Anthology of Gin Review

Hendrick’s. A gin that signifies the quirky, the pompus and the extraordinary – and they didn’t disappoint! Taking over a small premises near Covent Garden, they transformed the place into a Victorian haven full of extravagant ornaments, quaint wooden tables, a traditional stall serving Hendrick’s cocktails and even a Hendrick’s bath! The tasting session i was to embark on though was situated down a flight of wooden stairs leading to a ‘theatre’, with wooden chairs and tables scattered around and Victorian styled umbrellas hanging from the ceiling. Duncan McRae (the Hendrick’s UK ambassador) was on hand to greet us all with a G & T as we sat to listen about the history of Hendrick’s.

Hendrick's bath & gin

Launched in 1999, the history of Hendrick’s Gin actually goes way back to 1860 where the Bennet still was created in London, and the Carter-Head still in 1948 by John Dore & Co. Both these copper stills were bought by Charles Gordon (the great-grandson of William Grant) in 1966 at a London auction and after some restoration work, the first beginnings of Hendrick’s Gin were put in motion.

The distillation process of Hendrick’s Gin combines the two spirits from both the Carter-Head and Bennet stills to create the finished Hendrick’s product.

The Bennett still allows most of the flavour characteristics of the botanicals to pass into the spirit. The still is filled with neutral spirit and the botanicals are added to the liquid, along with  water. This is left to steep for 24 hours and then heated. As the pot begins to boil, vapour moves up the short column of the still and makes its way to the condenser. There, the vapours are turned back to liquid and collected.
The Carter-Head method of production differs, with only the neutral spirit and water added to the pot of this still. All the botanicals used with the Carter-Head are added to a flavour basket at the top of the still. Rather than boiling the botanicals, (which produces the strong spirit of the Bennett still) the Carter-Head bathes the botanicals in just the alcohol vapours. As these rise up through the still, they enter the base of the flavour basket. Inside the flavour basket, the botanicals are held in copper baskets, which hold them together while allowing the vapours to be fully exposed. As the evaporated alcohol moves through the botanicals, it extracts flavours from them. These are then carried out of the basket along with the alcohol until they reach the condenser. Only the lighter, floral and more sweeter flavours are extracted by this method.
The combining of the spirits from each still, with the addition of cucumber and rose-petal essence, creates the final product.

Laid out in front of us were 7 different tasting glasses, each with a different step of the Hendrick’s distillation process. Below are my tasting notes on each one –

Bennet Still Distillation – 80%

Concentrated juniper on the nose, with spice, citrus and pepper mixed in. The palate intensified the aromas but a little water added created an earthy, chocolate flavour. It was noticeable to see oils forming from the botanicles too.

Carter-Head Distillation – 80%

Lighter on the nose and palate than the Bennet still with no main flavour hitting the senses.

The Distillates Combined

A mix of both Bennet and Carter-Head stills, a high and intense flavour with a strong juniper flavour.

Cucumber & Rose Petal (both in separate tasting glass)

A very high concentration of both with strong flavours.

Hendrick’s Gin Uncut – 80%

A subtle scent on the nose yet the palate encounters a very strong, potent mix of juniper, cucumber and rose petals, with a kick just before it mellows for a long after-taste.

Hendrick's Umbrellas

Hendrick’s Gin – 41.4%

Small mixes of cucumber, rose and juniper on the nose create a mouth-watering effect on the palate that enjoys a smooth and very well-balanced gin. Clean and crisp on the after-taste.

I unfortunately had to duck out fairly quickly to get to my next event for the London Cocktail Week, but I enjoyed an interesting insight into a unique history of what I can safely say is now one of my favourite gins. Duncan also recommended a classic reading material too – The Mixellany Guide to Gin by Geraldine Coates
I’ll be sourcing that one some time soon!

If you ever get the chance to sample Hendrick’s Gin, take it. You might be pleasantly surprised!
You can check out the Hendrick’s Gin website here – http://www.hendricksgin.com

Purchase a bottle here – http://www.corksout.com/products/Hendrick%27s-Gin.html

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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.

