Emily Says . . . . ‘Elephant’


In her thirteenth feature under ‘Emily Says . . .’, the voice to the Manchester bar scene in Emily Puckering looks at the Elephant in Ginuary;

With “Ginuary” in full swing, it’s natural for one to be on the hunt for a ‘one of a kind’ type of gin; something new and exciting for the New Year perhaps. The start of 2019 has already brought a range of current and intriguing gins to my attention, and I’m here to share them with you all, my fellow gin lovers!

Elephant Gin is a London Dry truly one of a kind. Whilst its story started in South Africa, it is currently distilled one hour east of Hamburg, Germany and is designed in order to capture the flavours and spirit of Africa. By doing that firstly, 15% of profits from the sale of each bottle go towards African elephant conservations, and each batch is named after an elephant supported by that charity at some time. If that doesn’t warm your heart, I don’t know what will.

The name of this gin truly gives one what is expecting: elephant strength. With its London Dry having an ABV of 45%, and its ‘Elephant Strength’ batch with an ABV of 57%, this gin stands out magnificently on the back bar.

On the nose, the initial hit of ginger is apparent alongside hints of delicate fruity notes. The use of fourteen botanicals combined with rare African ingredients and fresh apples give this gin its unique and distinctive taste, all whilst remaining on the ‘juniper heavy’ side.

In similarity to what is received on the nose, the palate immediately delivers subtle notes of ginger; not too strong but enough there to get that fiery kick that ginger is well known for. A slight sweetness is apparent, with gentle tones of elderflower and other floral components such as lavender. To finish, the dry tones of the classic London Dry round up the drinking experience nicely with slightly spiced peppery notes.

An overall fantastic little tipple for those experienced gin drinkers, Elephant Gin delivers something that ticks all the boxes. With it being a London Dry, Elephant sticks to the traditional components that one would expect, but with some delightful floral and spicy notes that create an exciting and different gin to enjoy.

Elephant Gin is best served as a 50ml double over ice with an Indian tonic water, or for those with a taste for something spicier, Fever Tree’s premium aromatic tonic water. The go-to garnish is a handful of dried juniper berries and a delicate slice of fresh ginger. Sorted.

Photo Cred: Elephant Gin

The King of Soho Is In The Pink With New Gin launch

The King of Soho Variorium and OriginalThe King of Soho is adding a new addition to its colourful line-up with the introduction of the King of Soho Variorum Gin, a berry edition of the original London Dry.

The King of Soho Variorum Gin adds a hint of pink and notes of strawberry to complement the essential juniper and citrus flavours of the classic recipe, making it ideal to be enjoyed over ice, in cocktails and mixed drinks; served with a strawberry garnish. The creativity and literary works of Soho are the inspiration behind the name – in literature, a variorum edition is an original work with notes.

With the original King of Soho London Dry celebrating its fifth anniversary in October 2018, the King of Soho Variorum is a new twist on the classic, with a lower ABV of 37.5%. It has been created to appeal to a broader audience and reflects the brand’s modernity. In its vivid red bottle, Variorum Gin is a vivacious and fun companion to the King of Soho London Dry; the perfect pair to stand out on the shelf or bar – day and night

Like the original, Variorum is distributed in the UK & Ireland on-trade and off-trade by Hi-Spirits. The King of Soho brand is the creation of West End Drinks, owned by entrepreneurs Alex Robson and Howard Raymond, and styled after Howard’s father, the legendary Soho theatre impresario and businessman Paul Raymond.

Alex Robson, managing director of West End Drinks, said: “The King of Soho Variorum Gin is a celebration of the colour and style of Soho; a pink berry spirit inspired by the creativity and literature of London’s iconic district, to join our smooth and premium drinks line-up.

“We launched the original King of Soho classic London Dry almost five years ago, and the King of Soho Variorum Gin builds on that success with an appeal to a gin consumer who is looking for a slightly lower ABV and berry notes in their drinks and cocktails. Crafted in London , it reflects the modernity and innovation of our brand and the ever-changing spirit that is Soho.”

The signature serve for The King of Soho Variorum is the Variorum Cooler:

50ml King of Soho Variorum Gin
120ml Cranberry Juice
120ml Pink Grapefruit Juice
Build in a tall glass filled with cubed ice, and garnish with a grapefruit twist and a strawberry.

The King of Soho Variorum launches in late July, with a RSP of £33.50.

