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Master of Malt Blog

Author: Jess Williamson

Classic Bars – Coupette

Say hello to our shiny new Classic Bars blog series! Here we’ll be looking at… well, classic bars. What better time than now to shine a spotlight on these well-loved…

Say hello to our shiny new Classic Bars blog series! Here we’ll be looking at… well, classic bars. What better time than now to shine a spotlight on these well-loved haunts, just as we’re allowed to return to our favourite watering holes? (For now, anyway.) First up is Coupette over in Bethnal Green, which also just happens to have released its new cocktail menu.

Though Coupette only came onto the scene in the summer of 2017, it secured its place as a classic in no time. It’s ranked number 23 in The World’s 50 Best Bars, and while that may set some expectations, it doesn’t really tell you anything else about the bar itself. We’re here to do that. 

Coupette is the brainchild of bartender extraordinaire Chris Moore. Moore has been behind the bar since he was legally allowed, joining the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar in 2010. There he stayed until 2015, when he left to start working on opening Coupette. You may have guessed from its name that the bar has French ties (Coupette translates as “cheeky one”), inspired by France’s cocktail history. As such, it has an intense love affair with Calvados – well, Moore’s Instagram handle is literally @mr.calvados, so this was to be expected. 

Its modest front means you could easily walk past it, though once you’re inside, its charm is irresistible; the interior strikes the perfect balance between chic and rustic – an old ‘tabac’ neon sign sits between exposed brick walls above a luxurious leather armchair. Plus, you can even nibble on gratin dauphinoise or a croque monsieur while you sip. A whole new level of bar snack.

Anyway, let’s talk about the cocktails! “Coupette has a main concept, which is a French 5* neighbourhood bar,” bar manager Andrei Marcu explains. “Everything we do has to fall under that concept.” Coupette boasts three award-winning serves that withstand any menu change. The first ensures there is always Calvados on the menu, and that’s Apples, made with the brandy as well as pressed apples, carbonated on-site. There’s also Boardroom, a smoky, Don Draper-esque blend of Hennessy and Dubonnet, with walnut, cherry and coffee. And finally, the snazziest twist on a classic to grace our palates, the famed Champagne Piña Colada, boasting coconut sorbet (rather than cream) and a luxurious splash of fizz. The rest of the cocktails come and go with each drastic menu change. (More on that later.)

After a successful couple of years, Moore stepped away from his project in late 2019. So now Marcu is heading things up – and what a job he and the team have done throughout this crazy year. “We have a saying here at Coupette,” says Marcu. “‘Good is never good enough’.” That sets the tone for every drink that they serve.

Obviously this year has posed more challenges than usual, but crafting an entirely new cocktail menu in lockdown was one of them. Usually, Coupette changes its menu every three to six months. “We always liked the idea of a seasonal menu and that is exactly what we did so far. Yet, with the new menu we decided to create more of a conceptual menu that will last for almost a year or less. This is a bit due to the pandemic that made us feel insecure about launching a new menu every three or six months.”

So, how was it coming out of lockdown? “It was very hard to be honest,” Marcu tells me. “The fact that we went from five days a week work to nothing and back to five days a week after three months was very exhausting. But it is slowly getting better and we are happy to be able to open our door every single day and have guests visiting us.” 

We’re pretty happy about it too, because it meant we finally got to try the new menu! Dubbed Urban Legends & Their Uprising Tales, it launched on 10 September and explores  ‘the darker side of East London’. A jaw-dropping (and mouth-watering) 21 new serves have been created by the team, Marcu tells me it was over six months in the making. “We were meant to launch in April,” he says, but obviously you-know-what rather got in the way of that. “So then we had to go back and reformulate.” 

The menu illustration for the Watermelon Spritz

The six-chapter menu tells the (fictional) origin story of an East London gang through illicit rum deals, spirit smuggling and ingredient hustling. It’s grittier and darker than previous menus. The physical menu is gorgeous more of a hardback book as the team enlisted the help of illustrator Molly Rose for each cocktail. When I ask Marcu what his favourite new drink is (which is probably his least favourite question) he ends up naming half the menu. 

