Jinzu redefines the boundaries of gin Jinzu is a brand new, crafted super-premium gin that challenges the norm. Created by a young bartender named Dee Davies, Jinzu is a delicately complex liquid which combines her British roots with her passion for Japan and its unique botanical selection. Blended with a hint of sake for a smooth finish, Jinzu provides an aromatic, unexpected twist to classic cocktails and contemporary serves presenting a new experience for those seeking to explore the world of premium quality gin.
Dee Davies grew up in Somerset in South West England. By her early teens she was obsessed with Japanese culture, which was fully realised after a family trip to Japan aged 16. As a bartender working in Bristol, Dee became increasingly passionate about gin, experimenting with different brands and flavour combinations. In 2013 Dee entered Show Your Spirit, a competition that invited bartenders to submit suggestions for their ‘dream spirit’ that could become reality. Dee wanted to work with a typical British gin as her base and look to encompass her other passion – Japan.
Along her journey of discovery, Dee was inspired by the iconic Japanese flavours of delicate cherry blossom and zesty Yuzu citrus. A flavour journey from West to East, Jinzu is the marriage of British gin with the flavour of Japan. Jinzu draws on almost 250 years of British gin distilling heritage and expertise. Beginning with the craft of high quality neutral grain spirit in a copper pot still, the botanicals juniper berries, coriander and angelica are added. Travelling further east, the fresh flavours of Yuzu citrus fruit and Japanese cherry blossom are introduced, followed by the blending with premium distilled Junmai sake to provide a distinctly smooth sake finish.
Following hundreds of international entries to Show Your Spirit, Dee was selected as one of the four finalists, and after an intense bootcamp and final, was crowned champion.
Dee comments “I wanted to create a gin that would capture my two passions, British gin and Japan. It was important for my liquid to have prominent juniper notes and I felt that cherry blossom was hugely symbolic of Japan. I’m so excited to be launching my own gin, it has been quite a surreal and overwhelming year watching my idea come to life and I can’t believe that my dream spirit is now a reality!”
Named after the Japanese Jinzu River, which is lined with 1,000 cherry trees, Jinzu is presented in a beautifully simple bottle with a delicate cherry blossom branch imprint: an aerial reproduction of the Jinzu River.
Available now in bars and prestige retailers, Jinzu will be a new addition for gin and cocktail enthusiasts seeking an innovative twist to their gin experience.
It’s not all about alcohol on my site. Yes, the world is dominated by spirits, wine and beer, but there are a fair share of alcohol alternatives today, especially as we find more innovative ways to enjoy a drink if we are not lucky enough to leave the car behind. With this in mind, may I present to you Azizi.
Coming to you via its creators Liz and Debbie, they set out to search for an alcohol alternative after, quite rightly, not wanting to drink every evening. Deeming their search unsuccessful to hit their taste buds, they opted to create their own, setting up Azizi Drinks back in February of last year. They also utilised the term ‘Total Mouth Feel’, essentially creating a tipple that engages with the different receptors of your palate, leaving a length of flavour on the tongue once the drink has finished.
Two expressions will be sampled for this feature, with the Classic Ruby featuring pomegranate, lime and elderflower flavoured with a special blend of herbs, whilst the Classic Gold contains lime and mint flavoured with a blend of herbs. But how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Azizi Classic Ruby – 0%
Rich pomegranate on the nose with fresh slithers of lime coming through. The elderflower is present, but is masked by a heavy layer of sweetness. Tart on the palate, with sharp citrus bites. A nice blend of the pomegranate and elderflower to begin with too, although the elderflower dominates slightly more upon the finish. Blocks of herbal flavours come through occasionally. A slightly dry and bitter finish.
Azizi Classic Gold– 0%
Plenty of mint on the nose, subdued slightly with the lime for a pleasant start. Bold beginning on the palate with sharp citrus and mint delivering. Light, with a thick texture creating a delicate and rather aromatic finish. Dry.
Not one to enjoy from the bottle being a concentrated cordial, but definitely one to experience, or what Azizi call a ‘Social Experience’, aka enjoy one of these with friends!
Azizi and Soda
Wine or Champagne Flute
15 ml of Azizi Classic Ruby or Gold
Fill a wine glass with ice and pour in the Azizi Classic. Top with chilled soda and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge.
