Emily Says . . . . ‘Martin Millers’

Martin Millers

In her thirteenth feature under ‘Emily Says . . .’, the voice to the Manchester bar scene in Emily Puckering looks at what’s next in her journey now Dry Ginuary is over;

So Ginuary may be officially over on the calendar, but that doesn’t mean my obsession with the good stuff is over. At all. Forever being on the look-out for the perfect gin, I have come across this fantastic little number and it is certainly one not to be missed.

Launched in 1999, Martin Miller’s gin was founded by the man himself, Martin Miller. Mr Miller and two friends were regular drinkers in and around the London bar scene, and were generally appalled by the poor quality of gin available in pubs and bars. Wanting to bring something new to the back bar and to encourage a younger group of consumers to gin, Miller and his two friends set out to try and create the best gin possible; and, in my opinion, they did rather well.

Pot distilled in the Langley’s distillery, Martin Millers is distilled here in the UK; but the story doesn’t start in England. It indeed starts in Iceland in which the distillate is diluted with fresh Icelandic water. A pollution free country, and one of the world’s most active volcanic hot spots, Iceland is the perfect geographical location in terms of sourcing only the best fresh produce.

Taking on a ten day journey for Martin Millers from Immingham on the East Coast of England, Borganes is located at the head of Iceland’s remote west coast. From the depths of the beautiful basalt mountains that frame the Icelandic skyline, the water is drawn from Martin Millers very own spring in this remote and exclusive little location.

The botanicals that go into Martin Millers consist of the relatively straight-forward ingredients, such as juniper, coriander, angelica root, cinnamon, cassia, liquorice, nutmeg and Seville orange; straight-forward, perhaps, but timelessly perfect.

In terms of tasting notes, fresh juniper and bitter orange flavours are instantly apparent. Notes of Seville orange gently dominate the overall taste, with the distillation of Icelandic water delivering a beautifully smooth texture. These notes last throughout the entire drink, leaving a fresh and slightly peppery taste on the palate to finish.

In a personal opinion, this is the gin to go to when wanting a simply fresh and smooth drinking experience; Martin Millers have created the most fantastic gin. To be drank alongside an Indian tonic over ice, garnished with a fresh strawberry and a sprinkle of black pepper.

Photo Credit: Martin Millers

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Shake, Rattle and Stir on the London Gin Journey

The Curious

Being based in Manchester, I’m well versed with the bar scene of both the city centre and the surrounding area. Whether it’s promoting a specific bar to the wider world, launching a product in an established venue, or hosting a master class within a newcomer, I’m always in and around, getting to know the trends that ultimately the consumers are asking for. The nature of my work though, means that I get to hear a lot about the rest of the UK. I’ve been lucky enough to travel and tour the likes of Edinburgh, Leeds and Liverpool, checking out bars and restaurants that I hear so much about, and experiencing how the rest of the UK works. London can also count on the list, but over the years I’ve had many more meetings within, than sitting down, with a crafted drink in my hand and actually taking in the surroundings. My delight in hearing that I had an invite to do such a thing, meant I jumped on the train, and headed to my first London Gin Journey.

Why gin? Well gin is undoubtedly a category I work a lot with. Bartenders love the varieties and styles available to them, whilst consumers, both men and women, enjoy many a Gin and Tonic, Martini or Negroni. Gin also has much of its history within London itself. Becoming widely known once the Dutch born William of Orange came to the English throne during the Glorious Revolution (Holland being the birth place of gin), gin has ultimately had its fair share of ups and downs. Etchings from William Hogarth and his ‘Beer Street and Gin Lane’ piece were common to see, deriding the spirit of gin and blaming the so-called ‘gin craze’ on Britain’s social problems. The force behind this? The government. Unable to control the production, they introduced the Gin Act of 1751, forcing distillers to sell to licensed retailers. But it’s not all downhill, with the introduction of column stills to create what we know call London Dry. This process made it more practical and popular, and over the years, inventive ways to drink your favourite brand came into practice, giving rise to the cocktail renaissance that we still see today.

Such history can be found just about anywhere, but to be introduced by a man with such passion and devotion to his trade, is ultimately what the Gin Journey is all about. Leon Dalloway has adapted a method of introducing not only gin to London, but also a variety of drinking dens, and recipes to embrace. Leon himself is a former bartender, tending many a venue in Manchester before jumping at the chance at representing the relatively new gin brand of Martin Miller’s. From his travels of promoting, he moved to London in March last year and worked for the City of London Distillery, learning about the craft of gin and to hone his skills and knowledge. It is here that he thought about sharing his passion, and ultimately decided to go it alone, creating his business named Shake, Rattle and Stir. Its ideology is to bring fun, interesting booze knowledge to the people through events, with the Gin Journey concept being its first.

