GIN OF THE MONTH: MAY

We are heading to sunnier climates for May’s Gin. Nordes Gin originates from the Northern Coast of Spain. The bottle is incredibly striking with the opaque white and blue branding, although it didn't initially hit us as being Spanish, it's not until closer inspection revealed the origin which is helpfully highlighted. The name Nordes refers to the North Atlantic wind that blows across the region. The gin is definitely unique and memorable and this may be due to the spirit used. The majority of gins are created using a neutral grain spirit. Nordes is made using an Albariño-grape-based spirit.

On the nose the gin is sweet smelling and very floral. It's a tangy sweet like sherbet but not sickly - like being transported away to a Mediterranean lemon grove with views of the hills on a warm summer’s day.  It tastes very similar to how it smells, a bold sweet floral gin, making it unique for us. It's got a nice balance to it so it doesn't fit into one category - a complex mix. It's definitely a special gin, not one you'd have everyday and one to sip slowly and appreciate.

It's quite hard to describe the whole flavour of the gin because it’s so unlike anything we've tasted before; it's always a nice surprise to get a gin like this!  Traditionalists may not approve of this rather contemporary flavour: if you weren't looking, you wouldn't know there's juniper in there at all. So if you've not been a big fan of gin in the past, this is definitely worth trying.

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We think a Mediterranean tonic with a twist of lemon and/or a little mint works well. The fruity garnish complements the subtle citrus sweetness and mint to wrap up all the floral aspects of the flavour.  If you're laying in the garden lapping up those rays, a long Nordes with a premium lemonade would be lovely. Mix it up again and have a light tonic and some red berries also works a treat.


We think this gin may be divisive amongst Gin fans. The flavour is memorable but for many may be too overpowering, we read one review that compared it to your granny's guest soap. We say don't mock it ‘til you try it. Add it to your Gin wish list and dare to be different!

 

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Top Five Yorkshire Gins

To celebrate our three upcoming events in Yorkshire, we have decided to take a look at some of the very best gin’s Yorkshire has to offer! In no particular order, here are our top Yorkshire gins that you need to try!

 

Masons Yorkshire Gin

Distilled on the edge of the dales, this Yorkshire made gin offers a perfect blend of soft juniper and citrus. The gin is smooth with a peppery finish and its perfect serve is with a premium tonic and orange peel to garnish or even try pink grapefruit and black pepper for something a bit different. We are very excited to have them with us at The Gin Fayre in Wetherby, Leyburn and Malton.

 
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Raisthorpe Dry Gin

Using water from underwater streams of the gypsey springs on the Yorkshire Wolds, Raisthorpe is distilled traditionally by master distillers. Known for its 'mystical' taste, this gin blends juniper with secret botanicals to create the ultimate smooth Yorkshire gin with hints of vanilla and spice. According to folklore, those who drink it are blessed with good fortune. Sounds good to us! 

 
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Cooper King Distillery Gin

The only gin distillery in Yorkshire to tailor to each individual botanical with its combination of traditional hot copper-pot and innovative cold vacuum distillation. This juniper-led gin will be balanced with carefully chosen botanicals, many of which will be sourced at the founders own site in the Yorkshire dales. The Gin is set to launch in spring 2018 (just around the corner!) and you can find the Cooper King Distillery Gin at The Gin Fayre: Malton in August.

 
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Sloemotion Sloe Gin

Founded in 2002 in North Yorkshire, Sloemotion uses traditional kitchen recipes to formulate its rich, aromatic, and cherry taste. Whether served as a cocktail or as a warm nip on a cold night, this fruity and sweet gin is the perfect yorkshire sloe gin! Catch up with Sloemotion at The Gin Fayre in Wetherby, Leyburn and Malton!

 
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Slingsby Dry Gin

Slingsby Dry Gin is created with locally sourced botanicals, a pure single grain spirit, and Harrogate aquifer water. Named and inspired by William Slingsby who in 1571 discovered the unique properties of the natural spring water in Harrogate’s Tewit Well, like the man it is named after, Slingsby Gin offers something especially unique and yorkshire. With Refreshing bursts of citrus and the sweet smooth taste of green tea scented with jasmine blossom, this is a gin you have to try!

 
 

Gin of the Month: April

 
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It’s April and therefore Spring has Sprung! Well, apparently! Let’s hope the Beast from the East is gone and we can now look forward to sunny days and plenty of gin in the sun! April’s gin is The Lakes Gin and is the perfect spring tipple. Situated in the heart of the Lake District, you could say that this gin is the “Spirit of the Lake District”. Currently, the team are working towards ensuring that it is entirely green distillery that is proud to commit to a zero waste production and sourcing local produce for the botanicals. This includes locally grown juniper as well as more unusual ingredients like, Bilberry, Heather and Hawthorn. Google tells us that Bilberry is good for improving eyesight, so in other words you’d be mad not to drink this gin. It’s medicinal!

