There’s a lot of spirits and mixers that need to be tasted.
It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.

Mister Cocktail

Posted on 06/07/2016 by Mistercocktail

One of the positive side-effects of the current gin trend in The Netherlands is that many local distilleries, as well as the larger ones of course, have developed a gin of their own. It may be an unknown fact, but The Netherlands used to be the leading nation in distilling spirits. Genever was the single best sold spirit in the world at the turn of the 19th century. Many classic cocktail recipes call for Dutch Gin, which is genever. World Wars and a prohibition didn’t work out very well for this spirit and it has been diminshed to a very local product that even here suffers from a huge slide in volumes and a bad image. With the rise of gins (yes, The Netherlands is a bit late to the gin-partey) this is the perfect opportunity to show the distilling skills that are still present in our little country. Over 100 local gins have been launched in the past few years, some are amazing, some should have been tested for a bit longer before releasing the final product. Of course I won’t bring you anything bad here, so I picked 4 Dutch gins that have been released recently.

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Catz Gin was launched on May 12th in Amsterdam and has been developed over the past two years by three friends who have a long combined history in spirits, having worked together for large brands since the 1980s. The gin was created together with Herman Jansen (Schiedam), one of the traditional distilleries that stood the test of time. Many, may different versions were created, not settling for anything but the best combination, resulting in a powerful gin at 48,2 % abv. Leading botanicals are bergamot peel, juniper berries, cinnamon and cayenne peppers, but more are in this gin that are not revealed. The gin opens slowly due the high abv and releases its flavours step by step. First there are notes of bergamot, juniper and coriander. After that more sweet notes: creamy vanilla, orange and cinnamon with a peppery finish.
I find the perfect serve with 6 O’Clock Tonic combined with a lemon twist for an even fresher g&t or a slice of orange for a walk on the sweeter side.

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Boomsma Dry Gin is a new kid on the block as well, as it was launched last Thursday in the Bluespoon Bar of the Andaz Hotel in Amsterdam. It is a creation by Boomsma, a company from Friesland in the north of The Netherlands. They have been around since 1883 and are quite big in the Dutch market, in the sense that they produce the best sold blended scotch and wodka for example. Recently, Saskia and Chantoine Boomsma, 5th generation, have taken over the company and they are making some changes already. A new copper still has been installed and this gin is the first new launch in their portfolio. It is based on botanicals that are usually found in Beerenburger, a typical bitter for the northern provinces and includes calamus, centaury, gentian, blessed thistle and laurel.
This gin also opens slowly being 45 % in abv and reveals a complex taste with lots of depth. Firstly there’s orange, fresh citrus and sweet spicy notes of laurel and a hint of cinnamon. The finish is long and herbal with liquorice and a hint of menthol.
My ideal serve is with Fentiman’s Tonic Water and fresh summer fruit: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries etc.

 

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Launched in April this year, we have the TX Gin, from our beautiful island Texel. A new gin, based on the old tradition of distilling left-over crop and saving it for sale or for the cold winterdays. Stokerij Texel, founded with crowdfunding by Jaco Spek and Kees Groenewoud, buys potatoes from a local farm and makes a base alcohol from them, turning it into gin with the addition of local botanicals, including elderflower and “duindoorn“. Especially the latter is a tough one to pick, as the branches of the bush have sharp thorns and the berries are placed close to the branches. Squeezing them too hard will make them pop so you have to remove them carefully with a pair of scissors. They rival juniper berries in their difficulty of being picked.
The gin is quite strong yet floral, a quite unusual combination, at 42 % abv. The start is somewhat sweet and herbal with lots of juniper, cardemom and coriander seeds. It combines the roughness of the sea with the beauty of the island. The floral notes of elderflower come through together with the mild sour-bitterness of the duindoorn, leading to a nice aftertaste.
The combination I liked most for my G&T is with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic. The garnish is something I’m not yet sure about to be honest, so you can figure that one out yourself. This has mainly to do with the duality of the gin, which can go to the herbal side as well as the floral side, two different g&t’s.

