Gin and tonic. One of the most easily recognisable drinks in the world, and very easy to replicate. Made at home, at your favourite bar, by your mum, gran, bartender or waiter, there’s nothing you could do wrong with the creation of a gin and tonic.
Or is there?
Fever Tree, a brand that has made head-way in the tonic category, have organised an enlightening tour of three cities here in the UK. Bristol, Glasgow and my own home town of Manchester are the settings for what they have dubbed as ‘The Ultimate Gin and Tonic Tour’, and aim to divulge into the depths of the tonic category, and how we came to know what will be in your hand for most of the evening; the G&T.
The tours are consumer focused, bringing the gin lovers, novices and haters together for an informal chat in some fantastic locations, and yours truly had the opportunity to sneak peek at what would be involved, with a session hosted by Craig Harper, the face of Fever Tree and gin legend within the category, with help from David Barber, the northern representative for Fever Tree and ex Caorunn gin brand ambassador, and Jamie Jones, who in 2013 was crowned Global Gin Connoisseur by G’Vine.
If you’re looking to hit the Manchester trail, The Rosylee Tearooms in Stevenson Square brings together your first tonic and gin combination; Tanqueray with the classic Fever Tree Indian Tonic. Whilst being given the chance to pour your own bottle of tonic over your gin to your liking, Craig walks through what tonic actually is, and how the likes of malaria, World Wars and fluorescent lights have impacted our views on tonic water and what we perceive it as. Don’t let those three words fool you though as Craig explains how we come to the more well-known brands seen today, and ultimately Fever Tree itself, with interesting demos on an original gin and tonic recipe, and the bottles used before the capped varieties we are used to these days.
Cane and Grain in Manchester’s Northern Quarter offers a speakeasy styled bar that is perfect for another gin and tonic, this time being Portobello Road. Jamie gives some fantastic insight into the brand itself, the category of gin and the timeline that has given us some highs and lows, including the famed ‘Gin Lane’ and the rise of the latest ‘gin craze’. Comparisons between tonic waters, especially the Indian styles and lighter versions, are also explored, an experiment rarely done at home I can imagine, and gives a different view on the styles available, with Craig explaining why the market for tonic waters is growing as the palates of consumers is changing.
Lastly, Mr Cooper’s House and Garden takes the gin category to the ‘New Western’, and gives Jamie a chance to explain the new craze that has given us the likes of Bloom, Monkey 47, Tanqueray 10 and Gin Mare. It also though, highlights the need for the perfect garnish and how gaining the right ingredient can make all the difference to your gin and tonic experience. Blending the likes of Bloom with Fever Tree Elderflower tonic offers a lighter experience than the Indian tonic would do, giving the botanicals within Bloom (chamomile, honeysuckle and pomelo are within amongst others) a fighting chance to tantalize, instead of being cut down to size and perhaps not giving the full impression you would expect. Or how about Gin Mare, that comes garnished with a sprig of thyme? Perfectly compliments the basil and rosemary for example, and accentuates the thyme botanical within the gin itself.
Essentially, Fever Tree are looking to break down the gin and tonic, explaining the origins, the flavours and aromas, whilst giving insight into the many gins available, and the perfect Fever Tree and garnish to accompany. Why would you want to miss out?!
If you live in Manchester, or indeed the North, or just have yourself access to social media or have a friend who’s a bartender, you may have come across the tag-team of The Liquorists. The pairing of Tom Sneesby and Jody Monteith have given us many a night since their inception back in 2010, with their most commonly known trait coming in the form of their trails. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a fair few of these over the last year or so, and the reason why it’s many and not just the one is purely for the reasons of the following –
– Offer new and exciting bars to visit
– Showcase spirits that combine classic and new-age brands
– Deep knowledge that caters for all levels of expertise
– Food to match and compliment the spirit style
Many of these trails sell out in a heartbeat, but none as quickly as there summer expedition – Gincident.
Gincident offers all of the above list minus the bars. Reason why? The setting comes in the form of a canal barge. And from the name, gin is the choice of tipple. So, add 25 people to a barge with 5 brands of gin and what was described as a botanical feast of food and what do you get? Myself wanting to get onto the next trail immediately. Role on trail number 13! But how have I come to this conclusion?
Greeted by L.S. Lowry (the boat, not the artist) of City Centre Cruises at Castlefield Locks, the expanded Liquorists line-up were on hand to walk us safely aboard. Jamie Jones of pop-up Manchester bars fame The Yacht Club and Moose Bar amongst others, was to play host, with Craig MacDonald his trusty side-kick. Not forgetting original Liquorists member Jody Monteith was to be on hand to create us our five gin based cocktails on the boats very own bar.
