Botanic Cubical gin

Botanic ginThis bottle has been sitting on my shelf for a while as a gift from my former housemate (the one that organised gin judging awards). Hailing from one of the world’s most prestigious wineries, the Spanish Bodegas Williams & Humbert group, the gin is made in stills that are over 100 years old. The company was founded in 1877 and focused on making sherry and brandy, and in the 1960s moved towards making wine. Since then they have expanded to make a huge variety of products including gin, rum and vodka. The gin I am drinking today is made from high quality English grains, and distilled at the Langley Distillery in Birmingham to make a traditional London Dry gin. Alongside usual botanicals juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, orange and lemon peel, orris root and liquorice root, they also add almond shells, sweet orange, orange blossom, cassia bark, and Buddha’s hand lemon. Buddha’s hand is a variety of citrus fruit from Asia, shaped like a hand with a number of thin tendrils. It is less bitter than a traditional lemon, but with a lot of fragrance which makes it a great addition to cocktails.

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Four Pillars Olive Leaf gin

Four Pillars Olive Leaf GinI have been excited to try this gin for a really long time. I’ve tried a number of the Four Pillars gins (notably their collab with Herno Dry Island and their Bloody Shiraz), so when I saw their Olive Leaf gin, I wanted to pop some in a martini. Sadly, they kept it exclusive to Australia for the last year before launching in Selfridges this month. In 2015, they collaborated with Santamanía Destileria Urbana in Madrid, which created their first savoury gin using fresh olives and rosemary. This became a firm favourite in the line up, and inspired them to experiment. Keeping the Mediterranean inspiration, they used three types of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, plus olive leaf tea, lemon, bay leaf, rosemary, lavender and grapefruit, plus Australian staples macadamia nut and lemon myrtle. It took a year of experimenting to get the right balance of flavours and textures to work in both a classic Spanish GinTonic, and the perfect martini.

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River Test Chalkstream Gold gin

March Craft Gin Club deliveryThis month’s Craft Gin Club is another special addition – luckily not a flavoured gin, but instead an award winning gin featuring a heritage botanical. Sarah and Jon set up The River Test distillery after attending a distilling course in 2017. On this course, they learnt about iStill, an innovative and fully automated still which uses less power than a traditional copper still. The team are based on a site of special scientific interest in Hampshire which means they are responsible for conserving the flora and fauna on their land.

The River Test Chalkstream Gold gin

Their commitment to the environment doesn’t end there. Their bottles are made of 55% recycled glass, and are made here in the UK to reduce their carbon footprint. They also invested in an electric van to carry out their local deliveries! Their original gin uses botanicals from their land – rosemary and bay grow in abundance, alongside their key ingredient: meadowsweet. Their original gin ended up winning Best London Dry Gin in England at the 2020 World Gin Awards, and when Craft Gin Club got in touch, they were up for a new challenge. For this version, they teamed up with a local farmer who introduced them to Maris Otter barley, a variety bred specifically for brewers and distillers. So, how does it taste?

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MOTH Drinks cocktails

MOTH Drinks rangeI think we can all agree the RTD market has exploded in the last few years. As someone that loves a tin of gin on the train after work, I’ve enjoyed seeing the range available grow. What has been missing though, has been *decent* cocktails. Sure, whacking some gin and cheap tonic in a can for £2 a pop is fine, but sometimes it’s been one of those days you want something over 4% ABV. Enter MOTH Drinks. MOTH (aka Mix of Total Happiness) was created by cocktail fiends Rob Wallis and Samuel Hunt. Their aim was to make bar quality, canned cocktails and they have launched with four variations: a margarita, a negroni, an old fashioned, and an espresso martini. Available from Waitrose, I grabbed the first three of these to try – no coffee or caffeine for me – and see how they taste.

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Gŵyr Rhamanta Redcurrant gin

Note: This gin was gifted to me by Sian and Andrew, but as always I’ll let you know what I think.

Gower Rhamanta Redcurrant ginHappy Valentine’s day! Last February, Gower Gin company launched their newest gin through the Craft Gin Club, a gin designed to be shared with the one you love. The Rhamanta gin features pomegranate seeds, red rose petals and pink grapefruit zest. For 2021 we have been treated to a limited edition version of Rhamanta which has been steeped in fresh redcurrants. Redcurrants are sharper than blackberries, but with an equal amount of sweetness. What I really like about the Rhamanta gin is that, despite the botanical list, it isn’t too sweet and brings a good amount of dry, tart citrus, so I think the added redcurrants will ensure it doesn’t become too sugary. As well as the added redcurrants, this is bottled at 40%, instead of 43%, and the label has been redesigned to feature the redcurrant plant. So, how does it compare?

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Shetland Reel Gin online tasting pack

Note: The tasting pack was gifted, but my views of the gin is always independent.

