Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 20, 2013
It is that time of year again when I present my annual Rum Howler Awards where I recognize the best spirits which I have had the pleasure of sampling over the past two years. You see, I save my sample bottles after writing my reviews, and have a fun little tasting competition (usually with a few friends to help me). The aim is to determine which spirits are truly the best. My gin tastings were completed a few weeks ago, and I have complied the results for The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin.
This has been a good year for Gin. The Spirit has become more than just a base for Gin and Tonics and Martinis; it has become part of the cocktail revolution which is underway on both sides of the Atlantic (and threatening to cross the Pacific as well.) In fact, it could be said that walking side by side with the Cocktail Revolution is a new Gin Revolution. While London Dry Gin still dominates the landscape of juniper, we are at the forefront of the development of new variations upon the pinene theme. I see varieties of gin aged in oak (see review here); I see specialized flavoured gins (see review here); and I see distillers experimenting with local botanicals and spices in an effort to bring new taste profiles forward (see review here). We are even witnessing the resurrection of an heretofore almost forgotten styles of gin (see review here).
This year, I invited one of my gin loving friends to help me in the judging process which occurred during two lazy Sundays in September. Each spirit was served in three cocktails (Grange Cocktail, Gin and Tonic, and a Dry Gin Martini) as well as served neat with no ice.
And without further ado, it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Gin. These Awards are for the best Gin Spirits, I encountered in the year 2013:
(Use the above link to find the Awards Page.)
Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin | Tagged: 2013, Aged Gin, Flavoured Gin, Gin, London Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin, Rum Howler Awards | Comments Off on The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 1, 2013
Tanqueray Gin was originally produced by Charles Tanqueray in London, England in 1830 at the Bloomsbury Distillery. The distillery prospered through the nineteenth century; but after being in production for over one hundred years, it was badly damaged in the bombing raids of World War II by the German air force. One still survived, and this still affectionately called “Old Tom” was moved to the new facilities in Cameron, Scotland where Tanqueray gin is currently produced.
Tanqueray Gin, is a London Dry Gin distilled four times with the botanicals infused prior to the fourth distillation . According to the Tanqueray website, juniper, coriander, angelica root and licorice are the four major botanicals used in the gin’s construction. Tanqueray is bottled at different proofs for different regional markets. As I live in Canada, the bottling proof of my sample bottle is 40 % alcohol by volume.
You may read my full review by clicking on the excerpt:
“… Tanqueray is a clear spirit which when poured into my glass displays a nice combination of assertive juniper and lemon citrus at the forefront of the aroma. There is also a firm, but mild spiciness rising from the glass which hints at cardamom, ginger and citrus zest with more than a few hints of anise and licorice …”
Please enjoy my review, and the fine cocktail which follows, the Lime Martini.
Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Cocktails, Gin, Gin Review, Lime Martini, London Dry Gin, Tanqueray | 1 Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 24, 2013
Highwood Distillers is a Canadian distillery in the Town of High River, Alberta, which lies just about 40 minutes due south of Calgary, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Recently the distillery was severely impacted by a massive flash flood which devastated the area on June 20th, 2013 (see story here). The folks at Highwood had literally only minutes of warning before the flood hit, and the severity of the event was such that some distillery staff had to be rescued from the tops of their cars by helicopter. As I finish writing this review, the distillery is still picking up the pieces up and rebuilding. However the bottling line is operational again, and the company has once again began to produce bottled spirits.
Potter’s Dry Gin is produced in the London Dry Style by blending a light-bodied neutral spirit with juniper and Highwood’s own botanicals which have been selected from natural herbs, spices and citrus.
You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt (link):
“… The initial aroma gives me an impression that this promises to be a very dry gin with a hard edge. The gin is forward with juniper (as it should be) with firm citrus accents reminding me of lemon and orange zest floating in the breezes above the glass …”
As you can see by the picture, I have also included a new recipe with the review, the Fieldberry Blender.
Please enjoy the review and my new recipe!
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Cocktails, Fieldberry Blender, Gin, Gin Review, Highwood Distillers, Potter's Dry Gin | Comments Off on Review: Potter’s (London) Dry Gin
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 6, 2013
Old Tom Gin represents a style of gin which was popular in 18th Century England prior to the introduction of London Dry Gin. According to gin lore, Old Tom Gin derived its name from Captain Dudley Bradstreet who in the early 1700′s purchased property in London which had a good amount of gin on the premises. He set a picture of a “tom cat” upon the window facing outside and allowed word to be spread that gin was available at the establishment with the cat in the window. A passerby who wanted a shot of gin would place a penny in a slot in the wall under the windowed cat which would roll into the establishment signalling the bartender inside to pour out a shot of gin which would be funneled into a tube running through the wall. The passerby would either drink it directly from the tube or collect it to consume later. Apparently this practice spread throughout London, and gin generically became know as that ‘Old Tom’ Gin in reference to the Tom Cat which signaled the presence of gin within an establishment.
