Craft Gin Club – September 2020

Stranger & Sons ginNote: Please note if you join Craft Gin Club using the links in this post, you will receive money off your first box and I will receive money off a future box via the referral link.

I’m going to be straight with you. I was considering cancelling my [affiliate] Craft Gin Club subscription this month, mostly because the pictures teasing this month’s gin featured coconuts and mangoes and tropical fruits and I was really worried it was going to be a fruity/flavoured gin which is just not my thing. But I decided to give it a chance and make a decision after this box. Boy am I glad I didn’t cancel. This month’s gin is Stranger & Sons hailing from India – this was actually part of the 2019 Ginvent calendar and you can read a fairly in depth review of it here. Whilst a part of me it is sad that it is a gin I’ve already tried, I’m excited to have more than 30ml of it to play with. Continue reading

Vanagandr gin

Vanagandr ginVanagandr gin is the product of Enrique Pena, who left his career in business to set up and build his own distillery from scratch. Made in the autonomous community Galicia in northern Spain, he distils his gin in super small batches of 440 bottles at a time. Alongside the usual suspects juniper and angelica root, he also adds in sweet orange and lemon peel, green cardamom, nutmeg, cassia and ceylon cinnamon. The gin is then blended with fresh water sourced just 100m from the distillery. As well as handpicking his botanicals, Vanagandr gin uses a base spirit which is 100% wheat which, combined with the 14 hour slow distillation process, produces a rich gin with a soft finish.

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City of London Distillery Christopher Wren gin

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links marked as [Ad], if you click on this and buy a bottle of gin then I will receive a small commission. 

City of London Christopher Wren ginSo you might have seen my previous posts about the City of London Distillery – I’ve already tried their Six Bells gin, Square Mile gin and Authentic London dry gin, and today I’m drinking the Christopher Wren edition. Now, you might know that the City of London Distillery was the first gin distillery within the City of London for nearly 200 years, and you might know that Christopher Wren is very famous for designing, amongst other things, St. Paul’s Cathedral. But, fun fact, when I went to visit the distillery and bar (which I recommend doing after lockdown as it’s lovely) there was a poster in the toilet advertising that it takes less steps to walk to St. Paul’s from the distillery than it does to climb to the top of St. Paul’s. Now, I haven’t fact checked this, but it just shows how close the two are. This gin was created in collaboration with Tom Nichol (who, at the time, was the master distiller at Tanqueray) and this is made to be a classic London dry gin. In this expression, they use only one type of citrus (dried orange peel) alongside juniper, coriander, liquroice and angelica root. The tasting notes on their website say the candied orange flavour carries throughout, and as someone that isn’t massively keen on orange, this might have been a poorly thought out purchase on my part. But, here we go.

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Durham gin

Durham ginAs part of Gin Foundry’s clear out, I received a bottle of Durham gin in my box of goodies. Founded in 2014 after Jon Chadwick had drunk his way through the craft spirits of the East Coast of America, he returned to his hometown of Durham and decided to set up the first distillery in the city. He wanted to make a classic gin, true to the spirit’s roots, whilst weaving in elements of the city he loved. He mixed traditional juniper with Northern botanicals elderflower, angelica and celery seed. He wanted to give his gin a modern twist alongside this, so added in pink pepper and cardamom (two of my favourite flavours, just sayin) and ended up with their signature gin. Ensuring the city’s history was firmly included in the brand, the bottle was designed as a modern interpretation of the Cathedral’s Rose Window – fractured at first, but bought back to it’s original form when viewed though the bottle of gin. Since 2014 the company has grown and they also now produce a vodka, a cask aged gin, two gin liqueurs (strawberry & pink pepper and damson, blackberry and ginger), and in 2018 started work on their first whisky – a first for the North East. So, how does their flagship gin taste?

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Hidden Curiosities Aranami Strength gin

Note: This post contains affiliate links marked as [Ad], if you click on this and buy a bottle of gin then I will receive a small commission. 

Hidden Curiosities Aranami gin

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I am the #modelofrestraint. Because of this, and being bored at home, I decided this month’s treat would be a bottle of Hidden Curiosities Aranami strength gin. I’ve met founder Jenny a few times and tried it at Junipalooza, plus everyone RAVES about it on social so to get rid of my FOMO, I ordered a bottle on Friday and it arrived on Tuesday (note: the Monday was a bank holiday). Super speedy. Hidden Curisosities started in a slightly unusual way; Jenny started Cravat Club, a place to design and sell modern, beautiful cravats. After five years living in Japan and many years of sampling gins, Jenny pursued her entrepreneurial streak and decided to launch her own gin. She found that she was getting tired of the same flavours coming through again and again so wanted to create something unique that would last the test of time. She worked with the team at Silent Pool gin (30 mins drive from my home town, just saying) to develop her recipe and launched Hidden Curiosities in 2017. Since then, she has launched today’s gin, the Aranami Strength, bottled at 59% ABV. Using 20 botanicals (seven of which come specifically from Japan), Aranami means “raging waves” in Japanese and this is how Jenny sees this gin – like a burst of flavour. It actually won Best English Navy strength gin at the 2020 World Gin Awards and won the Industry Choice award at the 2020 Gin Guide awards so the love for this gin is surging forward like the name suggests. They say it is “overflowing with citrus, pepper and floral notes”, so let’s see how this tastes.

