there's also some clove in there. I could rave about this gin for hours.
J - Scapa - malted toffee and rich caramel on the nose. Spiced oranges present in the taste, with a smoky finish across the palate.


22
L - Mason's Yorkshire Dry Gin. Being from Yorkshire myself, I was very excited to see this one. It is lovely - peppery, fragrant and clean. A credit to my beautiful home county!
J - Glenfiddich 15 year old Distillery Edition. Spiced custard on the palate, with a hint of freshly ground black pepper and a long finish of buttery sweetness, followed with flavours of sherry.

23
L -Breuckelen Glorious Gin - well this definitely lives up to it's name. Very aromatic, with a creamy, almost herby scent (rosemary is one of the five botanicals in this). The flavour is citrussy but with a malty hit that keeps it smooth. A long finish that tickles in the tum.
J - Yamazaki 12 Yr. A sweet tender tasting whisky, with a flavour of delightful flowers which skips across the tip of the tongue. The orange sugar flavours creep up the nose and down the throat, before the end slinks away with a fruity woodiness that fills the mouth.

24 - And so we reach the final dram!
L - Smooth Ambler Greenbrier Gin - a savoury character in the flavour soon gives way to a sweet, citrus finish that resonates in the throat for ages, which I particularly appreciated today as I finally polished off the last sip of what has been a great advent!
J - Glenfarclas 40 yr - Spectacular. Apples, and peppered dark chocolate drift across the nose, with a light sherry. The rich characterful texture gently caresses the tongue with medjool dates, and figs seasoned with spice and demarara sugar. The finish is much like chewing on a leather jacket wearing gingerbread man. Simply divine.

Overall... what can we say?! It's been a rollercoaster of flavour and an absolutely incredible ride! Both calendars were sensational, not a bad drink between them, and despite the fairly big outlay they represent fantastic value for money. We've both had the opportunity to taste drinks we would never have thought to buy a full bottle of, or even come across in a bar, and each revelation has been a delight.

This will very likely become an annual event - head on over to Master of Malt to join us next year!

Slainte,

Laura and Jim

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Advent Calendar - windows 10-17

And so advent continues, each day bringing with it a delightful little treat. You all know the score by now, on with the tasting notes!

Day 10
L - Langtons Gin. From the Lake District, practically local! Tasty and smooth, interesting yet traditional.
J - Grant's 25 - sweet and malted, with just a little bit of tobacco in the nose. Cinnamon and nutmeg provide a light and spicy character.

11
L - Filliers Dry Gin 28. Mmmm! A juniper punch but with hints of citrus and something that might be thyme in the background. A good belly-warmer with a more lingering finish than any of the gins tasted so far this advent.
J - Mackmyra Brukswhisky - The Swedish Whisky. Sweet apples and other fruity notes resonate from the nose to the finish. Smooth and dangerously easy to drink.

12
L - Herno Dry Gin - the first Swedish gin I've ever tried. It is utterly lovely: overwhelmingly citrussy, un- usual, bold and refreshing.
J - Balcones Texas - Smooth and creamy with a vanilla flavour and hints of apple, that becomes a sticky treacle texture across the tongue ending in an intense malty flavour across a great long finish.

13
L - FEW American Gin. I drank this straight after the Herno, after getting a few days behind, and I could not have sampled two such different gins! Both delicious, but the FEW was as creamy and smooth (the key note being vanilla) as the Herno was crisp and fresh. I read up on this one too and love the history behind it!
J - Evan Williams Single Barrel (2003 Vintage) - a very strange whisky, completely different to anything I've had before, with a light amber hue and a nasal waft of honeyed and charred oak. The palate tickles with a spice that feels oddly unique, with a fresh citrus that ends in the heat of warming alcohols and spice.

14
L - Boudier Saffron Gin - this looks incredible... for a second I thought I'd got my calendars mixed up and opened Jim's by mistake! Whilst very nice, however, I'm not sure the saffron added much more than colour, other than a mild spice. Delicious with a slice of orange.
J - Tomintoul 14 year - This is the first bottle of the 14 whiskies so far that I have previously bought, having polished off a bottle earlier in the year. Today, I have been reminded that I am missing this lightly creamy butter scented pale coloured dram.

15
L - Sipsmith London Dry Gin - this is the first gin all month that I've a) heard of before and b) own a bottle of. For this reason I chose to take a nip from my full-size bottle, and save my little dram for a special occasion! It's a fantastic drink, whether neat over ice or in a cocktail - my favourite is with elderflower fizz.
J - Dalmore 16 year - this interesting limited cask release is a lightly spiced with hints of apple on the tongue and a prickly heat of almost chilli on the nose and down the throat, with a smooth wood finish.

