Swedish Victory In The Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai Challenge 2017

Group

The last two weeks has seen me embrace my favourite rum brand more than ever with a trip to St Lucia for the Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai season. Hosted at Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, the 5* venue became the hub for a host of international and island based bartenders for several days, welcoming with a Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Ice Tea upon arrival and offering the relaxed and chilled vibes St Lucia is famous for.

The aim of the Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai season is to culminate in a combined final of winning efforts from across the world from the last year, paired with St Lucian counterparts to crown the ultimate Mai Tai team and recipe. Representatives include the United Kingdom, USA, Spain, France, Portugal and Sweden, who each won their respective national heats to earn their way to the final.

After being inspired by a tour of St Lucia Distillers within the Roseau Valley, spiced rum talks from local producers, and an insightful chat on all things tiki by the renowned bartender and owner of Spirit of Tiki, Georgi Radev, culminating in the paired teams having the opportunity to experience the Castries Market in the capital city and pick up some local and home-produced ingredients and vessels, ready for the evenings finale.

Mai Tai

With 5 judges, including myself and Alva Preville (Taste of the Caribbean winning bartender in 2010 amongst his host of accolades), each paired team had to create a twist on the Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai, using their inspiration from their trip so far, whilst also showing off teamwork and producing to us all a display that would be worthy of the top prize!

With magic tricks and crowd chants for showmanship, it all accompanied serves such as the ‘Sop It To Me Baby’ by 3rd place winners Anthony Guaetta (Twin River Casino, USA) and Daniel Francois (Capella, St Lucia) that saw Chairman’s Reserve Spiced mixed with the 6th edition of 1931 rum, a homemade spiced liqueur and Key Lime juice. Second place had the ‘Chairman’s Spiced Intellect’ presented by Andrew Turner (Milk Bar, UK) and Ron Hillar (Capella, St Lucia). They shook up a blend of their homemade spiced syrup, Chairman’s Reserve Forgotten Cask, lime juice, pineapple juice, Angostura bitters and a dash of Chairman’s Reserve Spiced, complete with a pineapple, ginger and rosemary garnish.

presentation

The winning drink though? It was the ‘Culture Paradise’ by Sharam Mohebbi of OGBG Bar & Restaurant in Sweden and his St Lucian counterpart Stephen Peter. Mixing Chairman’s Reserve Original and Chairman’s Reserve Spiced with Caribbean sherbet, ginger spice and passion fruit plus freshly squeezed lime, it won the judges plaudits! Earning them a cash prize, trophies and a trip for Sharam back to St Lucia, and Stephen to Sweden, plus local television coverage, it’s meant a truly well-deserved effort from both the winning team and all participants in placing them on the map when it comes to the Mai Tai cocktail!

Look out for the 2018 Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai season as more countries become involved with the challenge, as well as plenty of opportunities to experience a variety of Mai Tai twists, or indeed you can create Sharam’s and Stephen’s today!

Winning Cocktail
‘Culture Paradise’


40ml Chairman’s Reserve Original

30ml Chairman’s Reserve Spiced
30ml Caribbean Sherbet
20ml Ginger spice & passionfruit
20ml Freshly squeezed lime

Shaken over ice and served within a bowl or goblet. 

For more information on St Lucia, visit here.
Learn more about Chairman’s Reserve by visiting here.
To experience Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, visit here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

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Hard Rock Cafe Want To Spritz Up Your Summer!

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Hard Rock Cafe have brought out their latest cocktail creations for the Summer season, focusing on the ever-popular Spritz, twisting them with familiar names such as Bombay Sapphire, Jack Daniel’s, Grey Goose and Chambord.

Kick-start with my personal favourite of the ‘Jack and Diane’ that see’s Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 combined with Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and topped with lemonade for a bold hit of whiskey and orange. A close second for me is the ‘Chambord Supernova’ that see’s Chambord blended with St Germaine elderflower and topped with Prosecco, soda and a lemon twist. Rich, refreshing and offers a long finish!

A fantastic Grey Goose offering in ‘Good Limes, Bad Limes’ is available, showing the flavours of St Germaine elderflower, fresh limes, Prosecco and soda, whilst the ‘Thyme Warp’ offers a highlight of the Bombay Sapphire experience with fresh lemon juice and tonic, with a sprig of thyme to bring out the fresh aromas.

