Proud Parents

First Birthdays.

Obviously we can’t remember our own first birthday’s (if you say you do then you’re either Stewie from Family guy or your drunk), but we certainly remember other 1st birthday parties.  Having been to a few for my lovely Nephew and Nieces and now (god help us) my friends children, we know the format, crying, napping, half the adults drinking the other half drinking endless cups of tea, the one year old who couldn’t care less about the presents as the wrapping paper or the box is significantly more interesting.  A first birthday party is for the parents.  And if I’m honest they are lovely despite the flu or stomach bug you contract from playing with the little disease carriers (btw I’m getting a little broody in my old age) you really wouldn’t have it any other way.

So like proud parents (god does this mean that Caldo, Kate and I had a child together, remove Caldo from the equation and its normal haha), we move into the first birthday of our labour of love which is the Gin Club.

Our first solo event was the 6th of June 2014, however like a proper child it had a long gestation period, about nine months actually.  We recently did a blog for Ticketweb which describes how to create a club, so I best repeat myself on the gestation period to birth of Gin Club;

Conception

“The Art of Social Drinking” is something Caldo has always harped on about, where people go to a pub and drink nice alcohol and not just get wasted on the cheap stuff, dance and try and get off with people (these nights are ok too though).  Gin Club began while engaging in this Art form, two men in their late twenties, drinking artisan gin while trawling through YouTube for rap battles, Taylor Swift and Mylie Cyrus videos, then discussing the merits of both these two rather good female artists.

From these special moments slumped on a couch discussing which one would our mothers would prefer, a throw away thought in the form of Hashtag (#Ginclub) was born, which was instantaneously shared through each of our failing music and social media sites (it had been a long established fact that a photo of an album got less than 20 likes while a picture of a Gin pour or a beetroot and chocolate cake broke easily into triple figures).  In that one hashtag Gin Club was born (impregnated).

Don’t tell anyone it’s not three months yet

For the next few months we maintained the exclusivity of our club, while the member’s waiting list swelled with people retweeting, sharing photos and Gin Brands evening sending us stock!  But the intake was capped at two with the occasional “Gins a mine”, while our friends drank our expensive Gin and Tonic.   Keeping this cap along with the promotion of Gin and all its merits only increased demand.  Our Gin Club rules came into fruition too.  “No Gordon’s” and “Gordon’s is acceptable if there is nothing else”.

“Your showing”

Once our solid foundations had been set, we had demand, popularity and a thirst corporate engagement the next stage was to float our club idea. In the case of Gin Club this came with getting involved with the popular Brew at the Bog festival.  From this first big venture we had to draft in organised support in the third member, welcome the scientist (not the Coldplay song) Kate.

In developing this idea we had now made contact with all the Gin brands we loved and wanted to share with festival goers in Inverness.  This proved popular as all the Gin was drunk in the first day.

Birth

Our Idea was simple; it wasn’t to be formal Gin Club.  No noising glasses, just Gin served right so people could enjoy something a bit different to the norm and open to all Gin lovers.

Our club needed to be formative but informal so our guests left knowing more than what they did when they arrived without it being forced upon them or with them having to taste everything straight in crystal flute glass while writing notes in a language they would never use.

Fun / Nice were the words of choice, where people loved their night so much they took hundreds of photos, got to a good merry stage of drunkardness but happy their night wouldn’t be a late one.

Then after being at Gin Club they would want to go to a shop, buy a special Gin and realise what they have had in the pub for years is nothing compared to what they could be drinking.

We had the idea, we even had the date, the venue however wasn’t set, but a wee five minute conversation in Sainsbury’s solved that and it was set that we would be hosting Gin Club in a vintage tea room (with cake and the venue matched the feel of the night), then combine it with DJ’s, random props, table games, food (which get very competitive) and mountains of Fever Tree tonic.

Thinking back

I can’t believe that was a year ago!  Thinking of all the meetings with Kate and Caldo in Tinderbox or at Kate’s flat drinking loads of tea and eating way too much cake.

1st Birthday Party

So as it’s been a year we are going to celebrate by throwing a birthday party at the Hidden Lane on nearly the same date (one day out) as our first ever event.  To mark this we will be using the same Gins we started with;

Strathearn Heather Rose

Botanist

No.3 London

Caorunn

There will be all the usual trimmings along with lots of other special surprises.  I’ve been looking for the Happy Birthday song which gets playing in Jimmy Chung’s, can’t find it anywhere.

So get your tickets for the 5th June at the Hidden Lane Tea Room.

Adnams CopperHouse Gin

For our last Gin for the March Gin Club I would like you all to say “arite hen” to Adnams Copperhouse Gin.

Adnams, in my head make beer (which has since been confirmed when a work colleague who really looks like Peter Griffin from family guy, saw me writing this blog and went “great beer, I used to live next to their distillery), but they have been branching out since 2010 and now make Vodka and Gin (There was really no point in that sentence as if they only made beer and not Gin then this blog wouldn’t have even been written).

Adnams craft their Gin in a very different way to normal, for one they make the base spirit themselves “East Anglian malted barley”.  I know many Gin’s do not do this, not saying that doing it or not is better just different.  Making a base spirit is not an easy task.  Reading up on this process I see words like “beer wash”, which I only know is the initial stage of distillation (see this is actually one of the few times in life Craig Rothney would be handy to have simply to answer questions like What does Beer Wash mean? What is Low Wine? Whats a Beer Column).  This beer wash distillate is further refined into “low wine” before finally ending up as pure spirit.  From there it is infused with six botanicals in their home made copper pot still.

