Sibling Distillery Enjoy Their Launch Party

Sibling Distillery

The 4th of June marked the beginning of a new era in gin making, as the four siblings who have co-founded Sibling Distillery held a party for the launch of their Sibling Triple Distilled Gin.
Upon arrival, there was a queue to the door of Lily Gins – a recently opened cocktail bar with an innovative selection of drinks – guests flooded in and were offered Sibling Triple Distilled Gin, and Fever Tree tonic.

Within 10 minutes, the ground floor was full of a combination of press, local entrepreneurs and business people as well as friends and family. The mood in the room was buzzing as guests took in the bottle design and dramatic images of the distillery that covered the walls, but most importantly, the drink that they had been given.

The Founders
The Founders

Some guests made their way upstairs to the second floor. Behind the bar, Dominic, the cocktail flairer impressed them, mixing up a variety of cocktails from the bespoke Sibling menu, including Big Brother, Twisted Sister and Thicker than Water.

The excitement that filled the room was electric, and fuelled further by illusionist Andy Field – an international magic champion – who entertained, with mystifying tricks and slight of hand. He wasn’t alone in his spellbinding nature, Nicola Phillips read the fortunes of anyone brave enough, while Benjamin Chocolatier created exquisite Sibling gin, white chocolate and cracked black pepper truffles that thrilled our senses in yet another way.

Electro-swing music played throughout the regency building, and was stopped for just a few short minutes as Felix, Clarice and Cicely talked through the process, ingredients and ideas that go into Sibling Distillery, and the resulting Triple Distilled Gin.

The official ‘end’ came and went, but guests continued to enjoy the drinks, fun and the atmosphere that surrounded the entire evening. But those who had to leave, left with a smile and a sample of Sibling Triple Distilled Gin.

Cremorne 1859

Cremorne

Co-founders of the UK based CASK Liquid Marketing Richard Herbert and Stuart Ekins launched their own spirits brand back in 2012. Their first release under the Cremorne 1859 banner was a London Dry gin named Colonel Fox, complete with a fox adorned label created and drawn by artist Charlotte Cory. Charlotte used the year of 1859 as inspiration, with Charles Darwin publishing the Origin of Species, leading to the shock of the Victorians learning that they were in fact animals, whilst also seeing photography becoming cheap enough for everyone to be able to afford to have their picture taken.

Its back-story is fictional yet rather divulging, tending the period of the 19th Century. * “Having fought in several wars throughout his career, he retired in 1859 and went onto run the popular pleasure gardens known as Cremorne Gardens. Based by the River Thames in Chelsea, London, Fox was visited by Queen Victoria there on a number of occasions, when she came for afternoon walks with Prince Albert and ended up having a Gin Colonel Special cocktail as well. His wild stories of his globe-trotting adventures kept the Queen and the Prince well-entertained. Recognised as a war-hero, who fought at Waterloo, and travelled through the Middle East as well as in parts of Africa, Europe and Australasia, Fox was a true 19th Century gentleman, whose tales and stories kept every one under rapture, helped along by his gin. It was whilst he was travelling that he found a recipe for gin, that is the one that CASK based theirs on. Sadly, these gardens closed in 1877, never to open their doors again and Fox’s gin soon became a hidden secret, buried in time.”

Colonel Fox’s London Dry is produced by Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillery and uses the classic London Dry recipe containing six botanicals (juniper, coriander, cassia, angelica bitter, orange peel and liquorice).

So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Colonel Fox’s London Dry – 40%

Elegant on the nose with plenty of juniper and citrus aromas. Fruity and well balanced on the palate with some sweetness followed by juniper, spice and citrus fruit. dominate.

How about their second release? The Wild Balckthorn Sloe Gin is a traditional English Liqueur made using Colonel Fox’s London Dry gin, steeped with sloe berries from the Hawthorn tree, and blended with natural sugar.

Gentleman Badger’s Wild Blackthorn Sloe Gin – 26%

Soft sloe berry on the nose. Slight strawberry aroma, with delicate garden flowers coming through. Soft on the palate, with a more bolder hit of blackcurrant and an underlining sweetness. Dry as it nears the finish, with pepper and spice notes just about to burst through. Lingering.

