58 gin and tonic

58 Gin

While I didn’t manage to crack 8 distilleries in 7 days like I did during my 2015 trip, I was able to pop into a couple, including 58 Gin in Hackney, where I caught up with owner and Master Distiller, Mark Marmont.

58 gin
Mark Marmont

Originally from Australia, Mark settled in London after meeting his wife. He didn’t like gin back then, put off by his dislike of cardamom and star anise which he found in many of the gins he tried. He started to take an interest in the London cocktail scene and as he learned more about gin from his bartender friends, decided to develop his own gin.

Mark opened the 58 gin distillery on Australia Day 2014, fitting for the former dive master and boat skipper from Sydney. Nestled under the railway arches in Hackney, the distillery is a tiny space filled with alembic stills in a variety of sizes. I was struck by the tidiness (I’ve been to A LOT of distilleries that could learn a thing or two) and Mark proudly showed off all the carefully designed hidden storage space that keeps the distillery in order.

58 Gin Branding created by celebrated tattoo artist and designer Mo Coppoletta.

Why 58 gin? Fortunately, this isn’t a reference to the number of botanicals, but is the number on the door of Mark’s house. The angel wings on the label represent Angel, the London borough where Mark lives.

Distillation

Mark follows a traditional (one-shot) method of producing his gin.  The botanicals are steeped over night and distilled very slowly to get the maximum flavour from the ingredients. It’s a painstaking process and only 90 bottles are produced at a time.

58 gin
One of two alembic pot stills used to make 58 gin
58 gin
I’d love to know why distillers name their stills, but Mark has dutifully named all of his.

58 Gin Botanicals

Mark, like many distillers, initially experimented at his kitchen bench, playing around with different ingredients and refining his recipe. At one point he told me he had 30 different botanicals on the go and in his words “it was ridiculous! I couldn’t find any balance”. After paring everything back to the basics he settled on nine; juniper, coriander seeds, orris root, angelica, cubeb pepper, Sicilian lemon, pink grapefruit, bergamot and bourbon vanilla.

Tasting 58 Gin

Juniper and grapefruit notes are really clear on the nose. On the palate, it totally hits the mark with good juniper flavour and delicious citrus notes from the grapefruit and bergamot. There is a little lingering pepperiness from the cubeb and a merest hint of vanilla that thankfully doesn’t overpower. It’s a full-bodied gin with a smooth, round finish. So tasty!

Drinking 58 Gin

With lots of juniper and citrus, 58 gin is a natural winner in a G&T, but savoury enough to enjoy in a martini. Mark’s preference is in a Gibson (silverskin onions are always available in the distillery fridge) and I tend to agree!

Gibson martini 58 gin

While 58 Gin isn’t available to buy in Australia at the moment, it can’t surely be long before we welcome this delightful gin. I’ve already started nagging Mark about Junipalooza Melbourne next year!

Country of Origin: UK

ABV: 43%

Price: Medium

You can follow 58 gin on Facebook, instagram and twitter

East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No.2

East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No.2

I’m about to head off to the UK for some more ginanagins in the lead up to Junipalooza. Finalising my itinerary I’m reminiscing about my visit two years ago when one of the (many) distilleries I visited was East London Liquor Company, the first vodka, gin and whisky distillery in that part of London for 100 years.

Part of founder Alex Wolpert and distiller Tom Hill’s  mission was to create a gin that was accessible in terms of price without compromising on flavour. They achieved this with their first expression that I reviewed here.

East London Liquor Company Dry Gin and Tonic
East London Liquor Company Dry Gin and Tonic

Like most distillers, it wasn’t long before Tom was itching to create another gin. Distillers are wont to do that. In spite of producing something spectacular, the love of playing (sorry distilling) with all sorts of ingredients is part of the magic of gin production. The possibilities are endless.

East London Liquor Company Premium Gin

Not content with producing one, Tom ended up producing two and I was thrilled to learn that East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No. 2 is now available in Australia.

East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No.2 Botanicals

Looking at the list of botanicals used in Batch No. 2 my mind immediately leapt to an image of a traditional english herb garden. Juniper, coriander seed, orris root, angelica, and lemon peel are all familiar ingredients in gin. However, the addition of winter savoury, fennel seeds, sage, bay leaf and lavender adds a herbaceous dimension to this complex gin.