At first sniff we get the fresh citrus botanicals. The tasting notes for the gin are very promising and on first read could sound a little contradictory: big; clear; fresh; citrus; floral; complex; vibrant and fruity. Based on that, we honestly didn’t know what to expect when drinking, but we were not disappointed. The first adjective that came to our minds was ‘fresh’. It is certainly a smooth drink that can be drunk on its own - that is actually how the distillers recommend it - chill the bottle in the fridge and serve neat on the rocks. We disagreed on the flavours though, Steph thought there was a little spiced hint to the gin where as Michael thought it was more citrusy. That was the real beauty of this gin - no overpowering flavours, rather you are able to pick out the flavours that you are drawn to. 

 
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We tried with a Fever Tree tonic in a 1:1 ratio of gin to tonic. We found this added a creamy flavour and really lended itself to being a smooth drink. The Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic brings out more sweet flavours in the gin, which we personally preferred. The gin is confident and bold enough to hold its own without a garnish, however the distiller's recommend an addition of pink grapefruit helps to bring out the citrus taste.

We also tried it in a long drink with some fresh mint and elderflower tonic (or cordial). This was a deliciously sweet and refreshing drink, perfect to enjoy in the sun, if it ever comes back! The Lakes Gin is so versatile we think it would please any gin drinker. The recent ‘gin-aissance’ that is currently underway means everyone is a gin connoisseur - you know what types of gin, tonic and garnish they prefer and we think The Lakes Gin would please all!

 
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We also got to sample the latest in an ever-growing list of Gin Liqueurs that The Lakes Distillery is releasing: The Rhubarb and Rosehip Gin Liqueur. New this month, at 25% ABV, it’s stronger than other gin liqueurs we have tried, but because the gin is so smooth, it remains soft and flavourful. The gin is sweet tasting as you would expect from this marriage of flavours. It is beautiful straight, works well with tonic, Rose Lemonade, and of course, prosecco. The Lakes Distillery also have Damson, Elderflower and Sloe Berry Liqueur that we think would be equally as lovely!

Overall we think this is a great versatile gin, it’s a great base for any gin based cocktails or a classic G&T or your favourite mixer. It would be a happy addition to any drinks cabinet, we actually bought it for a mother’s day gift and it went down a treat!

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The full rage of Lakes Distillery products are available on their website: www.lakesdistillery.com

 

GIN OF THE MONTH: MARCH

They say first impressions are everything and we knew Twin River would be different when we first saw it. For a start, the gin is cloudy, rather like a victorian lemonade. This is explained by the gin’s main alcohol component, the grain neutral spirit made from malted barley that all gins use, being made on-site. For those of you who haven’t been on multiple gin tours (like us!), you may not realise that more often than not the alcohol that makes up gin is normally bought in from somewhere else and made unique by adding in a careful combination of botanicals and flavourings. Yes, that does means you can make your own gin from strong vodka, but that sounds like too much like hard work! 

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On the nose, you are immediately hit with a burst of fresh lemon scents. Think: old fashioned lemon sherbet sweets. Yummy! Initially, on sampling the gin neat, we thought the first taste was quite strong - almost overpowering - but after a few more sips the sweet tastes come through, quickly followed by an spicier after taste. I think it's certainly a contender as a go-to-drink for those who like their drinks strong. It could also be argued that it's reminiscent of a Limoncello - although much more palatable!

The flavours are certainly complex and quite earthy and by simply adding a few drops of tonic, a whole new world of flavours were opened up! Unlike a lot of gins that can be drowned out by tonic, Twin River Naked Gin holds its own against the tonic and so can be added to personal preference. We tried with Light Tonic, Aromatic Tonic and Herbal Tonic. Each tonic provided a slightly different flavour but complimented the intricate flavours of the gin. The recommended serve is Pink Grapefruit or Lime, but I (Steph) think I much prefer the Pink Grapefruit. Sitting here sipping it, I am dreaming of sunnier days and enjoying the gin in the garden. The gin would make a tasty and refreshing long drink in the summer… all we need is that sun!

Twin River is based in Royal Deeside in Banchory. Banchory is a quaint wee village along the road from Balmoral, the Queen’s summer home. The name Twin River comes from the fact that the River Feugh meets the River Dee here. The distillery was founded in 2017 and already has a whole range of gins available including the Rhubarb Old Tom, Navy Strength, a Spiced Plum Special Edition Gin and the headline grabbing Uncut gin - which is being billed as the World’s Strongest Gin at a whopping 77% ABV. We are undecided on whether we fancy this one! 