After the success of Shetland Reel gin’s home tasting kit, they have now launched an online tasting kit which allows for six people to try a range of gins over Zoom with a Shetland Reel ambassador.

You can get your hands on an online tasting set from the Shetland Reel website for £78 for six people (aka £13 a head). Make sure you sign up for their newsletter to get 10% off your first purchase and to stay up to date with their new releases.

You can find the Shetland Reel team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I was introduced to Shetland Reel by The Gin Cooperative as part of my support for International Scottish Gin Day, make sure you check them out – and their new Scottish gin shop! Let me know your favourite Scottish gin on Twitter and Instagram.

Shetland Reel Gin – Up Helly Aa 2020

Note: The gins featured below were gifted by Shetland Reel Gin but all opinions are very much my own.

You can see our first set of video tastings here.

Whilst Not Up Helly Aa sold out on pre-order, their 2020 and 2019 gins are still available via the website. Make sure you sign up for their newsletter to get 10% off your first purchase and to stay up to date with their new releases.

You can find the Shetland Reel team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I was introduced to Shetland Reel by The Gin Cooperative as part of my support for International Scottish Gin Day, make sure you check them out – and their new Scottish gin shop! Let me know your favourite Scottish gin on Twitter and Instagram.

Redsmith Distillery gin

Note: Wayne from the Redsmith Distillery kindly sent me a bottle to try but I will let you know what I really think.

Redsmith ginRedsmith Distillery came about when founder Wayne decided to branch out from commercial heating and pipe fitting in 2013 into distilling. With an engineering degree, Wayne decided he would build his still from hand whilst studying at the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. In 2015, he finished building his still and gave it the name Jenny – whilst I’d love to say I inspired this, it’s actually named after ancestor who was married to a Cornish copper miner. The first batch of his London Dry style gin was ready for the public in May 2016, and in October of that year won the Gin of the Year award at the Craft Distilling Expo. Wayne uses nine botanicals in his one-shot gin, using juniper, coriander, fresh oranges, bay, cardamom, rosemary, orris, angelica and cassia – they then describe the taste as “leafy salad notes” which makes me intrigued to try it, but also wary as I don’t generally like my gin to taste of salad.

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Lemon & Basil New Town gin

Note: The team at Wharf Distillery sent me a bottle to try, as always I’ll let you know what I really think.

New Town Gin Lemon & BasilWharf Distillery are based in Towchester, a market town in South Northamptonshire, and are (currently) the only grain to glass distillery in the county. They opened in 2014 by founding team Alice, who formerly worked in a brewery, and Laurence, who made cider as a hobby until his Hard Cider won Champion Cider of Britain in 2011. This led them to experimenting with ciders, meads and apple brandy before turning to distilling. In the last six years they’ve created their own grain base spirit, which is used in their whisky, single malts, gins and vodkas, and locally source fruit for their brandies, liqueurs and aperitifs. Their range is even more extensive than it sounds, with nine gins alongside their other products. Today we are trying one of their New Town gins, a range of contemporary gins that pays homage to their base in the New Town of Milton Keynes. For this range they take their London Dry gin as a base before adding in additional botanicals. There are currently three gins in the range: orange & pomegranate, mango & cucumber, and lemon and basil. They say the lemon & basil is “perfect for those hot summer evenings”, so let’s see how it holds up in mid-December! Continue reading

Cotswolds Cloudy Christmas Gin

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December Craft Gin Club boxIt’s December which means it is Craft Gin Club delivery time! Usually at this time of the year I am frantically writing a blog a day for Ginvent, but for many reasons they weren’t able to make an advent calendar this year which means I’ve actually get to try this box vaguely near the start of the month. This box, like the last few December editions, includes a Christmas themed gin. Cotswolds gin is a very nice gin (review here) and this version includes their signature lavender and grapefruit, alongside clementine, cardamom, black pepper and bay leaf. They used ten times the amount of botanicals to alcohol which imparts a lot of flavour, along with so many essential oils that the gin louches when mixed with water or tonic.

Cotswolds Cloudy Christmas ginWhilst most distillers will chill filter this out to produce a clear liquid, the Cotswolds distillery team leave it as is to ensure they don’t lose a drop of flavour. Their recommended serve is with London Essence tonic water, and the signature cocktail of the moth is a Gin Star Martini (details below). Before we taste the gin, my last blog about CGC focussed on the ‘value’ of the box, and you can certainly see this here. Alongside the 70cl bottle of gin, we received: two bottles of London Essence Indian tonic, one bottle of Grapefruit and Rosemary London Essence tonic, a carton of Crafted Mango and Passionfruit juice, a bottle of cocktail syrup, a small bottle of Codorniu cava, two Kind nut bars, a bag of mixed fruit and nuts, a bar of Gnaw chocolate; and, most excitingly, a giant bag of Tyrrell’s crisps. But moving on from the snacks, how does the gin itself taste?

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