To understand how Bombay Sapphire got its name, you must start at a place somewhat unexpected. The girl with the curls a.k.a. Mary Pickford was one of the most prominent silent Hollywood actresses. In 1909 alone, she appeared in fifty-one films, by 1916 it was said that only Charlie Chaplin was more popular. She starred in fifty two films throughout her career, earning a vast amount of wealth playing an all manner of character.
All Gins containing: Cubeb Berries
Old St. Andrews’ Pink 47 Gin pushes the envelope in a couple of novel directions. Featuring 12 botanicals (including almond, cassia, nutmeg and juniper), I caught an interesting note about it which indicates that it features TWO(!) different kinds of coriander and angelica among its ingredients.
Yes, while garden angelica is the most common angelica in gin (Angelica archangelica), it’s far from the only edible kind of angelica- and the floral character can vary from species to species. Angelica Lucida is a coastal plant which is eaten as if a celery. Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris) is an edible, pernicious weed, run rampant in the Canadian maritimes. There’s others two, so clearly plenty of candidates for a second angelica ingredient….
Pink 47 is based on a neutral grain spirit and bottled in a faceted pink diamond bottle.
Nice, bright juniper nose, with a modicum of leafy herbs and a some clear coriander mixed in there as well. Very classic, with the herbs and minty notes a bit lower in the mix, coming through more clearly as the spirit warms.
Overall, the spirit feels thinner than expected on the palate. Lots of crisp, juniper reveling in its herbaceous side.
As far as I know, this review is a Gin is In exclusive. It also marks the first time I’ve had a gin from New Zealand.
New Zealand has a thriving distillers’ culture. It is the the only nation, which as of right, allows citizens to distill for their own personal use. Distillers who wish to sell, have to go through a permitting process. But if you’ve ever wanted to just experiment with distilling, New Zealand is the place for you.
It’s in this thriving culture that Vaiŏne’s origins lie. The gin here was originally a home distilled product from John Sexton [the gin’s website graciously provides newspaper clippings]. The Sexton family has taken their home distilled gin to the big leagues, and John’s award winning home distilled gin is now produced by him and his son Anthony, and is available in stores.
Vaiŏne does embody the sense of place: among the botanicals are locally grown New Zealand/South Pacific limes.
The nose is a little strong, a bit of heat, some citrus, orange and lemony notes, with some juniper and a faint touch of spice on the finish.
Perhaps the single frequently requested gin review is this little number right here. I’ve mostly stayed clear of it out of respect. I know its a great gateway gin, and I give it a lot of credit for helping to show a generation of gin drinkers that gin can be more complex and have notes that are other than just juniper. If someone I meet says “yeah I drink gin,” odds are this gin is among their favorites. I’ve never really felt the need to critique or laud a gin who clearly doesn’t need me to waste type on them. This is the second most widely drank gin in the world today.
But here I am, giving into the call. I’m reviewing that gin which has turned I would guess millions on to gin, and a gin which I honestly will admit to being the first gin behind a bar that I recognized a decade ago as a gin that I could and would want to be seen drinking.
This is a Bombay Gin so of course the botanicals are clearly labeled on the bottle. This is another one of the revolutions in gin to which we owe Bombay some credit.
Everytime I tell someone the name of this gin, I usually need to add the qualifying statement: “it’s GIN-ever. No. It’s not a Genever.”
But something interesting is going on in this name. Wigle has taken a bold step towards trying to define this new type of gin [Just as House Spirits tried and was quite successful at doing with Aviation gin and the “New Western” designation] which no longer seems an anomaly or an experiment.
I’ve experimented with a few terms in this space before. “Dutch Contemporary” perhaps? To pay homage to the origins of this whiskey-as-a-base style where the base acts as if a botanical adding flavor to the mix. But then again, why not “Dutch Traditional?” And how do we talk about the classic vs. contemporary spectrum of gin flavors?
Whether or not any of those terms work out, or if “Ginever” catches on, I consider Wigle’s Ginever to be among a different category of gin altogether, and therefore I will have to consider it in light of some of that style’s key characteristics. Let’s briefly review. These type of gins work best in drinks that are more whiskey like.
A peculiar review indeed. But perhaps not for the reasons you might think. We’re taking an opportunity to take a look at an early favorite of the Gin is In’s: Hendrick’s Gin. Really the ultimate in gateway gins. But this time, we’re taking a look at the version of Hendrick’s that you folks in the UK are used to seeing. You see, here in the states Hendrick’s is bottled at 44% or about 88 proof. but in the UK? a full 6 proof points lower. 41.4% or 82.8 proof. Does it actually make a difference? Or has my sentiments on Hendrick’s changed in the last 3 years since my initial review?