IMG_20140311_204444To me, this is perfect. The chance to see five of London’s best bars, try five different gin brands, and see them as the base for a crafted recipe, all whilst being hosted by someone who can rival the likes of gin maestro Alan Winchester, Jared Brown or Jamie Baxter.

Mr Fogg’s in Mayfair was to be the first port of call. Nestled within the back streets, it ultimately looks like the gin palaces of yesteryear. Taking inspiration from the hero of Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’, its decor of artefacts (including entomology displays, helmets, hunting trophies, palm trees, birdcages and even a hot-air balloon) surround the bar area, itself nestled with small stools and low tables. I suppose in a way, it would be fitting to the venue that you start with a gin that has had to travel to be a part of the evening. Elephant Gin hails from Germany and uses 14 botanicals within, including African ingredients Baobab, the Buchu plant, Devil’s Claw and African Wormwood. At 45%, it gives off a light floral nose, with citrus tones following a lavender aroma. A sharp start on the palate, with the citrus flavours becoming oily, yet also quite warming. From these aromas and flavours, it would make perfect sense to enjoy the ‘The Cape of Good Hope’; a combination of Elephant gin, fresh pressed pear juice, lemon juice, rosemary and buchu syrup, lavender tincture and whites.

Leon’s previous place of work came next on the gin journey, taking place at the City of London Distillery in the City of London. Boasting 270 different gin brands on its bar, and the working distillery that produces our next gin in full view, it’s an experience that can rarely be summed up in such an evening. Modern, sleek and very cool are some that spring to mind though, and with a City of London gin and Fever Tree tonic in hand, the grapefruit garnish really brings out the notes of the gin. The brand on its own gives off lots of flavours on the nose, with citrus, dry herbs and liquorice most noticeable. The palate enjoys a spicy start, with a sharp, bold, rich flavour of liquorice and grapefruit zest. Develops a long, warm finish, that’s slightly dry.

Riding within a gin carriage to our next venue, coming to a halt as we overlook the Thames on the historic Tower Wharf at the Tower of London. The Perkin Reveller welcomed us with a table ready for a feat, as the most appropriate brand for the restaurant came in the form of Beefeater. Sparse glass and white walls are evident, although the name not so much (apparently named after the cook’s apprentice in ‘Canterbury Tales’), but with a glass of Beefeater 24, and Leon diving into one of the world’s best known gin brands, you take it all in with open arms. The gin itself is soft on the nose with plenty of grapefruit coming through. Incredibly soft on the palate, with small bursts of liquorice, grapefruit, orange and the heat from coriander. Creates a long, lingering finish with a little tingle to remind you. Once again, matched with a rather delectable recipe named ‘Spring Revival’; Pineapple, Black Pepper and Sage infused Beefeater, freshly pressed pineapple juice, house grenadine, accent of house anise tincture garnished with house a pineapple chutney and Lancashire Bomber cheese topped cracker.
Being invited to a restaurant ultimately means the food portion of the gin journey, tucking in to a menu that included smoked mackerel, blue cheese soufflé, pork belly or roast chicken breast amongst other British and European dishes.

IMG_20140311_220534Shoreditch would be the area of London for our last two venues, the first being Worship Street Whistling Shop. This cellar bar mixes the Victorian era with the American speakeasy, complete with bath tub for gin and shelves with botanicals, herbs and spices. Dodd’s gin, from the London Distillery Company that first came out last year, was to be showcased, alongside what the bar call the ‘Ultimate Gin and Tonic’; Dodd’s Gin and house tonic flavoured with black cardamom, bay leaf, lavender, raspberry, cassia and chinchona served in a medicinal style bottle, complete with a bespoke label. The gin itself has subtle juniper on the nose with fresh raspberry lingering around near the end. Warm on the start of the palate, developing a slight spice with honey thick texture. The juniper is more dominant alongside dashes of lime zest. Short, sharp bursts on the long finish. Perfect for the home-made tonic. Sitting in the back room of the bar, it’s hard not to walk around and check out the nooks and crannies that the guys from Fluid Movement have inserted. Its idea and concept really do transport you back to Victorian era, and a shame to most to leave. But leave me must, and ventured to our last outing of the gin journey.

