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

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Gin Deux – NB – 2015

NB

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Our second gin of 2015 and something we have been keen to use since the gin bar at Brew at the Bog in March 2014 is NB. Up until recently I had no idea that NB stands for North Berwick, which is fitting as it’s made there. I do wonder at the intelligence level of myself, I knew this was made in North Berwick but didn’t twig that’s what the NB was for.

NB is made by Husband and wife (I really want to say wife and husband) team Steve and Vivienne Muir their own micro-distillery in North Berwick (NB). It’s made from pure British grain spirit and a combination of eight botanicals, all of which have been, meticulously selected to produce a smooth and balanced flavour which is not overly complicated. We haven’t been told what those eight are though.

Launched in October 2013, NB Gin is stilled, blended, bottled and labelled by hand in North Berwick in very small batches, to ensure that every bottle is of the highest quality. The still itself was custom built in London and installed in North Berwick by the oldest still makers in the world, John Dore & Co.

Since it’s launching in 2013 there has been overwhelming demand for NB Gin. Thousands of bottles have been sold and the number of trade customers it’s attracting across the UK is growing by the day. It is already being stocked across the UK and beyond.

NB Gin was honoured with a silver medal in the Micro Distillery category at The Gin Masters 2014, just nine months after launch. Chaired by The Spirits Business magazine, the awards are staged to find and reward the finest brands and are judged by a panel of leading spirits and on-trade specialists in a blind tasting. NB Gin was one of only nine gins, and the only Scottish gin, to win an award in the Micro Distillery category.

NB Gin is a classic, when you first try it neat it is bright and fresh, you can taste the citrus coming through, and with a dominant hit of juniper (it is a gin). I was trying to think of the best way to describe this gin, I just keep thinking classic and classy. These words don’t mean much on their own but from the font, down to the quality of the distilling this is a classy gin that stands on its own. I get juniper, coriander, angelica, orris root, cardamom, liquorice and something citrus, Vivienne and Steve don’t say what goes into it though.

 

http://www.nbgin.com/

 

 

Thanks

 

Graeme

West Side To The East Side

Saturday the 14th of June 2014, possibly the most prolific date in the Gin drinkers diary. Yup, you got it – World Gin Day! And what better way was there for Gin Club to celebrate this momentous occasion, than to attend Scottish Juniper Festival at Summerhall in Edinburgh.

Summerhall is the former Royal (Dick) Vet School and functions now as a venue and art space. Rather coincidently and somewhat luckily for us, it is also the home of Sumerhall Distillery  – the birthplace of Pickering’s Gin. On Friday 13th and Saturday 14th of June, for 2 days only, this unique setting was converted into  complete Gin paradise. 

Summerhall Dsitillery

I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t feeling my best towards the end of last week. One by one the Beatson drug discovery lab has been struck down by either a cold, flu or chest infection and in some cases all three. I knew it was only a matter of time before I was handed the baton. However, in the name of Gin I set the alarm for early Saturday morning and made my way towards Queen Street Station. There was only one thing on my mind, nope not the Gin venture that lay ahead, but rather getting my hands on that white coffee cup with the green face, and my name scribbled in marker pen on the side (needs must). And as I sat, waiting on cousin Stuart to arrive – I’m sorry to me Caldo refers to 5 family members – I gave myself a firm pep talk on the art of manning up.

Anyway, enough prattle….

What exactly is Scottish Juniper Festival? Simple, a celebration of all things Gin – think masterclasses, cocktails, talks and tastings. The festival itself was split into two sessions; afternoon (12-4pm) and evening (5-9pm). You must understand that for two VERY big gin fans this is an extremely limited amount of time, when you have a very long list of things to do.

Over the two floors and the courtyard of the main Summerhall building, 14 Gins were on show – where oh where to begin? In essence, it did not matter as either way we’d be making sure we visited each and every one. Between the two of us, we had probably at some point or another tasted most of the gins before, however, to be able to compare and contrast each Gin back to back is fantastic. It’s funny how easily your recollection of how something tastes changes, when you are comparing it to another Gin of even just slightly different botanical composition. Gin no longer just tastes like Gin. New notes, finishes, sweetness and spices all reveal themselves, both to great surprise and delight. In fact just being able to see so many artisan products all in one space at the same time was enough to leave me in awe (further ammunition for the boys at the next Gin Club Meeting)….

