Fifty Pounds gin makes a bold claim. They say they are the “smoothest gin ever”. Distilled in south east London, the award winning gin is made in a small distillery and they triple filter it to achieve this smoothness. You might have seen Fifty Pounds gin before, their distinctive bottle is based on the first gin bottles from the 18th century, labelled with the batch and year it was made – possible due to the producing batches of only 1000 bottles. They keep their recipe secret but are quite open about their botanicals: Croatian juniper, coriander seeds, Spanish orange and lemon peel, and African grains of paradise amongst others. These are placed in the still with their neutral grain spirit and some water, are left to macerate then they gently heat them for the five hour distillation process. This is left for a minimum of three weeks which they say allows the essential oils from the botanicals to blend into the grain spirit. The final step in reaching their 43.5% ABV is to mix it with their neutral grain spirit and some pure water.
Because I am very lucky, I have lots of lovely friends and today I’m drinking Chase Distillery‘s GB gin. Chase Distillery came about after potato farmer William Chase had enough of supermarkets pushing up prices and feeling detached from his customers, so used his potatoes to make crisps. Tyrrells crisps to be precise. Whilst making these, he stumbled upon vodka made from a potato spirit, and thought that seemed like something fun to experiment with. Flash forward four years and they released their first batch of vodka. Ten years on, they have built a new distillery on their farm in Herefordshire making their own vodka, which in turn is the base for their gin. They use 10 botanicals to make their vodka shine, including juniper (obvs), cinnamon, ginger, almond, cardamom, cloves and lemon. Chase have a big focus on sustainability, they create energy from a bio-boiler using orchard prunings, their potato waste fertilises the fields and feeds their cows and grow many of their fresh ingredients themselves. So, how does it taste?
As per the last two years, I’ve received my Craft Gin Club delivery in December. Due to the daily blogging for Ginvent, I then never get to try it until after Christmas. But here we go; this month’s delivery contains an exclusive collaboration with Tarquin’s, one of my favourite distillers. I’ve tried many over the four years I’ve been writing, too many to list here but feel free to have a search back, and never have I been disappointed. This edition is only available to Craft Gin Club members and was distilled using a whopping 18 botanicals including Tarquin’s staple violet alongside Christmassy botanicals nutmeg, star anise, ginger and allspice. There’s also plenty of citrus fruits and tonka bean to bring a mulled fruit note to balance the zest and marzipan.
Today is lucky number 13 of Ginvent and today we are trying a gin I only heard of recently, with a cracking bottle design. An Dúlamán Gin comes from County Donegal in Ireland, Sliabh Liag Distillery is the first distillery from Donegal for over 175 years and their main botanical is local seaweed. Five types of seaweed to be precise. This ties into the brand via the name – Dúlamán comes from an Irish folk song about a conversation between two seaweed collectors. Basically. They REALLY like seaweed over there.
I’m not sure how I feel about today. This is a gin advent calendar. Not a liqueur advent calendar. This is only bearable because today’s liqueur is a) bramble flavoured and b) it’s made by Colonsay. We tried their gin in last year’s calendar which was filled with flavour, and they launched this in August 2018 after a trial run in small bottles in 2017. As a liqueur, this sits at 20% instead of their usual 47% and they use blackberries foraged from the island of Colonsay (their homeland in case you couldn’t guess) and brambles from Speyside in Northern Scotland. I’m a fan of a bramble cocktail so I have quite high hopes for this.
I am excited for today. During Gin Foundry’s summer series, we had an evening with Corner 53 who were a bunch of lovely guys that made some great gin so I am looking forward to revisit this. My favourite that evening was their viking strength gin (and by favourite I mean we drank a lot of it and I hated my life the next day). Today however we are drinking their Cherokee gin which is inspired by famous bourbon Jack Daniels. Unable to replicate their maple-charcoal filtration process, instead the team add maple syrup to their list of botanicals and balance the sweetness this brings with sarsaparilla (an earthy vanilla note).
Last year we were able to try Puddingstone Distillery‘s Campfire London Dry gin, and today we have another Navy Strength gin. Their Navy Strength uses the same botanicals as their London Dry including roasted hazelnuts, golden berries and rooibos tea, but with a small tweak to increase the juniper profile. The ABV is also increased from 42% to 57% which is quite the leap, yet Puddingstone say that it is still smooth and easy to drink. Let’s put that to the test shall we?
Up next in the series of “I have lovely friends that buy me gin” is a gin liqueur. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Jenny doesn’t rate gin liqueurs. Which is only true when a liqueur pretends to be a gin for marketing purposes. This bottle makes it very clear it is a liqueur and not a flavoured gin. Moving on. Tipsy Tart make a range of flavoured liqueurs with the aim to stand out from the crowd and to have a bit of fun. Not content with making cocktail ingredients, they also make bursting bubbles and shimmer drops so you can pimp any drink. Their white chocolate vodka has won a number of awards and they have quite the range of gin base liqueurs. I was given a bottle of the Lemon and Elderflower (21%ABV), which are two of my favourite flavours so I have high hopes for this.
Note: The Batch team sent me a sample of this to try, but I will let you know if I’m not a fan.
You may have seen my review of Batch Brew‘s signature gin (here) and their Innovations Gin Rummy (here). Today we are trying their Industrial Strength gin which is part of their main range, after making its debut in their experimental Innovations range. This is their take on a navy strength gin – this is 55% ABV – which has won double gold and best gin at the San Francisco World Spirits competition, not bad for a gin distilled and bottled in Burnley. This version is a twist in their signature which tones down the spice and amps up the juniper with a touch of lemon balm (or Melissa officinalis) for a sweeter note.
Note: After I said I didn’t really like barrel aged gins, Batch got in touch and sent me theirs to try to change my mind. Trust me, you’ll know if it doesn’t work.
I find Batch Brew interesting. I came across their signature gin via Craft Gin Club (which you can read about here) and, alongside their key spirits they have a monthly subscription service under Batch Innovations. Every month they produce a new spirit, and this isn’t limited to gin. Since February they’ve released an industrial strength gin, sherry cask rum, absinthe gin, a fruity vodka and a hop vodka. But today we are trying their Batch Gin Rummy; they took their signature gin, blended it with some of their Industrial Strength gin and stored for a month in the barrels used for their sherry cask rum (which were formally Glenfiddich barrels). The gin was originally meant to be a rum, but it wasn’t going the way head distiller Ollie wanted, so they went with this instead. With the subscription service bringing money in, they are free to experiment and try new things – and they are then available to buy from their website should you wish to dip into their back catalogue. The contrasting flavours mean you can drink this as a gin and tonic, or as a rum and coke. Very confusing. So how does it taste?