Callooh Callay, with its extensive back bar, complete with cubby-hole’s of bottles nestled into the walls, is a venue that I’ve always wanted to visit, and didn’t disappoint. When you are served one of Leon’s signature brands, Martin Miller’s, and hear of the thought and legacy that the now unfortunately, recently passed away Martin Miller had, it makes you truly appreciate the effort that producers put in to impress both sides of the bar. For example, once Martin Miller’s has been distilled with the likes of Tuscan juniper, cassia bark, angelica, Florentine orris, coriander, Seville citrus peel, nutmeg, cinnamon and liquorice root, it is then shipped to Iceland, where it is mixed with Icelandic spring water. The gin, the London Dry variety, has a dominating citrus notes on the nose, but subtle floral aromas follow slowly. Rather mellow on the palate, with a slight dryness. It gives off some interesting citrus flavours with juniper overtones with a hint of peppercorn on the odd occasion. A slow-fading after-taste of floral and citrus. To cap the evening off, and a first for me, we were presented with a Converse shoe, which within had crushed ice holding our final drink, ‘The Curious Gincident about the Grog and the High-Top’; Martin Miller’s Gin, rosehip cordial, fresh grapefruit juice, topped with prosecco.

Elephant GinIt only took a few hours, but I had experienced five bars, two of which I had never heard of before, five gins, one of which I’d never had the chance to sample, and five unique cocktails which I still talk about to Mancunians to this day. The settings were superb, and from a Northern point of view, we have nothing that rivals this. No distilleries within bars, no Victorian themed venues that house bath tubs of gin, no hidden drinking dens featuring artefacts from around the world. I suppose that what makes London stand a part from the rest of the UK, but to be fair, I would tip my hat any day towards them. Each venue was relatively busy, on a Tuesday of all days, yet the service was spot on, and our host in Leon made sure than nothing was too much trouble. And  you know he’s having as much fun as you are when he’s handing out prizes in his pop-quiz in between venues.

Shake Rattle and Stir’s Gin Journey is a fascinating evening, whether you work in the trade or not. And at £50 per person, you know you will be getting a lot more for your money than if you decided to venture out unguided.

Hats off to you Leon.

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

The Liquorists Gincident Review

Gincident

If you live in Manchester, or indeed the North, or just have yourself access to social media or have a friend who’s a bartender, you may have come across the tag-team of The Liquorists. The pairing of Tom Sneesby and Jody Monteith have given us many a night since their inception back in 2010, with their most commonly known trait coming in the form of their trails. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a fair few of these over the last year or so, and the reason why it’s many and not just the one is purely for the reasons of the following –

– Offer new and exciting bars to visit
– Showcase spirits that combine classic and new-age brands
– Deep knowledge that caters for all levels of expertise
– Food to match and compliment the spirit style

Many of these trails sell out in a heartbeat, but none as quickly as there summer expedition – Gincident.

Messa-gin a Bottle
Messa-gin a Bottle

Gincident offers all of the above list minus the bars. Reason why? The setting comes in the form of a canal barge. And from the name, gin is the choice of tipple. So, add 25 people to a barge with 5 brands of gin and what was described as a botanical feast of food and what do you get? Myself wanting to get onto the next trail immediately. Role on trail number 13! But how have I come to this conclusion?

Greeted by L.S. Lowry (the boat, not the artist) of City Centre Cruises at Castlefield Locks, the expanded Liquorists line-up were on hand to walk us safely aboard. Jamie Jones of pop-up Manchester bars fame The Yacht Club and Moose Bar amongst others, was to play host, with Craig MacDonald his trusty side-kick. Not forgetting original Liquorists member Jody Monteith was to be on hand to create us our five gin based cocktails on the boats very own bar.

Once on our merry way towards Salford Quays, the aforementioned botanical feast was served, all cooked and created by chef Hannah Eddleston. With dishes that included cured salmon with dill, spiced ham hock with juniper and cous cous, spicy chicken drumsticks on white bean salad and a savoury strawberry salad with feta cheese. Using inspiration from not only the gin brands of the evening, but the botanicals within them, Hannah served up a treat that from looking around the boat, left many an empty plate. Same could be said for our welcome drink – a round of G’Vine Nouaison and Fever Tree tonics for us all. 

