The clear and fragrant liquor that is gin has been a favourite sip of mine for a long time. It’s one of those drinks that transcends the seasons and happily marks a sense of celebration at any time of the year… Or more often, just a cheeky thirst quencher! I’m happy to drink it in the summer when the sun is high in the sky or when it’s about to disappear for a few hours but similarly, It comes into it’s own when the winds are howling and it’s feeling more than a little crisp outside.
With an increasing number of people dabbling in gin production, there are so many different styles and brands to choose from which goes some way to ensure that I don’t get bored of it.
It might not come as a surprise to many that I’m no stranger to tasting multiple gins on one occasion (!), but I have often wondered what is the best way to taste and compare? Neat? With a dash of tonic? With a slice of lemon or lime? So many factors! So I decided to think about the drink itself: If the maker feels that it should be appreciated in a certain way, with particular accompaniments, then that’s exactly what I should do. At least then, I’m sipping as it should be sipped!
We all know that Hendricks requests fresh cucumber as well as ice cold tonic so in that mould, I have selected two very different gins that I’ve never tasted before which require different ways of being served.
Far from the London home of many familiar gins, Gin Mare is made in the Spanish fishing town of Vilanova, near Barcelona and has a distinctive Mediterranean flavour. As well as the ubiquitous juniper, another botanical is olives, giving it a savoury flavour. It’s herbaceousness is provided by thyme, rosemary and basil. On paper it doesn’t sound as citrusy as you’d expect a gin to taste and when you discover that the makers would like you to try it with tonic, a twist of orange peel and a sprig of rosemary, you start to see how the character will unfold.
As well as the background hint of olives, there’s a tang of burnt orange, almost like those dark chocolate orangettes that I love. There’s even a whiff of Provencal fields thanks to the rosemary that’s waving around your face. I could easily sip one neat before tapas instead of a dry sherry but dilute with tonic and accompanied by the orange and rosemary, it’d be hard to find a better drink to have with a selection of Spanish small plates.
Around 2000 miles north of the Gin Mare distillery is the home of small batch gin Daffy’s. Made in Edinburgh and named after the Goddess of Gin – NO, I’d not heard of her either! it is a copper pot single-batch distilled gin and is the result of 4 years of experimentation. This relatively new kid on the block has been designed to be sipped neat over ice or with tonic, a wedge of fresh lime and some fresh mint. This result is an altogether fresher experience than drinking some gins. The combination of lemony spirit with that dash of lime and a breath of mint creates a subtle fresh pine flavour that’s beautifully crisp. The hint of sweetness is a little bit like a cool breeze over ice.
The seven botanicals including juniper, Lebanese mint, lemon peel and cassia ensures Daffy’s rightful place at the forefront of modern gins, as a refreshing first drink. So when you get that Eureka moment that a cheeky beverage is what you’ve been looking for, try a D&T. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Gin Mare is available at Waitrose, Ocado and Oddbins at around £40. http://www.ginmare.com
Daffy’s is available in Fortum & Mason, Harvey Nichols, Harrods, and independents across the country. There’s also a festive online offer – £34 a bottle with free postage and packaging at http://www.daffysgin.com and the bottle can be signed by Chris the owner and distiller if you like!
And for those of you wondering why I only tried two gins? Don’t worry…. There will be more of them on one4thetable.com soon!