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The London No. 1 Original Blue Gin

Review: The London No. 1 Original Blue Gin  83/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Refreshed March, 2020

The London No. 1 Original Blue Gin is a product of Gonzalas Byass who are a Spanish wine/cellars company which also produces a variety of distilled spirits including brandy, anisette, botanical vodka and of course gin. Their gin is triple distilled (from English grain in London, England) on a traditional pot still in small batches.

According to the London No. 1 website the gin is distilled with 12 key botanicals which include: Juniper, Angelica root , Savory, Coriander, Cassia bark, Licorice, Cinnamon, Almond, Lemon peel, Orange peel, Lily root and Bergamot.

The product was first test marketed in Spain, and was then launched in limited quantities internationally in 2012. It is bottled at 47 % alcohol by volume ensuring a more concentrated flavour than more traditional spirits which are bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. I original;ly reviewed this spirit in 2013 when it was first introduced in Canada. Recently I was given a new sample bottle and so I have decided to revisit London No. 1 Original Blue Gin to see if my original tasting notes still represented the spirit.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

The London No. 1 Blue Gin recently changed their bottle design. This new bottle is pictured to the left. As you can see the bottle now has a tapered shape which resembles a cocktail shaker. The new  bottle with its thick glass base is stable with a size and shape that rests easily on any bartender’s shelf; it is easy to hold with the tapered bottle being about the right size for the average person’s hand; and it is easy to pour as the stopper comes out easily and the mid-sized neck helps us avoid spilling.

I like the new bottle and especially like the solid synthetic corked closure. I also like that the bottle is clear allowing you to see the pale turquoise blue colour of the gin.

I want to note that the sample bottle I was given for this review was the older bottle style (see below). Most retail sites I visited show this older bottle as the version which they are selling.

In the Glass 8/10

When the gin is poured, it is hard not to be impressed by that pale blue turquoise colour in the glass. Referring to the technical information sheets which I was provided with, I learned that the colour is “derived in part from gardenia flowers and a final infusion with bergamot oil”. The back of the bottle contains additional information which indicates that colour has also been added to the gin.

The aroma from the glass is intensely floral. It has a sharp perfume-like quality which similar to freshly bloomed lilacs. The more familiar gin aromas of earthy juniper, spicy cardamom, lemon peel and orange citrus lie somewhat behind that floral intensity.

There is also a light astringency in the air above the glass stemming from the higher than normal alcohol content, and this sharpness combined with the intense floral characteristic of the gin seems to be serving as a warning that the Blue Gin just might be a little more intense and flavourful than I had expected…  even for a 47 % abv. spirit!

In the Mouth 50/60

The gin enters the mouth with all the intensity that I was expecting, with strong floral flavours leading in front and a ginger-like spiciness which heat heats up the palate. Firm impressions of lavender and lilac seem to be omnipresent tainting the more familiar sensations of juniper and orange citrus with their presence. Lemongrass and balsam weave in and out, and I admit the London No. 1 Original Gin is just a little too full of perfume-like floral flavour and spice for me to sip comfortably.

When I add an ice-cube, the strong flavours are muted; but the spiciness of cardamom (tastes like ginger) continues unabated. Fortunately, I rarely consume gin neat or on the rocks. This is a distilled spirit meant for the cocktail and not as a sipping spirit.

The first cocktail I constructed was a classic recipe called the Pegu Cocktail made with Cointreau and fresh lime. I followed this up with a Lime Fizz and the next day a Gin and Tonic. All of these cocktails tasted okay, but I found the intensity of the florals distracted me and lessened my enjoyment. When mixing the Pegu Cocktail I found the serving was much nicer when I remixed it using a new construction which used vodka and gin in equal amounts so as to give me the same strength of serving, but with the intensity of the florals reduced to half their strength.

In the Throat 12.5/15

When sipped neat, the London No. 1 Original Gin finishes with a rush of ginger spice that knocks the tonsils back. There is little burn in the throat followed by what I am going to describe as ‘a perfumed fade’ of juniper, orange peel and balsam.

The Afterburn 8/10

This is perplexing. I sampled London No. 1 Blue Gin about eight years ago, and according to my review I quite liked it. This time around, the only portion of the review which scores as well (actually a little better) is the bottle. It is the perfume-like quality of the gin which I do not find nearly so attractive this time around. Perhaps as I have gotten older, my sensitivity to perfume-like aromas has increased. Whatever the reason, my score had dropped considerably, Of course once I began using vodka in conjunction with the No. 1 Gin, I had much better success.

You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipes

When I sampled the spirit 8 years ago I found the Pegu Club Cocktail engaging and recommended it as my feature serving. This year I reshaped the cocktail using Vodka and No. 1 Bue Gin resulting in a much nicer libation.

The Blue Pegu

3/4 oz London No. 1 Original Blue Gin
3/4 oz Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
3/4 oz Orange Curacao
1 tsp Lime Juice
dash bitters (Angostura)
ice
Coil of Lime for garnish (optional)

Pour the ingredients into a metal shaker filled with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a chilled glass
Garnish with a coil of lime if desired

Note: I added just a hint of blue food colouring to obtain the desired hue for the cocktail

Enjoy Responsibly!

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My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that score as follows:

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing spirit.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 
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