Jamie Jones, who this year has won one of the worlds premier gin competitions – the G’Vine Gin Connoisseurs Programme, is the right man to talk to us all about gin itself, its history and how gin is created. I’m not going to go into detail about gin itself, that you can find by clicking on each brand that was available on the evening. Whilst Jamie was talking all things gin, Craig dished out neat samples of Bols Genever, Pymouth and G’Vine Floraison for us all to try. Three completely different styles, with Bols offering the sweeter juniper palate, Plymouth more your usual style gin, and G’Vine the new-age French floral. Plymouth was the tipple of choice for The Liquorists first cocktail offering of the evening – Hogarths Fizz. Combining sugar, lemon juice and camomile with a dusting of nutmeg gave this cocktail a smooth citrus feel with subtle aromas and bursts of freshness.

A personal favourite of mine, Martin Millers, was up next, and in true Liquorists pun fashion, the aptly named Messa-gin in a Bottle came within their own green bottle and brown paper bag. Using Martin Millers, home-made kaffir lime juice, orange bitters, jasmine tea and their own ginger beer, it created something rather unique, with huge bold flavours of fresh lime and ginger blending well with the Martin Millers and jasmine tea. One that you didn’t want to end, which is surely a good sign?

La Floraison De'tre
La Floraison De’tre

One gin that I’m very familiar with is Warrington based BLOOM. A brand that I’ve created cocktails for in the past, i was interested to see how The Liquorists would do with their Rosie and Gin (they love their puns). A mixture of BLOOM, strawberry liqueur, lime juice and topped within a jam jar with Fever Tree Elderflower tonic created one of the stronger cocktails of the evening, but more due to its bolder statement. The flavours did mellow as the drink went on, with the BLOOM complimenting the strawberry and lime.

Onto the French now, and as most of you know, although I represent this brand here in the UK, I came at the following with an unbiased opinion. G’Vine Nouaison, the stronger out of the two expressions was used as the base gin for the 22nd Century Cocktail. A twist of the original 20th Century Cocktail that was created back in 1937, it came with a blend of G’Vine, lemon juice, crème de cacao white and topped with tonic. In no simpler words, and being a massive chocolate fan, it tasted like chocolate orange in a glass. If your like Dawn French and me, you’ll love this tipple.

The last cocktail of the Gincident came again with a twist to not only a recipe, but an award-winning recipe. Jamie Jones offered the gathering his own creation that won him the title of G’Vine Connoisseur as mentioned above. Despite a few changes to his recipe, his La Floraison De’tre gave the finish the night deserved. G’Vine Floraison, egg white, olive oil, lemon juice, apricot liqueur and Fever Tree Sicilian Lemonade with a rose petal to garnish added a touch of sophistication as Salford Quays lit up both the boat and the night sky.

Heading back to Castlefield, The Liquorists made sure we were comfortable, well watered and fed before disembarking the barge for the evening. There tag of #nohangoverguaranteed is 100% correct yet again. Well done guys.

To get yourselves on The Liquorists trails, check them out via there website or twitter.

Check out the rest of my 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.

Cocktail Of The Week – Bloody Thyme

The latest Cocktail of the Week by collaborator and Head Barmen at the Vineyard at Stockcross David Coveney is an adaption of his own ‘The Bloody Roesemary’ that replaced the vodka found within  a Bloody Mary with house infused rosemary gin. This time though he changed the rosemary to thyme and used Martin Millers gin.

Bloody Thyme
Bloody Thyme

Bloody Thyme

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients – 

50 ml Martin Millers and thyme infused
Yellow tomato juice
Horseradish sauce (with added white wine vinegar, black pepper and sea salt)
2 drops Master of Malt Naga Chilli Bitters
2 drops The Bitter Truth Celery Bitters

Method – 

Combine all the ingredients within an ice filled shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into an ice filled glass.

 

Cupids Arrow (AKA. Be My Valentine)

Cupid's ArrowThe start of the new collaboration with The Spirit Cellar Online showcases one for those Valentine’s Day cupids in the world who may have left it a little late. Enjoy!

Cupids Arrow (AKA. Be My Valentine)

Glass – 

Champagne Flute

Ingredients –

35ml Martin Miller’s Gin
15ml Creme de Bergamote
2 Dashes Adams Aphrodite Bitters
25ml Lemon Juice
30ml Strawberry Puree
Topped with Fever-Tree Lemonade

Check out other recipes by David Coveney here.

 

Corks Out Champagne and Canapé Tasting

The annual Corks Out Champagne and Canapé night made its way to the prestige 3 rosette Alderley Edge Hotel & Restaurant last week accompanied by a host of well-known and famous Champagne houses to tantalize the taste buds of a bustling, and aptly named, Lauren Perrier suite.

I’m going to dive straight into the tasting notes of each Champagne I tried, with hopefully some interesting side notes on each.

