World Gin Day is upon us (June 9th) and I have rounded up some incredible new gins for you to try, together with the cocktails you should try them with! Make yourselves a gin and tonic first though, this is going to be a long post.
Boatyard Double Gin
Boatyard Double Gin is, according to the Boatyard Distillery in Northern Ireland, “no bells, no whistles, just good gin done right” and there’s not much to argue there. This gin is all about the juniper, with citrus and floral scents to round it out. According to the distillers, they introduce “a unique juniper filtration process” as the distillation goes through the column still – a process known as “dubbel gebeide genever” among Dutch Gin spirit distillers. The result is simply delicious and you can taste the juniper from across the room. At the heart of the floral influence are organic botanicals including sweet gale, “a botanical foraged from the owner’s family farm in Fermanagh”. The Boatyard Double Gin is excellent choice for a Blueberry Gin Sour.
Manchester Gin Distiller’s Cut
This gin, as the name suggests, was born in Manchester, following a classic meet-cute in 2013 between creators Seb Heeley and Jen Wiggins over a shared love of gin & tonics. With a “worker bee” mindset – a celebrated symbol of their adopted city – and genuine love of this particular spirit, the two set out to create something special. The result, Manchester Gin, celebrates the best of the city, built on hand-foraged orange, lemon dandelion and burdock root.
Since then, their skills with this spirit has won them multiple competitions (including a Great Taste award, a gold at The Gin Masters and at the International Wine and Spirits Competition) and, in 2017, the pair opened their own distillery with two stills: Emmeline (named after suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst) and Victoria (after comedian Victoria Wood). Manchester Gin Distiller’s Cut is a bit sweeter than the original, with dandelion and burdock supplemented by hints of vanilla and elderberries, the ideal gin for a Clover Leaf cocktail.
Vidda Torr (Craft gin)
Vidda Torr Gin gin is, in the words of the distillery, a “Nordic take on a traditional British London Dry style gin” – but it’s a lot more than that. The big difference here is flavour: a combination of mountain botanicals, herbs and spices give this a seriously bold floral flavour. It’s almost like drinking a pine tree, but in the best possible way. This gin comes from a very young distillery: OHD (Oslo Håndverksdestilleri), which sits next to Oslo’s longest river, the Alna, was only established in 2015. But it is reviving a proud tradition of independent distilling – the State Wine Monopoly in Norway bought out the country’s last operational distillery in 1927.
The gin itself is created using 11 wild local botanicals including, heather, yarrow, chamomile flower, bilberry, angelica root, meadowsweet, sorrel, calamus root, elderflowers, pine shoots plus some very powerful juniper. According to OHD, it’s Norway’s short intense growing seasons that produce these wild herbs and botanicals bursting with scent and taste. And if you’re going to enjoy a gin with flavours this bold, you’ll need to find a cocktail that does it proud, like the Bramble. Vidda Torr is available at Royal Mile Whiskies
The clue’s in the name in this dry small batch gin, created with botanicals foraged from hedgerows in the Yorkshire countryside and cut wildflower hay. The gin – along with several others – is produced by Sloemotion, a small family business in the village of Barton-le-Willows, near Malton in North Yorkshire.
Jonathan Curtoys and his wife Claire have been running Sloemotion since 2006, working to return tracts of farmland to wildlife habitats, allowing local hedgerows to flourish and taking advantage of the fruit produced to create a range of sloe gins and whiskies, as well as this striking traditional gin. Its defining flavours include elderflower, rosehip, nettle lead, crab apple, wildflower hay and even sloe stones from Sloemotion’s sloe gin production. The result is a rich flavour that is just about perfect for an English Garden cocktail.
Probably my favourite thing about Haymans is that they name their stills: Marjorie (named after distiller Christopher Hayman’s mother), Karin (named after his wife) and Miranda (named after his daughter). The Hayman family has been distilling gin since 1863, first in London, then in Essex and now back in London (they returned in 2018), and tradition looms large.
Their “True English Gins” are based on techniques and methods that have been handed down from generation to generation, starting from the early days of the UK’s gin craze to the current boom in the spirit’s popularity. The distillery continues to use “authentic period recipes and traditional two-day process” just as it always has, avoiding fads and fillers and focusing on complexity and subtle flavours. This gin is all about nuance, perfect for the Red Queen.
A few noteworthy things about this one: it’s a small batch gin produced by the Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa in Newquay, Cornwall, and was created with the help of the UK’s first mobile distillery, Still On The Move (the sister company of Devon Distillery, this is the UK’s first mobile distillery, which can distill 100 litres of gin in as little as six hours). The bottle is tall, rectangular and simply elegant – exactly what you want from from a cool gin. The flavours are built on angelica root, juniper berries, fennel, pink grapefruit, pink peppercorns, elderflower and orange peel – not overpowering but not of flavour. And it makes a fierce Cucumber Gin Martini.