If you’ve ever been to one of my gin masterclasses, you’ll know that I’m a big believer in giving you an experience, and that the garnish can make or break even your most favourite drink. Something as simple as say this –

Colonel’s Tonic

Glass

Rocks

Ingredients – 

50 ml Colonel Fox’s London Dry
Fentimans Tonic

Method – 

Fill a rocks glass with cubed ice. Pour in Colonel Fox’s London Dry and slowly pour over the Fentimans Tonic. Add an English orchard cherry for garnish.

Simple, easy and my my is it refreshing. Worth a pop into your drinks cabinet, and if you can, pick up the Gentleman Badger’s Wild Blackthorn Sloe Gin, also under the Cremorne 1859 banner.

* Back-history credited to Gin Foundry

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Laimon Fresh Tasting Notes

Laimon Fresh

Mixers seem to be the new trend at the end of 2013, and with the new year looking promising, I think it will only get bigger. With names such as Fentimans, Jax Coco and ZEO already featured, and brands such as Glo Worm looking at making a splash in 2014, it’s the turn of the sub-category that is in-between a soft drink and a ready-to-drink that I’ll be focusing on here.

Laimon Fresh is a new sparkling juice drink containing 100% natural ingredients of lemon, lime and mint, launched in the spring of 2013. Yes, you’ve probably guessed it, the near components of the classic mojito, which is exactly what the makers have gone for. Designed to be a life saver when friends ‘pop in’ or you’re found hosting last-minute entertainment, the idea is that you add a splash of white rum and some ice and voilà!

Question is, does it work? There’s plenty of brands like this out in the market, but would this stand out? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Laimon Fresh – 0%

A fresh combination of the mint, lemon and lime on the nose, with the mint dominating slightly more. Low carbonation on the palate, with all three flavours coming through in waves. Light, refreshing and a little kick on the back.
Try it with Bacardi Superior. The rum comes through, although doesn’t mask the lemon, mint and lime flavours. Well-balanced yet short.

Not bad, not bad at all. A definite summer thirst, and although it won’t break any barriers, it does the job, which to be fair, makes it a winner. I know some bartenders will not take my word for it, but there are a few that are willing to give Laimon Fresh a go, even combining with a variety of different spirits for a quick fix.

Laimon Fresh has been doing the rounds in London, Plymouth, Barcelona and Madrid, catching the eyes of many retailers and consumers alike. You may have even seen it on TV! I can see Laimon Fresh being the underdog in 2014, now the word is out and it does well to cater for both the soft drinkers and spirit lovers of the world.

Give it a go.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The London No. 1 Tasting Notes

London No .1

Coloured gin could be seen as a marketing gimmick. But have you ever just dismissed it, not really giving it a second glance and presuming it’s going to be cheap and tacky? What ever your answer, let me introduce you to The London No. 1.

12 different botanicals are within The London No. 1, including juniper from Croatia, almonds from Greece, cinnamon from Ceylon, bergamot from Italy, savory from France, coriander from Morocco, angelica root from France, lemon and orange peel from Italy, cassia from China, liquorice from Turkey and lily root from Italy. The combination of these give The London No. 1 its turquoise blue colour. It’s one of only a handful of gins actually produced within London, and is created by Master Distiller Charles Maxwell. He uses grain from both Suffolk and Norfolk to create his small batch gin, for which it is then four times distilled within a traditional copper pot still.

Using botanicals such as bergamot (an ingredient that you would usually find within Earl Grey tea) and the maceration with the gardenia flowers offer The London No. 1 as a unique offering to your gin experience. Far from it being the first blue gin on the market, but it does hit the mark for its purpose – created to echo the complex and full-bodied gins of yesteryear, albeit with a modern twist.

So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

The London No. 1 – 47%

Fragrant on the nose with aromas of cinnamon and orange coming through slowly. Hints of spice on the palate, with cuts of acidity striking and juicy orange and lemons flowing through. Long, warming and carries on its aromatic adventure.