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Distillery Rutte from Dordrecht has been around since 1872 and has mainly focussed on making genevers and liqueurs. It profiles itself as a botanical distillery and creating a gin of their own was a logical next step. Besides a dry gin, they have launched a Celery Gin which recenty picked up the nomination for the Spirited Awards in the category Best New Spirit, as well as double gold, best in class in an important competition in the U.S. This gin is based on 6 botanicals, five of them being classical gin botanicals: juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica, cardemom and orange peel. The 6th is actually a classical genever botanical, as Celery was already used by Rutte since their early days.
The gin opens very pleasantly, with the freshness of juniper and coriander mixing well with the herbal sweetness of the celery. The gin keeps developing whilst keeping a great balance.
Rutte Celery Gin is very versatile, so many tonics can be used for the perfect serve. I went with the Schweppes Premium Orginal Tonic as it brings a classic touch to this gin. The logical garnish would be a cellery stick, or, alternatively, a slice of fresh lemon.

 

Posted on 16/12/2012 by Mistercocktail

I’m still updating my first posts I made earlier this year when I started with the G&T Sunday Reviews. I only tested Hendrick’s with Fentiman’s, so 3 others left to go with this most peculiar Scottish gin.

A quick update on what Hendrick’s is, just in case you’ve forgotten: “It has a distinctive bottle, resembling an Apothecary bottle from long time ago, coloured almost black. When you turn the bottle, you may notice the sentence “It is not for Everyone” and I must say: it isn’t. You can read the ingredients on the back label as well and the first stage of the distillation is making a ‘vapour-distilled’ gin, which could be classified as a London Dry Gin. In this first step, ‘ordinary’ botanicals are infused in a neutral grain spirit. Think of Juniper, Coriander and Citrus Peel. But Hendrick’s Gin becomes, well, Hendrick’s Gin after the addition of two extra infusions: Cucumber and Rose Petals. Here’s a link to their blog, where you can read a lot more about their gin.”

1724: The nose is strong and cucumber-rose combination comes directly to you. The taste reveals mainly these 2 flavours with only a slight bitterness. In the aftertaste the coriander comes through, taking over completely. I think this tonic water is not strong enough to complement the dominant flavourings in Hendrick’s Gin
7.5/10

Fever Tree: This taste just scream Coriander from the first sip! CO-RI-ANDEEEER!!!! Cucumber is detectable in the middle which is a bit more sweet and it gets more floury (=rose) towards the end, but wow, I’ve never taste so much coriander in one sip!
7/10

Thomas Henry: Here I also get a little bit of the Coriander-experience, but milder. The taste is much more balanced and I get very pleasant sweet notes in the middle, accompanied by the typical rose and cucumber.
9/10

Fentiman’s: I needed to try this mix again, since I rated it with a 6 last time. One of worst combinations I tried but did I make a mistake in judgement? Time to find out!

Nope. It’s a terrible mix, too citrussy, too perfumed and there’s hardly any cucumber nor rose left in the taste. Both are great products, but not together.
6/10

Conclusion: Hendrick’s Gin has such an outspoken bouquet that it is more difficult to match with a tonic water. Most make an all-right mix, but we’re looking for the best combination, the one tonic water that really compliments the gin and that lets it shine. I only found Thomas Henry to do this for Hendrick’s really well, but with the addition of fresh cucumber I’m pretty sure that the mix with all other tonic waters will be very pleasant. But in my tastings I compare without garnishes so I can taste the combination best.

Posted on 11/12/2012 by Mistercocktail

Now that I’ve got some time to try the other tonic waters with each different gin, I’m meeting old friends again. Tanqueray, one of the world’s leading gins, created by Charles Tanqueray in 1820 is now waiting for me to be tested with the 3 remaining tonic waters: Fentiman’s, Thomas Henry and 1724. Just like in last Sunday’s tasting with Bombay Sapphire, I’m curious how I will rate these gin & tonics considering the amount of specialty gins I’ve been tasting over the past few months. It’s not that my taste is spoiled, but if you’re spectrum of taste gets wider and more experienced there is always a chance that you keep comparing everything to that one perfect gin. It’s like buying a new suit: the one you like most is always the most expensive one and you keep comparing everything else with that perfect € 2000 suit.

