Introducing Shortcross Gin

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Shortcross Gin was founded in 2012 by husband and wife team Fiona and David Boyd-Armstrong at the Rademon Estate Distillery which is located outside Downpatrick, County Down.  To say this Gin is a labour of love for the couple is an understatement.  Going on a Gin journey around the UK, visiting other craft distilleries to see how others did it, then decided on the flavours they want to encompass before going to our old friends Carl and ordering a custom made bespoke still from the German Still makers.  I know what you are thinking “a Gin distillery tour of the UK! What hardship” J.  I’ve been tempted to quit the day job (and evening job) and just go and drink Gin a few times.

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Emulating the Rademon Estate David and Fiona foraged wild clover then added local elderflower, elderberries and home-grown green apples. These regional botanicals are combined with juniper, coriander seeds, lemon peel, orange peel and cassia to a wheat spirit base and then local water is added to the mix.

Best talk about the Gin I suppose, as I always state to taste you really get Juniper (it is a Gin), with elderflower and elderberry hints, particularly on the nose.  Shortcross is very much a classic expertly made Gin. From the mix of juniper and clover with a citrus taste leading to peppery finish, there is also something in the texture which is different, can’t put my finger on it though, which means there is only one thing for it.  Drink more Shortcross Gin to decide!

We are really looking forward to featuring Shortcross at the March Gin Club.

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Thanks
Graeme

Gin and Proposing

Gin and Proposing.

Let’s just start by saying that this blog post has very little to do with Gin, thankfully by the time the Gin started flowing I was already past the point of no return and Caldo was in charge of the Gin Shed and its contents.

First steps to propose to a woman (or a man it is 2015):

  • You need to wait until she is essentially in tears and is waiting to be asked. Any minor event you are at together be it a walk up a hill or a night out where you end up alone she needs to be expecting it.
  • Don’t’ cave to peer pressure, get into an argument and propose by proxy.
  • Let her choose the ring (making sure she sends you the correct ring information and NOT a picture where the ring is slightly out of shot).
  • Be personal, so what if you’re up a tower in a capital city or any high cliché building…
  • Remember it’s no big deal “it’s just a ring”. (Forgetting this is her confirmation that she is not wasting her time with you and she wants babies and all the rest, a house clearly isn’t enoughJ).

The Method:

Ask your mate Sarah Leonard to sort four lovely ladies to form a string quartet which can play her favourite love song in your conservatory.  For the purposes of “Her” (or my mothers words, “who is she the cats mother” – I have never understood this saying). Her favourite love song is The Book of Love and mainly the Peter Gabriel arrangement which is brilliant as it has a full string intro.

Cover the house and conservatory in fairy lights on the ceiling and church candles on the ground.

Get you bearded mate to play First Day of my life by Bright Eyes after she says yes.

Make sure she is home for 5:30 no later or earlier.

Once she enters signal the strings to play.

Lead her through, watch her cry, get down on one knee and ask “so ehhh.. How about marrying me”?

When she says yes, the bearded one appears and sings.

After that and we are all drinking Champagne, politely inform her that she needs to go get changed as in 15 mins people will be arriving.

At this point revealing that you have organised an engagement party where the guests will all arrive at 15 mins intervals.

Make sure the food from Mad Chef Danny at Bloc arrives and the oven is prepped and ready – On this note I was running around daft for the whole day getting food and booze for the evening, putting up fairy lights and tidying (golden rule, girls do not like visitors when the house is potentially a mess).

Serve food and booze all night, making sure all she has to do is drink pose with the ring, and chat to her friends and family.  My job is to host the thing making sure no glass is empty long.  Making sure you never refuse to not pose as a couple even though it’s one of your most hated things to do on the earth along with having to watch Made in Chelsea.

So that’s how you propose in a lovely personal way.

Lessons Learned:

Ensure the right ring information is provided:  If there are two rings in the picture then do some subtle checking before buying one.  Like me you might think you know her, well you would be wrong!  But don’t worry this corrected itself one night when she was moaning and clearly in a state that it might never happen I said “what if I’ve already bought the ring”.  Sending her into both a slightly happier mood but also panic when she remembered that the photo she sent was dubious.