Not a bad sipping gin at all, but could equally go well within one of these –

New London – Bronx

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients –

35 ml The London No. 1
15 ml Noilly Prat
15 ml Martini Rosso
15 ml Orange Juice
10 ml Red Grapefruit Juice

Method – 

Shake all ingredients together and serve over an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

For a gin that you may have never seen before, it’s definitely worth a try. Even if it is to show off that you have a blue drink, but at least once you try it, you won’t be remembering those horrible ones you had in your teenager years.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

TicketyBrew Tasting Notes

TicketyBrew

I’m an ale man. Wasn’t born as one, it’s over time that my taste buds have developed to enjoy some of the weird and wonderful hops in the world that can contribute towards a good pint. I’m also a believer in buying local and helping promote some of the smaller business here in Manchester. There’s one in particular though that has made a bit of a storm since its release into the beer market, and that’s TicketyBrew.

TicketyBrew is the work of a husband and wife team Duncan and Keri Barton. The perfect couple (in my eyes) as they share a love and passion for beer, so it of course makes perfect sense to start a brewery in Stalybridge, Manchester. Originally starting out as a bottle beer company, they wanted to offer a British alternative to some of the classic styles within the category. Beginning brewing in February of this year, TicketyBrew has recently expanded into cask offerings, such is the demand for their three strong portfolio. There also looking even further ahead, with the release of their TicketyFew range as well as limited edition specials.

So how do their expressions fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

TicketyBrew Pale Ale – 5.5%

A nose of biscuit and orange with the aromas flowing nicely onto the palate. A thin texture with a low carbonation and good hops creating a well-balanced offering.

TicketyBrew Dubbel – 6.5%

Dark malt, fig and caramel blend well on the nose, with sweet coffee and raisin creating a good balance with the bitterness. Low carbonation creates a lingering flavour.

TicketyBrew Blonde – 5.8%

Floral and spice on the nose, although subtle and engaging. Peach flavours come through on the palate with some spice lingering from the nose. An apricot hit lingers on the finish.

For me, the Dubbel is the best out of the range, although I am a sweet toothed dark ale lover. The Pale Ale is one of the better IPA’s I’ve tried in recent memory, and the Blonde is a great variety, and one that could introduce ale beginners. The idea behind the name as well as the labels is great, with a real sense of tongue-in-cheek that gets people talking. Well that’s how I came across them so they must have nailed the marketing on the head! The ticket style labelling makes perfect sense with the name, and it harks back to that simple look for a beer bottle. Nothing too fancy, straight to the point.

Grab yourself some bottles and join in the new age of craft ale.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

City of London Tasting Notes

COLD

As mentioned in previous articles of late, England is on a role in the gin category, with many a distillery popping up in the past few years to showcase there brand to the gin-loving public. One of these distilleries is the City of London Distillery (or COLD for short), and have done things a little differently than the rest.

How different though?

Well first of all, the site of the City of London Distillery is not where you’d expect it to be located. Amongst Bride Lane near Blackfriars is a basement. A basement that holds both a distillery AND a fully functioning bar. And separating the two? Windows. So you can have a drink whilst watching Master Distiller Jamie Baxter hard at work to create his citrus based gin. Impressive to think that behind you is the gin that you’re drinking being created. I’ve always said to people that if you ever get the chance to go to a distillery, take in everything you see. It puts everything into perspective of the spirits you enjoy, and it’s very rare to come across one that has a bar so close to the action.

COLDJamie got himself into the business of City of London Distillery after meeting venue owner Jonathan Clark back in April 2012, who had an idea of creating a venue in which the story of gin could be told from beginning to end. With Jamie’s expertise (he established Chase distillery) and Jonathan’s vision, they set to work over the next seven months to renovate the basement and fit the two stills inside, thus making it the first distillery in the City of London for more than 200 years. The two stills house and create two different spirits – vodka and gin. The neutral spirit is bought in from an outside source (as with most other producers), but Jamie is on hand to create a rectified vodka, and then using the vodka as a base, the now available City of London dry gin. 15th November of 2012 saw the first time that Jamie was able to start his distillation process, despite the bar being open to the public before-hand for a few hours a day.
Jamie and Jonathan recruited the London Bar Consultants to run the gin-heavy bar, with a range of tonics and garnishes it’s a great chance to explore the gin category. A cocktail menu of gin cocktails is available, alongside a couple of non-gin based creations to cater for all. 