In the future, Debbie and Liz are looking to bring out carbonated ready-to-drink versions of Azizi, which I believe could work as the public look for refreshing alternatives. Keep an eye out for these during the spring and summer months, I think the 2015 drink could be here as the adult alternative to alcohol!
in·spi·ra·tion noun \ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən, -(ˌ)spi-\ : something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
: a good idea
Defined by Merriam-Webster, inspiration gives birth to many of the brands that we love and enjoy today. An idea is the originator, with inspiration defining such an answer to the point of mass enjoyment, whether on a local, national or international scale. Usually, the inspired creator has had history and lineage within the family, or sees a chance to fulfil where no one else has succeeded. Lately though, a lot of traditional expressions are tipping the hat at a time or place, with the founder essentially inspired by the story. One of the latest brands to go down this particular route is Stellacello liqueurs, who are said to have been ‘inspired by traditional family recipes that originated in Italy over three generations ago’.
Lets dive a little deeper and see how Stellacello fits into the vast word of liqueurs.
Stellacello is a British based artisan company, located in Bethnal Green, East London, and headed up by Joe Stella. Starting back in 2012, Joe combines a variety of ingredients of unique spices, herbs and fruits, initially creating a ‘Pompelmo’ liqueur. Essentially a grapefruit liqueur, it garnered praise when the Stella Spritz (essentially Pompelmo topped with Prosecco and soda) featured on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch back in May of last year.
Recently though, Joe has worked on what he has called ‘Amaro London’, a bitter liqueur, again gaining inspiration by combining unique herbs, spices and fruits, garnered from those family recipes. I’ve been lucky enough to experience both of his creations so far, so without delay, here’s my notes –
Stellacello Pompelmo – 29%
Light on the nose with an underlining sweetness of soft grapefruit. Thick, with light tones of the grapefruit on the palate. Fragrant on the back senses with an ever so slight tang of bitterness. Sweet, offering a long finish.
Stellacello Amaro London – 23%
A rich nose with sweet notes, slowly turning the aromas of red fruits and honey to a rather delicate and aromatic experience. On the palate it’s rather light, with soft flavours of walnut, honey and citrus. A deep kick near the finish of bitter lavender, Long, with a refreshing end complimenting.
Two interesting liqueurs indeed, and the Amaro is different to many similar Amaro’s I’ve come across on my travels. Lighter, more delicate, and I can see why it is perfect for the following serves –
25 ml Stellacello ‘Pompelmo’ liqueur
75 ml Prosecco
Combine and serve over ice. Add a dash of soda and garnish with a slice of orange and a green Sicilian olive.
or for the ‘Amaro London’,
35 ml Stellacello ‘Amaro London’ liqueur
35 ml Sweet Vermouth
35 ml Gin
Combine all three ingredients within an ice filled tumbler and stir. Garnish with zest of orange peel.
To be fair, these are seen as classic Italian expressions, so the original way of enjoying neat as a digestif is not seen as a crime. I think Joe has done a grand job here, creating expressions that can be enjoyed by experts, whilst introducing novices to the world of liqueurs and digestif’s. Grab yourself a bottle and enjoy something a little different this year.
From a customer’s point of view, you want to go for a brand that stands out to you, one that shouts “buy me!”. Poshmakers have been doing such a thing in the last few years with the release of -ish gin, accompanied by a marketing campaign that involves a lot of Soho-esque twists. But it’s not just the gin market that they’ve dabbled in though as they released the so-called ‘Secret British vodka, also known as AKA vodka’, or AKA for short.
The makers say that the brand is “unmistakably British . . . . with an air of sixties pop” and despite being ‘secret’, it can now finally be enjoyed by the vodka loving public. The background behind the brand is something akin to James Bond. It is said that in the heart of London in the late fifties, the KGB were developing a secret formula to conquer the International Vodka Market. It subsequently disappeared in mysterious circumstances until the Poshmakers discovered the formula by chance on a microfilm in a camera they came across at a vintage bazaar.
So with an air of British action, AKA is created from 100% British grain spirit and distilled five times in continuous stills, with 50% of the finished spirit re-distilled in a pot still in London. But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
AKA – 40%
A clean, soft nose with a thick hit of grain coming through. Very soft on the palate though, again a clean mouth-feel with a slight spice and a dry finish.