Tasting East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No.2

On the nose the herbs come through, particularly the thyme and fennel. To taste, initially there are bright citrus notes that develop into delicious, almost chewy herbal flavours with sage and bay leaf most evident. There is a subtle hint of lavender before a lengthy finish rounded our with white pepper. The bold flavours are supported by a 47% ABV but this is still a smooth, sippable gin.

Drinking East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No.2

Garnished with thyme and lemon, Batch No. 2 makes a solid gin and tonic. As a lover of savoury gins (think West Winds Cutlass and Gin Mare) this gin stands out as a perfect martini gin. Try it wetter (with more vermouth) to encourage those herbaceous notes to come to the fore. I was also inspired to try it in Ryan Magarian’s The Lady Sage Cocktail.

Lady-Sage-Cocktail-Glass

Country of Origin: UK

ABV: 47%

Price: Medium

For information about Australian stockist contact Savant Spirits.

Kew Organic gin

Kew Organic Gin

Kew Organic gin was created by the London Distillery Company, the makers of Dodd’s, in partnership with The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

Master Distiller Darren Rook, and business partner Nick approached the gardens about the collaboration after they had successfully created a gin for prestigious London store, Fortnum and Mason.

kew organic gin
The artwork on the box is inspired by the rich illustrations in the Kew gardens archives.

I caught up with Darren when he came to Junipalooza Melbourne in October last year, where he was launching Kew Organic gin to the Australian gin-lovers. He told me when it came to collecting plants from around Kew, they were like kids in a candy store. Tony, the head gardener, “let us go loose”.

kew organic gin
Darren at Junipalooza Melbourne

This probably explains how the gin came to have a whopping 44 botanicals. Darren told me he had brought it back from 48, saying “I was trying to get to 4”!

The team decided that creating a gin for Kew without using the incredible range of botanicals on offer would be a wasted opportunity.  Of the 44 botanicals, 27 are from Kew. Six of those are different types of lavender, each with different flavor profiles, including cotton lavender which brings a saline character to the gin.

Darren explained the challenge of using so many botanicals to build flavour without having any one dominant note. They began by splitting the ingredients into different distillations. The final version was created by accident, using four different gins and blending them together to make Kew Organic Gin.

The botanicals

There are two types of organic Juniper (Bulgarian and Tuscan) used to make Kew Organic gin, alongside five different varieties of citrus: lemon, lime, pink grapefruit peel, orange peel and bergamot peel. The specially foraged botanicals from Kew Gardens include santolina, rosemary, lavender flower, galangal and passion-flower.

Flavour

83gms of juniper per litre go into each of the gins produced by Dodd’s. For those of you who don’t like a punchy juniper style gin, don’t worry,  Kew Organic gin is a masterclass in how balanced a gin should be. On the nose the pine and citrus notes are apparent. On the palate, juniper, citrus and coriander are at the fore with white pepper, spice and a hint of lavender coming through towards the end. It has an incredibly smooth and lengthy finish.

Kew Organic gin
Kew Organic gin and tonic

As usual, I tried Kew Organic Gin in a gin and tonic, a martini and a negroni. I could not fault it in any of the three drinks. The louching (cloudiness) of the gin and tonic is due to the high level of botanical oils in the gin. It makes a perfect martini.  It’s ABV (it’s 46%) is able to stand up well to the vermouth and Campari to make a stellar negroni.

Kew Organic Gin

Darren’s team will have access to wider selection of botanicals in the future, and there are plans to establish a dedicated gin garden at Kew. I cannot wait to see what they come up with next. Kew Organic is a very special gin indeed.

Country of Origin: UK

ABV: 46%

Price: Medium

world gin day 2017 competition

East London Liquor Company Dry Gin

East London Liquor Company was one of several distilleries I managed to pack in to my week in London last year. I was really impressed by their set up in East London, which is the first vodka, gin and whisky distillery to open there in 100 years.

Tom Hills, ELLC Distiller
Tom Hills, East London Liquor Company Gin Distiller in front of one of the custom-designed, custom-built Arnold Holstein copper stills.

Founded by Alex Wolpert and housed in a former glue factory, East London Liquor company combines a working distillery with a fantastic bar setting, and is a little reminiscent of Archie Rose in Sydney, which does the same.

The overarching aim of the distillery is produce spirits that are “accessible in flavour and price” and East London Liquor Company Dry Gin certainly achieves that.

The botanicals: Juniper, coriander, fresh lemon and grapefruit peel, angelica root, cubeb berries, and cardamom.

On the nose there is plenty of cardamom and citrus, but taste wise it’s incredibly well-balanced with a good juniper flavour and a little spice and warmth from the cubeb at the end. It is beautifully smooth with a long finish.