We knew that being joint Gin Bloggers that we may not always agree on the Gin of the Month and this seems to be the first one that has completely divided us. I loved the gin, I found it extremely moreish and loved the Bitter Lemon taste. Michael on the other hand did not enjoy it - he felt it was over sweet and the flavour was a little overpowering. If you like bitter lemon and citrus flavour we definitely recommend the Naked Gin, otherwise maybe try one of the many other gins Twin River have to offer... they all sound fantastic! Now, where's my shopping list...?!

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Gin of the Month: February

 

This month’s gin is a pretty new contender: Granite North, from the North East of Scotland. 

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We first encountered this gin at The Gin Fayre St. Andrews Christmas Special which was their first major event. Head Distiller and Founder, Sandy Matheson, treated us to a taster and it was love at first taste. We discovered the gin’s origins in the Granite City - Aberdeen and how he took inspiration from the rugged highland landscape and local tales of Highlanders distilling their own spirits using botanicals found in the surrounding hills. 

Recently, on our own journey into gin exploration, we have found that there are a lot of good gins - but not necessarily ones that are unique enough to be memorable. Granite North, however, is definitely impressive and distinguished. Alongside traditional gin botanicals including the humble juniper berry, the prominent botanicals featured are grapefruit, lemon, bay leaf and the unusual addition of Grand Fir needles. 

On the nose, the gin is very fresh and zesty. You are immediately hit by the natural aromas from the fir needles alongside the juniper. There’s a smooth hit of citrus from the grapefruit and a bang from the lemon: it must be the bay leaf and fir needles that give the balance to all the citrus-goodness with that depth and slight savoury note. Basically, it’s like if you’ve been walking through the forest or up a hill and you take a smug Instagram photo, feeling accomplished and proud, but you’re not quite ready to walk back yet.  As former residents of Aberdeenshire and novice hill-climbers, it’s what we would’ve wanted!

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Granite North is smooth enough to drink on the rocks - bear this in mind when adding tonic.  At 41.9% ABV, some may think that it would be difficult to fully appreciate all the flavours of the gin neat, without it being too harsh. Granite North contradicts this by providing a smooth and intense drink, perfect with just ice and a slice. Similarly you could enjoy it with equal parts gin to a light tonic. Something a little different would be a Fentimans Herbal Tonic which brings out more of the forest notes. Pink grapefruit is a complimentary garnish, or if you’re trying the Herbal tonic, maybe experiment with a sprig of rosemary!

Overall, it’s a new contender for our favourite gin.  The unique fresh and zesty taste, versatility and the story that it had eighty test distillations to get it perfect have all the essentials of a great gin that “captures the essence of the Highlands”. This is apparent from first glance of the bottle, it’s simple, elegant and straightforward. The label brings in the rugged outdoors aspect with the contour lines and coordinates - some could argue the perfect gin for any geographers! 

We struggle to find fault with the gin and only expect bigger and better things from Granite North... hey Sandy, no pressure! 

 
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Find out more from www.granitenorthgin.com

Scottish gins to try on Burns Night

Robert Burns – Rabbie Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire, the Ploughman Poet – is widely regarded as one of the UK’s – indeed, Scotland’s – finest poets. Before I get too lost in my well-thumbed edition of ‘The Complete Works of Robbie Burns’ (note: this blog is about gin, I promise!), I thought we’d quickly just take a minute to remember the man himself.

Yes, this strapping chap is the man behind ‘Auld Lang Syne’ – a poem that we, as a nation, have chosen to bring in the new year – despite not relaly knowing all the words. What actually comes after ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Your guess is as good as mine. 

Anyway, it turns out that ol' Rabbie enjoyed a drink as much as the rest of us. According to his works, he was certainly partial to a good ale and enjoyed his fair share of wine - and we think that if he was here now, he'd be enjoying this gin boom we're living in! 

And so, on the 25th of January, the night of his birth - we'll be enjoying a couple of fantastic Scottish gins on his behalf - Here's to you Robbie! 

 

1. Makar ORIGINAL DRY Gin

A bold, vibrant and juniper-led gin - the first to be distilled in the City of Glasgow. 

 

2. Darnley's Spiced Gin

Packed with exotic botanicals found as far afield as Morocco, China and Africa, this is a perfect tipple for those cold January evenings!

 

3. Arbikie's Kirsty's Gin

A true single estate operation, Arbikie's award-winning gin goes down a treat with a small handful of blueberries. 