There are too many Gins to mention individually so I will put a list at the end. I did however, love the Opihr display (only mildly disappointed there was no Tuk Tuk – google it) and the Darnley’s Gin Cake! It was great to see a few of the Gins from our event the week before too and have a proper chat and say thanks.

Throughout the day various Gin led talks were also taking place, all within the “Spiritual Sessions Theatre” – accompanied of course, by various juniper based tipples. Picture the scene; curved rows of tiered wooden seats, a blackboard on the wall, a vaulted sky light, 3 antiquarian lady chairs on which the Gin experts sat and desks flanked by Gin, oh and there was a man with a dog. As I sat there 4 Gins in hand, I couldn’t help but think, that if only all my chemistry lectures could have been delivered in the same way (I’m sure I could have argued relevance in some way) then maybe I would have found studying the different lattice structure of metals more interesting….I did say maybe. Geraldine Coates, the prolific author of GinTime certainly blew any lecture I’ve ever sat through out of the water.

The central courtyard was a visual feast with the Pickering’s Snickering Pig Roast and Gin Cart, Hendrick’s Ma’am (Winnebago) and the Cocktail Bar all occupying separate corners.

Just a few small steps into Ma’am and you are instantly transported into the wondrous world of Hendrick’s; jars stuffed full of sensuous botanicals, etchings, maps of London Gin Dens, books in glass cases, a typewriter, a branded lamp, a cuddly toy (loved the generation game) and Hendrick’s, lots of Hendrick’s! Duncan McRae led visitors (or maybe more aptly passengers?) through the history of Gin; from Holland, through the scandalous Gin soaked streets of London to an English Rose Garden where one would enjoy tea from the finest china whilst nibbling on cucumber sandwiches. All to be rounded off with a mighty fine peach cocktail.

23 Gins in (a mere estimate I had lost count somewhere between 1.30 and 2pm) and there was still more to see…..but first food, I needed food. Pit stop at the Snickering Pig before onwards and upwards to Pickering’s. Pickering’s is a relatively new Edinburgh Gin and we were fortunate enough to have a chat with Marcus about his creation. This was followed by a good old look around the distillery – I was pretty much in the copper still with excitement, as Stuart measured up the size of the thing, realising that getting one in his flat was in fact achievable.

It was definitely after 4pm by the time we left the distillery and Summerhall was hotting up for the evening guests. I know we would have stayed for another 4 hours but there was another action on the To Do List that had to be seen too.

In fear of not yet being Gin’d oot we had spied the opening of Heads and Tales – a new bar at the home Edinburgh Gin in Rutland Place, it really would have been rude not to at least go and see the place wouldn’t it? One Gin cocktail (Stuart opted for an Irn-Bru Botanist – when in Rome), a G&T, and a Zizzi’s pizza later, I was definitely ready to get back home. We rolled back into Glasgow at the very respectable time of 11.30pm – definitely the earliest return after a night out I’ve ever had!

To top it all off, on Sunday my head was positively clear – the world was a great place, I’d had the best day learning and talking shop, caught up with all the family in Edinburgh and drank the best Gins…..

It wasn’t until Monday morning when I chirply got in my car to drive to work that I realised that my glasses (which I had to pitch to my Mum as an investment) were still on holiday in an unknown location Edinburgh…..cue a long day of phone calls describing comedy sized tortoiseshell spectacles.

It would be criminal to finish this post without acknowledging Martin Duffy of Solid Liquids for pulling the biggest and best Gin jamboree together. Gin Club are counting on the event being annual!

A list of the Gins we enjoyed and chatted to; Burleigh’s, Opihr, Caorunn, No.3 London, Darnley’s View, Crossbill, Gin Mare, NB Gin, The London No.1, Blackwood’s, Hendrick’s and Pickering’s.

Kate