The Lakes Distillery Rhubarb and Rosehip
Juniper grows wild in the Lake District so it’s only fitting that the area should produce some fine gins and the Lakes Distillery offers some amazing choices. The distillery, opened in 2014, uses local juniper coupled with botanicals from the Lakes, including bilberry, heather and hawthorn, to create a gorgeous gin with rhubarb and rosehip to add to the experience. This is one of the Lakes Liqueurs series from the distillery, which also offers elderflower, sloe and damson options. This offers big citrus, fruit and floral flavours, perfect for a Berry Collins.
Classic Pink Gin
If you’re going to have a pink gin, might as well make it an English Drinks Company Classic Pink Gin. This hand crafter and copper distilled gin has a touch of pomegranate and cinchona bark, giving it a lovely light taste without being overpowering. It’s one of three gins on offer from the company, following on from their success with Cucumber Gin and Orangery Gin. (And depending what you read, that cinchona bark can apparently help with everything from appetite to digestion, as well as reducing bloating, hemorrhoids, varicose veins and leg cramps – though the English Drinks Company isn’t claiming anything other than it tasting good). A lovely choice for the Lychee French 75.
If you like gin with a hint of berries, this one is for you. If you like gin with a very serious suggestion of berries, you’ll like this one even more. Brockmans is an independent English gin company and their gin is notable for its use of very aromatic botanicals, including Bulgarian coriander, blueberries, blackberries, Tuscan juniper berries and Valencian orange peel. These are distilled in a 100 year old traditional copper still, slowly, producing one of the more powerful gin flavours available today. As a consequence, it’s tricky finding a cocktail that isn’t overpowered by this spirit – but the strawberry gin sour (below) is a good choice, with the berry and florals working well to produce something memorable.
Love gin? Here’s a club you must join
Suffice it to say, I like gin and thankfully there’s a huge variety of options out there from which to choose. I’ve had the opportunity to explore some of these through the tremendous Craft Gin Club, which sends out a full-sized bottle of craft gin (plus a magazine and other goodies) from different distillers each month, including limited edition and exclusive gins, and you’ll be amazed what’s out there. Does this mean Mother’s Ruin has at last become a firm favourite? We can only hope. Cheers!
Strawberry gin sour
Pretty but not lightweight, the strawberry gin sour makes the most strawberry season combining the sweet berries with gin, elderflower liqueur, lime juice and egg white. Use a gin that’s not too overpowering, otherwise it might strangle the fruity taste. Brockman’s gin with its berry tones works well as does Classic Pink Gin. If you don’t happen to have St. Germain elderflower liqueur in your drinks collection, then you could replace with elderflower cordial in a pinch.
The egg white is not essential, but it adds a bit of body and a very pretty froth. Fresh egg white creates more froth than pasteurised egg whites (from a carton). Frosting the rim of the glass is also up to you – it is mostly for looks, I will admit it. 🙂 Speaking of looks, how pretty are these vintage-style coupe glasses with copper coloured stems? Soiree Vintage Champagne Saucer Set at IWOOT (I want one of those).
How to make a strawberry gin sour
Step 1. Fill a small shallow plate with granulated sugar and juice of a lime. Moisten the rim of two coupe glasses with a wedge of lime and then dip into the sugar to frost. Set aside.
Step 2. Rinse the strawberries, hull them and cut into quarters. Add to your cocktail shaker together with the gin, elderflower liqueur and lime juice. Muddle the strawberries to extract as much juice as possible. Add the egg white and dry shake (without ice) to create the froth. Have a taste – do you need to add a bit more lime juice?
Step 3. Add plenty of ice but don’t overfill the shaker as the egg froth has explosive tendencies. Shake hard for 30 seconds. Strain (or double strain) into the prepared glasses and garnish with a sliced strawberry or an edible flower. Enjoy!
- 150 g | 1 cup strawberries
- 120 ml | 1/2 cup gin
- 60 ml | 1/4 cup elderflower liqueur St. Germain
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp egg white
- Lime zest and sugar to frost the glass optional
- Fresh strawberries or edible flowers to garnish
Fill a small shallow plate with granulated sugar and juice of a lime. Moisten the rim of two coupe glasses with a wedge of lime and then dip into the sugar to frost. Set aside.
Rinse the strawberries, hull them and cut into quarters.
Add to your cocktail shaker together with the gin, elderflower liqueur and lime juice.
Muddle the strawberries to extract as much juice as possible.
Add the egg white and dry shake (without ice) to create the froth.
Add plenty of ice and shake hard for 30 seconds.
Strain into the prepared glasses and garnish with a sliced strawberry or an edible flower.
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