Does a week go by when it’s not international or world something, something day? Clearly these things are a bit of a marketing ploy but I’ve found they are a great focus for my drinks segment on Late Lunch. If something is in the public consciousness then it makes sense to hop on board with that theme. World sherry week was a great example this I loved how sipping a glass of fino connected you to lots of other sherry lovers across the world and fostered a sense of community both in real life with plenty of tastings and online too my time line was flooded with sherry tweets, there was even a dedicated twitter sherry tastings which sadly I found out too late to partake in, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for next year’s one!
So what next on the drinks calendar well as luck would have it next Saturday June 14th is world gin day! If you happen to be in Dublin The Gin Palace is the place to be for all things gin on Saturday. In advance of this auspicious date I started to think about gin… and what a pleasant topic that really is.
Let’s start with the basics: gin is a classified as a juniper-flavoured spirit made not via the redistillation of botanicals, but by simply adding approved natural flavouring substances to a neutral spirit of agricultural origin. The predominant flavour must be juniper. Distilled gin is produced exclusively by redistilling neutral spirit (ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin with an initial strength of 96% ABV) in stills traditionally used for gin, in the presence of juniper berries and of other natural botanicals, again juniper is the predominate taste.
I really like gin as it has such dept of flavour and there is a great opportunity to for the distillers to compose a complex and interesting spirit by playing with various botanical.
Recently I had a fascinating discussion about gin botanicals with Sarah Thompson who makes Blackdown Gin and the cracking Blackdown Vermouth in Sussex. This is one incredible lady with the most amazing ability to compose flavours and understand the fine balancing act of making a great gin. Sarah loves silver birch and so uses it in her drinks to wonderful effect. Silver birch can be tapped much like maple trees and the sap can be collected and reduced to produce a syrup. I know this as my Dad did it once to the silver birch in our front garden (that was the kind of house I grew up in.) Be warned before you try it: birch seeps lots of sap and you have to really boil it down to get delicious syrup which can be quite the labour of love! Take the easy way out and find some delicious Blackdown Gin instead. Combine it with their Bianco Vermouth to make the most sophisticated and taste bud tingling martini I’ve ever enjoyed. If you happen to be visiting Imbibe Live in London next month Blackdown Spirits will be there; they are not to be missed.
So on to the gins I’m trying with Lucy and Martin on Late Lunch this week.
Dingle Gin ABV40% RRP €34 approx
This is one of only two gins made in Ireland. I have yet to visit the distillery by my friend David over at LiquidIrish has blogged about his visit and it’s well worth a read, his pictures are gorgeous too! This gin is made with botanicals specific Dingle, the gin is striving to capture the spirit of where it is made similar to the way great wines reflect their terroir, so along side a secret recipe of botanicals you’ll find rowan berry from the mountain ash trees, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather for a taste of the Kerry landscape.
On air we are tasting it over ice with tonic and a slice of lime to experience a classic G&T with an Irish twist
Sloe Gin ABV40% -ish Hand crafted by beer sommelier, forager, maker of fab drinks and my sister Judith Boyle
This is one of my favourite things that my sister makes, ( well actually I love all the things she makes, we tasted some of her elder flower fizz on Late Lunch couple of weeks ago) Judy gifts it at Christmas to lucky relatives and close friends. My cousin Macdara calls it “fast” rather than sloe gin because it disappears so quickly! Judy won’t give me her secret recipe to post here but Jamie has a good one if you want to make your own.
Judy’s Sloe Gin is a magic combination of sloes (the purple tart fruit of the blackthorn bush related to plums) foraged in autumn from the edge of Lullymore bog, any gin you fancy, a spoonful or two of sugar and about 3 months in bottle to infuse. The result is a vibrant intense pink hewed, fruity drink, with a tart bite from the sloes
We serve it over ice with a squeeze of lemon and either soda or tonic water.
Hendrick’s Gin (check out their website, it is beautiful!) €42 aprox ABV 40%
This is just such a fun idea I had to feature it! Hendrick’s Gin from Scotland uses cucumber as one of its defining botanicals. I have long loved their quirky approach to marketing their gin and how they have made a virtue from the fact that just like cucumber, Hendrick’s Gin not to everyone’s taste. I also have a soft spot of prohibition tea-cup cocktails ( if you are in New York you have to visit The Back Room) So I love the idea of Hendrick’s tea. The Atrium Lounge in the Westin hotel Dublin serve a “Most Peculiar” Hendrick’s afternoon tea (replete with finger sandwiches) that’s really worth checking out.
On Late lunch Live I’m serving our Hendrick’s Gin with cucumber, fab Fevertree elderflower tonic water from a lovely teapot with lots of ice!
Disclaimer: I taste lots of drinks at trade events always looking for stand-out great products with interesting stories that I can pass on to you lovely readers and viewers. Along side theses tastings I also buy lots of things that tickle my fancy. I taste and select the products I want to feature on Late Lunch and here on my website and for the purposes of my television slot I request product samples to use on air. I aim to maintain my objectivity, I am guided only by my taste buds and I am not paid to endorse particular products.