Not bad on its own, but I think the cocktails could win you over –
Miss Poison (otherwise known as a Lychee and Blackberry Sling)
50 ml AKA vodka
90 ml Lychee Juice
Dash of lime juice and blackberry liqueur
Shake all ingredients in a shaker with 3 ice cubes. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass and decorate with fresh blackberries.
Die Twice (otherwise known as a Vesper Martini)
20 ml AKA vodka
60 ml -ish London Dry gin
10 ml Lillet Blanc
Shake all ingredients well in an ice-filled shaker until ice-cold. Strain into a Martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
Lately I’ve been commissioned by a new mixer brand based in London to create a range of cocktails ready for their official launch. Duly obliging, I came up with a variety, all with different base spirits to capture a variety of moods the drink could capture. The chance to create cocktails for a brand is always an honour, but what made Hawkes stand out to me was the vision and reasoning behind Simon Wright’s creation.
Back in Victorian London, ginger beer was sold in the street by the now aptly named vendors the Hawkers. Not only were they opening the palates of Londoners everywhere, but they strived to create a ‘new and better way for themselves and those around them’. Simon wished to re-create this bold reasoning from over 100 years ago, and it all started with the life of a green bottle on his own kitchen table. Creating a ginger beer using natural ginger, kiwi and mandarin that was to be enjoyed initially by friends and family quickly escalated into something to be shared with Londoner’s, just like the Hawkers before him.
So how does it all fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Hawkes Alcoholic Ginger Beer– 4%
Light, fresh ginger on the nose with followings of kiwi juice. Incredibly light carbonation, with subtle ginger on the palate. Well-rounded with the ginger and citrus tones of the fruit. A lack of sugar expected raises hopes of an all natural recipe. A little dry to finish, with stemmed ginger lingering.
Very different to other’s within the alcoholic ginger beer category, and one that you would find hard pressed to feel the effects from after a couple. It just seems natural enough to enjoy all day!
Of course, Hawkes is seen as a versatile mixer, so here are two of my creations for you all to enjoy –
A Port in the Shrub, created by Dave Marsland, Drinks Enthusiast
Combine within an ice filled highball glass. Garnish with stemmed raspberries.
Ginger Apple, created by Dave Marsland, Drinks Enthusiast
75 ml Apple Cider
50 ml Hawkes Ginger Beer
25 ml Grey Goose Vodka
Combine within an ice filled rocks glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Hopefully they capture Hawkes perfectly, and don’t lose that all important natural flavour profile. The brand is slowly making its way around the UK, and can be purchased for your own collection, and could very well be surpassing other well-known beers of the ginger variety in the coming months.
A simple yet great story, inspiration and a believer in a cause. There’s a lot more to Hawkes and Simon than meets this very scrutinised world we live in.
In spring 2014 Sibling Distillery is launching its first premium small batch Gin. Based in the Battledown area of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the company is owned and run by four siblings, all under 23. the
This young quartet has accumulated a total of over 30 years of experience in the drinks and catering industries, growing up working alongside their parents in the family brewery. Three of them have run their own successful businesses and between them have collected a variety of national and international awards. Working in restaurants and bars has helped all of them with their market research. “I love being part of the team, I find it very exciting. I am a thrill seeker and I look forward to playing a bigger role as soon as possible” says Digby, 15. Working in restaurants and bars has helped all of them with their market research. With the aim of running businesses themselves they realised that their best business partners would be those they had grown up with for many years shared ideas and aspirations. “We are all fiercely competitive and extremely determined so I guess together we will be a force to be reckoned with” jokes Clarice, 20.
The Elliott-Berry’s founded the company to produce a unique gin using their crystal distillery, a stunning revolutionary design made of glass and steel, the first of its kind in Europe. It allows them to monitor, observe and improve the gin at every step, allowing absolute precision and accuracy. Felix, 22 explains “the still looks amazing when it’s in action, the glass column is 12ft tall and very impressive. We are able to monitor and adjust during the run which makes blending unnecessary, so there is no compromise on flavour.”