Once on our merry way towards Salford Quays, the aforementioned botanical feast was served, all cooked and created by chef Hannah Eddleston. With dishes that included cured salmon with dill, spiced ham hock with juniper and cous cous, spicy chicken drumsticks on white bean salad and a savoury strawberry salad with feta cheese. Using inspiration from not only the gin brands of the evening, but the botanicals within them, Hannah served up a treat that from looking around the boat, left many an empty plate. Same could be said for our welcome drink – a round of G’Vine Nouaison and Fever Tree tonics for us all.
Jamie Jones, who this year has won one of the worlds premier gin competitions – the G’Vine Gin Connoisseurs Programme, is the right man to talk to us all about gin itself, its history and how gin is created. I’m not going to go into detail about gin itself, that you can find by clicking on each brand that was available on the evening. Whilst Jamie was talking all things gin, Craig dished out neat samples of Bols Genever, Pymouth and G’Vine Floraison for us all to try. Three completely different styles, with Bols offering the sweeter juniper palate, Plymouth more your usual style gin, and G’Vine the new-age French floral. Plymouth was the tipple of choice for The Liquorists first cocktail offering of the evening – Hogarths Fizz. Combining sugar, lemon juice and camomile with a dusting of nutmeg gave this cocktail a smooth citrus feel with subtle aromas and bursts of freshness.
A personal favourite of mine, Martin Millers, was up next, and in true Liquorists pun fashion, the aptly named Messa-gin in a Bottle came within their own green bottle and brown paper bag. Using Martin Millers, home-made kaffir lime juice, orange bitters, jasmine tea and their own ginger beer, it created something rather unique, with huge bold flavours of fresh lime and ginger blending well with the Martin Millers and jasmine tea. One that you didn’t want to end, which is surely a good sign?
One gin that I’m very familiar with is Warrington based BLOOM. A brand that I’ve created cocktails for in the past, i was interested to see how The Liquorists would do with their Rosie and Gin (they love their puns). A mixture of BLOOM, strawberry liqueur, lime juice and topped within a jam jar with Fever Tree Elderflower tonic created one of the stronger cocktails of the evening, but more due to its bolder statement. The flavours did mellow as the drink went on, with the BLOOM complimenting the strawberry and lime.
Onto the French now, and as most of you know, although I represent this brand here in the UK, I came at the following with an unbiased opinion. G’Vine Nouaison, the stronger out of the two expressions was used as the base gin for the 22nd Century Cocktail. A twist of the original 20th Century Cocktail that was created back in 1937, it came with a blend of G’Vine, lemon juice, crème de cacao white and topped with tonic. In no simpler words, and being a massive chocolate fan, it tasted like chocolate orange in a glass. If your like Dawn French and me, you’ll love this tipple.
The last cocktail of the Gincident came again with a twist to not only a recipe, but an award-winning recipe. Jamie Jones offered the gathering his own creation that won him the title of G’Vine Connoisseur as mentioned above. Despite a few changes to his recipe, his La Floraison De’tre gave the finish the night deserved. G’Vine Floraison, egg white, olive oil, lemon juice, apricot liqueur and Fever Tree Sicilian Lemonade with a rose petal to garnish added a touch of sophistication as Salford Quays lit up both the boat and the night sky.
Heading back to Castlefield, The Liquorists made sure we were comfortable, well watered and fed before disembarking the barge for the evening. There tag of #nohangoverguaranteed is 100% correct yet again. Well done guys.
To get yourselves on The Liquorists trails, check them out via there website or twitter.
Have you ever been to a distillery? Have you ever looked into your favourite brand and wondered where it comes from? Have you ever wondered if every name you see out in bars or shops comes from its own distillery? It’s probably something you wouldn’t know and to be fair not many people do. There’s no harm however in knowing little facts about a spirit that your drinking or indeed favour. Say, for example, the knowledge that Sipsmith are the first distillery to be registered in London since Beefeater way back in 1820, or the fact that Glenmorangie is produced using the tallest stills in Scotland. Little bits of info like that can begin a discussion between friends, possibly even appreciate the drink you have in your hand that little bit more, or maybe even start an adventure into learning just that little bit more.
That’s how I got started.
The idea of learning not only to understand the finished spirit itself, but to appreciate and admire the craft and history that some of these brands take the up-most care in providing. One such distillery comes to mind when you talk about heritage and its diversity, and that’s G&J Distillers. For myself, it’s a name that echoes well round the North West of England due to its location. Based in Birchwood, Warrington, just 20 miles south-west of Manchester, it has been the home of G&J Distillers since 1760 when a distiller going by the name of Thomas Dakin acquired the premises on Bridge Street. He waited till 1761 though to start his new venture due to the production of gin beforehand being illegal in response to the poor grain harvests and the need for bread over gin being a greater and more pressing demand.