Getting down to it: Nose and Taste The nose is heavy on the rose, bright and floral with a hint of alcohol as well. Not something I remember from my initial tastes of even the stronger American version. The taste though is smooth and slow at first, very easy to be drank. But quite, cucumber and neutrality, not much going on. The other flavors accelerate and crash altogether, juniper and earthy angelica, hints of coriander. It fades, leaving a warm alcoholic burn taste in the back of your mouth and a bright hint of floral long after the initial taste.
Karner Blue Gin is the flagship gin of New Hampshire’s only in-state distillery at Flag Hill Winery in Lee, only a relatively short drive from the oft traveled I-95 as it hugs along the coast of the state. Flag Hill Winery was founded in 1990 and has been distilling spirits using local ingredients since 2004. Probably best known for their General John Stark vodka, they launched Karner Blue gin in Fall 2011. I had heard good things, so during my brief sojourn up to Maine last month, I made a point of stopping at the state liquor store just off I-95 to pick up a bottle for myself.
A little background on the Spirit Karner Blue is the first gin I’ve reviewed which uses apples as the base instead of grain. Locally grown apples add a unique local note to this contemporary styled gin. Among the botanicals there are a couple of unique points of difference from most gins. Joining the classic juniper, citrus and orris root, are savory and cubab berries.
But the question that is still on your mind, what is Karner Blue? You might be ready for Jeopardy if you knew off the top of your head that the butterfly adorning the front of the bottle wasn’t just a novel decoration, but instead the state butterfly of New Hampshire: the Karner Blue Butterfly.The Karner Blue butterfly is threatened in its natural range in New Hampshire, Vermont and Upstate New York, but fortunatly conservation efforts have been successful at maintaining the Karner Blue’s numbers in recent years.
We’ll G’vine, we meet again. again.
Long time readers of the Gin is In will know that this was the first gin I officially awarded five stars too.
A lot of what I wrote about Floraison is equally true about Nouaison, so let’s get on to the actual tasting notes, shall we?
The Scent The smell is a more muted variation on Floraison. A subtle floral bouquet, but no intimations of its strength (44% vs Floraison’s 40%) nor of its more juniper-like stature.
On the Tongue There’s some warm citrus notes a powerful note of cassia. The floral notes are there but very quickly give way to juniper and a burst of London Dry style heat. But don’t be fooled. it’s not as intense as other classic gins. Its a muted, slightly floral take on it. In other words, I think its the ideal balance between the strong floral notes of Floraison and the juniper notes of a classic gin. If you’re a gin buff who didn’t really dig Floraison, Nouaison meets you half way.
The finish is a little bit of ginger, a little bit of cinnamon and a little bit citrus.
I would never turn down a chance to revisit some of my oldest gin commentaries. I think my knowledge of gin and my gin experiences have expanded greatly since that time back in winter 2009 when I decided that “since I had five gins in the apartment, why don’t I start reviewing them?!” Both varieties of G’vine’s gin were among those initial five. Although my initial review of Floraison was posted in August 2010, it was one of the gins that inspired me to take on this journey. Now, while well known, and having been reviewed by so many others, I’m to re-write my initial review and wonder “what can I add to the discussion of this wonderful floral gin?”
The Floral Nose The first thing one notices when they open G’vine is the intense sweet aroma which almost jumps from the bottle. Its immediately sweet smelling. No alcohol scent and no juniper sent present. The nose is very one note, but a memorable and enticing one at that.
A lot of this floral sensation comes from the unique base. Instead of using neutral spirits, G’vine uses a wine grape base.
I’ve reviewed Nouaison by G’vine previously, but my first G’vine gin love was Floraison.
There is no more fragrant gin on the market. When you open the bottle of gin or take a sip of a drink with Floraison in it, the floral and fruity aroma hits you in the face. No, I’m serious. Its unmistakable- the blend of scents that reminds strongly of grapes (which is not coincidental, as the base is made from distilled grapes) and the taste hints of sweet baking spices and spring flowers, that linger. Floraison has a long refreshing finish that is unique among gins that I’ve had.
It is hardly traditional. The Juniper is hidden, almost not there. If you carefully savor it you can detect a slight hint of it in the background. This is one of those gins that I’ve served non-gin drinking friends- and they loved it. Its interesting like an exotic flavored vodka and complex like a port or whiskey.
It is great in a gin and tonic. Stay clear of the lime though, this gin does not need nor demand citrus accompaniment. Also, use a better tonic water as the sweet taste of more inexpensive waters drowns out the subtle complexities.