Hayman’s Old Tom Gin is apparently produced from an old English recipe which can be traced to the 18th century. The style of this gin is softer and sweeter than the more typical London Dry Gin. Part of the reason for this is that the gin is lightly sweetened (which in 18th Century England was probably done to mask the taste of impurities as distillation was in its early days of refinement). When the Coffey still was introduced, a better quality of spirit became more readily available which did not need to be sweetened and the resulting style of London Dry Gin replaced Old Tom Gin as the industry standard. However many old cocktail books from the 19th century still refer to Old Tom Gin in their recipes. The recent cocktail renaissance has led to a demand for this older style of gin.
Note: According to their website, Hayman Distillers is the longest serving family owned gin distiller in England today. Their Old Tom Gin has recently arrived in the Alberta market imported by Lifford Spirits who provided me with a bottle to review upon my website.
You may read my full review by Clicking the following excerpt (link):
“… The initial breezes above the glass also reflect this sweetness as the resulting aroma has a pleasant sweetness with effervescent citrus notes underlying a soft but firm juniper presence. If you take time with the glass it is possible to catch glimpses of orange peel, lilacs, hints of anise and a soft earthiness …”
Please enjoy the review and the cocktails which follow, the Martinez, and my recipe, Sunshine Days.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Gin Review, Hayman's, Martinez, Old Tom Gin, Uncle Tom's Cabin | Comments Off on Review: Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 26, 2013
I came across Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin quite by accident. I had just finished publishing my review for Beluga Gold Line Vodka, when I received an email from Fabio Rossi who unbeknownst to me was part of the distribution team for Beluga Vodka in Italy. Fabio is of course the man behind Rum Nation, and we have struck up a bit of a correspondence over the last few years as I have reviewed several of his rums here on my website. It was a bit of a surprise to me that his company also distributed the Beluga Vodka, and of course that prompted me to ask him what other spirits were part of his distribution portfolio. That is when he mentioned Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin. He also mentioned that this unusual spirit is apparently taking Europe by storm. I asked Mr. Rossi if he could be persuaded to let me try some, and he was kind enough to send me a 200 ml sample for review upon my website.
You may click on the excerpt to read the full review:
“… The ground is thick with juniper berries and tall spruce trees rise up over me. The ground is carpeted with green moss, and underneath that moss there seems to be a disturbance of the fresh black soil. A light spiciness wells up reminiscent of ginger and cardamom with bits of fresh lemon peel thrown in giving the glass a hint of effervescence …”
Please enjoy my review of this most unusual dry gin!
Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Dry Gin, Gin, Gin Review, Monkey 47 | Comments Off on Review: Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin
Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 17, 2013
Caorunn Gin is rather unusual in that it not only uses six botanicals which are seen as traditional in the gin trade; but it also contains five non traditional Celtic botanicals which are found growing in the hills which surround the Balmenach Distillery where the gin produceded by Gin Master, Simon Buley is crafted. According to the Caorunn Gin website, the six traditional botanicals are, juniper berries, coriander seed, orange peel, lemon peel, angelica root, and cassia bark. The non traditional Celtic ingredients are rowan berries, heather, bog myrtle, dandelion, and coul blush apple.
The gin is hand-made in small batches (about 1,000 litres per batch), using a quadruple distilled grain spirit as its base, with the flavours from the hand-picked botanicals infused into the spirit when the distilled vapour of the final distillation passes through the trays of the Balmenach Distillery’s vintage 1920′s Copper Berry Chamber which contain the botanicals.
(Note: I was provided a sample bottle of Caorunn Gin by The Bacchus Group, who are responsible for its importation here in Alberta.)
You may click on the following excerpt to read my full review:
“… my initial impression was that this spirit seems to look and smell very much like a traditional London Dry Gin. The scent of juniper is foremost (as it should be) and citrus accents of lemon and orange peel fall nicely in behind. However, after the glass sits for a minute or two I begin to notice a sort of herbal spiciness in the air …”
I have included two excellent cocktail suggestions as part of the review, The Dandelion Martini, and The Grange Cocktail.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Balmenach Distillery, Caorunn, Cocktails and Recipes, Dandelion Martini, Gin, Gin Review, Grange Cocktail | Comments Off on Review: Caorunn Gin
Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 7, 2013
Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin is a French spirit imported into North America by Crillon Importers Ltd. The gin is named to pay homage to Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer whose expeditions on behalf of King Charles I of Spain, led to the first circumnavigation of the globe.
Magellan’s travels were in search of a westward route to the Spice Islands (also known as the Maluka Islands of Indonesia). The key here of course is Magellan’s search for the Spice. Magellan’s Expedition around the world brought back three barrels of cloves (although Ferdinand Magellan died before the trip was completed), and apparently cloves are an important ingredient in the overall flavour profile of the Magellan Gin.
Of course there is much more than cloves in the botanical mixture of this blue gin. In all eleven botanicals are listed on the Magellan Gin website: cloves, Iris root and flower, juniper berries, cinnamon, cassia, orange peel, coriander, licorice, grains of paradise, cardamom, and nutmeg.