The six botanicals are: Juniper berries, Coriander, Lemon peel, Orange peel, Orris root & Hibiscus flowers.

The only one in here I am not familiar with is Hibiscus flower, I don’t even think I could identify the taste of Hibiscus to be honest.   Doing some reading on the wonder that is Wikipedia, it seems that our new mate Hibiscus was trialled as a fertility drug, however it can also cause mild hallucinations.  Could be an interesting Gin club then!

To try Adnams neat you would get a savoury herbaceous gin with a full hit of juniper, I’ve heard others say oily but I don’t get that texture, which could be my novice tasting skills. We are really happy to have this Gin at Gin Club and hope you taste the Beer making heritage in this Gin, I actually think you can, it’s made very differently to begin with then returned to a traditional London Dry method.

Spirit Christian Jensen

Number three in our featured Gins for March is the wonderful Jensen’s (another pluralisation, but not one like when people add the S to the end of Miller –that’s Miller lager not Martin Miller’s or when they ask for “sailor Jerry’s”.  Grrrrr).

I have to say my first impression of Jensen’s was skewed.  This was because Stuart decided to experiment with Gin one night and had the Chipotle infused version and thought it would make a mean Red Snapper.  Most people who know me know I am a complete wimp when it comes to spice, I can barely handle a Korma, so Chipotle infused Gin is a bit of a trek for me.  Well I can safely say that after that experience the taste of their Bermondsey Gin changed my initial impression of “holy hell that will burn a hole right through me”.

Jensen’s base is in London and produce some truly fine Gin.  Along with the Bermondsey they have an Old Tom and a fair few infusions like the Chipotle one (everyone except this one appeals to my palate).  I have read that man behind this fine spirit Christian Jensen (Spirit Christen Jensen – sounds like a bluegrass Americana performer), was in Tokyo and feel in love with a certain Gin and was then told that it was defunct.  He then went on a mission and found the recipe for the Gin and worked with a team at Thames Distillers to recreate it.  To test they had it right he bought the lost spirit at auction and compared.  I haven’t worked out what this illusive spirit was thought.

How does it taste:

To smell it comes over with a strong sent juniper (it is a Gin – I might tire of this line), then you almost get sappy pine with coriander and liquorice. You also get fresh ginger, resin and violet. The liquorice carries through to the taste along with the piney juniper.  I read somewhere that one taster was getting Uncooked Runner beans – Thankfully I never got this.  No thanks to runner beans full stop, they remind me of my mother force feeding me them (by force feed I mean stern looks and ultimatums for not eating them).

Thanks

Graeme

Daffy’s Gin

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Our second Gin (I say second but remember there are no rules to the order of things in Gin Club, just hand over the #GinMe card and ask for the one you want) we get the feature (says a very excited me) the wonderful Daffy’s Gin.

I first tried this wonderful stuff while doing my now frequent loitering in the Good Spirit Company hoping that Mark will see me standing around and say “have you tried this one”, regardless of if the answer is yes I will say no just so that he whips out some glasses and whatever bottles are open under the counter.  On this particular occasion the answer was No.  I had heard of and seen Daffy’s on the shelf but never tasted and hadn’t read about it (yet).  But before I ramble on about 20 mins one day in the Good Spirit Co I should Segway back into Daffy’s Gin:

Founder Chris Molyneaux explains that he and the “Daffy’s team” spent 4 years on the Daffy’s journey learning, researching and testing.

Taking from their lovely website:

“We started by using the finest pure wheat grain spirit from northern France that we could find, then, distilling it in the same manner as malt whisky on an ancient single batch copper pot still. The botanicals that we steep and distil are a combination of the traditional – juniper, coriander seeds, cassia bark and the new – Lebanese mint and rare variety lemons.

The quality of the base spirit we use, along how we steep and distil our botanicals results in a deeply complex and well balanced spirit that is exceptionally good to drink on its own over ice, in cocktails or as a life-changing D&T with fresh mint and lime.

Lebanese mint as a botanical brings and extraordinary freshness to Daffy’s complimenting our other tasting notes of toffee, citrus, spice caramel and fresh mint”.

The Mint really makes the Gin stand out.  Its tough to place this next to other Gins.

Daffy’s also comes in a little stronger than other Gins at 43.4% proof.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I have grown accustom to stronger Gins over the years and need the larger alcohol content.  It almost makes the strength of the flavours stand for me.  This is probably a total contradiction.

Daffy’s is a perfected product; it feels like it’s afforded the same TLC of Tajima (Kobe Beef) cattle.  It’s a Gin a choose to drink straight which for me is rare.  When you first taste it, it doesn’t feel like a normal gin. It’s feels like a Gin Liqueur, which it clearly isn’t, it’s just crafted so well that it’s easy on the palate; this is a testament to creator Chris Molyneaux’s vision. There is the hit of Juniper but its masked behind the Lebanese mint.  Again you would be fooled into thinking this could be a liqueur because of this, but it is most definitely a Gin, a rather perfect one.   Chris thank you for crafting this!

Thanks

Graeme

Mr Neill I Persume

Whitley-Neill-Gin-Logo

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)

EGD_circle_logo6 EG Cannonball

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).

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.

ginjan-1-15

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.

ginjan-1-7

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.

ginjan-1-11

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.

ginjan-1-8

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