It also made me reflect on what I’m actually rating: is it my own taste or the way the gin and tonic match? Letting your own taste lead you towards picking the best tasting g&t is very tempting, as it is the easiest to describe: you like it, you don’t or something in between (that’s some quality writing btw). But since my taste probably doesn’t reflect anyone else’s, this tasting needs to describe only the way the gin and the tonic waters mix together. I do throw in a personal note from time to time (yes, I know: everything I taste is personal anyway) but I try to describe the flavours I get in each mix as objective as possible and the rating below each mix is mostly how these 2 complement eachother. Each gin has another tonic to match and the more outspoken the taste of a gin is, the less likely you can match every tonic with it. There is of course a little bit of my taste in the verdict, so evertime you see a 9,5 it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best gin&tonic on the planet, it means that the g&t match (almost) perfectly and that I really like that mix.

So, how does Tanqueray mix with my tonic-panel?

1724: The gin is very dominant in the nose with loads of juniper. The taste is soft, yet firm and a bit floury. The middle part of the taste is more sweet, coming from the liquorice and the soft taste of 1724 really lets the botanicals in Tanqueray come out. The atertaste is slightly bitter with a salty edge.
8.5/10

Fever Tree: These 2 complement each other quite nicely: The angelica-notes come in from the gin, balancing the bitterness of the quinine very well. The natural sweetness of the tonic goes great with the citrus-notes that are quite dominant in the Tanqueray and together with the pleasantly sweet taste of liquorice it creates a very nice aftertaste.
8.0/10

Thomas Henry: The nose in this mix is very soft and the juniper and citrus stay very well balanced. Sipping this mix underlines how the sweet notes work perfectly together with the angelica and coriander. The tonic adds a lot of length to the Tanqueray in a very good way!
9.5/10

Fentiman’s: The opening is soft and floury with a gentle juniper and a nice bitter. The citrus is quite present, obviously, as both the gin and the tonic are citrus-heavy. It is a very fresh taste and not perfumed as sometimes can be the case with Fentiman’s.
8.5/10

Conclusion: the differences in rating are not too large between these tonic waters, indicating that Tanqueray is easily mixable. It is of course a much stronger gin than, let’s say, Bombay Sapphire, but both gins were created in a very different time. I was quite impressed by the mix with Thomas Henry and I gave it the best rating of these 4. Again, this means that the match just about perfectly ànd I like this mix even more that the other 3. I am very curious if any of my readers (anyone? Echo?) has conducted a similar tasting

Posted on 09/12/2012 by Mistercocktail

When I first started off with my G&T Sundays, I figured that I would rate just 1 tonic with a gin each Sunday. That would give me 52/4 = 13 gins tested. I soon realised that a) there are far more gins than that and b) my posts would become quite boring after a while (if not already). So I switched to testing 4 tonic waters each Sunday which would subsequently give me 52 * 4 = 208 G&T combinations. Admittedly, I couldn’t get through each session anywhere near sober so I had to skip quite a few Sundays. It takes good planning and preparation to execute such a tasting!

Today I decided to complete the Bombay Sapphire tasting. Since I already made a review of the spirit itself and of the combination with Fever Tree, I only had to try it with 1724, Thomas Henry and Fentiman’s. But I threw in a bottle of   Fever Tree just to see if I got it right the first time (spoiler alert: I did, so I just copied the previous text)

Since my tasting with Bombay Sapphire early March, I’ve learned about so many new gins that I was curious on how I would rate this gin now. It’s easy of course to say that it’s mainstream, almost a vodka or just plain boring. But when you put it in historical perspective it’s far from boring. Mainstream: up to a certain level, yes, but thanks to this brand we have been enjoying the revival of gin. Almost a vodka: not at all. Compared to a lot of gins it would be tempting to say so  but to me there’s still so many great flavours in Bombay Sapphire, that saying this doesn’t do any justice at all. And we all know that gins basically are flavoured vodka’s anyway. Boring: it does what it was meant to be doing from the very first start: get those vodka-people on board of the Gin-train. Of course time has kept up with the flavour of Bombay Sapphire with all these new gins that have been launched over the years. But if that makes Bombay Sapphire mainstream, than we’re all in a very good place!

Now on to the important part: the tasting.