Ron Barceló Imperial & XM Royal Rum Tasting Notes

I swung by Corks Out in Timperley today to have a chat with their new General Manager Karim about all things wine and spirits. After pondering whether Chase should have kept their Marmalade vodka packaging clear or in their current orange bottle, Karim moved our attention to some open bottles of rum that he had available and out came Ron Barceló Imperial, XM Royal Rum and XM Guyano Rum VXO!

Unfortunately due to me driving and always being one to abide the laws of the road, I could only sample a few. For the ones I did, below are my tasting notes –

 

Ron Barceló Imperial Rum

Ron Barceló Imperial – 38% abv – Dominican Republic

It released heavy hints of toffee on the nose, with some intermittent hits of spice to compliment whilst on the palate, it was rather smooth with a slight sweetness of vanilla and caramel. The flavours of dry fruits is also detected, although the caramel and vanilla are the dominant forces. It finishes well with a lingering after-taste of caramel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XM Royal Rum

XM Royal Rum – 40% – Guyana

The smells and aromas of orange mix with the tropical fruits of carambola and grapefruit to give you a rather mouth-watering scent. Upon taste, a very sweet mix of vanilla and toffee which gave a rather creamy texture on the palate. Hints of citrus came through but my sweet-tooth was enjoying the long after-taste.

Both these rums are available on the Corks Out website –

http://www.corksout.com/products/Barcel%C3%B3-Imperial.html

&

http://www.corksout.com/products/XM-Royal-Rum.html

I also sampled Expre Espresso Liqueur, which unfortunately I can’t put into words how much I didn’t like it. I try to write the positives of everything I try but not being a coffee fan anyway, it was a little too intense and over-powering on taste. I would stick with Kahlua or Tia Maria, because I don’t think you will be seeing Expre Espresso Liqueur around for too long.

Irish Whiskey Tasting at Kro 2

Last night was Kro Bar’s monthly whiskey tasting night involving a range of whiskey from the Irish based Cooley Distillery.

For those of you who don’t know what Kro Bar is, they’re a Danish family business who specialise in Danish food and beer. A popular idea, they’ve expanded from 1 outlet to 5 in the space of 10 years.

Our host for the evening was Alex Johnson of Eaux de Vie, and he took us through a thorough history of Cooley Distillery itself as well as each individual brand under their portfolio. These included –

– Kilbeggan Blended
– Greenore 8 year old Single Grain
– Tyroconnell Single Malt
– Tyroconnell 10 year old Madeira Cask Finish Single Malt
– Connemara Peated Single Malt
– Connemara Turf Mor Peated Single Malt

The Irish whiskeys on offer for the night

Now I’ve personally never tried any of these whiskies before so this was another great insight into another part of the whiskey world. Below are my tasting notes on each whiskey offered to us:-

Kilbeggan Blended – 40% £23.99 rrp

Kilbeggan distillery has the title of the world oldest distillery under its belt (opened 1757) so with a whiskey steeped in history, we expected something a little special, and it delivered. On the nose it gave off a subtle mix of both vanilla and a rather sweet caramel aroma, whilst a soft and almost silky taste of caramel and dark chocolate lay themselves down on your palate, giving you a creamy finish. Recommended as a good starter whiskey to unfamiliar Irish whiskey drinkers, and I’d whole-heartedly agree!

Greenore 8 year old Single Grain – 40% £31 rrp

Produced in a continuous still instead of the traditional copper pot still, the Greenore 8yr is lighter in taste but rougher on the back of the throat. So with this in mind, the nose gave off some delicate citrus notes with a slight mix of corn. As it hits your tongue, it gives you a short, sharp hit but mellows quickly into a more distinctive citrus taste with a hint of barley coming through as it gives you a subtle burn (not as harsh as you would expect a grain whiskey to be).