Limited Edition BLOOM Gin Strawberry Cup launches in UK


BLOOM London Dry Gin announces the launch of its first Summer Limited Edition gin liquor, BLOOM Strawberry Cup. Master Distiller, Joanne Moore has created a new version of her floral BLOOM Gin by steeping fresh English strawberries in BLOOM London Dry Gin for a delicious taste of summer. The signature serve of BLOOM Strawberry Cup and lemonade, mixed as a long drink, is set to become the perfect drink for summer and lends itself to pitcher serves, as an alternative to other fruit cups on the market.

BLOOM Gin is made in a traditional copper pot still in Cheshire in the oldest gin distillery in Great Britain, which has been producing fine gin by hand for over 250 years. Inspired by BLOOM Gin’s signature serve of a G&T with quartered strawberries, Joanne has combined fresh strawberries with the floral gin, giving a strawberry coloured liquor which can be drunk with lemonade, ginger ale or as an ingredient in cocktails.

BLOOM Strawberry Cup joins limited edition Sloe BLOOM Gin as an extension to the BLOOM range and is available at Spirited Wines, Harvey Nichols’ seven stores, harveynichols.com and in Mitchells & Butlers Fine Country Dining pubs across the UK.

Cocktail Ideas:

BLOOM Strawberry Cup Fizz
BLOOM Strawberry Cup Fizz


Serves 4

Add ice and 4 strawberries quartered into a jug or pitcher
Pour in 200ml BLOOM Strawberry Cup
Top up with 400ml good quality lemonade

Serves 1

50ml BLOOM Strawberry Cup
Top with Prosecco or Champagne and serve in a chilled champagne flute


Gilpin’s Tasting Notes


Everyone has a goal in life. To do the best, succeed and fulfil your ambitions, make yourself strive to be at the top of the mountain. No matter what career path you choose, you will always have targets, little goals that keep you focused. One of my main targets in life has been surpassed and to an extent, smashed, as Drinks Enthusiast is hitting heights that I never thought were possible. Each brand could say exactly the same, whether a wine, beer, spirit or mixer. There’s no point in creating a product, just to see it pass by with no recognition. There are marketing skills that the likes of Hendrick’s, Bacardi and Smirnoff take advantage of, there’s image that Crystal Head, Ciroc and Mamont utilise, and there are flavours that can cause a storm and stand the test of time. All these had targets, to be mentioned in articles like this and to be served in your favourite bars. The next generation, so to speak, are working on this right now, and Gilpin’s gin wants to grab your attention.

The brand has two objectives;

  • To be the world’s best tasting gin
  • To be the world’s best looking gin

Bold statements and objectives. So lets take a look and see if it really does hit the marks.

Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin, to give it its full title, is a five-times distilled London-based London Dry Gin hand-crafted in small batches. The first stage involves distilling English grain spirit four times within a traditional pot still, before coming infusing 8 botanicals within, including juniper, sage, and borage, lime peel, bitter orange, lemon peel, coriander and angelica. Once infused, it is distilled for a fifth time, then blended with spring water from the Holy Well Spring at Cartmel in the English Lake District, that is naturally filtered through ancient willow-peat is added too. This adds to its naturally dry finish, so they say.

Once settled, it is bottled within a clear rectangle bottle, embossed with the wild boar. Each bottle is also labelled with the year of distillation, batch and individual bottle number.

A wild boar I hear you wonder? As you can see from the picture above, each bottle is adorned with an embossed wild boar. I thought it would be easier for Gilpin’s Gin themselves to explain this; *

The Wild Boar of Westmorland, a savage beast, terrorised pilgrims in the Lake District in the time of King John.

In 1207 Sir Richard “the Rider” de Gilpin fought the great Wild Boar and after a terrible struggle was victorious.

For his courage Sir Richard was granted the Wild Boar as the symbol of the Gilpin family which has endured to the
present day.

400 years later Sir Richard’s descendent, George Gilpin, was sent by Queen Elizabeth the First as ambassador to Holland where he was one of the first Englishmen to enjoy (and bring home) the new Dutch “Genever”. We don’t know whether Good Queen Bess preferred George Gilpin’s gin to Sir Walter Raleigh’s potatoes, but we do know that within a few years there were hundreds of gin distilleries in London.

Perhaps Sir Richard would have appreciated a tipple after his victory –

Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry– 47%

Fresh on the nose, with dry herbal aromas blending with citrus. A smooth start on the palate, with a light, delicate orange moving to a dominant juniper and citrus finish that’s very long, and very warming.