1724: The nose is very fresh, with light juniper and some orange. A slight and lovely bitterness comes in when I started sipping and it has a sweet body. A long aftertaste with fresh notes which is slightly spicy follows. A great mix. The only thing is that it’s a bit too perfect, too easy. This combination just lacks that extra  bit of excitement, but these two match very well.
8.5/10

Fever Tree: The nice thing is that together these products become a very interesting mix, complementing each other nicely. Because the juniper is not so heavy in Bombay Sapphire, the upper tones in flavour are those of citrus, coming from the coriander and lemon in Bombay and also from the tonic itself. The bitter elements in Fever Tree are still there, and the sweet notes in Bombay Sapphire, like cinnamon and liquorice balance it out quite nicely. The smell of the two combined is especially nice: the vapour distillation of the gin delivers a light-bodied spirit, but with a strong nose. Fever Tree is well carbonated, so these aromas reach your nose before you take a sip – an extra dimension to the taste.
8.0/10

Thomas Henry: Balance. That’s the first word that comes to mind. The bubble in this tonic is not too strong so the nose is more gentle with a fresh citrus aroma. The first sip brings a floury, slightly silty taste (must be Orris and Angelica) with little juniper.  The middle of the taste is more sweet with liquorice and cassia and also here I get a bit of orange in the flavour. Aftertaste is pleasant and long with just  a hunch of bitterness
9.0/10

Fentiman’s: This tonic water is obviously too much for the delicate bouquet of Bombay Sapphire. A very strong nose and overpowering citrus in Fentiman’s just blow it out of the water/glass, leaving not enough to make a happy couple .
6.5/10

Conclusion: Thomas Henry is for Bombay Sapphire the best companion: well balanced, never overpowering and complimentary where necessary. It’s not just a good combination, but a great G&T in itself so very much the worth of pouring for oneself!

Posted on 19/11/2012 by Mistercocktail

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Chase Distillery in Herefordshire. I was given an extensive tour around the farm with great weather accompanying me. Master Distiller and also my guide for today Jamie Baggott took a good few hours to show me around, taking me through all the processes they work with to create their 70+ variations. Mainly the production of their alcohol was explained to me: Potato for their Vodka and Williams Gin and Apple for thier Williams  Gin. The two main agricultural products of Herefordshire are indeed Apples (Producing cider is the big thing in this area) and potatoes, for which the red clay soil is perfect.

Chase Distillery was established by Will Chase in 2008, when he sold his previous company: Tyrrell’s Potato Chips. Having learnt a great deal about potatoes, he recognized the potential of launching a spirit-brand and after a testing period of 4 years he launched Chase Vodka. In 2010 it got awarded  Double Gold and best in class at the IWSC in San Fransisco over  249 other brands and it could name itself World’s Best Vodka. I found a great interview with Will Chase here, no need for me to rewrite all that.

Williams Gin is distilled at the farm, where both the apples (gin) and potatoes (vodka) needed for the base-spirit are grown. First, a base spirit made of apples is distilled for the gin. This is then re-distilled with the botanicals, being Juniper, Coriander, Orris, Liquorice, Angelica, Hops, Orange, Lemon, Elderflower and Brambley Apple. They use a small carterhead still for this, making sure the small batch distilling gives it the elegance it needs. To read about their full process of making their products, check here.

The bottle: The shoulder and foot of the bottle are about 2 mm wider than the middle at both sides, creating the optical illusion of a very slender bottle. It is fully transparent, except for the lowest 5 cms, with the absolute minumum of information displayed on the bottle: only the name, origin and some practical information is printed on it. It is decorated with an old apple tree in wintertime and because of the dark bottom, the Union Jack is a nice eyecatcher.
92/100

The nose: Creamy and slightly sweet on the nose, with juniper and coriander coming through right after. It has a somewhat damp yet fresh flavour that I recognise from ciders. This  is logically caused by the base-alcohol being created from  apples. 97/100

The contents:  The first taste I get is juniper and coriander. Due to the high level of alcohol (48 % abv/96 proof), the gin releases some of it’s flavours only later. I kept the fluid in my mouth for 10 seconds and I noticed it started releasing more floral and fruity notes. It also reminded me of a fine Jasmin tea. The orange and lemon zest are part of the very long aftertaste, together with apple and elderflower. The mouth feel is silky-like and doesn’t get tart at any point.
98/100

The Mixability:
You might get the idea that I’m writing a raving review on this product because I had visited the distillery, but I can assure you that this is not the case. I have visited a lot of distilleries (some of them more visitors centres actually) over the past few years and although visiting a location definitely contributes to appreciate a brand more, I’m focussing on the product, which basically is what it is. And on how it combines with Tonic Water. Chase produces both the “Elegant Crisp Gin” and the “Extra Dry Gin”, the latter at 40 % ABV. However, I carried a bottle of the “Elegant Crisp Gin” home with me, so here we go, in the mix!