Inspired by their love of cocktails especially those containing gin, they belong to the new generation of gin-drinkers, always out to expand the horizon of this amazingly versatile spirit. Using an unusual recipe containing a base of grain and green vegetables, Sibling produces a high quality 42% gin in a striking cubic bottle. Cicely says, “The Sibling brand came about very instinctively; it was less about ‘designing’ the brand and more about consolidating four people into one character.”
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.
Catchphrases and slogans can define a brand. Budweiser is a prime example of this with their campaign back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, but smaller more unrecognised brands will launch themselves with a tag which will helpfully stick in people’s memories when browsing a bars offerings. Well here’s one – ‘The Mountain’s Best Kept Secret’ – say hello to Thunder.
Thunder came about in the French ski resort of Val D’isere and has been created to satisfy the demand for a spirit that ticks boxes in ‘vodka strength and toffee syrup delicacy’. Launched by Scream Retail, headed up by Jon Lilly who is a veteran of the bar scene and bar manager in G-Jays in Val D’Isere, Thunder is made in the UK and produced from a triple distilled grain vodka and natural toffee syrup made from pure cane sugar.
It’s targeted towards mixers and cocktails, but how does it fare on its own? Well below I give to you my tasting notes –
Thunder – 29.9%
Soft toffee aroma is immediate on the nose, with a sweet edge. A little sharp on the palate with toffee dominating. Mellows rather quickly to a subtle sweetness during a long, warming sip. Aromas of slightly burnt toffee once re-visited.
Now as mentioned, this is more of a mixing spirit, so try one of these at home –
Love From The Sun
Champagne Flute or Highball
10ml Dark rum
10ml Lime juice
Half a fresh passion fruit
5ml Passion fruit puree
8 Mint leaves (small)
Shake all ingredients very hard for 20 seconds, double strain into a Champagne glass or Highball. Garnish with a passion fruit slice with large mint leaf
or something a little more wintry –
1 Spoon of chocolate, melted or syrup
Shake all ingredients for a hard, long 15 seconds and double strain into a martini glass.
Thunders award-winning too. For three consecutive years it has won gold in the flavoured spirit category at the Spirits Business Awards in 2009, 2010 and 2011 as well as being awarded The Great Taste award in 2012.
Not bad for a spirit that is more for your cocktails and late-night venues. With such a diverse and wide-range of spirits these days, to win an award, and consecutively too, is no mean feat which could signal to the world that Thunder might have done something rather well. ‘The Moutain’s Best Kept Secret’? Not if it carries on like this it won’t be.
Do you like breaking the rules? Becoming a little naughty? Perhaps so much it’s a fetish? Whatever your answer, your sure to enjoy this rather attractive and alluring gin named -ish. This London Dry gin returns to the traditional style but comes with a twist of an extra shot of juniper. It comes without any added infusions or flavours which gives it the perfect brit-ish gin for the classics gin and tonic or martini.
So how does something so devilishly good-looking come about?
-ish is five times distilled in a traditional pot still in the heart of London town where high quality English grain spirit is used along with twelve botanicals. Juniper, coriander seed and angelica root are blended with almond, orris root, nutmeg, cinnamon, cassia, liquorice, lemon peel and orange peel. The botanicals are macerated for 24 hours before the distillation begins. After a two-week resting period which allows the botanicals to become fully integrated, the –ish concentrate is then blended. The ratio of –ish concentrate to alcohol and water is relatively high, which provides a more complex mouth-feel and body.
So with this in mind, below I give to you my tasting notes, as well as the new variation to join the portfolio –
-ish – 41%
Rather smooth and refined on the nose with juniper dominating as expected. Very smooth on the palate with a slight sharpness nearing the end. A little sweet but balances well with citrus and orange noticeable.
-ish Limed – 40%
Juniper, coriander seed and angelica root, orris root, liquorice, lemon peel, orange peel and lime powder are macerated for 24 hours before distillation. Smooth and gentle on the nose with the lime coming through slowly. Smooth on the palate too, with a hint of sharpness coming through gradually. The lime dominates with noticeable hits of orange near the long finish.
With the balance of flavours rounding off the gin, here’s something that could really work –
Engl -ish Breakfast
50 ml -ish
20 ml Triple Sec
20 ml Fresh lemon juice
1 spoonful of orange marmalade
Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Strain into a martini glass. Add orange shavings to garnish.