You start drinking a cocktail with your eyes, so it’s no surprise the presentation is always a delight – though never flamboyant. Dazzling glassware and simple garnishes showcase the liquid each serve, along with the most impressive ice cubes (or sometimes spheres) you’ve ever seen.

Chocolate & Red Wine, a firm favourite

“Every single drink has to be its perfect version,” Marcu says when I ask him if there were any new serves which were particularly challenging to get right. It was pretty much all of them, by the sound of it. “We have tried a tremendous amount of ingredients, recipes and drinks until we chose the one that we believe is perfect. For example, we have a drink called Chocolate & Red Wine for which we have tried 15 to 20 different recipes. But the hardest to get right was Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy, a Parmigiano-inspired drink that we wanted to turn into a pleasant flavour to everyone. We were looking into getting out fruity notes from one of the strongest flavoured cheeses one can find and we definitely managed to do so. But that one was a hustle.” 

Yes, that is a corn in my Gimlet

No doubt the hard work has more than paid off. There is truly something for everyone, from Rhubarb Bellinis and insanely refreshing Watermelon Spritzes to twists on Negronis (with carrot as an ingredient) and Manhattans (made with ale vermouth), and everything in between. While I didn’t get to try them all, there were two absolute stand-outs for me. First, was one Marcu has already mentioned, Chocolate & Red Wine. This short serve made with Flor de Caña 18 Year Old, chocolate wine and cacao manages to remain delicate and light, even though it packs a boozy, fruity, chocolatey punch. Second was the Corny Gimlet, with salted butter-distilled Plymouth Gin, home-made corn liqueur and sour popcorn tea, garnished with a charred baby corn. It was sweet, sour and slightly bitter, by far one of the strangest things I’ve ever tasted – and I loved every sip.

“We just launched Urban Legends & Their Uprising Tales but we already started thinking about the next one, and I have to tell you so far it sounds very exciting.” Luckily this 24-cocktail menu will keep us busy until the next one!

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MoM Loves: The Sexton Single Malt

If it wasn’t already on your radar because of its awesome bottle and delicious liquid within, The Sexton ought to be, seeing as the Irish single malt was created by…

If it wasn’t already on your radar because of its awesome bottle and delicious liquid within, The Sexton ought to be, seeing as the Irish single malt was created by one of the few female master blenders in the Irish whiskey industry, Alex Thomas! We chatted with her to find out more about her wonderful creation.

Paid partnership 

The Irish whiskey industry has had something of a revival in the last decade or so, and with unique, modern expressions like The Sexton gracing our palates, it’s easy to see why! “I had a dream of creating a whiskey that everyone would enjoy and that paid homage to those who came before us,” The Sexton creator, master blender and distiller Alex Thomas tells us. 

The Sexton Single Malt

The wonderful Alex Thomas with her creation

Having worked at Bushmills before venturing to craft her own whiskey, there’s no doubt that Thomas is well-versed in what makes a classic Irish whiskey. But while tradition and history is important to her, there’s no way she’s stuck in the past. “I wanted it to be approachable for those who thought whiskey was not for them, and memorable enough for the whiskey connoisseur to enjoy the experience.” Sounds like an all-rounder to us! “As the Irish Whiskey category continues to rise, I wanted to introduce a liquid that could represent the changing face of Ireland – capturing the heritage and provenance of the past and the optimism and creativity of the future.” What we have here is a modern whiskey that’s not afraid to be mixed, while still paying homage to its heritage. 

The whiskey

The Sexton is distilled entirely from Irish malted barley, triple distilled in copper pot stills  before it’s matured in some very special casks. European oak from France is dried for a minimum of 16 months before it’s crafted into casks and toasted. They’re not filled yet, but seasoned with Oloroso sherry from Jerez over in Spain.

The Sexton Single Malt

Sherried Irish single malt, what more could we want?

Why sherry? “My grandmother inspired my love for sherry. I was always interested in why sherry was her secret ingredient in her fruit cakes,” says Thomas. “Ageing the liquid in these wine-soaked barrels results in the perfect balance of dried fruits and subtle oak notes, which helps achieve a depth of flavour.” We’d have to agree, with balanced but complex notes of oak spice, marmalade and dried fruit alongside dark chocolate and honey leaping from the glass. 

