In case you didn’t know this about me, I live in Brighton. Well, Hove actually. Regency Tonic come from three roads away from me (and after chatting to co-founder Rich, it turns out he used to live just three doors away from me, small world). Regency’s aim was to create a tonic low in sugar so that you can #tasteyourgin – their original gold tonic contains just 1.3g per 100ml which is less than the Fever Tree Naturally Light tonic. Rich admits himself that this is quite divisive for consumers – the dryness of the tonic doesn’t compliment every single gin and needs to be paired with a slightly sweeter one to balance it out. So, to widen their reach they have just launched their new blue tonic. This has a higher sugar content to make it taste more like a traditional tonic and hopefully to appeal to a wider market. Continue reading
For those that missed it, I conducted a blind taste test of Fever Tree, Fentimans and Franklin and Sons tonic waters (in the name of science of course). After checking out the three market leaders, today I’m focusing on what I’m calling “the tonic ranges”. So called because they each have a wide range of flavoured mixers to their name, today I’m still only trying their original tonic’s (there will be later blogs about the whole range). So, what are we trying?
Hello! With the explosion of the gin market, people soon realised that Britvic is gross. While Schweppes is fine, it doesn’t have the nuances to pick out the flavours that make gins unique and enhance it. So luckily, lots of people have really upped their game. I’m taste testing nine tonics to see which is best. Well, that’s a very bold statement. Obviously tonics are catered for different flavours so really I’m going to drink a lot of gin and tonic in the name of research to see which tonic makes which flavours stand out. The gin I am using as my test gin is 6 O’Clock Gin. I chose this because it’s quite a simple gin but has citrus and floral notes to it so we can see if the tonic’s enhance or drown these. This gin is around the £25 mark so is reasonably priced, meaning you can afford a fancier tonic! Now, a good tonic should work with any gin, so I’ve deliberately picked a middle of the road gin to see how they fare.
It’s day 21 and we’re nearly at the end of Ginvent. Frankly, this has been tougher than anticipated. I’m not the most consistent at blogging at the best of times. But today we get to try Fishers Gin – which I think is winning best bottle design so far. Created on the Suffolk Coast using location-specific botanicals spignel, rock samphire, wood aven and bog myrtle. No, I don’t know how these taste either.
Straight from the bottle it’s juniper heavy, and in the glass it opens up to a more zesty smell. Straight from the glass, it has a lot of flavour. A slight cumin taste comes forward, with a saltier edge which I imagine comes from the rock samphire. The taste lingers, it is certainly pungent. Not in a terrible way. But it lingers. With tonic, it’s slightly non-descript. It definitely tastes of juniper, with some zestiness. But it’s nothing special. I would describe this as an every day gin – slightly heavier than a Gordon’s etc., but nothing to write home about (or indeed, wait up instead of going to bed at a normal time to write a blog about). I’m sad about this, I checked #ginvent on Twitter before I went out for dinner (I had a social life tonight) and people seemed to think it was fairly flavoursome. I’m not that impressed.
It’s a horrible coincidence that today’s gin is opened the day after a lorry attack on a busy Christmas markets in the streets of Berlin. When I first read that we would be receiving Berliner Brandstifter Berlin Dry Gin in our calendar I was excited and couldn’t stop thinking about my holiday there last year, so it’s a shame that we can’t all try it under nicer circumstances. This gin was launched in 2013 and is designed to make you think of “taking a wonderful walk on a careless summer day in the capital” using elderflowers, woodruff and mallow as key botanicals. This gin is limited to just under 10,000 bottles per year, and each bottle is hand bottled and labelled. It sounds like this should be a nice refreshing, floral gin. Hopefully a lighter note to brighten our days.
From the bottle it certainly smells fresh (Note: I do currently have a bit of a blocked nose and am wearing a pore strip so my nose isn’t on top form right now). It reminds me slightly of Blackwater No 5 (the best gin) in that it smells a bit like rain – although this has a stronger juniper nose to it. Tasting it straight, the main flavours (after the small shock of drinking straight gin) is floral and light and slightly sweet like a hint of sherbet sweets. I like. With tonic, this is a delight. Slightly sweeter than a usual gin, but not too sweet. Just light and refreshing, with a flowery aftertaste. It’s hard to describe (check out #ginvent on Twitter for people being more eloquent [it’s been a long day]). Less fresh rain and more kids sweets, but I’m enjoying.
You can find Berliner Brandstifter on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and you can grab yourself a bottle of this from Master of Malt for £47.85. This seems quite a lot for something I don’t think I could have as my every day gin, but it certainly feels like something special. Perhaps it’s the import costs?
