Every year for the last 5 the Gin Foundry has put together a ginvent calendar. 24 different gins to taste from the 1st to the 24th December. It’s a marvellous idea, one year I’m going to get one for December.
For those of us not able to drop £120-ish on the calendar, last weekend there was a Ginvent pop-up at Vinyl Records in Poland Street. They had lots of stuff going on but the thing that caught my eye was the speed tasting. 2 hours, six gins from the calendar, with each of the brands given 7 minutes to tell you about their gin and the best way to drink it. As they said, you won’t find love but you might find a new favourite gin!
On getting there we were given a gin and tonic. This was actually one of the gins we were tasting, the ginvent gin. They make a new one for the calendar each year. The serve was fever tree tonic with orange and clove. I didn’t mind it (Ma was not that keen!)When Olivier came to tell us about his baby, he talked about Christmas and the chocolate, cherry and licorice tastes. It’s cold distilled, the botanicals (amongst others) are star anise, kaffir lime leaves, elderberry, black cherry, cinnamon, clove, and chocolate. Straight up, the chocolate really came through, with water the licorice really stood out. We also tried it as a negroni with additional chocolate distillate that was left over from making the gin. I could see how it might work with a bitter less bitter than Campari (I habitually make mine with Aperol) but the chocolate didn’t quite work for me, although part of me wonders if its a use for the cocoa eau de vie that I bought back from Cote d’Ivoire ages ago! I like strong junipery gins, so this isn’t one that I’ll rush out to buy but it was very interesting.Strane is a Swedish gin. Made about 130km north of Gothenberg, it’s a London Dry that comes in three expressions, Merchant Strength (47.4%), Navy (57.1%) and Uncut (75.3%). It’s made by whiskey producers, so they make three gins, junipery, citrusy and herbal and blend them to get the taste they want. This means that each of it’s expressions has a different botanical profile. We tried the Merchant Strength. It was fine on it’s own but I really liked it with tonic.
Makar Gin was a gin I had never heard of before. It’s made in Glasgow (Makar is Scots for poet) and we tried the Old Tom. Old Tom is getting more popular nowadays, it’s an old style gin, sweeter and easier to drink straight. I liked it. It was quite floral which I often struggle with but I could have quite happily drunk this straight or, given it’s 43% ABV, cut with water. The Makar suggested serve was with fever tree elderflower tonic and an orange garnish and I could se that working but I also liked this one with the straight tonic.
I had at least heard about Tarquin’s gin before Saturday. It’s Cornish, made in small batches (220 bottles a time), using really old fashioned methods (hello heating the still with a naked flame!). The tonquin (42%) is more floral at the end but the Seadog which is navy strength (57%) is much warmer and spicy. I liked them both but would go for the Seadog if I had to pick. I had a Seadog gin and tonic later and it was marvellous!
I was less impressed with the other two gins The Pinkster and the Bishops Gin. I love gin but I accept that it’s a marmite spirit, you like the juniper and botanicals or you drink vodka. I think that these two are towards the more neutral end of the spectrum for those vodka drinkers. The Pinkster is a straight London Dry gin made with five botanicals, that has a maceration of raspberries and another three botanicals added afterwards. Which makes it pink. I didn’t get that much of anything off it served straight and found it too sweet with tonic. The suggested serve is with ‘slapped’ mint and it made it better to drink but this is something I’ll suggest for people who aren’t keen on gin. They also bottle and sell the raspberries after they’re done and I did have the thought that this gin with some mint would probably make a good (and pink) fizz cocktail – perfect for Valentines Day and weddings – with the raspberry at the bottom.The Bishops Gin has nasturtium as one of it’s nine botanicials but but I didn’t taste that. We started with the guy who made it, telling us that he didn’t like gin, which is not really anyway to sell it to a bunch of gin obsessives but onto the gin. It’s a very smooth London Dry bottled at 40.9% ABV and is clearly designed for ‘gin and….’ people. It smelt like petrol (I wasn’t the only person who reached for that as a descriptor) and was shown to best advantage when mixed with fever tree mediterrean tonic.
This was such a brilliant afternoon, I’m really hoping that they do it again next year because it was educational and a great way to taste and learn about some new gins..