November’s been a bit of a funny month for me, dominated by some big life choices I’ve decided to make. Thankfully my good pals in the gin industry have kept me well lubricated to help me face what may come so, as we hurtle relentlessly towards Christmas, let’s pause to take a little look back at what November had to offer.
Say hello to Ginette, the “neural network” behind what is believed to be the world’s first AI gin, designed by Bristol’s Circumstance Distillery, Tiny Giant and Rewrite Digital. Ginette was programmed to analyse gin botanicals, recipes and names before creating Monker’s Garkel featuring juniper, coriander, angelica root, raspberry leaf, gooseberry, prune, clementine zest, orange zest and marigold. While it sounds a bit gimmicky, I think this could be a fascinating experiment, especially if critique is fed back in and machine learning used to adapt and change the recipe. That said, I can’t see it replacing the human touch. I suspect the journey might prove more interesting than the final product (not that, I must admit, I’ve tried it).
New Gin Alerts
Perhaps it’s just too close to Christmas to launch a new gin, or perhaps I’ve taken my finger off the pulse, but (aside from one or two mentioned below!) there haven’t been a lot of new gins that have caught my eye, or whet my palate, this month. A few that have include East London Liquour‘s Red Vermouth Barrel Aged Gin – which is said to taste of mulling spices, satsumas and milk chocolate truffles – Pothecary‘s Cinnamon Twist edition of their Sicilian Blend Gin, and The Wright Brothers’ Half Shell Gin, which is created by cold-macerating and distilling the thousands of oyster shells their restaurants get through each year and balancing that flavour with kelp seaweed and Amalfi lemon.
My Month in Gin
I was delighted to get my hands (albeit temporarily!) on the only bottle of Compass Distillers’ Gin Royal in the country! Hailing from Halifax, Canada, Gin Royal is a tribute to bees and pollinators. Featuring a combination of classic and contemporary botanicals, Gin Royal is sweetened with local honey and royal jelly, and derives its blue colour from an infusion of butterfly pea blossom. Despite the honey sweetness on the nose, when tasted neat the gin is surprisingly dry and traditional with juniper and herbal notes. The subtle sweetness on the finish is exaggerated with a splash of tonic which also makes the gin change colour from a deep blue to a pale purple/pink! I decided to highlight the beautiful colour and flavour of Gin Royal, which is due to launch in the UK in May 2020, in the stunning Alaska #2 cocktail from Difford’s Guide.
This month has also seen a collaboration between two British giants – Sipsmith and Sir Paul Smith – and I was lucky enough to attend the launch at Selfridge’s. The collaboration, which was two years in the making, sees the first ever redesign of the Sipsmith label – replacing their classic swan with Paul Smith’s iconic artist stripes – and presented in a pleasingly large 1 litre bottle! Exclusive to Selfridges, you can pick up a limited edition bottle for £49.99 in store and online. Alternatively, admire the artwork, and try the gin in four beautiful paint-inspired cocktails, at Harry Gordon’s Bar in the London store’s basement.
Welcome to My Collection
What a haul this month! Thank you to Corner 53 for their LMP Gin with which I’ve made a frankly remarkable (in my opinion at least!) Lemon Meringue Pie Gin Sour with Shortbread Crumb! Thanks also to Sipsmith; Brighton Gin for both their Pavilion and Seaside Strength Gins; Michael Vaughan (yes, that one) for his very own Declaration Gin; Gower for a bottle of Bara Brith Gin inspired by the famous Welsh speckled bread; and to Winchester Distillery for the simply stunning new bottle of Twisted Nose Dry Gin.
And last, but certainly not least, those crazy folk at Edinburgh Gin have taken trolling to a new level with this stunning bottle of their 40% ABV Rhubarb and Ginger Gin, delivered in a transparent and firmly padlocked gin safe! Worse still, I have to wait until December 3rd (a whole entire week from delivery) to get the code to crack it open … assuming I don’t take a sledgehammer to it before then!
And thanks once more to Brighton Gin for their gorgeous little gin pin (righting a wrong so cruelly inflicted on me by Charley of Forest Hill Gin Club) and also to my little girl for finding me this brilliant Beefeater too!
Catching Up and Looking Forward
I’ve long been a fan of Hayman’s Gin so, as they celebrate Christopher Hayman’s 50 years in the gin industry, I’ve written a little piece in celebration of them. Do give it a read; there’s a lot more to their story than I knew and all their gins are truly exceptional. Looking forward, it’s all about Ginvent all the way to Christmas Day! Good luck and see you on the other side of the festivities! 🍸🛎🛎