The following day you may receive a text stating “I found the receipt and don’t get mad but you bought the wrong one”….  Once you have calmed down casually calling the jewlers to explain the mistake only to be told by the love Jade from Bernstones  Glasgow that (she’s a Geordie btw so read it as one) “Don’t worry Mr Macdonald, Rachel has already been on the phone and its sorted, we are resizing the correct ring and it should be ready by next Wednesday, it happens all the time”.

Now if you me; A – you don’t like a woman saying “don’t worry it happens all the time” as it sound like you’re not being the man you could be and B – I have been further demasculinised (is that a word) as not only is the surprise removed but I didn’t fix the problem Rachel did.

Subtly of timing:  Try to be more tactful with telling her when she needs to arrive as being too specific will give the game away.

The Ring Box: Don’t present the ring box upside down, it kills it.

Gin Shed:  Do not say to “just grab some gin from the shed”. Keep it looked.

Your own drink consumption: Don’t drink more booze than the guests and forget to eat.

The Garden secret spew: Don’t say you’re going for “air” then spew in your garden and try to hide it.

The Sleeping host:  Don’t go to your room to plug your phone in, lay down then not wake up until 12:30 the next day, ultimately not saying goodbye to your guests.

Feel free to use this formula.  She did say yes after all.

Now to see how much Gin we can get for the wedding.

Mr Neill I Persume

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Whitley Neill is distilled near Birmingham, in an antique copper pot still called ‘Constance’ who is over 100 years old. Using exceptionally pure water along with nine botanicals are which are carefully selected to ensure that they are of the highest quality. Whitley Neill’s tagline is “Made in London and Inspired by Africa” which is not only an insight to its creator Johnny Neill who is married to an African woman but also describes some of the botanical choices. In this line up are cape gooseberries and baobab fruit along with more traditional ones such as juniper, coriander, lemon & orange peel, angelica root, cassia bark and orris root.

Johnny established the company 2004 with the aim of offering consumers a new and different gin to those already in existence in the market. Despite the brand being 10 years old and this being Johnny’s first foray into gin he has family experience to back this up (Johnny Neill is from the fourth generation of the Greenall Whitley distilling family).

It’s also a Gin with morality as 5p from the sale of each bottle goes to Tree Aid in Africa to help with reforestation.  One of the few Gin brands along with Elephant Gin giving 15% of its earnings to two Elephants.

To taste you get juniper and citrus notes first followed by a subtle spice and complex finish. It really does not disappoint on the “different” quote as you do get more than you normally get from a London Dry.

We should be serving Whitley Neill with Fever Tree, garnished with a Cape Gooseberry (they have another name which sounds like an STD but no one can pronounce it), in a classic G&T.

Thanks

Graeme

Edinburgh Gin – Cannonball (Not Damian Rice)

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Our third Gin for the February Gin Club is the mighty company of Edinburgh Gin.  When looking for Gins to be involved in February we weren’t initially think about Edinburgh.  This is mainly because we could have done a whole gin club just on them, their product list seems to grow and grow.  For February’s Gin Club we are getting something rather special, they are bringing along the new Cannonball Gin – along with other goodies too.

Edinburgh Gin is part of Spencerfield Spirit Company and was launched in June 2010. Edinburgh Gin’s parent company – Spencerfield Spirit Co also have Sheep Dip and Pig’s Nose whiskies.

Now here comes the bit we at Gin Club debated for a long time, we always thought Edinburgh Gin was made in England and only bottled in Edinburgh, however…  For the first four years of its life it was made in England in a still called “Jenny”.   Then the spirit was shipped to Edinburgh and a selection of locally sourced and grown Scottish botanicals such as juniper berries, milk thistle, pine, heather were combined with the gin distillate from England, watered down and bottled.  But since summer 2014 the whole process now takes place in Edinburgh – thus ends the argument of Edinburgh Gins true origin.