 

4. Esker Gin

Clean and crisp, exactly what you want from a gin. Try it neat - or with a tonic of your choice and a twist of orange peel.

 

5. Lilliard Gin

Named after a local heroine, this Borders gin is light, elegant and refined. 

 

6. Persie's Herby & Aromatic Gin

Close your eyes and think of Italy. Packed with bay, basil and rosemary, this gin will immediately whisky you away to somewhere less cold...!

 

7. Gin Bothy's Gunshot

Notes of cinnamon, cloves and mixed spices are used to create a warming feel. Try on the rocks, or with ginger ale. 

 

8. Edinburgh Gin

Pick any one of the Edinburgh Gin range - our personal favourite is the Rhubarb & Ginger Liqueur. Perfect with prosecco.

 

9. Rock Rose GIN

An exquisite gin with a smooth finish. Try with a sprig of rosemary to really enhance the flavours

 

10. Isle of Harris Gin

Distilled using Sugar Kelp from the surrounding isles, Harris Gin is unique in every aspect of it's process. Try with a wedge of grapefruit and keep the bottle - it's a work of art. 

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"O gude ale comes and gude ale goes,
Gude ale gars me sell my hose, 
Sell my hose, and pawn my shoon,
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon. 

I had sax owsen in a pleugh,
They drew a' weel eneugh,
I sald them a', ane by ane, 
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.

Gude ale hauds me bare and busy, 
Gars me moop wi' the servant hizzie, 
Stand i' the stool when I hae done, 
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon. 
O gude ale comes and gude ale goes,
Gude ale gars me sell my hose, 
Sell my hose, and pawn my shoon, 
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.

- Robbie Burns

 
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Gin of the Month: January

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Hailing from the small Island of Colonsay off the west coast of Scotland, Wild Island Gin is one of two types produced on the island. Pretty impressive for an island with a population of 124! The original Wild Island Gin was launched in December 2016 and this month’s Gin of the Month - Wild Island's Sacred Tree - followed in its footsteps a year later. 

The Sacred Tree Gin is produced using hand foraged botanicals from the Island. The botanicals include Brambles, Redcurrants, Rosehip, Crab Apples, Elderberries and Rowan Berries. Overall, there are 22 botanicals listed, which make the flavours quite complex and deep. It's fruitiness is made quite apparent in the initial smelling of the gin. 

Before I continue, a special mention must be made to the beautiful bottle; its simplicity combined with a few splashes of colour make it a great addition to any gin bar or shelf - anywhere on display, really. Top tip from us: once you've finished, try decorate the bottle with some fairy lights inside - I promise you it will look awesome! 

The gin itself is 43.4% ABV - which is the average Fahrenheit temperature of Colonsay in the winter months. We liked this fact and it’s a great wee nugget of knowledge to share with friends to make you sound like you really know your gin! First off, we tried it neat, without a garnish and we felt it was rather strong and overpowering. However, try it neat with a slice of red apple and a frozen blackberry and you really start to open up the flavours with a little added sweetness to compliment the tart fruity flavours of the gin. It certainly goes to show how important garnishes really are! 

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In terms of the ‘Perfect Serve’, we think this gin is very versatile. It would work great in simple G&Ts but also be a fantastic base for cocktails. We tried just a light tonic with it: this complimented the subtle flavours of the gin and it wasn’t too overpowering. Remember: with any mixers, add to your own taste - just because you have a whole bottle of tonic doesn’t mean you need to use it all. There are so many different gins out there with different, delicate and intricate flavours, too much or indeed, the wrong tonic, can drown out the gin... and we wouldn't want that. 

We also tried Elderflower tonic which gave the gin a smooth and refreshing taste. We can imagine - as we sit here in the strange period between Christmas and New Year in Edinburgh - this would be nice in a long glass with lots of ice in the summer... oh, if only! This sweeter tonic compliments the flavours of Sacred Tree perfectly. If you fancy an even sweeter drink, why not try it with a splash of apple juice? The beauty of the gin is it is so versatile that you can test out a whole host of mixers and garnishes to suit your own, individual tastes. There are similarities in the botanicals between Sacred Tree and the crab apple and rowan berries in Caorunn and the blackberries in Brockmans, so, if you like them then we suggest you try out this one! 

Overall the Sacred Tree took a few tastes to really appreciate as we were maybe used to more citrus based gins. The complexity means for some it may take a few variations and trials with different mixers to know what really suits your taste. We recommend that if you are having an evening of Gin tasting, go with Sacred Tree first to fully appreciate the flavours.

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