The bottle!

There is more to this wonderful bottle than just aesthetics, that’s for sure. The shape is inspired by the mesmerising Giant’s Causeway, found over on the North Coast of Ireland, which we’d have to say is rather original.  

The Sexton Single Malt

Giant’s Causeway, or lots of bottles of The Sexton?

The name, Sexton, is derived from the Medieval Latin word sacristanus, meaning custodian of sacred objects, used to describe the man who prepared the grave. “The Sexton challenges you that before you meet the man that will lay your body to rest, to make choices every day that will add up to a life story worth telling.” Well, that explains the skull and top hat on the front of the bottle. We guess you could call Thomas a custodian in her own way, a guardian of her own brilliant Irish whiskey. Too far? Never…

The Sexton Single Malt

It’s all in the detail

We had to ask Thomas what’s next for The Sexton, and as is usually the case with these kinds of questions, her answer was as exciting and cryptic as we hoped! “As a master blender and distiller I am always experimenting, and dream of expanding The Sexton family in time,” she tells us. “But watch this space.” Consider our eyes peeled.

How do I drink it?

Thomas is far from a purist here, and while she herself enjoys it neat she encourages drinkers to try it in a whole range of cocktails. We’ve got a couple of serves here for you, recommended by the master blender herself!

When you treat yourself to a bottle of The Sexton on MoM right now, we’ll (carefully) throw in a branded Sexton Highball glass too! We love it when our bottles match our glassware, so you can sip on Sexton cocktails in style.

Love It To Death

50ml The Sexton

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Top with soda water

Serve over ice and garnish with a lemon peel.

The Sexton Single Malt

It’s all sherry and whiskey in the Laid to Rest cocktail!

Laid To Rest

25ml The Sexton

10ml Pedro Ximénez sherry

20ml Manzanilla sherry

20ml spiced claret syrup

Serve over crushed ice and garnish with mint leaves and dried spices.

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BrewDog becomes the first carbon negative beer company 

We have mega news from Scotland’s ever-awesome BrewDog – it’s now officially carbon negative across the entire business! That’s right, not even carbon neutral, but negative. Talk about setting an…

We have mega news from Scotland’s ever-awesome BrewDog – it’s now officially carbon negative across the entire business! That’s right, not even carbon neutral, but negative. Talk about setting an example…

We’ve long been saying that companies need to take more accountability for their carbon footprint, and distilleries and breweries are far from exempt. While news surrounding the environment and climate change can seem like a barrage of negativity, every so often something miraculous comes along. Like the news that BrewDog is carbon negative! Seeing as CO2 levels are nearly at the highest record in human history, this news couldn’t come quick enough. 

BrewDog carbon negative

BrewDog is planning on planting an entire woodland

It’s easy for companies to make a small contribution to the cause of climate change, sit back and be happy with their performative eco-initiatives. Which is what BrewDog was doing, with its total carbon footprint coming to 67,951 tonnes CO2 in 2019. “And then it hit us,” write James Watt and Martin Dickie, co-founders of BrewDog, “the blindingly stark realisation that we were not doing anything like enough. And in fact, we were massively contributing to the current existential problem that our planet and our species are facing.”

This news from BrewDog is far from performative. “We double offset our scope 1, 2 and upstream scope 3 carbon,” the duo continue. That all sounds rather technical, but what it actually means is that BrewDog offsets the carbon in its supply chain as well as just in its production processes. This is true commitment. 

From 22 August 2020, the company pledged to remove twice as much carbon from the air each year as it emits. So, how is BrewDog achieving this improbable task? Firstly, by 2022 the company is planning to have planted one million trees in the Scottish Highlands in a 2,050-acre plot of land it bought. We’re not talking about a monoculture here, but actual biodiversity! The ecosystem will be built with the Woodland Carbon Code accreditation program. It’s also dedicating 550 acres to peatland restoration because peatlands are ridiculously effective carbon sinks. 