The great thing about a well-balanced classic style gin is it’s versatility. As expected it makes a great gin and tonic, but you could use this gin in pretty much every cocktail, which was the aim in its creation. Many bars use this as their ‘house pour’ and it would serve you well in your home bar. I went with a White Lady (sans egg) as my other trial cocktail and wasn’t disappointed.

East London Liquor Company Dry Gin and Tonic
East London Liquor Company Dry Gin and Tonic

 

East London Liquor Company White Lady
East London Liquor Company White Lady

In addition to their Dry gin, East London Liquor Company also produces two premium gins with a higher ABV. Batch No. 1 features Darjeeling tea and Batch No. 2 which is more savory,  has bay, fennel and sage as key botanicals. In 2016 they also launched an experimental barrel-aged gin program.

East London Liquor Company Premium Gin
East London Liquor Company Premium Gin

None of other variations these are available in Australia yet, but I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed. In the mean time I’ve going to enjoy this East London Liquor Company Dry gin. As the saying goes…a gin in my hand….

Country of origin: UK

ABV: 40%

Price: Medium

You can follow East London Liquor Company on Facebook, twitter  and instagram.

Note: I received this bottle for the purposes of review. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Dodd's Gin and Soda garnished with grapefruit and lavender

Dodd’s Gin

Dodd’s gin is named after Ralph Dodd, a London civil engineer, famous for his failure to attempt to build the first tunnel under the Thames. He tried to set up a The London Distillery Company in 1807, but got into trouble with the law for business irregularities, so the distillery never went ahead.  When Darren Rook launched The London Distillery Company in 2013 through an ambitious crowd-funding campaign, he decided to name the gin after Ralph.

There is so much to love about the way the LDC produces its gin. All of the botanicals are certified as organic, as well as the base spirit, the honey they use is collected from local producer The London Honey Company, they reclaim heat energy from the stills, AND their labels are printed on carbon neutral paper made by wind power. I happen to think their label is one of the prettiest by the way!

Dodd’s gin is made using fractional distillation – a process adopted by many distilleries, including Hendrick’s – that uses two distinct distillation processes to achieve the finished spirit.  The majority of the botanicals are distilled in the traditional way using a Carl still called ‘Christina’. The more delicate ingredients, such as the raspberry leaf are distilled using a cold vacuum system. The two distillates are blended for several weeks before bottling.

Dodd's Gin Still 'Christina'
Dodd’s Gin Still ‘Christina’

Dodd’s gin botanicals

The botanicals are a mix of traditional and unusual ~ Juniper, raspberry leaf, angelica, bay laurel leaf, lime peel, black cardamom and green cardamom, and London honey.

On the nose and palate there is lots of juniper. The two types of cardamom bring pleasing spicy notes and there is some herbaceousness from the bay laurel leaf. As the spirit lingers, bright citrus notes from the lime develop. It’s a mighty tasty gin with a beautiful mouthfeel from the angelica and honey. It’s a surprising 49.9% ABV, the smoothness of the spirit hiding the high proof well.

I didn’t think that Dodd’s gin would be a good match for tonic water so opted for soda water instead, garnishing with grapefruit zest and lavender. I was correct, the soda allowed the gin to shine and was wonderfully refreshing.

Dodd's Gin Blue Moon
Dodd’s Gin Blue Moon

I tried Dodd’s Gin in a Blue Moon and it balanced well. I think it would also make an excellent Bee’s Knees. In a martini I would serve it dry with a twist.

Dodd’s is a little on the pricey side, but a worthy addition to the gin fiend’s bar.

Country of Origin: UK

ABV: 49.9%

Price: High

You can follow Dodd’s Gin on Facebook  and instagram.

Cotswold Distillery Gin

Cotswolds Distillery Gin

Cotswolds Distillery founder and native New Yorker, Dan Szor fell in love with the region while escaping the London rat race at the weekends. Noticing the vast amount of barley growing in the area, he saw an opportunity to create the first Cotswolds whisky. After studying to be a distiller at Heriot Watt University, and with a little encouragement from friends Dan turned his hand to gin, and Cotswolds Distillery gin was released in 2014.

The botanicals

London Dry in style, Cotswolds Distillery gin is made with juniper, coriander, angelica root, Cotswolds lavender, bay leaf, grapefruit and lime (fresh peel), black pepper and cardamom seed.

