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Three gins joined by a surprising ingredient
It’s not long now until publication day for Gin A Tasting Course! The book comes out on 7 September.
I’ve been learning that pre-orders and early Amazon reviews are super important for a book’s chances of doing well, so please, if you’re at all interested, do consider pre-ordering a copy and then leaving a review once the book is out!
Also, if you’re a blogger, podcaster, writer or influencer and you’d like to learn more about the book, hit me up. I have a media kit now that I can share with you.
Three gins with a common botanical
Last time you voted to read about three gins that all share the same botanical. Ask and ye shall receive! I’ve landed on cocoa, which links three very different gins from three different parts of the world.
Cocoa is a pretty interesting one. It’s not always easy to pick out as a flavour on its own in gins. I suspect it’s included more for what it does to the balance of all the other flavours. That could be countering the acidity of strong citrus notes, or adding depth and warmth generally to the gin’s base notes.
It’s an ingredient you don’t see often but the three gins I know of that feature it are all bangers.
But first, vote on what you’d like to see next time. You have a week from when this email goes out to make your choice.
42% AVC, Brazil, herbaceous
The marketing says this is a product of “the first Brazilian artisanal gin distillery”. After that it’s just bullshit to be honest. You know how those marketing folk can be.
The gin itself though sits somewhere between solid and really quite good — particularly in a G&T, which is most likely how you were planning on drinking it anyway, right?
It’s smooth and oily (in a good way) on the palate, with earthy and herbaceous flavours, nutty undertones and citrus cutting through. I started off tasting it neat, at which point my tasting notes say “weird but I like it”. With tonic the citrus and juniper woke up and rounded this out making for a cracking drink.
Pick it up for £38.25 at The Whiskey Exchange.
40% ABV, USA, citrus forward
Interestingly, this one is made from corn spirit rather than the usual wheat. It has 10 botanicals: angelica, cocoa nibs, clementine, coriander, juniper, eureka lemon, french lavender, lime, orris root, and navel orange.
The cocoa nibs (from Brazil) are used to balance the acidity of the citrus. French lavender is more herbaceous and slightly less floral than English or Spanish lavender.
In my book I’ve described it like this:
It’s a zesty, vibrant, complex gin with layers of fruit over woody and camphoric floral notes from the juniper and lavender.
Fun fact: the bottle top doubles up as an ice stamp.
You can pick this up for £41.75 from The Whiskey Exchange.
(And btw, I don’t make any commission from these links.)
47% ABV, England, citrus forward
Oxley is a super-small batch London Dry Gin made at the Thames Distillery in England. It is made from wheat spirit and 14 botanicals, which get macerated together for 15 hours before distillation.
Apart from the aforementioned cocoa and mandatory juniper, these botanicals are: angelica, cassia, coriander, grains of paradise, grapefruit peel, lemon peel, liquorice, meadowsweet, nutmeg, orange peel, orris root and vanilla.
What’s most interesting is how it’s made. Its “patented cold distillation process” takes places under a vacuum without adding any heat at all. The still runs at -5ºC and the condenser at a faintly mind-boggling -127ºC. This means there’s no risk of muddy flavours from overcooking the botanicals, and, interestingly, no need for heads or tails cuts. Weird.
Here’s my tasting note taken from my book:
There’s good complexity here if you take the time to look for it, with a creamy vanilla-and-hay tone mingling with the coriander and juniper. It’s a bit more earthy and rooty on the palate, with warming peppery notes building before those zesty citrus oils sweep through again.
Now, I did promise to give you details of where to get hold of each gin, but I’m not going to do that for this one because I don’t think you should buy it. Why? Oxley is owned by Bacardi — which is currently busy sponsoring Russia’s war on Ukraine. Bad.
If you’ve enjoyed this idea of tasting gins that share a common botanical, you’re in luck. I’m running a tasting evening next month that elevates this further, chaining five gins together through linking botanicals that act as flavour stepping stones on a journey from Northumberland to Kyoto.
Come along from 8pm on 14 September at Brewery Market in Twickenham.
Don’t worry if you can’t make it, as I’ll be running similar evenings at other venues soon. And if you own a venue where you think this tasting would work well, get in touch!