Sir Richard would definitely enjoy one of these –

Gilpins - MartiniClassic Dry Martini

Glass – 


Ingredients –

75 ml Gilpin’s Gin
5 ml Noilly Prat
Olives or lemon twist to garnish

Method – 

Stir ingredients in a Boston glass or Martini jug. Strain into chilled Martini glass and add olives or lemon twist. Serve

A good tipple, and a surprise at being 47%. To be the world’s best tasting gin, various awarding bodies have confirmed this, with Gilpin’s winning gold at World Gin Awards 2014 and gold at the IWSC in 2013. To me, it’s a damn fine gin, and I can see why it has won, and probably will win, many awards. In a way, in just a couple of years it can tick the box of being ‘the world’s best tasting gin’. The look of Gilpin’s is modern, simple and easy on the eye, so again, compared to complicated gin brands with hard to read labels, fiddly bottles and awkward shapes, it could tentatively tick that box too. Until it wins an official award though, I’d tick it in pencil.

It’s always a worthy position in your drinks cabinet though, and can be found in many a bar around the UK. Give it a go, and experience something that aimed to be ‘the best in the world’ from the beginning.

© 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.

Portobello Road 171 Tasting Notes

Portobello Road

There’s many a new gin that made an appearance last year, but one I’m yet to feature is Portobello Road 171.

Created by the gin bar Portobello Star in London, namely Jake F Burger, Gerard Feltham and Paul Andrew Lane, and distilled by 8th generation London Distiller Charles Maxwell, Portobello Road 171 is a traditionally styled London Dry Gin. Formulated using 9 botanicals (juniper berries, lemon peel, bitter orange peel, coriander seeds, orris root, angelica root, cassia bark, liquorice and nutmeg) and with reference to antique gins from The Ginstitute’s own collection then overseen by a tasting panel of industry experts. Handmade, Portobello Road 171 is a small batch product, paying reference to the long-standing traditions of London Dry Gin. Each bottle comes individually numbered and signed by the proprietors.

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

Portobello Road 171 – 42%

Fresh citrus and lime on the nose, a little sharp in places with added spice. A clean palate with an instant freshness. Juniper dominates with a slow developing spice that lingers.

A great sipping gin, and could possibly be used within classic cocktails such as the Martini or Gimlet, or possibly one of these –

Etheral Knockout
Etheral Knockout

Ethereal Knockout

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

50 ml Portobello Road Gin
30 ml Mozart Dry
5 Dashes Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters
1 Rosemary sprig

Method – 

Shake all ingredients except the rosemary in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a coupette glass and garnish with the rosemary sprig.

A great drink, worthy of a spot in your drinks cabinet too.

© 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.

Darnley’s View and Darnley’s Spiced Gin Tasting Notes

Darnley's View

Darnley’s View gin has a close history with the company Wemyss Malts. A gin close with whisky? Apparently in 1565, Mary Queen of Scots first spies her future husband, Lord Darnley through the courtyard window of Wemyss Castle, the historic family seat of renowned vintners and spirits merchants, the Wemyss family. So to celebrate this occasion, Darnley’s View gin was created.

Darnley's View SpicedA small batched gin with only 6 botanicals – elderflower, juniper, lemon peel, coriander seed, angelica root and orris root, it’s traditionally distilled within a pot still of a neutral grain spirit that has been distilled four times. Classed as a London Dry Gin, purified water reduces the gin to a strength of 40%.

So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on the two expressions available –

Darnley’s View – 40%

A great mix of the 6 botanicals on the nose, with the lemon peel and coriander being at the front while the others swirl at the back. On the palate, a fresh juniper hit mellows rather quickly into a lemon zest hit and then slowly involves a smooth finish of orris root. The use of angelica root leaves a dryness on the tongue.

Darnley’s View Spiced – 42.7%

A soft mix of cinnamon and nutmeg on the nose, with the ginger and cloves making an appearance soon after. Very smooth on the palate with a growing spice of coriander and nutmeg followed by the cumin leaving a dry finish. Lingers well.

Both Darnley’s View expressions are great on their own, but the use in cocktails maybe?

The Lord Darnley

The Lord Darnley

Glass –

Champagne Saucer


50 ml Darnley’s View
dash Elderflower Cordial
dash Fevertree Tonic Water
dash Limoncello
dash Angostura Bitters


In a mixing glass filled with cubed ice, add the Elderflower, Tonic, Limoncello and Bitters coating the ice. Stir and drain off any excess liquid. Add the Gin and stir until well chilled and suitably diluted. Double strain into glass straight up. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry

Darnley’s View is no stranger to awards either, winning the gold medal in the premium gin category in the Spirit Business Magazine’s Gin Masters 2011 as well as winning the Master Award at the Travel Masters 2010 series.