16
L - Dr J's Gin - ooft! This really packs in the flavour and left my tongue tingling. Really zingy and full of citrus elements, with a sweetness that reminds me of marmalade.
J - Balvenie Caribbean Cask - This whisky sings of vanilla across all the relative senses, a nose of rum from the barrels its aged in. There are massive notes of tropical fruits like mangos, all summed together up with a heat of spice.

17
L - Blackdown Sussex Dry Gin - the weakest of Ginvent at 37.5% but no less yummy than the rest. It has an almost smoky nose and a traditional, juniper flavour. The finish is smoother than most and the gin as a whole goes down oh-too-well!
J - Glenlivet 16 year old Nadurra - Batch 0313W (Catchy). So vanilla sweet and fruity on the nose that Laura noticed the scent from across the room. A great alcohol heat from the 54.8% dram on the tongue with a similar sweet fruit this time with a honey spice that lingers on the tongue. The finish sits happily for a good few minutes gently down the throat, warming to the stomach with a dry nuttiness. It is simply delightful.

Our next post will follow our progress across the final 7 spirits, taking us all the way to Christmas Eve. Come back soon!

Slainte,

L and J

Monday, 9 December 2013

Advent Calendar Update - windows 2-9

I think it's fair to say we are having an excellent advent, thanks to our fantastic Gin and Whisky Advent Calendars from Master of Malt. (You can find out more here if you missed our earlier introductory post.)

Day 2
Laura - On the 2nd day of Ginvent, my calendar gave to meeee... Dorothy Parker American gin. A crisp, clean, fresh tasting spirit with refreshing hints of grapefruit.
Jim - Talisker Port Ruighe is peated, like a smoky orange on the nose with a definite flavour of the port casks its been aged in and great hints of demerara sugar, ending in a strange note of grapes.

3
L - Today's offering was Monkey 47 - a gin from the Black Forest, comprising 47 botanicals, and bottled at 47% ABV. Quite distinct from yesterday's, it was warming, with hints of sherbet and berries.
J - Nikka From the Barrel 51% - a creamy, very lightly peated whisky from Japan, with a custardy vanilla flavour. It works well as a festive beverage with a lovely hint of Christmas spice. Its strength doesn't purvey the sometimes felt heat, and feels smooth across the palate.

4
L - Tarquin's gin, from Cornwall, was behind my little window today. It was very nice, but not the most exciting gin I've ever tasted. Traditional flavour and without a doubt a bloody good gin, but it was the first one so far that I've added tonic to.
J - Glencadam 21 year. Spiced apple/raisin flavour, containing all the smells that come with mulling cider, it tingles across the tongue bringing with it an oaky vanilla taste.


5
L - Two Birds London Gin today. Citrussy and soft, it had a rounded flavour with a delightful tang on
the finish. Having looked up the bottle, I've discovered it is a bargain at under £30 and the bottle has a cute design too. Very tempted.
J - Glen Garioch 12 year - The sherry aged cherry sweetness was coupled with a light oaky taste to finish. There is much more to the flavour that than one dram can give, I might need a bottle.

6
L - Professor Cornelius Ampleforth's Bathtub Gin. Today's Ginvent offering definitely wins the prize for most fun name, and it's a fantastic gin to boot. Felt a bit like a Victorian drinking it. A rich and unusual spirit.
J - Chivas Regal 18 year - an award winning blend that sings of spiced toffee and fruit, and a palate of dark chocolate and oak, that skips across the tongue and down the throat.

7
L - Geranium gin - this was my favourite of the week, a very different gin. Heavy juniper scent but a floral flavour, reminiscent of Turkish Delight. Jim was not a fan due to it's perfumed nature, however this perhaps makes it a better investment for me as no need to share!
J - Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 year Bourbon - almost a caramel flavour, hints of brown sugar, and a lovely change being the first bourbon in the calendar, that is lovely and smooth.

8
L - Cold River gin today - another American one. I have to say I've been mightily impressed so far by my first three tastings of US gins. This one seemed a little harsh at first but got more delicious the more I sipped. Delightful caramel aroma too.
J - Blue Hanger 9th release - has a fruity sweet nose of the sherry cask, with hints of orange and caramel and a very light smokey flavour, and a warm finish down the throat.

9
L - Cream gin, made with ACTUAL CREAM. No surprises in the flavour of this one - it starts off in the mouth as the classic juniper and citrus combination, but this is quickly overpowered by a beautiful, rich creaminess that lingers on the palate. Yummy.
J - Bowmore 15 year old, Darkest - a warm sweetened light peat smell, that grows on the palate and ends curiously with the heat of Arbroath Smokies. With flavours of treacly fruit, it is definitely a highlight so far.

We'll be back next week to share the next batch of drams with you!

Slainte,

L and J