Fever Tree: I must admit that I expected this to be the perfect match, but it wasn’t. A very dominant bitter taste is produced in this mix. A little strange, since neither the gin nor the tonic are very bitter. Especially in the aftertaste, the bitterness suppresses the palate too much. In the middle there are some sweeter (orange, liquorice, elderflower) and citrus notes. It is not a bad combination, don’t get me wrong, and you can still enjoy this mix for both are great products.
8.0/10

Fentiman’s: This mix goes in a completely different direction, but also not he one I was hoping for. A little too perfumed for my taste, very high on the citrus notes and with a floury (not floral) mouth feel.
7.5/10

Thomas Henry: The first sip indicates that this could be a very good combination. The characteristics of the gin are clearly present, with a nice juniper and citrus note at the beginning. The tastes evolves to more floral and fruity, slight bitterness in still present (quinine of course) but never predominant. The citrus in the gin and tonic work together great an to me this is a great example of how a tonic should serve the gin.
9.5/10 

1724: A nice combination with Chase Gin, as it is a very soft tonic water. Especially the aftertaste is long and nice with citrus (both lemon and orange) and elderflower.

Conclusion: This is an amazing gin to taste neat and surprisingly more difficult to match with a the right Tonic Water. Thomas Henry was by far the best combination for me, but as tastes vary, another tonic water may be better for your taste. I also stirred a Dry Martini and this serves the gin much better. It is an amazing product, with a great story behind it that is honest and true (as I have seen with my own eyes), just like the people behind it.
96/100 

Posted on 28/10/2012 by Mistercocktail


Geranium Gin
 is a Danish brand created by Henrik Hammer and his father, who worked around the concept of incorporating geranium in a gin. They found historical links between the use of Juniper and Geranium and investigated this combination on a scientific level. They concluded that these two are indeed a great marriage and they proceeded with the development of the gin. It is a London Dry Gin, which means that all 10 botanicals (Juniper, Geranium, Coriander seeds, Lemon, Orange, Liquorice, Cassia, Angelica, Orris root and 1 is a secret!) are distilled at once in a neutral grain spirit. The production of the gin takes place in the U.K. (Birmingham more precisely) and Geranium Gin is distilled in a copper pot-still that is over a century old.

When tasted neat, Geranium Gin is a very smooth and mild spirit. It combines the freshness of citrus (coriander, lemon) and juniper very stylishly with the floral taste of geranium. What a surprising ingredient! The taste is full-bodied, but never out of balance with a great sweetness from liquorice and orange.

Fever Tree Tonic: The combination is an extremely smooth G&T. The bitter notes from the quinine in Fever Tree are nicely balanced by the geranium, which still doesn’t overpower. The long lemony taste from Geranium Gin gives the drink a very long aftertaste, which made me decide not to use a juice-containing garnish in here. Instead of a lime or lemonwedge, I used an orangezest which made the drink just perfect for me.
9.5/10

1724: This is a very soft and gentle combination. A subtle bitterness really complements the taste of the geranium. The bubble in the 1724 tonic is small and slow and combines very well with this gin. In the aftertaste there’s a very pleasant hint of spicy orange. Great g&t for he or she who enjoyes a mild and gentle gin & tonic.
9.5/10

Fentiman’s: When I poured the tonic, a very pleasant small of rosewater arose from the mix. The tonic is the first you taste, the gin a bit later and it gives a very surprising effect. The lemontones are much stronger in this mix and this is the perfect tonic if you like a g&t with a bite.
9.5/10

Thomas Henry: This mix accentuates the more earthy notes like Orris and Angelica. In the middle more floral and fruity notes come through, the Orange and Geranium. A slight bitterness is present from beginning until long in the aftertaste.
9.5/10

Conclusion: This is actually the first gin I’ve tried for this blog that matches great with all the tonic waters that I tasted it with. But is is very important to note at the same time that all 4 mixes are for different g&t-drinkers. I tried to describe along each mix which match is good for which type of drinker. Just like the mix with Fever Tree (which I tested a few months ago), I used a fresh orange zest as a garnish additionally, but the rating is based on just the plain mix of Geranium Gin with each Tonic Water.

