Gin tasting at the Nightingale Rooms

Happy Ginuary! As part of Tryanuary, The Nightingale Room over the Grand Central in Brighton hosted a series of free gin tastings. Right up my alley. So last Thursday, off we went to see what is was all about.

Gin gin gin gin
Gin gin gin gin

The Nightingale Rooms are nicely decorated, but very red (hence why all my photos are red, or horribly bright from my phone flash). With tables around the outside of the room, the middle was taken up with four large tables crowded with bottles, glasses and garnishes. Claiming a huge table for the two of us, we quickly made friends with the group that joined us. Up steps our leader for the evening, and what commences was great fun. Not so much a tasting, as a quick history of gin and lots of free gin and food.

Bols Genever
Bols Genever (photo with flash on)

Our tables are full of Fever Tree tonic, and our first tasting comes in some beautiful champagne saucers filled with Bols Barrel Aged Genever. I’ve had genever once before in a cocktail, so it was a treat to have some served up. Straight in the glass it’s very warm and “woody” (Anderson, C. 2016). It smells a bit like cinnamon, with a strong flavour and a very grown up taste. Strong on the tongue, with a heavy flavour and is quite heady. This barrel aged genever is reminiscent of whiskey – perhaps a gin that my sister might finally like! Mixing it with a dash of tonic, the smell is less intense and the flavour mellows out. Less harsh and slightly fruity – it maintains the heady smell but a lighter flavour. It is distinctively different to normal gin, and not in a bad way.

Whilst we’re sipping our genever, the second gin gets handed around.

Brockmans Gin
Brockmans Gin (photo with no flash)

This time it is Brockmans – a gin that I’ve tried before and enjoyed, but sadly this time not as much. Straight in the high ball glass it smells chemically and fruity, like Sibling Gin it uses blueberry as a key botanical. Once the gallon of ice they provided melts, it has light fruity notes and a dry finish down the throat. With the tonic, the chemical smell disappears and it settles down. It lacks character and tastes plain. I like big bold flavours and this lacks that. Catriona has a different opinion: “I like it but it tastes like an alcopop. I’m into it (said by my inner 15 year old). I can imagine drinking this in summer on the beach possibly from a tin.”

Gin Mare
Gin Mare

Passing my Brockman’s onto Catriona to enjoy, our third gin arrives garnished with a olive, lemon wedge and rosemary. Welcome to the table Gin Mare. Initially the rosemary over powers the smell of the gin – the copa glass doing exactly what it is designed for, funnelling scents up into your nose. With the rosemary removed it has a clear smell with no botanical standing out. On the tongue it’s clean, a slight salty taste coming from the olive. It’s bright and fresh. With tonic it’s fresh and crisp. Again no one flavour is coming to the front but in a good way. Brockmans lacked flavour and tasted a bit bland whereas this is just a well balanced gin that goes really well with chorizo and prawn skewers (which we were conveniently given, yes the free gin tasting also provided free food).

Brighton Gin
Brighton Gin <3

Then we come to gin four. Brighton Gin. Big big fan. We all know my love of this gin, the gin that started this blog. The Grand Central serves it with a piece of Brighton Rock. Whilst I appreciate the utter Brighton-ness of this. I hate rock. Mine was moved into Catriona’s glass super quickly, and a mouthful of hers resulted in me going “mmmmm thats OH GOD BLEUGH EUGH EUGH EUGH EUGH EUGH”. Which she found amusing. I spent the next five minutes screwing my face up. God I hate peppermint. But that aside, beautiful beautiful gin.

Brighton Rocktail
Brighton Rocktail

All in all, for a free night out, we had a great time. Did I learn anything? No. Did I find some new gins? Yes. Whilst I won’t be rushing to get me a bottle of Brockmans anytime soon, I definitely want to do some more research into genever and give that a good go, Gin Mare was delightful and I definitely need to replenish my supply of Brighton Gin!

All the gins we tried are commercially available and online:

photo 4
All the tonic!

Bols Aged genver: buy it, like it, follow it

Brockmans Gin: buy it, like it, follow it

Gin Mare: buy it, like it, follow it

Brighton Gin: buy it, like it, follow it

And as always you can check me out on Twitter and Instagram

Burleigh’s Signature Edition Gin – a review

photo (2)With this month’s Craft Gin Club delivery, as well as my full-sized bottle of Burleigh’s Distiller’s Cut gin, I also received a sample of their Signature Edition Gin. You can read some more about 45 West Distillery and their gin making process on the other blog so I don’t need to repeat that here (also making this post distinctly shorter than my others!) Their Signature gin is a London Dry (as are all of their gins) made in their copper distilling pot “Messy Bessy” which can make around 650 bottles of gin at a time. This gin is more suited to the classic G&T according to the makers, whereas the Distiller’s Cut works well in a Martinez due to a different ratio of botanicals.

IMG_0085As it is a small sample bottle I don’t get to hear the nice pop of a cork, but after unscrewing the lid the smell that comes out is more floral than the Distiller’s Cut. Bottled at a slightly lower 40%, this gin doesn’t attack your senses in the way the Distiller’s Cut does. It feels softer and more manageable on a weekday evening. Once in the glass, the juniper comes into its own and hits you at the back of the nose. Mixed with water, the juniper mellows out to create a more balanced smell. It tastes like a ‘traditional’ gin. Floral and zesty, it maintains the earthy undertones that feature so prominently in the Distiller’s Cut, but aren’t as overpowering. The result is a more palatable drink with no sharp kick at the back of the throat or bitterness on the tongue.

Mixed with the Fever Tree Indian tonic, it is fresh and bright. This gin tastes more commercial than the other type, it is less dense and overwhelming. The twist of lemon brightens the gin and brings out the citrus botanical. It leaves a pleasant tang on the tongue that leaves you wanting more as it isn’t too dry. This feels like an everyday gin to be enjoyed year round, whereas the Distiller’s Cut is a gin for a certain occasion and mood (judging from my over the top emotional reaction to it which leaves me thinking I shouldn’t drink it every day…)

IMG_0090Served with cold tonic and ice cubes, this felt like the perfect drink to enjoy after work, and I imagine it will go down a treat on the beach if we get any more sunny weekends!

You can buy all of Burleigh’s gins on their website and in various places around the UK. You can find out more about their brand and what they have going on through Facebook and Twitter. Whilst you’re there, don’t forget to give the Craft Gin Club some love as well (Twitter and Facebook).

You can also hear more about what I like and loathe through Twitter and Instagram.