As Tonic Syrups become more and more part of everyday gin and tonic culture, we’re starting to see established brands expand their offerings. Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. who is among the earlier names in this area recently put out an Elderflower Tonic. Though amber/gold in hue (vivid, and quite beautiful by the way), it’s not simply elderflower; it’s elderflower and quinine. The label isn’t coy about the bottle’s contents: quinine concentrate, water, citric acid, sugar, lemongrass, orange peel, and elderflower.
So we pretty know what’s in here. How does this sparse, curated list of ingredients work though?
On its own hints of rainbow sherbet, musky elderflower and a vegetal, slightly herbaceous low note. It smells ripe, but quite inviting as well. As if a bee drawn to a flower, we go in further.
The palate is somewhat sweetened at first, with elderflower immediately present, lime and orange peel notes leading into a quite tart, sour mid-late palate. A dash of cinchona comes in late, adding some nicely needed bitterness. The finish is floral and deep, with intimations of lily and hyacinth.
I liked the way it mixed with gin and tonic as well.
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Last month we reviewed Gordon’s brand expansion Gordon’s Elderflower Gin (); last summer we checked out Knockeen Hills’ variation Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin (). Clearly Elderflower is still en vogue and gin drinkers are still looking for that unique floral note in their cocktails. How does Warner Edwards’ variation on the theme standup to others? And why wouldn’t you just buy some St. Germain to whip up some cocktails?
In our own <100 words
Warner Edwards’ Harrington Gin () received a boatload of accolades last year when they launched their now renowned Harrington Gin. We also quite liked it. Among the original botanicals* was Elderflower. It gave it a nice brightness. In this latest brand expansion, they’ve pushed the Elderflower to 11. This time its infused. Alike the other Elderflower gins on the market, the flowers are infused after distillation. Unlike other Elderflower gins….
The nose is much less literal than other Elderflower gins. Though the name aroma is present, there’s much more going on. For example, juniper, rich spices, cinnamon, cassia, and a lot of cardamom. The aroma is bright and finished with some hints of Elderflower, but it is much more understated than the competition.
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You’ll have to excuse me, if at first I seemed a bit skeptical of “vacuum distillation.” My previous experience with a gin extolling the virtues of its lower temperature distillation process was the estimable Oxley Classic Dry Gin. And although Oxley was an alright gin, I thought that the emphasis on process was disproportionately to justify what I felt was a rather exorbitant cost (~60 dollars).
So naturally, when Greenhook Ginsmiths’ American Dry Gin hit the market at half the price of the market’s biggest name in vaccum distillation, I was intrigued. When I saw the botanical list, I was even more intrigued.
What are We Looking For?
Of course there’s going to be some juniper, but it was the supporting cast which caught my eye. Ceylon Cinnamon [also sometimes referred to as “True Cinnamon” which I think is a bit sweeter and brighter. This may be a cinnamon-geek note here, but I think it makes a difference], along with Elderflower [the trend is alive!] and Chamomile [my favorite kind of tea and a rather unique note]. But another thing caught my eye- Tuscan Juniper. Like I said, I know my types of cinnamon, but origin-specific juniper is actually rather rare in botanical lists.
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Darnley’s view gin (alike many other gins on the market) desires to create a sense of place on your palette. We’ve covered many gins that accomplish this to varying degrees. Caorunn worked to create that vision by choosing a whole slew of native botanicals; Seneca Drums, whose distillery is located in wine country created that vision by stacking traditional gin botanicals on top of a grape spirit base, and yet others (and this is where Darnley’s view come in) take a more abstract approach to that sense of place. Though one of the non-traditional botanicals (Elderflower) does grow wild on the Scottish countryside, the view isn’t told only through the names of the ingredients. The makers of Darnley’s view are telling a more complete story through the experience of their drink. First, a brief foray into history, then on to the drinking.
Darnley’s view boasts a modest six botanicals: Juniper, Lemon Peel, Elderflower, Coriander, Angelica Root, and Orris Root.
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