Posted on 21/10/2012 by Mistercocktail

One bottle in particular has been waiting for me to taste properly and that’s Bulldog gin. The bottle is pretty distinct amongst it’s competitors, not being transparent nor green nor blue. It is named after Sir Winston Churchill’s dog and produced in the UK, using 12 botanicals in total of which 9 are classic gin botanicals en 3 that are unique to this gin: Dragon-Eye, Poppy Seeds and Lotus Leaves. Visit their site to learn more about these, as well as some claims that it makes that lead me to a short nosing around on the interweb but it’s hard to track it all for being true or false. Here’s the claim to gluten-free, calories-per-shot (all gins are 65 – 70 cals/30 mls), vegan-friendly (but all gins on vegan.fm were declared vegan-friendly) and Kosher and I love this quote: “Botanicals are generally kosher; however, some of them, such as citrus peels, may come from Israel and therefore may not be kosher due to issues surrounding terumot, ma’aserot and shemittah.” But so far I haven’t found a gin claiming to use Israelian Lemons. But I’m not working as the NY Times Food Critic by all means, I’m just here to taste the stuff!

Bottle: Like the name suggests: masculine and tough, with a dog-collar just below the thick and heavy screwtop. The bottle is pitch-black with wide shoulders and a firm body, making it stand out amongst my other gins (or any other bottle I might add).
92/100

The Nose: juniper and fresh lemon with a hint of pepper. Slightly earthy yet floral.
91/100

The Contents: dry, yet soft juniper first with nice lemon. After that more sweetness: liquorice and cassia that form the middle part of the taste, together with floral notes of lavender and orris. It leaves a long taste behind and unlike the first taste, it’s not dry at all.  A long fruity taste keeps lingering in the back – I guess that should be the Dragon Eye, which is described as “first cousin to the Lychee”.
91/100

The mixability:
Fever Tree: strong bitter notes at first with slight fruity notes and more lemon towards the middle. The bitter notes remain there as well, although they ‘disappear’ after a few more sips. The mouth feel is a bit dryer than I expected with less sweeter notes in it then tasting it neat.

8.0/10

Fentiman’s: This tonic has loads of citric notes in it and combined with the Bulldog Gin it gives a very fresh taste. It never gets to the sweet side of the taste but more floral
8.5/10

Thomas Henry:  This mix stays on the more sweet and earthy side of the spectrum. Liquorice, Dragon Eye and Cassia are very present while more earthy notes from Angelica and Almond are in the middle and aftertaste. It stays in your mouth for a long time with lemon and floral notes lingering in the back. Nice.
9.0/10

1724: I needed four, five good sips of this mix to get an idea of the flavours. At first it felt like a bit of a bummer and it takes a long time to build up some character. The mouth feel is very good on the other hand with the sweetest aftertaste of all mixes, but not the longest. The taste disappears quite fast so not the best combination.
6.5/10

Overall: Bulldog is a gin for the more experienced gin-drinker, but it has a very nice angle with some unique botanicals. It sets itself apart with the packaging and fortunately the contents can match the expectations. The best mix for me was with Thomas Henry, as this compliments the botanicals in Bulldog best. Quite a nice gin and most certainly worth for you to try it!
Overall: 91/100 

Posted on 03/09/2012 by Mistercocktail

Since my last G&T Sunday review, I had tried several combinations during the summer. One of the gins that I had very pleasant experience with, was Caorunn Gin, so I was looking forward to tasting it in combinations with the 4 Tonic Waters. The bottle really stands out, especially the shape of it. Caorunn (read label for pronunciation) claims the Celtic heritage, since there’s some other famous gins being produced in Scotland and marketed as such (Hendrick’s, The Botanist and Old Raj being 3 of them). Next to 6 classic gin botanicals (Juniper, Lemonpeel, Coriander, Cassia, Orange Peel and Angelica) there are 5 ingredients specific to Caorunn. These are 5 botanicals that can be found in many parts of the world, but they have been used in Celtic medicine for ages: Rowan Berry, Bog Myrtle, Heather, Coul Blush Apple and Dandelion Leaf.

I found that the site of Caorunn Gin describes their heritage, production and ingredients very well and to-the-point. No need for me to rewrite or copy that, so make sure to check there!