Tyroconnell Single Malt – 40% £32 rrp

Named after a race horse back in America, it was originally produced by the Watts Distillery until prohibition forced them to settle in Ireland. Tyrocennell was Americas biggest selling whiskey before the prohibition, and was one of the first to be brought back to life by Cooleys in 1992. On the nose it gave off a fresh mix of jasmine, malt and honey with the palate enjoying a fruity blend of orange and lemon with the malt making a strong presence in the long after-taste.

Tyroconnell 10 year old Madeira Cask Finish Single Malt – 46% £49 rrp

Initially matured in American oak barrels, it finished life off for 6-8 months in a Madeira cask. Hints of cinnamon softly enter your nose but you get a kick of mixed spice as it hits your palate.

Connemara Peated Single Malt – 40% £31 rrp

Connemara distinguishes itself away from the Scotch peated whiskies as being produced in rural areas, not coastal, so there’s no powering hit of sea spray or iodine. On the nose it gives you a balance of dried fruits, honey and wild flower. The palate however gives you a silky smooth start of honey, with a more powerful and intense taste of fruit and peat coming through giving it a long finish.  

Connemara Turf Mor Peated Single Malt – 46% £51 rrp

What Alex described as ‘bringing out the heavy stuff’, the last whiskey of the night was the heavily peated Connemara Turf Mor. It gives off a rich mix of salt, spice and subtle smoke. On the palate it gives you an intense kick of peat and smoak but develops into a mellow after-taste that leaves dry spice flavours lingering.

Mid-way through the tastings, Kro supplied us with a delicious lamb-stew which went down very well on a cold and rainy night in Manchester!

A thoroughly enjoyable night in which we were able to sample a good range of what both Cooley Distillery and Ireland have to offer. Irish whiskey hasn’t been something I’ve taken much notice of in the past, with only Jamesons and Bushmills my only knowledgable ports of call. But I’ll be looking out for the Kilbeggan Blend as well as the Greenore 8yr which Alex says are widely available in places likes Corks Out.

Next month’s Kro 2 whisky tasting will be hosted by Compass Box who are an independent Scotch whisky company. On offer will be Great King Street, Spice Tree, Hedonism, The Peat Monster and Orangerie. 5 whiskies I’ve never tried, but can’t wait to taste!

Check out Kro’s website here – http://www.kro.co.uk/

You can purchase all of the above Irish whiskeys here – http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/productlist.php?catid=41 or http://www.corksout.com/categories/Spirits/Whisky-%26-Malts/Irish-Whiskey/

Take a look at Cooley Distillery here – http://www.cooleywhiskey.com/

Corks Out Review

Corks Out is an independent wine and spirit merchants who base themselves in the North West. A couple of years ago they opened a store in Timperley and I use to frequent there to purchase that something special. Both wines and spirits have been bought including Licor 43, Goslings Navy Seal rum and Martin Millers gin, Old Tom ales and various wines from different countries.

Me and my flat-mate made a recent trip there a few days ago to purchase for him a bottle of gin for a friend’s birthday. As ever the staff were very knowledgable and helpful in choosing the best gin for our price range (he opted for Martin Millers London Dry), a selection that also included Chase Williams, Blackwoods and Haymans.

Montes Pinot Noir 2009

We had also heard about Corks Out new seating areas that they have recently introduced where you can have a glass of wine or champagne. We decided to go for their corkage deal where you can purchase any bottle of wine for over £10 and pay only £3.50 corkage! We opted for a Chilean Montes Pinot Noir 2009. An easy drinking medium-bodied red wine that had wonderful red berry and raspberry aromas. On the palate, it gave off an intense flavour of strawberries and vanilla with a savoury character which gave it a long lingering after-taste. At only £9.95, this was a bargain, and to be able to drink it surrounded by what literally can only be described as a wine cellar on street level, it can even beat having a glass of wine in a local bar.

Theres stores in Alderley Edge, Chester, Stockton Heath and Heswall so if you’re near, pop in and take a look at what I can safely say is one hell of a good range! I may even see you there myself!

Check out their website at http://www.corksout.com for deals and details of there wine tasting sessions that they offer every month. Don’t forget to sign-up to my drinks blog (available at my home page) for reviews of the upcoming tasting sessions as and when they happen.