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The two other Bombay Sapphire creations include ‘Gin Ginie’ that see’s the bolder profiles of Chambord mixed with the British gin and bitter lemon, topped with a sprig of mint, whilst the ‘My Gineration’ focuses on the gin with orange juice, tonic and plenty of orange peel for garnish.

Six refreshing serves, priced between £9.45 and £9.95, served up, if you wish, within a Hard Rock souvenir mason jar (for £11.80) whilst rocking out in the sunshine (or what’s left of it) on their terrace. And if you’ve ever read my previous features on Hard Rock Cafe’s food offerings, you’ll know you can make an afternoon of it!

Jack & Diane with a Guinness Bacon Cheeseburger for me. I’ll see you at the bar.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

Manchester Gin

Manchester Overboard
Manchester, until a few years ago, had no gin history at all. Never a distillery mentioned, yet within the North West a hive of gin production with G&J Distillers only a few miles away in Warrington. Since the launch of Thomas Dakin and its plans of being the first Manchester gin to be produced within the city, numerous others have taken its mantle, including Manchester Three Rivers and Manchester Gin. It’s the latter that receives a focus, as they launch their latest gin expression to the city.

“It all began at 1.30am on a wet and cold February evening in Manchester. Whilst she sat alone minding the coats, he was a spare wheel to his two friends. From across the room he spotted her and offered to buy her a drink. Her response was sweet and simple, “a G&T”. Over the next hour they sat discussing everything from travelling the world to their favourite foods. Oh and not to forget, their love of gin.

Two years quickly passed and to anyone who knew us, we became known as ‘The Poppets,’ so much so that when you look at the back of our bottle, you will see the distillers as ‘P&P’ which means we made the bottle together, with love.”

A story of true dedication, not one for the money so-to-speak, it comes across as genuine affection for the category, with Manchester the forefront to its production, adopting the symbol of the city, the working Bee, that was adopted itself during the Industrial Revolution as it embodied the work-ethic of Mancunians’.

Months passed before Seb and Jenny settled upon ‘Wendy’, a bespoke-made copper column still that creates their take on a London Dry Gin, using twelve botanicals overall that include Dandelion and Burdock Root, seasonal orange and lemon, ground almonds, coriander and juniper.

However, this time around, it’s their newly released (as of July 2017), Overboard expression, their take on the Navy Strength at 57% abv after their success in their Raspberry Infused bottle. How does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Manchester Overboard – 57%

Wax-styled lemon and pomelo aromas upon the nose, with hints of dandelion coming through. A growing profile of lemons and coriander, followed by the earthy tones of juniper that follows into a long, fresh and slightly dry finish of cinnamon and almond.

It’s that new that a signature serve hasn’t been created yet, although I’ve personally had it within a gin and tonic, using light tonic instead of Indian, which offered a refreshing finish and retained the strength well. It’s also not available yet, but keep an eye out on their website shop so you can order a bottle for your cabinet once it’s released!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

Haig Club

Haig
Haig Club was released with much fanfare after the collaboration with footballer David Beckham and British entrepreneur Simon Fuller, with many taking it as a swipe to ‘outsiders’ who attach their name to a brand to make quick cash, whilst others looked at it as a great opportunity to shed light on a brand and category that has some elements that need a 21st Century update to its customer audience.

It’s with this that I take a closer look and see if the hype is worth its name.

The House of Haig itself is built on nearly 400 years of distilling heritage and can trace its whisky producing roots back to the seventeenth century in Scotland. In 1824, John Haig established Scotland’s oldest grain distillery, Cameronbridge, and is said to have perfected the art of producing Grain Whisky in continuous Coffey and Stein stills.

Haig Whisky quickly rose to become one of the most successful and popular Scotch whiskies in the world before falling into decline some 30 years ago as it left the Haig family ownership and was passed through a series of multinational drinks companies. In 2014, Diageo launched a new Haig whisky to add to the existing old guard whisky stable of Haig Gold Label, Haig Dimple and Haig Pinch blended scotch whiskies; Haig Club, an expression utilising a unique process that combines grain whisky from three different cask types.

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

Haig Club – 40%

Light butterscotch and fudge on the nose, with a slight hint of tropical flesh fruits coming through. Subtle notes of vanilla, butter and toasted oak on the palate, with a hint of coconut and tropical fruit provide a long, slightly dry finish.