The bottle: Both the 5-star symbol on the bottle and the shape of the bottle itself represent the 5 Celtic botanicals that are used in Caorunn Gin. It is quite a unique shape and it holds very nicely while working with it professionally. The neck is perfect for a hand to fit around it and swing the bottle upside-down to make a pour. The cork is also very well designed: thick and heavy with a wooden top.
95/100

The nose: Fresh pine and citrus are very strong when the spirit first hits your nose. To me this is an indication that it’s a gin that leans towards the classic gins, which turns out to be so, but there’s much more to it. Sweet fruity notes from the Rowan Berry (also the giver of the name Caorunn, which means berry in Celtic) and Coul Blush Apple appear directly after, giving it a very nice and specific character.
91/100

The contents: The first sip is, just like the nose, very fresh and full of juniper, pine and citrus: a walk in the woods. For a moment, the alcohol takes over a bit too much to lead to the middle part of the taste. This is much more sweet with a nice tingle on the sides of the tongue.

There’s a very long aftertaste, where a menthol-like coolness develops in your mouth (I suspect the Dandelion has this effect). Some very nice sweet notes appear in the end and here you can really taste the Heather and Bog Myrtle, at least I get some flavours that I can relate to from the description, since these are not in my standard palate. In Holland we have a type of liquorice that is based on Bay leaf which has a very comparable taste!
92/100 (97/1oo on just the aftertaste)

The mixability: Because of the 5 botanicals that are specific to Caorunn, it can serve as a base for some classic gin-drinks. Even more so, it can be an inspiration for a load of new drinks and I was curious to try Caorunn in my selection of Tonic Waters.

Fever Tree: Before I added the apple in this G&T, I could already taste the apple in it. The citrus notes were much gentler and the strong juniper was less dominant. The addition of apple makes this mix nice and extra fruity, but in my opinion it could use just a little more citrusflavours now.
9/10

Fentiman’s: This tonic is strong in bitter- and citrusnotes, so obviously this is a completely different mix. The bubble in Fentiman’s in much stronger, giving the mix the taste of apple much faster while it emphasises the lemon and coriander in Caorunn much better.
9.5/10

Thomas Henry: This combination is quite sweet and it works very well with Caorunn. I think the pleasantly sweet notes of the heather play a big role here, leaving a long and pleasantly sweet aftertaste.
9/10

1724: The most delicate of these tonic waters is 1724 and it leaves a lot of room for the Caorunn to move around. I just feel that the quinine in this tonic water dominates the taste, making it a little dry with very little citrus left in the taste.
8.5/10

Overall: This is a very nice gin to stock in your home-bar. If you are looking for one special gin, this is certainly one to take home with you. It mixes very well and I enjoyed it neat at least as much as in a g&t. The mix with Fentiman’s was the best-balanced combination, but differences in taste might lead you to other mixers no doubt. As things usually go.
92/100

Posted on 17/06/2012 by Mistercocktail

One of the first gins that was introduced after the renewed interest in gins in the 90s, was Martin Miller’s. According to the brand’s story, Mr. Miller sat in a bar, contemplating on life with some good friends over a mediocre gin & tonic, when the idea of creating his own brand of gin sprang to mind. Miller was a photographer-turned-antiques connoisseur-turned-hotel owner, and had a good perception of the historic value of gin.

The 6 main botanicals in this gin are distilled in “Angela”, copper pot still built in 1904 by John Doore. The 3 stages of pot still-distillation are named Heads, Heart and Tails. The first part contains very strong alcohol and harsh flavours. The second part is the best part, well balanced. The third part is lower in alcohol and weaker in flavours. It is very common to re-use the heads and tails in a new distillation-cycle, but these are not re-used for Martin Miller’s, that only uses the heart of the distillate. The dried peels of the citrusfruits (Orange, lemon and lime) are distilled separately after which they are blended with the ‘base-spirit’.

To finalize the product, Martin Miller’s is blended with Icelandic water: in his vision this is the softest and purest water. On top of that, the Icelandic people believe that water is a living entity and has a spirit.