Another day, another gin. Today’s gin is Audemus Pink Pepper Gin. Hailing from France, Audemus gin uses traditional techniques “blended with a modern alchemy and a passion for innovation”. Pink Peppercorn sounds like a good example of this. Their Pink Pepper fin is designed “to be an entirely unique, intense and aromatic gin”. The flavour should change from a spicy pink pepper and juniper blend to a warmer vanilla and honey tone as the gin ages and comes to room temperature.
Straight from the bottle the smell is very fresh and slightly savoury – not what I expected for something that tastes of honey as it warms (this has been sat in my lounge for the last month so it’s not exactly cold…). It smells smooth (yes I know that’s strange) but I can sense the vanilla. This tastes nothing like I expected. The pepper comes out, with the smoother softer vanilla at the back of the tongue. Making it into a G&T, this is certainly unusual. The pepper tastes fade away, and it is reminiscent of cake. The vanilla and honey are more prominent than expected, and not in a bad way. It’s smooth to drink, with no nasty alcohol burn. Sweet, but not cloying, I quite like this. Do I think I could drink this every day? No, but as a one off now and again it is certainly a nice change. And this comes from someone that doesn’t like a sweet gin.
It’s day 16 and today we have Bishop’s Gin. Yet another I’ve never heard of. That excites me. Bishop’s Gin have a cracking bottles and is “infused with a sense of adventure, discovery and nonconformity”. My kinda drink. Named after John Ponet, the bishop was one of the first protestants to fight for religious freedom in the 16th century. Not too shabby. 8 botanicals make up Bishop’s Gin and are distilled in one go to make their London Dry Gin.
Straight from the bottle, the smell is slightly heady and nice and deep. In a glass it releases more of the juniper, and smells quite simple. Not simple in a bad way, simple in a “we’ve nailed this and don’t need to mess around with our flavours to make it stand out” kinda simple. My kind of drink. On the tongue it is very strong, I just had a look and it’s only 40.7% – I was expecting stronger! The juniper taste sticks around, it’s very nice. Mixed with tonic, the flavours really come out. I am not good enough to guess the tastes, but I know I like it, it is well balanced and has a slightly tart edge to it which gives it a lighter finish. It’s warm but not overpowering. Flavoured but not perfumed. This, for me, is a winner.
A 70cl bottle of this is on Master of Malt for £35.07 which I think is incredibly reasonable, and this is going on the “to buy” list. You can tell Bishop’s Gin how great they are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Happy day 15 of Ginvent. Today brings us Pothecary gin, awarded silver in the Outstanding and Gin and Tonic categories at IWSC 2016. Created in Dorset by Soapbox Spirits, this new gin has already caused a stir and winning all the awards (as well as the two above they wont Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Awards). They create a fairly unique gin which uses lavender as a key botanical – I’m a bit wary of this because that sounds like something the Apprentice candidates would have dreamt up (that made everyone else angry right?).
It doesn’t smell as strong as I anticipated, quite floral with hints of lavender. The lavender is certainly more prominent once you pour it out into a copa glass. It hits you in the face – we’ve had a few of these gins in the last two weeks! The strong smell translates to quite a strong taste when straight. It certainly has a ginny burn to it with a heavy floral and scented aftertaste. I feel like I should be trying to sleep with this much lavender! Luckily, some dryness calms this down a bit. But you are definitely drinking lavender. Whilst I’m all about experimenting, I’m not certain gin mixes with everything. Like the nginious! smoked and salted gin, I think this could be great in a cocktail, but it’s not a winner for me as a G&T. I lack rosemary so can’t use that as a garnish – a top tip to counteract the sweetness, but again I think that might perk it up. Unless the floral is elderflower, I’m not really a floral gin person.
Two weeks down and today’s gin is from Monsaraz, a medieval town in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The traditional juniper and coriander are joined by big hits of citrus from oranges, Alentejo lemons and apples with the earthy notes from cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. The “blue” in the name comes from an all-natural flower extract that means the liquid turns from a chemical blue to a dusky pink when mixed with tonic. I’ve tried a gin like this before and wasn’t impressed so let’s see how Sharish fares…
I was expecting this to have a harsh, chemical taste (due to the colour) but I’m wrong. The smell is strong, you can sense it from a distance. Slightly floral and sweet, I have absolutely no idea about botanicals from the smell. Straight up, this is pretty bad. No flavour comes through other than a strong, burning flavour. It tastes like fake flavours. Not a fan. Mixed with tonic, the dusky pink colour comes out with a whiff of sherbet (see this below). It doesn’t taste bad. But it also doesn’t taste great. Personally, I’m a bit meh about this. Whilst we all love some colour changing, I think the novelty of that would soon wear off and not leave you with much. And I still have no clue about what is in it.
Sharish are on Facebook, and is available on Master of Malt for £37.17 (at time of writing) for a 50cl bottle of the 40% Blue Magic gin. I won’t be rushing to buy a bottle, but if you want to impress party guests then this is the one to go for.
Catch up on Ginvent here.