You may click on the following excerpt to read the full review:
“… The aroma from the glass is rather fascinating. I notice the floral character of the gin immediately. This must be the iris flower, although for me the scent very similar to hyacinth especially with its perfume-like intensity. Under that rich floral aroma, I can discern a light but firm juniper, a hint of lemon balsam, and the vague spiciness of cloves and cinnamon …”
Please enjoy the review which includes a new recipe variation called the Long Darby.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Cocktails and Recipes, Crillon Importers, Flavoured Gin, Gin, Gin Review, Iris, Magellan | Comments Off on Review: Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin
Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 10, 2013
Citadelle Gin has a history which stretches back to 1775 when King Louis XVI authorized two Frenchmen, Carpeau and Stival, to open a genievre distillery at the Citadelle in Dunkirk, which would serve as the Royal Distillery with an exclusive 20 year privilege. The Citadelle Distillery produced about 1000 litres of genievre per day which was predominantly shipped in small casks for sale in England, where gin was very popular.
Cognac Ferrand, recognized that in France, gin had become more of an industrial spirit with much of its original heritage and refinement lessened by time. They decided to create a handcrafted gin using small copper pots in the style and tradition of the Citadelle Distillery of old. Fortunately, records existed of the old gin making techniques at the Citadelle Distillery, and after several years of research Alexandre Gabriel was successful in distilling an old style handcrafted gin under the Citadelle name at the Cognac Ferrand facilities in Cognac, France.
Please click on the following excerpt to read the full review which contains a fantastic cocktail recommendation, The March Lion.
“… The initial scents from the glass reveal a fair amount of juniper with hints of the other botanicals reaching my nostrils. Over time, the lightly spicy scent of cardamom appears giving the glass a light effervescent character. The juniper and cardamom are then joined by floral accents (mainly lilac) and a light lemony citrus. There is much more … “
Please enjoy the review, and do try my new March Lion Cocktail.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Citadelle Gin, Cocktails, Cognac Ferrand, Gin, Gin Review, March Lion | Comments Off on Review: Citadelle Gin
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 13, 2013
Victoria Gin is hand crafted using a German copper pot wood-fired still. The company producing the spirit (Victoria Spirits) is located on Vancouver Island, British Colombia, and it is produced in a small batch process from a neutral grain spirit which has been enhanced with ten natural and wild-gathered botanicals. These botanicals include, juniper berry, coriander seed ,angelica, orris root, lemon and orange peel, star anise, cinnamon bark, rose petals and a secret ingredient which the company encourages you guess. Prior to distillation, these ingredients are blended with natural spring water and neutral grain spirit and allowed to steep overnight.
Here is an excerpt from my review:
“”… Soft piny notes of juniper greet my nostrils beside some light scents of orange and lemon citrus. Mild scents of ginger rise into the breezes along with some light floral notes and a quiet but firm impression of licorice (Anise) …”
Here is a link to the full review:
I would like to thank Blue Note Wine & Spirits Inc. who provided my sample bottle for review.
Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Canadian Gin, Gin, Gin Review, Victoria Gin | Comments Off on Review: Victoria Gin
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 28, 2012
(a reposting of my best interview of 2012)
Allow me to welcome Alexandre Gabriel, President and Owner, of Cognac Ferrand to my website.
Alexandre Gabriel was born in France, on a farm in southern Burgundy near the medieval town of Cluny, where his grandfather taught him how to make wine and distill spirits. He went to university in Lyon, and then in the U.S. as an exchange student, before returning to Paris to attend business school. More than 20 years ago, Alexandre came upon an ancient and almost defunct Cognac house. Through his passion and his vision, Alexandre Gabriel turned this small Cognac House into a specialized house of artisan spirits before the term was even coined. He re-built what is known today as Cognac Ferrand, in the heart of the Grande Champagne district of Cognac.
Mr. Gabriel believes in making spirits for people who enjoy the epicurean life and for the bartenders that make these epicurean libations possible.
I was given the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Alexandre Gabriel here on my website, and to my delight, Mr. Gabriel exceeded all of my expectations sharing his energy and passion for Craft Spirits. Mr. Gabriel shares how he “fell into a barrel of Cognac” when he was “only 2 years into drinking age by American standards”. He explains why craft spirits are so important to Cognac Ferrand, and whether or not he is he is leading the spirits world into the realms of madness.
We discuss not only Cognac, but also Gin, Vodka and Rum, and then Mr. Gabriel shares not only two of his favourite cocktails with me, but also (after a certain amount of wailing and gnashing of the teeth), his favourite or most treasured spirit which Alexandre would wish for if he were to be stranded on a deserted island…
Here is a link to the full interview:
Posted in Brandy and Cognac Reviews, Cocktails & Recipes, Gin, Interviews, Liqueur, Rum, Vodka | Tagged: 1840 Cognac, Alexandre Gabriel, Citadelle Gin, Cognac Ferrand, Interview, Plantation Rum | Comments Off on Introducing: Alexandre Gabriel (Cognac Ferrand)