Whilst each spirit category has an interesting history, the history of gin is probably the darkest and most morbid. Gin, with its core ingredients being juniper and alcohol, can trace its roots back to the Dutch drink genever. The story goes that English soldiers stationed in continental Europe during the 80 Years War liked the juniper flavoured Dutch alcoholic elixir so much that they brought it back to England and they anglicised its name to “gin”. In the late 1600’s William III imposed tariffs and reduced taxes on local spirit production, resulting in a strange situation where pints of gin were cheaper than pints of ale and beer. And so started one of the craziest booze fueled stages in history, aptly called the “gin craze”. Continue reading “Edinburgh Gin Distillery”→
My interest in making a good martini was sparked in what may be the most unlikely of places. It was not in some swanky cocktail bar in Melbourne or London. It was in the tropical heat of far north Queensland, Australia.
I was at the Nautilus bar in Port Douglas on a scorching December evening. The menu listed a selection of cocktails and martinis. A martini made with The Botanist gin caught my interest, primarily because this gin is made by the Scottish single malt producer Bruichladdich on the isle of Islay (with a still nicknamed “ugly Betty”, so I’m told). As soon as that expertly made icy cold martini hit my lips, I forgot about the tropical heat as my attention turned to the fascinating world of the martini.
Bulldog London Dry Gin is a gin with modern packaging, but at its heart is the craft-work of an English distillery that has been making gin for over 250 years. Distilled four times and made from Norfolk wheat, the gin is smooth, crisp and radiates with the glow of 12 high quality botanicals from 8 countries: Chinese dragon eye and liquorish, Turkish white poppy seeds, Asian lotus leaves, Italian juniper and orris, Moroccan coriander, German angelica, Spanish lemon and almonds, Asian cassia and French Lavender.
Bulldog London Dry Gin
Medium (heavy botanicals)
Smooth and crisp grain spirit heart carried bitter botanicals, with big notes of lemon, licorice and juniper.
My blind tasting of Bulldog London Dry Gin revealed a gin that offers heavy and dense botanicals carried by a crisp and smooth distillate that shines brightly. Nose: Freshly grated lemon peel wafts up from the glass with light notes of licorice and coriander that playfully dance around the denser aroma of juniper. At its heart lies the distilled spirit, which projects a beautiful grain spirit aroma and some light notes of ethanol. Taste: An immediate wave of sweetness is replaced quickly by the bitter alcohol that is then overtaken by the botanicals, first juniper strikes but as it lingers the taste of other botanicals develop including sweet licorice and a vegetal bitterness that reflects the many ingredients listed above but the most noticeable are lemon, juniper, licorice and coriander. Finish: The finish is bitter as the alcohol lingers with the botanicals.
Complex flavours and high quality botanicals
Bitterness can be overpowering and a little too “loud”
Soft creamy juniper berries with citrus and coriander lying on a foundation of licorice
In a nutshell:
The gin without the pungent smell or taste of alcohol!
Smooth, floral and fragrant with very little harshness
Easily lost in a mixed drink
McHenry Classic Dry Gin is a Tasmanian gin that has a mellow and delightfully fragrant delivery with the perfume of botanicals masking the harsh alcohol lurking within. That is what makes this gin extremely enjoyable, and perfect for mixing with tonic or in a cocktail: no noticeable harshness of alcohol.
Group blind tasting
I decided to do something different with my gin reviews. Because my partner and family enjoy gin and tonic, I conducted a little experiment over the weekend. This experiment involved serving neat gin (McHenry Dry Gin, Tanqueray Ten, Spirit of Hven and Bulldog Gin) to four people and asking them to select one they liked the smell of most. Next, the gin was mixed with tonic and the people were asked to elect a favourite based on taste. Tasting was done blind.
The gin and tonic made with the McHenry Classic Dry Gin was the unanimous favourite. All the people said the McHenry Gin was their favourite for its smell and taste. The least favourite was the Tanqueray Ten. Feedback on the McHenry Gin was that it was:
“not too strong”;
The Tanqueray was described as being overly pungent and overpowering, with an alcoholic harshness that made everybody cringe. In an extra glass I added double the amount of McHenry Gin, and still everybody unanimously preferred the tonic with the McHenry Gin. They said it was strong but not “alcoholic” like the Tanqueray, and that it just had a more “intense” flavour but was not “off-putting like the Tanqueray”.
I blind tasted the McHenry Classic Dry Gin alongside the other gins, and it was also my favourite. It was smooth, floral and fragrant with the aroma of diverse botanicals meeting the nose as the bouquet of flavours moved to the palate without disruption. It was creamy and soft, with subtle juniper berries, coriander, orange peel, anise seed and a fusion of other plants that merged wonderfully together.
I cannot add much more than the unanimous opinion of four people… make that five!