A great flavour profile to enjoy on its own, or indeed within its signature serve;

Haig CLub - New Old FashionedNew Old-Fashioned

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients – 

60 ml Haig Club
10 ml Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

Method – 

Build by adding cubed or hand cracked ice in an Old Fashioned glass or tumbler. Add Haig Club and pour in 10 ml of sweet Vermouth. Drop in 2 dashes of orange bitters and garnish with a lemon twist and cherry and serve with a glass stirrer for the drinker to dilute.

The inspiration for the name Haig Club can be found in archive materials dating back to the 1920’s, in which Haig Whisky was advertised as “The Clubman’s Whisky”. Last year also saw the release of the Haig Club Clubman, the different in it being matured exclusively in American ex-bourbon casks. Either one a good call for your drinks cabinet, and its versatility means you can create a decent drink, whether cocktail or mixer. To be fair, I’d enjoy it on its own, it works!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

Skin

Skin
German gins are seen as some of the best around, with Monkey 47 leading the way in how we can approach the category. With this, Skin gin has made a splash here in the UK since its launch by Martin Birk Jensen in March 2015, and its striking packaging and different ‘skins’ that can be produced have caused many a stir in the right direction. But what about the liquid itself?

Produced in the ‘Altes Land’ (which translates as ‘Old Country’), just outside the German city of Hamburg, seven botanicals are chosen to enhance Skin gin; unique Moroccan Mint, citrus peels of orange, pink grapefruit, lime and lemon, juniper and Vietnamese coriander. Each botanical is individually distilled on a wheat based neutral spirit in a ‘Anisateur’ within an old copper still, in order to obtain close to 100% of the essential oils they contain. The essences are then blended by hand and bottled.

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

Skin – 42%

Bold, fresh mint bursts through, followed by the pink grapefruit and the wax of lemons on the nose. Incredibly soft on the palate, with a slight menthol note flowing gently. Lime, the subtle hint of coriander, and the orange peels blend well for a long, fresh finish.

An incredibly fresh gin to enjoy, and one that would stand up well within a classic gin and tonic;

Skin Gin and tonicSkin Gin and Tonic

Glass – 

Wine / Goblet

Ingredients – 

40 ml Skin Gin
1 bottle Thomas Henry Tonic Water

Method – 

Stir over ice and garnish with orange peel.

A great gin to enjoy over summer, and with the different skins available, as well as their navy strength option, it’s a fantastic addition to any drinks cabinet.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

Curio

Curio
It’s rare to come across a local gin that makes enough noise to be heard on the other side of the country, but it seems to be the case with Cornwall, led the way by Southwestern Distillers, and now continued by Curio Spirits Company. Heading to the North of England can be a daunting task for any brand who lack, for example, the personnel to consistently appear at the numerous gin festivals that pop up, who themselves are looking further afield to stand out with their brand offerings. It’s down to the power of the liquid then, the image of the brand, and the consistent approach to their values that can really win a crowd over.

With this, lets see what the hype about Curio is all about.

Originating from Mullion in West Cornwall, William and Rubina Tyler-Street have set out to train and work with two master distillers since 2012 to perfect what they believe embodies Cornwall and the natural botanicals that surround them, including the likes of rock samphire and cardamom, creating an air of wonder and curiosity.

December 2014 saw the release of Curio after the investment of two small stills, a rotary evaporator and plenty of experiments. The Rock Samphire gin expression was first to hit the shelves, followed by their Peruvian Cocoa Nib vodka, and lately their Cardamom vodka, all using natural spring water from the Cornish Spring Water Company.

 

My first taste of Curio see’s the Peruvian Cocoa Nib, a triple distilled vodka that is gently infused with Peruvian Cocoa Nibs and produced in small batches. But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes;

Curio Peruvian Cocoa Nib – 40%

Soft, subtle fresh cocoa with blends of vanilla and fudge on the nose. Slight roasted cocoa nib once upon the palate, with notes of creamy toffee, sweet fudge and a lasting flavour of warm cream.

Although recommended to be served neat, I did come across this;

Curio Chocolate Orange Martini
Curio Chocolate Orange Martini

Glass – 

Martini

Ingredients –

25 ml Curio Cocoa Nib Vodka
25 ml Cointreau
2 dashes Fee Brothers Chocolate bitters
2 dashes Fee Brothers Orange bitters

Method –

Pour all ingredients into mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well. Strain in chilled martini cocktail glass. Squeeze oil from orange peel onto the drink.