In the early years of Thomas Dakin’s new gin production, the outcome was basic, with gin being bottled in bulk jars to publicans and wholesalers. This didn’t stop the business from growing however and became known for its superior quality compared to the London-based gins. What we have come to associate with though came about after Thomas Dakin’s death. The name G&J Greenall was established in 1860 when the distillery was leased to Edward Greenall (the ‘G and J’ actually evolved from the initials of Edward Greenall’s younger brother Gilbert and John). Fast forward to November 1923 and the company came under the ownership of Greenall Whitley, and moved down to Loushers Lane in 1960 in line with the companies bicentenary.
In later years, the introduction of Vladivar vodka broadened the use of the G&J Greenall distillery (apparently with some fantastic marketing to go with it). More recently though, the appointment of Joanne Moore, who incidentally is only the seventh Master Distiller in the 250 year history of Greenall’s Gin, has developed two premium gins in Berkeley Square and BLOOM, a spiced offering in Opihr, limited-editions such as Sloe BLOOM and BLOOM Strawberry Cup, Greenall’s Sloe and Wild Berry, as well as keeping the original Greenall’s gin as popular as ever. The business changed ownership in August 2011 and is now part of the international drinks group Quintessential Brands.
Which brings me back to my original point – five different names, all produced at the same distillery. You would never have guessed from the name alone or even possibly by the bottle itself. Only when you dig a little deeper do you find the connection. By digging though, you also come across names such as Richmond gin, Cristalnaya vodka, Pinkster gin, Bulldog gin, Moskova vodka and Bombay Sapphire. Yes even the blue-bottle itself was produced in Warrington up until 2014.
Today though I’m concentrating on the core range of G&J Distillers. So below, I give to you a brief history and development as well as tasting notes on each.
Greenall’s – 40%
Produced using eight different botanicals – juniper berries, coriander, lemon peel, angelica, orris, liquorice, cassia bark and bitter almonds. These eight are macerated in wheat
neutral spirit and water in a pot still for at least 24 hours prior to distillation. This gives it a freshness on the nose with a citrus aroma coming through. It mellows quickly with a rather dry scent. Soft on the palate however with a smooth, buttery texture that gives off a warmth when swallowed. Dry finish with a small hint of spice.
Greenall’s Sloe – 26%
Using the traditional flavour of British sloe berries alongside the eight original botanicals. Very rich with plenty of spicy sloe berry notes coming through on the nose. Thick, heavy flavours of lively spice, juniper and vanilla on the palate, offering a smooth finish, albeit it short.
Greenall’s Wild Berry – 37.5%
Inspired from blackberries growing in the English hedgerows, combined with ripe raspberries and infused with the original Greenall’s.
Light, thin notes of blackberry coming through on the nose. Slight sour raspberry follows, with a small sweetness that seems to bind it all together. Light with a developing warmth on the palate. Heavy blackberry notes, with a ripe spice on the dry finish.
Based on a traditional London Dry Gin recipe and created in a traditional pot still, Bloom takes its inspiration from the classic aromas of England and its well-recognised country gardens and fields. It adds its distinct botanicals of honeysuckle, chamomile and pomelo to the mix to create a fragrant nose with hints of strawberry coming through after the dominating chamomile aromas. A slight kick on the palate to begin with but mellows quickly and has a dominating citrus flavour that creates a long, smooth, mouth-watering finish.
Master Distiller Joanne Moore has created a new version of her floral BLOOM Gin, using hand-picked sloe berries steeped in BLOOM Gin and distilled in a traditional copper pot still. Ripe, fresh sloe berries with hints of sweetness on the nose. Light on the palate, with a delicate experience of the sloe berries and a developing feel of soft honey. Lingering and fresh.
Joanne Moore has created a new version of her floral BLOOM Gin by steeping fresh English strawberries in BLOOM London Dry Gin.
Fresh strawberry on the nose, with a sweet underline and a slight hint of chamomile that seems to smooth the aromas. Slightly sharp on the palate, with the citrus of the strawberry coming through. Notes of the honeysuckle create a velvet feel, with the lightness of the fruits creating a lingering after-taste. A little dry and sweet.
Berkeley Square– 40%
With a category that is constantly evolving, Joanne Moore took to challenge the perception of gin consumption by creating a tipple that can be enjoyed neat. This resulted in the combination of eight botanicals – juniper, coriander, angelica, cubebs, basil, lavender, sage & kieffer lime leaves. This creates a light, earthy scent on the nose with a gentle herb aroma following through. A rather smooth offering on the palate with a slight spice that changes to a rich sweetness with hints of basil lingering. A dry end with a re-emergence of spice.