Canard Duchene Cuvee Leonie NV – 12%

More than ten million bottles are ageing in the chalk cellars of Canard-Duchêne, which were dug by hand in the 19th century.
A good mix of tropical fruits and dried flowers on the nose that opens up beautifully once it hits the palate. Very fresh.

Thienot Rose – 12.5%

A favourite of Raymond Blancs restaurant – lively cherry and blackcurrant aromas swirl on the nose that develops into some fantastic flavours of red berries on the palate.

Cattier White Label Brut NV – 12.5%

Served best with white meat – fresh white fruit of apples and pears subtly surround the nose, with a lively, fresh dose of tropical and floral flavours on the palate.

Cattier Premier Cru Antique Rose NV

Perfect with fruit desserts – fresh and well-rounded with crisp red berries dominating both the nose and palate.

Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades

Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades NV – 12.5%

Found in many a Champagne bar, including The Circle 360 – very light floral notes on the nose with hints of fruit nearing the end. Creamy on the palate with a distinctive brioche flavour coming through with a long finish.

Taittinger Vintage Millésimé 2005

Floral on the nose to begin, but moves onto ripe fruit and raisin. A fresh palate dominated with caramalised fruits produces a long finish.

Ruinart Rose NV – 12.5%

Ripe cherry and red berries on the nose with a little spice at the end. Silky as it hits the palate, with fresh mint and grapefruit flavours.

Moet & Chandon Grande Vintage 2002

Toasted notes of almonds on the nose with ripe fruits following and maturing onto the palate. A complimenting mix of rhubarb, citrus and pink grapefruit go well together for a long finish.

Dom Perignon Vintage 2003 – 12.5%

Incredibly soft, sweet floral notes on the nose with a hint of spice near the end. Delicate on the palate to begin with, but develops well with a creamy texture and a slight tang finish.

Krug Grande Cuvee NV – 12%

A blend of around 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages – a mix of floral, ginger bread and citrus blend well on the nose, whilst flavours of hazelnuts, almonds and honey dominate the palate.

Bollinger Special Cuvee NV – 12.5%

A good marriage of cream and fruit on the nose, with rich peach and a subtle butter flavour on the palate that produces a long finish.

Bollinger Rose NV – 12%

A soft aroma of red fruit on the nose becomes more dominant as it reaches the palate as strawberries and raspberries stand out. Long, creamy finish.

Bollinger Grande Annee Vintage 2002 – 12%

Pears, toffee and spice are present on the nose, with a rich balance of citrus and apple on the palate.

Louis Roederer Brut Premier – 12%

Toasted almonds dominate the nose, moving to become lively yet creamy on the palate.

Louis Roederer Carte Blanche – 12%

Intense honey and ripe, sweet notes on the nose, with rich, creamy texture on the palate with apricots coming through. Long finish.

Louis Roederer Rose Vintage – 12.5%

Pairing well with a variety of food – lots of fruits on the nose, with blackberries and blueberries coming through noticeably. Rich fruit and cream blend well on the palate.

Louis Roederer Cristal Vintage 2004 – 12%

Intense white fruit and citrus hits the nose well, with a hint of sweetness nearing the end. Peach and apricot burst on the palate into a soft, silky and creamy end.

Laurent Perrier Brut – 12%

Delicate aroma of citrus on the nose, fruity and crisp on the palate with a long finish.

Laurent Perrier Vintage 2002 – 12%

Dried fruits and citrus bounce off each other on the nose, with a lively palate of lemon and dark fruit combining for a long finish.

Laurent Perrier Brut Rose – 12%

Crisp aroma of red fruits on the nose that follows onto the palate and intensifies. Lots of strawberries and blackcurrant mixing well for a rounded finish.

After having a tipple or two of the Champagne, Bob of Corks Out in Stockton Heath was on hand with some Champagne cocktails including a Bellini using Briottet Creme de Peche, a Rhubarb Royale involving Briottet Rhubarb, a French 75 with -ish Gin and the surprisingly good mixture of Martin Millers gin, Kwai Feh lychee liqueur and Champagne to create a Shanghai Fizz.

With discounts on all the Champagnes available, and even the chance to own a bottle of Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Jeroboam 1995 presented in a stunning gift box, that had a price tag of £2200 for the night (a saving of £1000), there were orders flying left right and centre as I left Alderley Edge with a fair few favourites stuck in my mind (personal highlights include Dom Perignon, Cattier Glamour Rose, Laurent Perrier Vintage 2002 and Bollinger Special Cuvee).

All the above are available via the Corks Out website, with stores also across the North West.

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

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