You can purchase a bottle of either of the Darnley’s View gin’s here.

© 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.

Gordon’s Tasting Notes


Most of you at home will have some kind of bottle of spirit in your house. Could be a bottle of port for cooking, brandy for puddings or maybe vermouth which you just don’t know what to do with. You’ll also probably have a bottle of gin stored somewhere, and it will more than likely be Gordon’s I say this because Gordon’s is one of the most widely available gin brands, and not overly expensive. It goes well in a Gin and Tonic or lemonade and has been a staple in bars and restaurants since 1769. 243 years of being ‘the number one selling London Dry gin’. But what makes it so?

Alexander Gordon (a Londoner of Scottish descent) took full advantage of the Gin Act in 1751 and sourced himself the finest possible ingredients. His aim was to produce an unsweetened gin instead of the usual impure and sweet gins that many were use to. In 1769, Alexander Gordon founded his distillery in the Southwark area of London and went on to lay the foundations for the creation of the style of gin for which the English became renowned. Tradition still goes strong today, with Gordon’s still triple distilled and the exact blend of the seven botanicals remaining a closely guarded secret.

To be classed as a gin, Gordon’s contains juniper berries. These are carefully selected from the pick of each year’s crop and gently shaken from the tree and stored for two years. This intensifies the oils and mellow the flavours, with the strength of the juniper giving Gordon’s the classic gin taste that Alexander Gordon was after. As well as juniper berries, the recipe includes coriander seeds, angelica root, liquorice, orris root, orange and lemon peel.

In 1800, Gordon’s fame spread as sailors of the British Navy and Merchant Navy carry it in their ships to all corners of the world. In fact, in 1853, entries in ledgers record payments by Joseph Franks of Melbourne for consignments of gin brought by the ships ‘Nancy’ and ‘Rostock’ – payment being made in gold dust. 1898 saw the merger of Charles Tanqueray & Co. with Gordon & Co. to form the Tanqueray Gordon & Co. with all production moving to Gordon’s Goswell Road site. Six years later, the iconic square-faced green bottle for the home market is introduced, with the Gordon’s Sloe Gin just two years after. Before World War Two, Gordon’s opened its first distillery in the USA, at Linden, New Jersey, and became its only distillery after The Luftwaffe bombed Goswell Road on the night of 11 May 1941. The Gordon’s offices, warehouses and distillery were all destroyed. It took 16 years until Goswell Road was rebuilt, and one of the original stills, ‘Old Tom’, survived. To help with the demand, Plainfield Distillery in Illinois, USA became the thirteenth plant throughout the world producing Gordon’s gin in 1966. 1984 saw an even bigger expansion as Gordon’s gin production is moved to the Laindon site, Basildon, Essex. The first gin distillation using the traditional copper stills, including ‘Old Tom’, which is now over 200 years old, is successfully achieved in 1989.

So a rather storied history with rapid expansion, so lets see how it actually is. Below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Gordon’s – 37.5%

Instant citrus aromas on the nose creating a very fresh experience. Quite dry on the palate however, with lots of citrus lemon flavours hitting first. The freshness carries on but comes up rather a short offering.

As you would imagine, Gordon’s is rather versatile with its mixing, and it’s not just a Gin and Tonic it can do –


Gordon’s Bramble

Glass –


Ingredients – 

25ml Gordon’s Sloe gin
25ml Gordon’s gin
25ml fresh lemon juice
15ml sugar syrup
Crushed ice
Berries to garnish

Method –

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add ingredients then give it a good shake. Strain into a cool rocks glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with fresh blackberries and raspberries (frozen berries work well too).


Gordon’s Pink Lady

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

40ml Gordon’s gin
25ml triple sec
20ml lemon juice
A raspberry to garnish

Method – 

Place all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake well then strain into a Martini glass. Garnish your Pink Lady with a raspberry.

This is a great mixing gin, perfect to pick up if you have friends coming round, as part of a gin punch or a round of cocktails.

Check out the rest of the photos via my Facebook page.

© 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.



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 –


Ingredients –

60 ml Bulldog
15 ml Grapefruit juice
30 ml Pomegranate juice

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.


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.