Vintage doesn’t mean quite what you think it does. Not quite like a wine, where the annual growing conditions (i.e. the rain, the heat) affect the composition of the grape; the evidence for annual variation based on botanical alone in spirits is tenuous at best. But that’s not what the folks at Blackwood Distillery are getting at (solely). In previous years the composition of their gin differed (such as the ’07 featuring mint and elderflower, or the ’08 featuring violet and bog myrtle). The 2012 variation that we are trying today features angelica, sea pink (!!), Marigold, Meadowsweet, among some of the more standard gin botanicals.
All Gins containing: Nutmeg
Labeling is a problem. Let me explain. as is the case of Pierdas Almas +9 Botanicals. In the United States, one of the relics of the prohibition era laws written mostly for the ease of regulation than for the benefit of the customer is that “Officially,” a spirit may only be classified as one thing. So it doesn’t quite matter whether that spirit is technically both a Mezcal* and a Gin**. It can only be officially classified, and subsequently labeled as one thing.
Featuring 30 (!) botanicals, Ferdinand Saar Gin is already something of a beast. It combines common botanicals (angelica, coriander, ginger), less common, but still regularly seen ones (lavender, rose) and then there’s those which are really unusual (sloe, rarely seen as a botanical, lemon thyme) – but wait! It’s then cut with Riesling wine (Germany, kind of known for that). And in the case of the Quince gin, it’s a Sloe gin homage, using the local quince grown right at the distillery, with a touch of sweetening. It’s a lovely golden hue.
On the nose, there’s ginger, wet, herbal notes, a touch of fruit, slight bits of rose and bobs of vanilla.
Whatever you do, don’t leave out the number 5 [like Coco Chanel]. Blackwater Gin is a rock band from Wisconsin. Blackwater No. 5 Gin is a spirit made from the botanicals which were imported into Ireland by the Whites of Waterford company in the middle 19th century; meaning that it was true to what Western European nations were importing from the Spice Islands during this time. We can expect that cinnamon and cassia might be chief among these, but other candidates for possible inclusion are black peppercorn, nutmeg and mace, cloves, and cardamom.
Juniper and spice on the nose, cardamom and even some citrus rising from the edge as well.
Years ago. No, eons ago. We reviewed the Westbourne Strength () variant of Martin Miller’s gin, a spicier, warmer, stronger version of their original. The original has a dear place in my heart. It’s one of the gins that ignited the fire in me for the world of gin. It pushed the boundaries just enough to stand out from everything else behind the bar at that time, but it stayed within familiar confines enough to be clearly and readily identifiable as gin. Martin Miller’s gin is one of the forebearers of today’s contemporary style. Keep in mind, that this gin was on shelves back in 1999.
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.
The story of Monkey 47 is attributed to an Indian born British Commander who was stationed in Germany after the second world war. Inspired by the Black Forest through the lens of his family’s heritage he combined British influence, Indian botanicals, and the natural flora of the German forest to create a complex gin he called Schwarzwald Dry Gin, along with the note Max the Monkey.
You see, this Commander also helped rebuild the world-famous Berlin zoo, and during the course of this he came to support Max, an egret monkey, who lived in the zoo. So it might seem natural that years after the fact in retirement, he retained an affection for the monkey he sponsored, and when he made his gin, he named it after him.
On botanicals alone, boasting an ostentatious 47, it might be the most complicated gin on the market, but to throw you one more curveball, it’s also built on a base spirit of molasses.
The nose is mentholated juniper, pineapple sage, lemon verbena, lavender, rose, hibiscus and lime. (!) This encyclopedic list merely reflects how incredibly complex and brightly aromatic this gin is.
We already talked about the history of the Gin 1495 in our previous entry on the Verbatim recreation of the gin. But now we’re going to try their modern interpretation, the one they designed to appeal to modern sensibilities, including a few more modern botanical additions.
Much quieter when compared side-by-side. Minty, menthol notes present, with ginger, nutmeg, grains of paradise and a slight, but present citrus lift with lemon and orange notes.
Bright green juniper present on the palate, with ginger and cinnamon jumping out, hints of cardamom as well, but they are much more restrained. An almost waxy juniper finish, with clove oil coming out again, fading gently with a sharp, warm ginger note.
Loud and contemporary, and clearly related to the first one. You can taste the similarities, but this is the superior gin [not the superior experiment! I’m only talking about the actual thing I’m drinking here]. There might be ⅓ the amount of ginger in here when compared to the first one, but that’s a good thing. It gives a rounder, more balanced approach. It shows you just what this gin could be.
In short, I’m not sure I would go out and buy this gin if it were on the shelf.
Here’s another in another in a series of famous/popular gins that I’m giving a better treatment to. I think that my initial review of Gordon’s might not have given the same thorough treatment that I’ve given other gins. Given its status as one of the most senior gins out there [having been produced since 1769!] I think it would only be right to give it a more thorough review.
As before, the original review is still available if you want to see what we originally said.
In <100 Words
Ask some pedants “What’s your favorite Scottish gin” and they might reply “Gordon’s.” Although it originated in England, the UK version is currently distilled at Cameron Bridge in Scotland. The variation I have was not distilled in Scotland, it was distilled in Canada, and bottled in Norwalk, Connecticut. Gordon’s is truly international. So the idea that it’s of the place where it is distilled is somewhat nonsensical. It is British in origin, but it’s provenance has transcended the place where grain is turned into gin. It’s purported to have at least four botanicals in it. Juniper, coriander and angelica are oft repeated and likely to definitely be among the bill.
Perhaps the best part of doing this new series of impressions is that I no longer have to hold back on sharing some tasting notes, just because I don’t have a full bottle of the gin. While I’d love to spend some time tasting Bombay Amber in a series of cocktails, it’s really just not plausible. That is unless I’m able to schedule a flight which connects/goes to Las Vegas, Toronto, Singapore, or Sydney. Though I’ve been doing a fair amount of traveling this year, those cities have eluded me. For now. Though I’ve got my eye on you Sydney.
I’ll spare you my thoughts on travel retail*, and get down to the gin.
In <100 Words
Take the standard Bombay Dry Gin  botanical blend, and add smoky black cardamom, nutmeg, and the zest of a type of bitter orange. Could it be Seville? Myrtle Orange? Or maybe even Amara? My money is on Seville orange. It is then aged in oak barrels, which formerly held French Vermouth. The bottle is distinctive, unlike anything else, and as with Sapphire and East, it looks as if Bombay is pushing the envelope slightly further than it really is.