The juniper, coriander and angelica root, are macerated together for 12 hours before being distilled with Cotswolds lavender and bay leaf, grapefruit, lime, black pepper and cardamom in a 500 litre Holstein still.

Cotswolds Distillery Holstein Still
Cotswolds Distillery Holstein Still

On the nose Cotswolds Distillery gin is herbaceous, with very noticeable fennel/celery and citrus notes. On the palate the juniper is less pine than most gins and more camphor/savoury with some grapefruit. It has a zesty finish with hints of black pepper. A bright and contemporary gin.

Like Melbourne Gin Company gin, Cotswolds Distillery gin is non-chill filtered. This means that when liquid is added there is a little louching, or cloudiness in the drink. Both distillers feel that by not chill-filtering their gin they retain all the flavour in the oils from the botanicals.

Cotswold Distillery Gin and Tonic
Cotswolds Distillery Gin and Tonic

It looks and tastes gorgeous in a gin and tonic as you can see! This one I garnished with fennel and black pepper. Like every good dry gin, the beauty is in its versatility, so Cotswolds Distillery gin should stand you in good stead whatever cocktail you are making. However, I think it would work particularly well in a Lawn mower, as the elderflower liqueur complements the lavender notes in the gin!

The Lawn Mower Cocktail

Country of Origin: UK

ABV: 46%

Price: Medium

Haymans-Family-Reserve

Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin

During my trip to the UK last June, I visited Hayman’s Distillery and met their master distiller Lizzy Bailey. Lizzy was an excellent host and It was during a guided tasting that I had my first taste of Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin.

Haymans-gin-range
Hayman’s gin range

Lizzy painstakingly researches the Hayman family archive to find authentic gin recipes. The technique used to make Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin harks back to the days when bottling your gin was not yet the norm. Before the Bottling Act of 1861, gin was transported and served from old whisky barrels, as seen here.

Gin-served-from-whisky-barrels
Gin served from whisky barrels

To be clear though, the gin is not aged, merely “rested” in 3rd filled Scotch whisky barrels for a minimum of 3 weeks. The short time frame means the gin doesn’t take on the colour from the barrels. In addition the juniper notes that are often rounded out during a lengthier barrel-ageing process remain intact.

On the nose Hayman’s Family reserve is juniper and coriander and less citrus that other gins in their range. On tasting pine from the juniper are present with spicy coriander notes and some lovely hints of oak. It’s smooth and rounded on the palate which I attribute to the resting process.

I must admit when I knew this gin was rested in whisky barrels I was concerned that not only would it confuse the flavours, but would impact on the ways I could drink it.

Fortunately, Hayman’s Family Reserve is versatile, exactly as a good gin should be. It works well in a G&T, cutting through the sweetness of the tonic and is fantastic in a Gibson martini, the peppery notes boosting the savoury nature of the drink.

Haymans-Family-Reserve-bottle

Country of Origin: UK

ABV: 41.3%

Price: Medium

Tarquin’s Dry Gin

Tarquin’s Dry Gin from Southwestern Distillery in Wadebridge is the first Cornish gin for over a century and won Gold at the prestigious International Wine and Spirits Awards (IWSC) in 2014, the year it launched.

Distiller Tarquin Leadbetter gave up life behind a desk to pursue a career in distilling, the result is Tarquin’s Dry Gin and intriguingly, a Cornish Pastis (no, not pasties). As the name suggests it’s in the London Dry style, but Tarquin told me “I tried to create something familiar but at the same time slightly different, a nod to the classic London Dry gins that I love (and perhaps my subconscious was utterly unable to ignore) – but the aim was to create something a little bit more modern, and unique.”

Not only unique, but on a very small scale. South Western Distillery’s pot still Tamara (named after the Cornish river Tamar) is tiny by industry standards, and only 300 bottles are created per batch. Unusually, she is fired by flame, which Tarquin believes adds a level of complexity to his gin.

South-Western-Distillery's copper-pot-still- 'Tamara'
South Western Distillery’s Still ‘Tamara’

The traditional gin botanicals are all present; juniper, coriander, citrus (the fresh zest of sweet orange, lemon and grapefruit), angelica, orris root and liquorice. However, Tarquin has chosen cinnamon in place of the typical cassia bark giving a slightly sweeter spice note. The surprising botanical is the leaves from Devon violets, a touch of nostalgia for Tarquin’s childhood in the West Country.

Tarquin's-Dry-Gin-and-Tonic

On the nose, Tarquin’s is a balance of citrus and juniper and that is mirrored in the flavour with piney juniper notes leading into bright citrus flavours, with a hint of orange blossom. The finish is dry and savoury with a hint of peppery warmth.