The City of London dry gin itself has seven botanicals – juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, liquorice root, fresh orange, fresh lemon and pink grapefruit. But how do they fare when housed within Jamie’s creation? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes – 

City of London Dry – 40%

Lots of flavours on the nose, with citrus, dry herbs and liquorice most noticeable. The palate enjoys a spicy start, with a sharp, bold, rich flavour of liquorice and grapefruit zest. Develops a long, warm finish, that’s slightly dry. A cracking gin to enjoy on its own.

City of London dry gin is a great addition to any experience in your favourite bar. Expect to find this in not only the gin palaces, but in the more broader ranges of back-bars, or even in your own drinks cabinet. Jamie and Jonathan have done an excellent job in not only turning around a former comedy club in 7 months, virtually by hand, but creating and winning rave reviews for their small-batch brand. I can’t see this going away any time soon.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Butler’s Tasting Notes

Butlers

Inspiration is a word that can cause the mind to develop something new and exciting from an existing idea or a pivotal event in times gone by. In the drinks industry, brands can be born from generations of family creation, stumbled upon or a nod to the classic ways that have been long forgotten. On the odd occasion though, it’s a simple recipe that can inspire, just like the story behind one of London’s new gin brands, Butler’s.

Butler’s gin is developed from an old Victorian recipe by Ross William Butler of Hackney Wick, East London, who himself is a life-long gin obsessive. Ross is known to spend much of his time on his speedboat Fletcher and it was whilst aboard Fletcher moored in London’s Docklands back in 2011, that The Butler developed his first batch of gin. He uses gin that is placed within a 20 litre glass jar complete with infusion bags that contain his 9 organically sourced botanicals – lemongrass, cardamom, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, fennel, lemon and lime. After infusing for 18 hours it is hand-bottled and then signed by The Butler personally.

On sale since February this year, Butler’s has been making a bit of a name for itself within his personal tasting aboard his Fletcher boat and a secret location within London’s East End every Friday. So how does Butler’s fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Butler’s – 40%

Fresh on the nose with the lemongrass and lime dominating. Sharp flavours of cinnamon and coriander take over with lots of bursts as it develops a tingle on the tongue. A little dry near the long, long finish.

Mr Butler recommends enjoying his gin cold with a cucumber garnish. Would be rude to argue. As mentioned, you can meet Ross in person during his personal tastings, but if you’re a little too far away to take advantage of his hospitality, it’s worth stocking up your drinks cabinet.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bulldog

Bulldog

There’s always a quirky spirit to find these days, especially if your browsing the shelves either in your bar, supermarket or online. But what would you say to a bottle that had a spiked collar neck and has the word ‘Bulldog’ in striking letters? Would you think it was a hard-hitting spirit with a bite of attitude? Would you believe me if I said this were to be a gin? Not your usual quaint, relaxing sort of branding, or indeed tipple, and definitely goes against the norm of the less ruthless category in the market. Bulldog gin though is redefining the barriers of people’s perceptions.

G&J Distillers Copper Pot Stills Used For Bulldog
G&J Distillers Copper Pot Stills Used For Bulldog

Created by former investment manager and gin and tonic lover, Mr Anshuman Vohra used his experiences of travelling around the globe and combined with them with the expertise of G&J Distillers, based in Warrington, to source 12 botanicals from 8 different countries to create a ‘smooth and harmonious flavour’, something that he apparently felt lacked in other gins. With a bottle that was designed to strike the bold philosophy behind the brand, and a name taken from Sir Winston Churchill and the British ‘Bulldog spirit’ that he was known for, Bulldog has been striving since its humble beginning back in 2007 to being distributed all over the world, and most recently hitting the shores of the USA.

But what makes Bulldog  command the attention of gin lovers?