An impressive flavoured vodka, and it’s grabbed my curiosity to experience the rest of the range. Start your collection today for the drinks cabinet as they’re already looking to expand with plans for a larger distillery in Mullion on the Lizard Peninsular.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

Patrón Perfectionists Come Out To Play In Bristol

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The team at Patrón came around to Bristol last week to host the next round of the current programme, the Patrón Perfectionist!

Hosted at Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the competitors found their way to the South West heat by offering a unique Patrón serve, worthy of impressing the judging panel and ultimately winning a place in the final, held in London later in the year.

Hailing from the likes of Dirty Martini in Cardiff, Be At One in Bournemouth and Salt Room in Brighton, the competitors were joined by UK Brand Ambassador Karine Tillard as they re-created their serve to the panel of myself, Karine and last-years South West winner Steven Young of Academy Espresso Bar in Barry.

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The top three will be showcased here today, so in third place saw Brighton represent with Jake Goldstein of Plotting Parlour. His ‘Commin Mathca’ saw him combine Patrón Silver, sustainable sherbet, pretzel syrup, matcha green tea and aquafaba together, complete with a garnish of a tiny pretzel and matcha.

Ben Alcock of host venue HMSS earned second place with his creation, ‘Beez-Ness Thyme’. A sour styled drink that saw Patrón Reposado, bee mix (honey, Aquavit, burgamot, fig, salt and absinthe), lemon juice, aquafaber and chickpea water, it came garnished with a simple twist of a lemon peel.

Bristol Preview 23
The winning serve though came from Chelsie Bailey of Red Light in Bristol. Named ‘El Camienzo Perfecto’, it saw Patrón Reposado, pineapple sherbet, cream, lime juice and egg white, topped with Mexican lager, dehydrated chilli and pineapple leaves.

So congratulations to Chelsie, who wins herself a trip to London to compete in the final against the other finalists from around the UK!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

Jägermeister

Jägermeister
I think it’s safe to say, Jägermeister has become Germany’s most famous drinks export. But other than its consumption within energy drinks, I’ve been looking forward to actually understand Jagermeister, and how it became one of the biggest brand calls the bar scene has ever seen.

So, here goes.

Jägermeister can trace its way back to 1878 and a gentleman named Wilhelm Mast, who founded a wine-vinegar business in his home town of Wolfenbüttel, Lower Saxony. The business is successful, and his son Curt Mast, comes on board, yet decides to turn the company into a different direction.

Curt showed great talent in the preparation and mixture of herbs, and in 1934, after many years of experiments, he developed a recipe that would become the profile we see of Jägermeister. Curt Mast dedicated his new recipe to all hunters and their honourable traditions. A toast of which every hunt would begin and end due to the spirits combination of only natural ingredients and pure alcohol. It’s with this that the stag would be become the figurehead to Jägermeister. However, it’s not just any stag to emblazon each bottle, but it’s said to be the stag that appeared to a wild hunter and converted him to Christianity. The same hunter who later became the patron saint of all hunters: Saint Hubertus.

The bottle itself is durable, with Curt tried and testing a variety from great heights to make sure the bottle was reliable in transporting his recipe across Germany. He also instructed that the doors to the “Kräuterkellerei”, where Jägermeister is produced, are only open to the 56 secret exotic herbs, blossoms, roots, and fruits, delivered here in sacks from across the world.

After selecting raw materials that are of high-quality for Jägermeister, their master distillers then carefully weigh them as specified in the original traditional recipe. They will then prepare several different dry mixtures of herbs. These are then gently extracted by cold maceration in a process that can take several weeks. Once complete, the master distiller will blend the macerates together and transfer them to one of 445 oak barrels within the cellar at Kräuterkellerei, themselves hewn from wood grown in the local forests of the ‘Pfalzerwald’.

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

Jägermeister – 35%

Fresh orange peel and cinnamon come through on the nose, with a bold richness of allspice and cardamom present. Light, fresh notes of anise present on the palate first, with the rich, bold notes of burnt sugar, toffee, roasted coffee and tobacco leaf coming together. A lingering finish of sweet oak, raisin and orange peel.