Hints of dry spice on the nose with the coriander dominating mostly. Soft beginning on the palate but develops slowly into a warmth of black pepper and cubebs. Not too spicy, but definitely present as it creates a long finish with a touch of dryness.
With rather different offerings from G&J Distillers, it only seems right to showcase different cocktail recipes to either enjoy at home or ask your bartender to create –
Greenall’s Gin and Tonic
25 ml Greenall’s Gin
50 ml Fentimans Tonic
2 wedges of lime
Take a chilled highball glass, fill with fresh ice cubes. Take of the wedges of lime and squeeze the juice over the ice to infuse the citrus flavours. Pour Greenall’s Gin slowly over the ice and lime juice. Follow with a high quality tonic using double the amount of tonic as Greenall’s Gin. Stir gently to ensure all the flavours are combined and garnish with a wedge of lime and serve.
BLOOM Gin and Tonic with Strawberries
50 ml BLOOM Gin
200 ml Fentimans tonic water
Quarter 3 strawberries and place at the bottom of a tall glass. Add ice and pour BLOOM London Dry Gin Over ice. Top with Fentimans botanically brewed tonic water.
or maybe even
Berkeley Square on the Rocks
50 ml Berkeley Sqaure
Basil leaves / lemon
Take a tumbler and add ice. Pour Berkeley Square Gin over ice and garnish with basil leaves or lemon.
Ok, so rather three very simple ideas. But sometimes a spirit doesn’t have to be mixed in a complicated way to really enhance and enjoy the flavours. The fresh strawberries added to the BLOOM compliment the chamomile and honey, whilst the basil leaves combined with Berkeley Square really draws out the notes of basil you originally experience on your palate.
I’m a firm believer in expanding your horizons with what you drink. After all, it is YOUR drink, not a bartenders. The work that Joanne Moore has done to diverse yet maintain the portfolio of G&J Distillers has done wonders to the consumer market. Even adding pre-mixers seems to be going strong – a sometimes risky move. However, the range gives an idea of the basics, yet creates something unique – something that nods back to the origins of Thomas Deacon’s time.
And to know that one distillery produces these products, and even supported the likes of Bombay Sapphire in its time, really gives you a wide-eye opening experience into the scale that companies work themselves on.
NEW FENTIMANS & BLOOM PREMIUM GIN & TONIC COCKTAIL BOTANICALLY BLENDED TO CREATE THE PERFECT SERVE AVAILABLE IN SAINSBURY’S NATIONWIDE THE FIRST PREMIUM COCKTAIL DRINK
Award-winning BLOOM London Dry Gin has joined forces with the acclaimed Fentimans, combining their expertise in the blending and sourcing of the finest botanicals from around the world to create a perfect Gin & Tonic cocktail. Launching in Sainsbury’ across the UK at £3.99, Fentimans and BLOOM have crafted a perfectly balanced, perfectly blended premium cocktail to enjoy at home or on the go. Presented in the classic Fentimans curved glass bottle, savour the taste of the delicate and floral BLOOM London Dry Gin with the distinctive herbal and plant root notes of Fentimans Botanically Brewed Tonic Water.
A BOTANICAL PARTNERSHIP
Recognised for their respective brewing and distilling expertise and craftsmanship, Fentimans Master Brewer and BLOOM’s Master Distiller came together to create a Gin & Tonic of superior distinction. Using over 250 years of distilling expertise, BLOOM Master Distiller Joanne Moore created a delicate London Dry Gin using a selection of unique, natural botanicals inspired by England’s renowned country gardens, including honeysuckle, pomelo and chamomile. The honeysuckle gives a candied fruit sweetness balanced by the citrus aroma of pomelo, the chamomile imparts a feather-like softness of floral notes to create a lighter gin-drinking experience. Established in 1905, Fentimans continue to champion their century old brewing methods to create their renowned Fentimans Tonic Water. Rich in juniper, the woody aromas and distinctive quinine notes of Fentimans Tonic Water perfectly complement the floral notes of BLOOM London Dry Gin. BLOOM Master Distiller Joanne Moore says “Thisis an exciting launch for us and a wonderful way to showcase how BLOOM can be enjoyed with ease without compromising on quality.”
A UNIQUE SERVE
For a very British twist on this classic serve, quarter 3 strawberries and add to an ice filled glass before serving. The subtle sweetness of the strawberries is perfectly complemented by the honeysuckle notes of BLOOM whilst being balanced by the light citrus notes of pomelo and quinine flavours of the tonic.
So how does this new expression fare? Well below I give to you my tasting notes –
Fentimans & Bloom Gin & Tonic – 6.5%
A traditional aroma of lemons creates a dry nose, and become slightly bitter on the palate. Although it mellows rather quickly and burst a little with a freshness of a honey flavour that sticks around with the dry texture. Short however.