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Biggar ‘Biggar Strength’ gin

Note: Stuart from Biggar gin sent me a sample to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I think.

Biggar ginBack at the start of 2019 (do you remember that far back? You know, when we were allowed out and stuff), the team from Biggar gin sent me some of their gin to try and I LOVED it. I was just sad it wasn’t a BIGGAR bottle (see what I did there?). Sorry, I’ve been alone for eight weeks now, I’m finding bad jokes very amusing. Their new gin is bottled at 57% ABV (their original gin is 43% ABV)  and made in small batches (hence my little Biggar sample), making their navy strength gin the third in the brand’s line up.

Biggar gin

Alongside their original gin they have a Clyde Valley plum gin which is a limited edition gin infused with South Lanarkshire plums (FYI this is bottled in batches of 400 per harvest). As they are based in what is basically the centre of Scotland and far away from any oceans, they felt strange calling this new gin “navy strength” (hence, Biggar strength), and they didn’t just want to cut their original gin at a higher ABV. Instead, they took three of their original botanicals (rowan berry, rosehip and nettle) and added locally grown hawthorn berries, which when dried are similar to cranberries with a hint of apple. They wanted to make a gin that was recognisably Biggar, but with a twist and that also worked in classic cocktails.

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Zeiver gin

Note: James from Zeiver gin got in touch and offered to send me a bottle, as always I’ll let you know what I really think.

Zeiver ginZeiver gin gets my attention for two reasons. One, the monochromatic label, and two, the key botanicals are peach, pistachio and aloe vera. Part of me is intrigued, part of me is nervous. Launched earlier this year, Zeiver gin is a collaboration with Dr. John Walters (who is fancy and has a doctorate in biochemistry) and is the first spirit from the English Spirit Distillery based in Essex. Taking inspiration from Japanese spirits, their bespoke base spirit comes from polished rice which they say gives it an “ultra-smooth” palate. Alongside the three aforementioned botanicals, they also use the more traditional juniper berries, limes and grapefruits, plus apple, cherry and macadamia nuts. They describe their gin as “pure, straightforward and sincere” – indeed their name comes from the Dutch for pure – although I’m not convinced the botanical list embodies this, but let’s give it a go and see what we think.

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Pothecary Smugglers’ Strength gin

YPothecary Smuggler's Strength Ginou might have seen that last year, Martin kindly sent me a bottle of Pothecary gin’s new blend – Trinity gin. This has quickly become a firm favourite of mine (and currently has about 50ml left in it *sobs*), this gin was created as a rebellion against the rise in flavoured and coloured gins. That gin has, as the name suggests, just three botanicals: juniper, coriander and bergamot. That edition is bottled at 49% ABV, and this month Martin has launched the Smugglers’ Strength. Taking inspiration from the Dorset coastline history, this blend has been rebottled at 59% ABV. Sadly the official launch has been rather flattened due to the small global pandemic we are all currently living through, but bottles are available directly from Martin. In times like this it is important to remember to relax, I know the anxiety around the situation is grim, and I’m finding a well made gin and tonic is a good way to chill out (whilst drinking responsibly, the NHS don’t need anyone in hospital with alcohol poisoning at the moment), so I’m excited to give this a try.

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Gin Bothy Gunshot infused gin

Note: I contacted the Gin Bothy team about International Scottish Gin Day and they kindly sent me a sample to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I really think.

You might have seen my post about the original Gin Bothy, but today we try their Gunshot infused gin. This is proper small batch gin, they make just 38 bottles of this at a time which is distilled and infused for up to four months. They call this the “gin for whisky lovers”. Which is interesting for a country so steeped in whisky history – although the advantage being that this is rested for four months, not a minimum of three years. It opens an interesting debate around interchangeable spirits, but this is a debate that this blog doesn’t have the space for right now (or, frankly, the brain capacity or knowledge). The ‘gunshot’ they infuse their gin with is actually cinnamon, cloves and mixed spices (and it is worth noting this is bottled at 37.5% rather than the 41% of their original gin), they recommend filling your hip flask with this for a day’s hiking, or mixing it with ginger ale. I’m all about mixing gin with ginger, but how does it taste with classic tonic?

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Gin Bothy Original Gin

Note: I contacted the Gin Bothy team and they sent me a sample to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I really think.

What’s a bothy you ask? The Cambridge Dictionary says “(in Scotland) a small, simple building on a hill for walkers to shelter in, or one that is used on a farm for workers to live in”. The Gin Bothy team reflect on this history and heritage and pledged to keep this at the core of their work. They use traditional methods to make their gin, using local produce such as pine needles and heather – they also have a range of fruit gins that use Scottish berries and rhubarb as botanicals. The respect for the land around them doesn’t end there, £1 from every bottle sold is donated to the Woodland Trust to regenerate the local forests that supply them with their botanicals. Starting life by infusing gin with leftover fruit jams, their range is extensive but today we try their original gin. Here is where they use their pine needles and heather alongside milk thistle, hawthorn root and rosemary which they say invokes the memory of Scottish forests. So, how does it taste?

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