The Edinburgh Gin range is rather impressive with Raspberry Gin (which we have been told are Rasps from Perthshire – hopefully Blairgowrie as Stuart and I have strict rules about the berries we eat as essentially our entire teenage years were paid for by working on the berries) and Elderflower Gin. And for us we will be using the strong “navy strength” stuff called Cannonball.

Edinburgh Gin has a full juniper hit (I keep saying this but Gins really should taste of Juniper) with heathery notes.  We haven’t tried the Cannonball yet though, I’m guessing it’s the same just stronger.  We might and I say might be making Martini’s for the evening which I want to call Mongs Meg Martini’s (doubtful if this will stick though).

February Gin Club – Rock Rose

Our second Gin at our February Gin Club is Rock Rose – when I say second there is no order at Gin Club, Just use your GinMe’s and pick which ever Gin you want to try first.

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Rock rose heralds from the north of our lovely country (that’s Scotland in case anyone wasn’t sure) in Caithness at the Dunnet Bay Distillery.  Now this is where I turn into the worst Geographer ever, much like our good friend Ruth Jackson who doesn’t know where anything is.  In my head (for years anyway) Caithness was just a part of Perth which was on the A9 roundabout, exactly where Caithness Glass the company is located.  Thankfully my geography has improved and I know exactly where it is.  It’s a lovely region (in name only I think not officially) near Thurso.

Continuing with a rather Scottish Gin making tradition, Rock Rose uses locally sourced botanicals.  I’m not sure if these go along with the foraging theme many other Gins in Scotland use.  The only botanicals which are not sourced locally is the juniper and the cardamom – now I don’t remember where I heard this as no doubt it was on a night where Gin was being drunk so it might have vanished into the ether of the evening but I remember someone saying that most Gin brands don’t use Scottish Juniper as it’s not meant to be that great.  Someone can confirm this for us at Gin Club though.

Rock Rose is distilled in a traditional Copper Still called Elizabeth and contains Rhodiola Rosea, Rowan Berries, Sea Buckthorn, Blackberries, Verbena, Corriander Seed, Cardamom and Juniper.  I’m sure there are more again trade secrets and all that.

So we have a wee confession on this one.  We haven’t decided how we are serving this at Gin Club.  I know normal we would be describing the perfect pour but Stuart, Kate and I haven’t sat down and went through all the pours yet.

Don’t worry.  Rock Rose tastes amazing regardless so it will be good.

So instead of our perfect taste here is a picture of Ruaridh from Rock Rose buying a new car on the Dunnet Bay Distillery expense account.

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Thanks

Graeme

Burleigh’s London Dry

First up for February Gin Club is Burleigh’s London Dry.

According to the lovely people behind Burleigh’s (45 West Distillery), Jamie Baxter the master distiller was walking through Burleigh Wood nature reserve which is next to the distillery.

This is where he came across some of the unique set of 11 botanicals which go into Burleigh’s London Dry; silver birch, dandelion, burdock, elderberry and iris. Those of you who can count know the list you just read does not add up to 11 as some of the ingredients are secret which can be found in Charnwood Forest the main inspiration for the first recipe and from this natural woodland site, Burleigh’s Gin was born.

I have been trying to find out loads more about Burleigh’s other than the usual which is above.  I really have been struggling.  For me Burleigh’s is one of those crisp and clean gins on the citrus end of the scale.  Anyone reading anything I write will know I like the citrus side of gin.  A Gin and Tonic should be fresh and sweet.  It should make you do something my dad does when he gets his gin on a Friday which is smack his lips about eight times on the first sip then a gulp and a wee exhale of “braw” (Applies in both Danish and Scots).

Burleigh’s definitely provides that reaction to me when I have in a classic G&T.  I have yet to experiment more with it in cocktail form.  The rather swish Burleigh’s website gives lots of serving suggestions which you don’t have to be a Mixologist (yes these people used to be called Cocktail Waiters I know – if you are reading this then you are a Ginologist and we all love doing Ginology) to make.