Jägermeister Manifest – 38%

Pipped as the ‘world’s first’ super-premium herbal liqueur, Manifest is based on the brand’s original recipe of 56 herbs, roots and spices, but contains additional botanicals and is made using five macerates rather than four, whilst also being double-barrelled matured in both small and large oak casks for more than one year to intensify the flavour.
Light honey notes upon the nose, with a subtle sweet caramel profile sneaking through. A thin texture on the palate that warms up to an anise led profile of honey, raisin, cinnamon stick, clove and ginger. A lingering lick of spice on the finish.

Two fantastic herbal liqueurs, and would be enjoyed chilled or over ice for many years to come. However, this did catch my eye;

Jagermeister - Root 56
Root 56

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients –

50 ml Jägermeister,
Top with Ginger Beer
Squeeze of fresh lime
Garnish with a slice of cucumber

An underrated brand to those who choose to shot, but take the time to experience it and it may surprise you. Make sure you have a bottle of either in your drinks cabinet, and grab some ginger beer too.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

 

 

Isfjord

Isfjord
Got to love a good back story for a brand. Here’s Isfjord’s;

“It all started a little more than 100 years ago when a few good men made the first expedition to explore the Arctic region of Greenland – probably the roughest, cold and hard-hearted area on Earth. Then men who came back, came back with a wisdom of nature: They had discovered and explored the biggest island in the world, a country of nothing but ice and snow.

Today we still salute the brave men who took great great risks and discovered the wonders of nature – The amazing Ice Cap and the beautiful country of Greenland.”

Has you intrigued doesn’t it? I mean, no one ever really thinks of Greenland other than ice and snow, but someone had to discover it, and with many brands these days looking for a unique position within the category, it seems Isfjord may have found theirs.

In 2007, Isfjord realised that the extremely pure and soft water from the icebergs that naturally break off the Greenland Ice Cap and into the sea in Ilulissat (far north of the Polar Circle), are free from any pollutants and is some of the purest natural water on Earth.

Their gin and vodka expressions begin with the iceberg water, and either combined with Blonde wheat if creating the vodka, or botanicals such as juniper, lemon grass and cardamom if producing the gin, before being carefully distilled in accordance to the special process when distilling with iceberg water.

It’s the gin that will be the focus today though, as twelve different botanicals create the finished product. But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Isfjord – 44%

Orange peel and subtle lemon grass are present on the nose, with cardamom pods shifting through near the end. Orange water blended with fresh juniper and candied oranges are a bold presence on the palate, leading to a fresh, light and long finish.

Great over ice, but even better within a gin and tonic;

Isfjord and Tonic

50 ml Isfjord Gin
Topped with premium tonic (Double Dutch Indian Tonic recommended)
Garnish with a slice of orange.

A great go-to premium styled gin, perfect for the supposed British summer too, but wouldn’t look out-of-place over the festive season either. One for the drinks cabinet. Now, where’s that vodka they have . . . .

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.

 

 

Tappers

Tappers

It’s hard to tell these days what the term ‘small batch’ can entail. What’s the limit of bottles to produce before you’re no longer coined with the term? Does it stop when a brand becomes commercially available to the public? I only ask as it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate, but in the end, surely it’s down the liquid being created, not the terminology it comes under?

Tappers is a great example. Hailing from West Kirby in the Wirral, they produce their gin on site, creating 40 bottles per batch, with the labels and bottling all done by hand. But they also highlight another creative production method named Compounding, which can also irk some gin purists the wrong way.

Again, surely it’s all about the end product?

Compound gin was associated with bootleggers evading the law during Prohibition times, and was generally seen as poor quality. Tappers have used this idea to better effect, using 8 different botanicals to create a recipe that took over a year to prepare. Their Master Compounder develops the botanical recipes with ingredients inspired by Britain and the local coastal area, including red clover, chickweed, sea beet, pepper and spicy black cardamom seeds, juniper, angelica root and orris root.

Infused into a 100% wheat neutral base, the brand is said to reflect the coastal heritage of West Kirby. But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Tappers Dark Side – 39.6%

Orris with hints of the red clover come through on the nose subtly, with an intense kick of the cardamom once onto the palate. Fresh herbal notes strike through, with a subtle honey and thin angelica profile, leading to a ling finish.

Intense profile, which would work well within its signature serve;

Darkside G and T
Darkside G&T

50 ml Tappers Darkside Gin
East Imperial Old World Tonic
Sprig of thyme and wedge of orange to garnish.

A unique gin for the drinks cabinet, and with only 40 bottles made per batch, and their branch out into other styles, it could be one to invest in.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. 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.