The bottle: The long and slender bottle displays the countries England and Iceland with a dotted line connecting these 2 with the background of longitude/latitude lines. It also displays the 6 main botanicals: Iris, Juniper, Cassia, Liquorice, Coriander and Angelica.
91/100

The nose: Strong juniper and angelica hit the nose immediately, waking up your senses. There’s a sweet undertone of liquorice, cinnamon and orange in the nose and some fresh notes of lemon and coriander.
If you leave the neat spirit in the glass for a little while, the citrus notes become more apparent.
94/100

The contents: The gin really blossoms in the mouth, with all classic gin tastes there: the juniper gives a pleasant sting, with the orris mellowing this nicely and connecting it at the same time with the sweeter notes I mentioned above. The different expressions of citrus play a more dominant role in the taste: orange, lemon and lime come in after the first juniper hit.
Note: this is the first gin of which my lovely Misses Cocktail says that it’s almost too good to mix, because it tastes amazing when drunk neat.
95/100

The mixability: Martin Miller’s is a great ingredient for mixing drinks, even though the Misses might disagree. Classic cocktails like the White Lady and Tom Collins should taste great. I tried it in the Dry Martini, stirred with Martini Extra Dry,  lemon bitters and a lemon zest.

But my main focus is of course with Tonic Water:

Fever Tree: These tastes combined generate more bitterness and a more earthy taste, which are a great addition to the taste. The citrus notes get a lot of room to flourish, mainly the orange which give it a long and sweet aftertaste.
9.5/10
Fentiman’s: The taste of this mix is a bit more soft than with Fever Tree, with a long and citrussy aftertaste. The bitters are more dominant,
8.5/10
1724: I had to use a little bit more gin to balance this mix, although the 1724 is the softest-tasting tonic water of these 3. The mix really benefits from adding fresh lemon to it
9/10

Overall: This is a true gem, and highly recommendable! It is both challenging for the very experienced and demanding gin-drinker and highly accessible for new members for the gin-appreciating part of the world. I’m very glad to have this spirit in my collection, to quench my appetite for juniper!
94/100

Posted on 04/06/2012 by Mistercocktail

The brand Johnnie Walker launched it’s first blended whisky in 1865. In fact, before 1860 it was illegal to sell blended whisky’s in Scotland. Black Label was launched in 1909, and continued on the first blended whisky Alexander Walker (John’s son) launched in 1865 as Walker’s Old Special (re-branded to Extra Special Old Highland in 1906). Enough with the dates now and on to the whisky!

Black Label is one of the most sold blended Scotch in the world and each expression has become world famous by now. And each different expression (you know: red, black, green, gold and blue) has it’s own drinker. It makes a lot of sense in my opinion to build further on each expression to ……. their fan base.

When tasting the ‘normal’ Black Label it always surprises me how complex this whisky actually is. This blend of a good 40 different whisky’s, each aged for at least 12 years, can be recognised by it’s 4 main flavour characteristics: fresh fruit, like apple, pear and orange – dried fruit like apricot and dates – vanilla, coming from the use of Bourbon-barrels – and smokiness, which comes from the Islay whisky’s used in the blending process.

It is a clear move to position Johnnie Walker Black Label as a brand of it’s own by launching the Double Black. For this brand they have chosen to follow the taste-profile of Black Label rather than the minimum age of the whisky’s. The 4 main tasting notes are still there, but are put in a new dimension by blending in more smokiness in the Double Black. This influences the taste in a very pleasant way, and does what it’s supposed to be doing: introduce their fan base to some slightly more mature flavours.

The bottle: The Double Black has a significantly larger and heavier bottle. With it’s dark glass and gold highlights on the label it really stands on it’s own.
90/100

The nose: Clear peatiness promises a much heavier taste than one is used to get from the Black Label. There’s pleasant sweet notes that you can recognize as well from it’s older brother, giving a good indication about the balance between these 2 elements. Obviously, a lot of similarities between the two, but also strong characteristics specific to the Double Black.
88/100

The contents: The smoke is much less dominant in the taste than it is on the nose. One of the most significant changes the smoke does to the components, is to the element of vanilla. In Black Label this element brings a rather sweet note to the palate. In the Double Black it has changed to a more creamy texture – much more soft and less sweet. It also appears to me that the mouthfeel is more silky and a bit thicker.  Pleasant fruitnotes like apple and raisin (a small percentage of the barrels JW uses in Sherry-cask) keep giving that sweet balance to the Double Black.
86/100

Conclusion: This is absolutely a great next-step whisky for the Black Label fan, but also a nice very buy if you like some smokiness in your whisky, but not too much. The combination with the sweeter tones is a very pleasant one and I think can introduce  some less experienced drinkers to the more peated whisky’s.
87/100