Burleigh’s gives an initial hit of Juniper (it is a gin) then comes the citrus.  There are a lot of herbs going on but my palate seems to put mix them together to form the whole image and not isolate them.  I read one blog post stating that Burleigh’s was a herbaceous gin, I haven’t found this to be the case at all.  I get citrus and pine.  Maybe I should drink slower or just start buying the Export strength.

We will be serving Burleigh’s with lots of ice, fever tree and citrus fruit (not sure what yet) and maybe with something special to produce a classic G&T.

Gin 71 – Gin Festival

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We at Gin Club are late to the party for chatting about Gin 71, who knows maybe on some subconscious level we thought “oh no, they are after our turf”,  which couldn’t be further from the truth (We don’t have a bar with Gin piled up to the roof, Graeme has a Gin Shed though).  So its long over due we write and blog post, collaborate and celebrate Gin 71’s latest enterprising idea.

 

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What / Where is Gin 71:

Gin 71 is Cup and Cup is Gin 71.  Located in the city centre behind the new shopping bit on argyle street where the old tea room used to be on Renfield Street you will find Cup a lovely tea shop which opened to in 2012.  From 6pm Cup becomes Gin 71, which is Glasgow’s only dedicated Gin Bar.  There has only really been one other tea gin combo in Glasgow and that was Heston Bluementhal’s horrible attempt to combine earl grey tea and gin.  Please never buy this gin, if you have ever been bought it fire it at the back of the drinks cabinet only giving it to the family member you don’t like.

Gin 71 is excellent for those of you who like small batch or lovingly made gins.  They really do some great work to promote the small man and I think I am right in saying they observe our number rule of No Gordons (btw Eileen from Gin 71 if this is not right please correct me).

Ginfestival:

Continuing the love for all things Gin, Gin 71 have crafted a selection of events to form a Gin Festival, all eight nights of joy.  Sadly we are nearly at the end of the festival but there is still time to catch up on drinking (responsibly, these are school nights after all).  The festival opened with on Wednesday the 11th with one of our favs at Gin Club, Mr Martin Millers and up until this evening has hosted a selection of dedicated gin brand evenings, with the likes of Edinburgh Gin (featured at this month’s Gin Club) and specialist gin cocktails for Valentine’s day.

This evening is featuring another Gin Club firm favourite which is all things Sipmsiths.  There is still time to head down this evening from 7pm, try Sipsmiths, learn about the brand, drink some more, then keep going until the bank card appears, the buses have stopped and you regret not having the day off (or week off when you see what else is on).

We at Gin Club will be heading along tomorrow for the Gin Tour of Scotland event which will feature gin stalls from Makar, Pickerings, Strathearn, Darnley’s View and the Eden Mill Distillery.

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Again there is definitely still time to get yourself organised and come along to the remaining events.

Thanks

Graeme

Ginuary

The forgetful January

So the first Gin Club of 2015 is over, before I prattle on I would like to thank NB, St George, Martin Millers and Brecon Gin for being part of Gin Club January.  All these amazing brands went down a storm, my only regret is even though the car was ditched, #thecarsgettingditched, which led to #lettheginbegin, was that in no way did I drink enough of these fine brands.  Rothney (the help) and Ritchie (the photo man) did though.  Caldo and I as per were left too dry for our liking.

Caldo and I weren’t sure how the evening would go as we were minus our mother hen Kate, who had decided to bugger off on a ski holiday, even though she can’t ski and is always moaning about being too busy .  So we drafted in the services of our beer / wine making hermit of a friend Craig Rothney, tt was a pleasure to allow this man to escape his Perthshire cave for the evening and come and serve booze instead of standing by around with his usual side kick Colin (i’m average height) Clayes.  Those of you at the first Gin Club may remember that our #Gindout  hashtag comes from Mr Clayes as he cannot handle his booze (nor social interaction tbh).  Anyway Rothney saved us on Friday so thanks to him.

