Follow along with us this holiday season as we go through Drinks by the Dram’s 2015 Ginvent Calendar. You can follow along yourself at home by either picking up a calendar and either run ahead on your own by grabbing a copy of my latest book GIN: THE ART AND CRAFT OF THE ARTISAN REVIVAL (nearly all of the gins are featured in the book!) or staying tuned here for notes on the gins as we open them up alongside you.
For Ginvent, our rating system will be out of 5 ‘s and will instead be solely judging the spirit based on how it is on its own. Where we’ve done a more full review on the site, we’ll link to that as well.
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Ferdinand Saar Quince
A cordial style gin that is absolutely exploding with good ideas! Riesling wine [check!]. Quince instead of Sloes [check!]. 30 botanicals! [check!] There’s just so many things happening that you can’t focus on what each of them does well. It’s an orchestra where everyone plays at once.
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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.
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Some gins you have a really abstract name and you don’t quite know what you’re getting into. Abstract concepts, animals, words, geography. All good names in and of themselves, but they tell you little to nothing about the spirit. A lot of times that’s where I come in.
Knockeen Hills’ Elderflower Gin. You don’t need a gin expert to tell you that there’s elderflower in this gin. It says right on the bottle. I will assure you. There’s truth in titles.
Nose: bright summer elderflower, surprisingly prominent juniper. And a bit of heat. Coming in at a respectable 47.3% ABV that note doesn’t seem out of place.
Palate: Licorice out of nowhere. It’s of the ilk of black jellybeans. I went back to check the nose. Not a whole lot not to indicate where this was coming from. Licorice notes fade, and you get a mid palate floral note without the usual sweetness of most elderflower spirits. Juniper, sharp stabbing in the middle. The finish is with a distinctive faintly citrusy spiciness [coriander likely] and a bit more licorice and flowers. The finish is enduring and a bit hot.
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