This is all very impressive, but you may be thinking that action isn’t enough in itself. Education is crucial too. BrewDog thought of this and is also planning an educational campsite at the site which will run sustainability retreats and workshops in what will be known as the BrewDog Forest. Give a man a fish, and all that.

BrewDog carbon negative

Local wind turbines will power all of BrewDogs UK breweries

This is also all well and good, but why work so hard on removing carbon from the atmosphere if you’re just going to keep contributing to the emissions? BrewDog thought of this too, and it has a multifaceted 24-month plan to reduce its carbon footprint. Waste malted barley will be turned into biomethane, relieving the dependence on fossil fuels. All of the electricity used to brew BrewDog beer in the UK will come directly from local wind turbines, while all of its vehicles will eventually be electric. By 2021, an anaerobic digester bio-plant will be in use, turning waste brewery water into H2O that can be reused in production. And last but certainly not least, perhaps the most creative out of all the initiatives, CO2 produced during fermentation will be captured and, hopefully, used to carbonate BrewDog beers!

Much of these initiatives are simply reducing and repurposing what was previously perceived as a waste product into something useful. Surplus beer is turned into vodka. Spent spelt is turned into dog biscuits. The brand’s MEGA (Make Earth Great Again) lager is made by replacing 20% of the barley with surplus fresh bread.  But, unfortunately, once the beer is produced there’s even more scope for waste. BrewDog reported that every year, almost one billion drinks cans in perfect condition aren’t even used, due to changes in branding or production errors. So, what did they do? Repurposed those cans with new labels! This seems like a logical solution, but time and effort are often prized over reducing waste. With a little bit of creativity, dedicated time and an open mind, waste almost ceases to exist! 

BrewDog carbon negative

All parts of BrewDog’s business are carbon negative

What is really inspiring here is not only BrewDog’s dedication and achievements but its transparency. An entire page was dedicated to its carbon footprint breakdown in the press release, all of its secrets laid bare. “We will regularly update and refine these numbers and share the latest estimates in each edition of our sustainability report,” BrewDog has pledged. Transparency has always been needed in the industry, but particularly when it comes to sustainability. 

Because of this hard work, BrewDog can now proudly say that all parts of its business are carbon negative. That encompasses its beers, bars, spirits, e-commerce and breweries across the world. “It has been a joy to work with BrewDog on these first big steps of their transition. Going forwards they won’t be perfect,” writes professor Mike Berners-Lee, lead scientific advisor at BrewDog. “They’ll make mistakes and they’ll need to be honest about them. They won’t need to beat themselves up but they mustn’t let themselves off the hook either. The message they send to the rest of the business world is that if they can say it like it is, everyone else had better do likewise.” This is crucial – there is always more to be done. It’s better to try and make mistakes, though there is never a time to sit back and rest.

“We want to make BrewDog a catalyst for change in our industry and beyond,” state the co-founders. We can only hope that this is the case. This is truly fabulous news, but the industry still has so far to go.

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Bitters 101: a guide and history with Bob’s Bitters

Bitters are something of the salt and pepper of the cocktail world, but beyond Angostura and Peychaud, what’s the deal? We grabbed a minute with Bob Petrie of Bob’s Bitters…

Bitters are something of the salt and pepper of the cocktail world, but beyond Angostura and Peychaud, what’s the deal? We grabbed a minute with Bob Petrie of Bob’s Bitters to chat about the tasty, boozy seasonings.

“I’d never made bitters before,” Bob Petrie tells me of his career. He wasn’t always in the drinks world, despite his roaring success. Having said that, he began his career as a pastry chef in a Michelin star restaurant, so it may not surprise you that he was already very familiar with flavours.

Bob's Bitters

A whole flock of Bob’s Bitters

Bob’s Bitters

Cast your mind back to 2005. James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful was playing on every radio station (we can still hear it like it was yesterday), and it was long before the gin boom well and truly hit. It was this very year that the legendary Giuliano Morandin, bar manager of the Dorchester Hotel, asked Petrie to help him with an event. “We knew of each other and he approached me and asked if I could make some cocktail bitters, because they were looking at doing a Gin & Tonic experience where you had a gin of your choice, a tonic of your choice and bitters of your choice,” Petrie tells me. At this point in time, when only a handful of gins were available, you’d be hard-pressed to find more than one kind of tonic, let alone multiple niche single botanical bitters.