Tarquin’s Dry Gin makes a brilliant gin and tonic (I garnished mine with fresh lime peel and edible violets) and a magnificent Aviation cocktail where the citrus notes worked well against the maraschino liqueur. A lovely gin that you should definitely try!

County of Origin: UK

ABV: 42%

Price: Medium

Star-of-Bombay-gin

Star of Bombay

I first tasted Star of Bombay, the new expression from Bombay Sapphire while visiting Laverstoke Mill, during my trip back to the UK in June. I was with Nik Fordham, the Master Distiller at the time who was sampling the latest batch that had come off the still some 30 minutes earlier. How lucky am I?

The instant I tasted it I knew Nik had created a winner. Maybe it was the pronounced juniper or the elevated ABV (47.5%), or perhaps my dazzling surroundings at the time (distillery geek right here!).

When I chatted with Nik, he impressed upon me that this was a new gin entirely, not just a beefed up Bombay Sapphire. Nik said:

“We knew we wanted to something different over and above just adding a new botanical, so we used 2 different types of juniper, regular juniper communis and juvenile (younger berries) greener juniper, which give more pine notes.”

Botanicals

Juniper, coriander, grains of paradise, lemon peel, cubeb berries, orris root, almonds, cassia bark, liquorice, angelica, (the key botanicals of Bombay Sapphire) are joined by bergamot and ambrette seeds to produce a spicier, earthier gin.

Like the other gins in the Bombay Sapphire stable, Star of Bombay is 100% vapour-infused (the botanicals sit above the boiling alcohol, not in it) however, Nik and the team are running the stills at a different rate, (first at 40% then up to 60% before dropping back down to 40%) which assists in developing a more intense flavour.

It’s definitely has more pronounced juniper flavour, lots of pine and some citrus, but with a spicier, warmer finish than it’s counterpart, Bombay Sapphire.

How to drink it

Star-of-Bombay-Gin-and-Tonic

The Bombay peeps recommend a 50/50 Star of Bombay to tonic ratio, served with a twist of orange peel. I adore this, as I like my G&Ts on the bolder (stronger!) side.

Star-of-Bombay-Gin-Saint-Germain-and-Soda-water

For a longer drink try it with a splash of Saint Germain Elderflower liqueur and top up with soda water.

Origin: UK

ABV: 47.5%

Price: Medium

Portobello-Road-Gin-and-Tonic

Portobello Road No. 171 Gin

Yes, yes, I know Portobello Road Gin has been around for a while, but as it’s new to these Aussie shores, I just had to share its delights with you.

The story behind Portobello Road gin is an interesting one, beginning with the opening of the Portobello Star in 2008 by Ged Feltham and Jake Burger. Keen to make use of the two upper floors of the venue (and after a trip to the Beefeater Distillery) Jake suggested they create a gin museum. The ‘Ginstitute’ was born. Jake and Ged have collected lots of vintage gins (and other booze) and cocktails books and decorated the room in the style of a Victorian drinking den

At this point neither partner had thought of creating their own gin, but as the plans for the Ginstitute came together Ged saw the idea of creating a space where people could create their owns gins had real appeal and they installed a 30 litre copper still called ‘Copernicus’ on the floor above the museum together with a blending room.

Copernicus (image via Barmagazine)
Copernicus (image via Barmagazine)

Playing with various botanicals and unusual ingredients Ged and Jake came up with the recipe for Portobello Road No. 171 Gin, but it wasn’t until they took the idea to master distiller Charles Maxwell (Thames Distillers) that they saw the possibility of their own gin become a reality and it launched in 2011.

Ged and Jake haven’t used any unusual botanicals in their gin (although they did mess about with plenty of crazy distillates at the beginning) and opted for the traditional set of juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, lemon peel, orange peel, liquorice root, cassia bark and nutmeg.

Obviously with that botanical profile one would expect a London dry style gin and I wasn’t disappointed. I noted a nice hit of juniper on the nose with some citrus but also detected a subtle floral aroma too. The flavour is clean, bright with some spicy notes that don’t burn but add warmth and length to the spirit.

It was tremendous in a G&T and a martini as one would expect, but I also loved it in this Garden Buck from Ryan Chetiyawardana’s new book (will definitely be sharing the recipe later!).

Portobello-Road-Gin-Buck
Portobello Road Gin Buck

Have you tried Portobello Road? What did you think?