The Artisan Drinks Co. part 2

Note: The team at Artisan Drinks Co sent me some samples to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I think.

Artisan Drinks collectionBack in June 2019, I tried some new tonics and mixers from the Artisan Drinks Co. Since then, the range has grown and I have some new drinks to play with. Alongside the Indian tonics, Violet Blossom tonic and Barrel Smoked cola we now get to try three new flavours: Agave Lemon tonic, Pink Citrus tonic, and Fiery Ginger Beer.

 

 

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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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Blossom & Hops gin

Blossom & Hops ginBlossom & Hops gin, I think, is the first South African gin to find a place in my collection. Hailing from the suburbs of Cape Town, creator Tim James had to put a lot of work into his gin. In South Africa, you have to have your distillery built and ready to go before you can get your distilling license, so they distil offsite at the Hope Distillery. Tim wanted to make a gin using hops flowers, an ingredient not often seen but was featured in old Genever recipes, and he and his partner Teresa worked to incorporate this into a modern London dry gin. Mostly used in beer, one of my favourite gins from England – actually not too far from me – Mayfield Sussex Hop gin also features this botanical so I am interested to see how it compares. Their hops are complemented by lime blossom, lime leaves, juniper and coriander, but they say this results in a juniper forward gin. So, let’s see how it tastes.

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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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Wardington’s Original Ludlow Gin – Craft Gin Club exclusive

March 2020 Craft Gin Club boxAfter last month’s special box, this month I received my regular Craft Gin Club delivery. The boxes have come a long way since I first joined, and this month we received a bottle of Wardington’s Original Ludlow gin which has been exclusively distilled for members, along with three bottles of Buzbee’s tonic, a spiced tomato mix, stroopwaffles, cocktail syrup, fruit juice, dried garnishes, crisps and chocolates. As the name suggests, this gin originates from the historic town of Ludlow (Welsh borders) from distiller Shaun Ward, who sports a bold moustache. An organ player by training, he launched Ludlow gin in 2018 as a juniper forward, classic gin and since then have launched three more gins, a coffee liqueur and a triplecello – like limoncello but with lemon, orange and pink grapefruit. This box contains their fifth gin, a limited release paying homage to the Welsh countryside in the springtime. Taking inspiration from traditional elderflower cordial, Shaun experimented with distilling elderflower and chamomile but knew his recipe wasn’t quite right. When visiting a country show at Malvern, he overheard some producers talking about the virtues of lemon verbena; after a chat and a taste, he knew he had stumbled upon his missing ingredient. So, how does it taste?

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Daffy’s Manor Racing Edition gin

Daffys Manor Racing ginIf you know your gin, you should have heard of Daffy’s gin – I actually reviewed it at the end of 2017. Before I had a chance to try their gin, they actually released a limited edition gin (thanks to Gin Foundry’s HQ clear out I got myself a bottle) in partnership with Formula 1’s Manor Racing. Their already striking label gets a jazzy upgrade with a winner’s wreath and trophy, and so does their recipe. They didn’t want to start from scratch, so taking inspiration from their original eight botanicals, this edition features including Lebanese mint and fresh Spanish limes – the goal was to create something fresh and exciting. They produced just 2,500 bottles of this release, and sadly the team it was produced for has since gone into administration. So basically, I’m trying a gin that you can’t buy, that’s four years old, and made for a team that don’t exist. Don’t say I don’t keep on top of all the news in the gin world. So, even though you probably can’t try it, I can.

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Botany Bay gin

Botany Bay ginNearly 18 months ago I was excited to collect the keys to my new home. I was excited because at said new house was a bottle of the Four Pillars x Herno collaboration, Dry Island gin (which, if anyone is interested, is one of my favourites ever). For that gin, the Four Pillars team incorporated some of Herno’s key botanicals into their process. Today, we try Botany Bay, the next release which sees Australian botanicals make their way to Sweden to join Herno’s distillation. Fun story: the first Swede to circumnavigate the world was botanist Dr. Daniel Solander who was so taken with the variety of flora he found down under that he named the landing spot Botany Bay. Inspired by this history, Herno uses their signature botanicals meadowsweet and lingonberry and combines them with Australian wattleseed, Tasmanian pepper berry and lemon myrtle. Before we taste the gin, I think we should just take a moment to appreciate the label which ignores Herno’s simple label tradition and is a bright, colourful picture of Dr Solander’s adventure (Dry Island had a label very in line with Four Pillars’ branding). So, do the contents live up to the label’s (and its predecessor’s) standards?

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Boatyard Double gin

Boatyard Double ginThere’s been a lot of talk in the recent months about the rise in Scottish gin, but today we head across the water to the north west coast of Ireland. Boatyard Distillery is based on the banks of Lough Erne in their farm-to-bottle distillery. Their vodka is made from home-grown wheat, the spent grains go back to the land as fertiliser and animal food, and they pick their signature gin botanical (Sweet Gale – a type of bog myrtle) is picked from the family bog. Today’s drink is their flagship Double Gin, made by macerating eight botanicals for 18 hours in their wheat spirit and ensure the juniper flavour is front and centre using a filtration process which helps to highlight the beautiful pine notes. They keep their botanical list fairly traditional – alongside the juniper is coriander, liquorice root, angelica, orris, fresh lemon peel, grains of paradise and the aforementioned Sweet Gale. So, how does the banks of Lough Erne taste?

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Gŵyr Rhamanta gin

February Craft Gin Club deliveryAs you’ll probably know if you read my blog, I am a long time member of Craft Gin Club. My next delivery is due in March, but when I saw the announcement that February’s box is an exclusive release from Gŵyr, I had to get myself a box. The newest member of the family is a Valentine’s special featuring their distinct foraged wild fennel alongside pomegranate seeds, red rose petals and fresh pink grapefruit zest. The label may be pink, but the gin isn’t. Rhamanta has two meanings: the first is an old Welsh tradition of divining your romantic future, and the second is the translation “be romantic”. Because what says romance more than shovelling grains of wheat over a fire to see when they pop and then commanding someone to be romantic? Siân and Andrew liked the idea of “romance” counting as the act of sharing your gin with your partner, friends and family – sharing gin love is the best type of romance. Made in their distillery at the bottom of their garden, surrounded by their family (who are the team), over looking the sea, this gin also helps celebrate the couple’s 30th anniversary. Let’s raise a glass to Brooks’ and see how it tastes.

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