Lavender Botanical
Lavender Botanical

As mentioned, Bulldog has a blend of 12 botanicals, a mix of traditional, and rather exotic ingredients, including Chinese dragon eye, Turkish white poppy seeds, Asian lotus leaves, Italian juniper, Moroccan coriander, German angelica, Spanish lemon, Chinese liquorice, Italian orris, Spanish almonds, Asian cassia and French lavender. The gin is distilled four times within copper pot stills, combined with Norfolk wheat from East Anglia and fresh water from Wales. This creates a consistent gin which is also certified Kosher and vegan-friendly.

So with a rather well-travelled creation, below I give to you my tasting notes –

Bulldog – 40%

Very smooth on the nose with a clean aroma and hint of citrus near the end. Rather soft on the palate with a good mix of juniper, coriander and lemon coming through. A lasting offering that becomes a little dry at the end.

Despite the exotic botanicals, below is a more British creation for you to try –

London Light
London Light

London Light

Glass –

Highball

Ingredients –

60 ml Bulldog
15 ml Grapefruit juice
30 ml Pomegranate juice
Soda

Method –

Combine Bulldog, grapefruit and pomegranate juice in a shaker filled with ice. Top with soda and garnish with a strawberry slice.

So although seen as a rough and ready gin, its exotic combination of botanicals and the spirit of Sir Winston Churchill sees Bulldog gin as a welcomed newcomer who has seen its place in bars, and your drink cabinet, well deserved. I’ve been lucky enough to spend the day with Bulldog gin in the last couple of weeks, and featured within their tour of the G&J Distillers distillery to see first hand how the brand is created. From seeing the stills in action to the intricate machinery used for the packaging, it really does put it all into perspective. If you’re not 100% sure on experiencing Bulldog, check it out first hand. Once you see the level of work that goes into something so simple to create, it can shed a new light onto this dark bottle.

Enjoy.

More photos from my Bulldog Distillery trip can be found via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Martin Miller’s Tasting Notes

Martin Miller’s is fast becoming one of those ‘must have’ premium gins to see on any back bar or drinks cabinet. But why is it becoming so popular, and even touching the heights of Tanqueray?

It all begins in the heart of England, the Black Country, and the use of batch distillation. Combining the two traditionalists (the industrial revolution and the prefered method of production for only a few gin producers), their copper pot still ‘Angela’ is the heart of Mr Martin Miller’s creation. Over 100 years old, it distills and infuses the botanicals of juniper, orange and lemon peel, coriander, liquorice, cinnamon, cassia, nutmeg, angelica and orris root. For real attention to detail though, the water to combine the infused alcohol comes from a 3,000 mile round trip via Iceland. The reason? Iceland has the softest, purest water on the planet. The glacial waters are up to 10 times purer than the standard bottled water found on sale today.

Martin Millers London Dry

So with botanicals sourced from all over the world, to a round trip of 3,000 miles – how does the finished product taste? Below i give to you my tasting notes on the two products.

Martin Miller’s London Dry – 40%

Dominated by citrus notes on the nose, but subtle floral aromas follow slowly. Rather mellow on the palate, with a slight dryness. It gives off some interesting citrus flavours with juniper overtones with a hint of peppercorn on the odd occasion. A slow-fading after-taste of floral and citrus.

Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength – 45.2%

Juniper aromas swirl well with short, sharp hints of citrus on the nose, whilst the palate enjoys a rich yet smooth flavour of spice and citrus, which develops into a long finish.

Two fantastic offerings to get your hands on, but what happens if you create a cocktail?

The London Cup

Glass –

Jug – served with two rocks glasses

Ingredients –

50ml Martin Miller’s Gin Westbourne Strength
50ml Martini Rosso
30ml Campari
30ml Cointreau
50ml fresh pink grapefruit juice

Method –

Mix all ingredients. Top with Fever Tree lemonade and garnish with slices of cucumber, lemon, strawberry, pink grapefruit, blackberry. Add a sprig of mint for garnish.

A great sharing cocktail for the summer!

Take a look at the rest of the photos, taken at 24 Bar and Grill, via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.