Another surprise blinder for the evening was that the Hidden Lane laid on a special Gin Club treats menu, which might I say was rather special.  Even though I was too busy to purchase anything, the pile of dishes at the end of the night was a clear sign of a successful gin related menu.   I did help myself to some off cuts of sponge.  Yummm.

Massive thank you to DJ Malky B who was sober…  No wine for him, just soul music, making our already couple-esk night feel like a Tinder speed dating evening with Gin to ease the inhibitions (thankfully nothing clatty happened).

There was no order to the gins this evening as me (Squirrel / Graeme) forgot to bring half of what he was meant to (I’m blaming Kate for not reminding me).  The booklets were absent for the first 20 mins and the Gin Me cards were in no colour coded order.  Some lovely guest asked “Are the Gin Me cards colour coded to the gins flavours”!…  Blank expression from me then a laugh/ As we have a tangerine colour and sea blue colour.

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Our first gin to arrive and most people’s first gin of the night was NB (this is down to bottle placement on the bar nothing else).  We served NB with a slice of orange served with Fever Tree.  I love NB, it really is a classy well-made spirit.  You can check out our blog dedicated to NB or google it, but if you haven’t had some go and grab a bottle from the Good Spirit Co and enjoy it.  If you’re not wanting to be really adventurous (I am in no way saying NB is simple btw, its anything but) but wanting something expertly made and tastes incredible get yourself some NB.

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Next to NB was a little bottle of a gin we never thought we would get, but hey if you don’t ask you don’t get.  St. George Terroir all the way from California (and not Yosemite park where I had it in my head it was from, apparently you get bears in lots of American states).  St. George isn’t a normal gin it’s much more specific and leading towards the herbaceous.  In our blog post when which we posted to announce the gins I describe the taste in much more detail but just to remind you, it tastes like an alcoholic alpine woodland, there is that hint of the smell your living room gets on the first day you get a Christmas tree.  We served it with Fever Tree and Rosemary, we originally put rosemary and lemon in there but it tasted too much like a standard G&T.

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Martin Millers was something we have also wanted at Gin Club for a while and thankfully this time round Mr Miller appeared.  I have always been drawn towards this brand, not just because of the art deco bottle or the Icelandic connection but with the self-indulgence which goes into crafting it.  Two distillates and a 3000 round mile trip to add the water, truly a huge carbon footprint but what a magical result.  For January’s Gin Club we served it with Strawberry (sadly not Blairgowrie ground ones, it is January after all and not even a poly tunnel can help us) and black pepper.  Ohhh what a smooth drink, great combination from Stuart Caldow if ever I say so.  Those of you we stuck around to the bitter end will have got to try Caldo’s garnish experiments with Chilli’s and Coriander.  I like the difference in the taste with this but preferred the sweet strawberry.  We even changed the tonic at this point.  Martin Millers is a gin that can change a lot just on the mixer and the garnish so if you have a bottle experiment.

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Last on our gin list was Caldo’s find, a left field option but still very much in the London Dry (Welsh Dry) world.  Brecon Gin is a very elegant lady of a product.  Classic gin flavours and made expertly.  It comes from the famous Brecon Whiskey Distillery and if you go on their website you can find loads about the Brecon national park, their incredible water and mainly their whiskey.  Not so much about the Gin though.  Brecon gin is a big traditional juniper laced gin with coriander and revealing hints of spicy cinnamon.  We served as a classic G&T with lime which soften the heavy juniper and complimented the cinnamon and herbs.

Once again Kate, Caldo, Rothney (I suppose) and myself would like to thank everyone there who made it another sell out gin club.  Next one is 27th Feb which is also a sell out then after that March which has just been announced

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Also thanks to Ritchie, his sheer manliness and camera skills, the ladies of the Hidden Lane for their  food, the heat from the oven, the cake smell and the cakes.  Finally to Carly Morrison who keeps it all legal and always helping us out, you are a massive legend misses we wouldn’t have a GC without you.

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Thanks
Graeme