So, as it happens, Bob’s Bitters wasn’t initially created for consumers. In fact, it took Morandin quite a few months to convince Petrie that the bitters would even be popular. But this was one of those cases where the bar influenced the consumer, and though there was some resistance to these alien single botanical bitters Morandin told Petrie that behind the bar, things needed to change. 

Single botanical bitters had the advantage of being new and unusual, but the reason behind that wasn’t to give them a USP – it was one of practicality. “The only reason we decided to make single flavours was if we were making a complex bitter and something went wrong, we couldn’t identify where it was going wrong,” Petrie tells me. “That was the thought process. We never intended to be different!’”

bob's bitters

Bitters: small, but mighty

Petrie’s culinary background really shines through, because the idea was also to give mixologists behind the bar complete control over how they used them. “The thought was, if we do single flavours and we created enough of them, a barman would be able to mix and match and make their own complex bitters. A barman could have some theatre there with the glass bottle and the pipette, that he could make his own concoction, and that’s his concoction then, his little project so he’s got that ‘secret recipe’ using Bob’s Bitters.”

In 2020 it’s easy to see this as logical, but it wasn’t plain sailing back in 2005. “Barmen were saying to me ‘you’re a pastry chef, you’re not a barman so how can you make cocktail bitters?!’” Petrie recalls. Seeing as Peychaud’s and Angostura had dominated the back bar for years, people weren’t ready to accept bitters with just one flavour. “It took Giuliano quite a few months to convince me that these bitters will be popular,” Petrie recalls. But Giuliano persisted, and thank goodness because now we have all these wonderful cocktail seasonings to experiment with. 

A brief history of bitters

So that’s the story of Bob’s Bitters – but how about the history of bitters themselves? For that, we have to cast our minds back to the 18th century, specifically in India, when bitters and tonics initially started off as medicines. In India, you had bitter tonics full of quinine for its health benefits, and then Petrie tells me they added lime to prevent scurvy. Never mind the medicinal properties, that’s already sounding drinkable to me. To give some context, the well-known Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters weren’t established until the 19th century.

bob's bitters

Getting into the apothecary spirit

But how did bitters make the jump from medicine to cocktails? While Petrie was working for a chemist, they found some old manuscripts from days of yore that were rather illuminating. “Instead of going home and putting bitters in water they would put them in gin, because the water would have been not up to standard,” Petrie tells me. “Then cocktails have come from there because original cocktails were based on spirit, water, sugar and bitters, so it’s all sort of intertwined.” Perhaps the gin bubble has been going on for longer than we thought… 

It was this medicinal history that inspired the unique packaging of Bob’s Bitters. “The idea of the bottle with the pipette was to give us this Victorian feel that back in the Victorian era, the pharmacist or the chemist was the modern doctor of the day. You would go there and you would get your ginger tonic for your throat or peppermint for digestion, and then you’d go home and dilute it with water or gin or a spirit.” Though the pipette has more meanings than just one.

bob's bitters

One kiwi bird, so many meanings!

The kiwi bird on the label brings together so many aspects of the brand, it’s hard to know where to start. First off, Petrie is originally from New Zealand, so that’s a little nod. But the beak of the bird also mimics the pipette of the bottle, which nobody could have planned. It’s like it was meant to be – but there’s even a third way in which the plan comes together! “The kiwi itself has a high sense of smell. The bird is, well they’re not blind, but they have trouble with vision so it uses the beak to find food,” Petrie tells me. “And so we thought, well because the bitters are concentrated then you can smell the thing, so let’s put the kiwi on there with the pipette.” 

But don’t be expecting any kiwi bitters anytime soon… (The fruit, of course.)

You can find Bob’s Bitters on Master of Malt now!

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Our favourite specialist bars for specific spirits

Whether you have a certain spirit that you know you love above all others, or you want to jump in at the deep end of flavour discovery of a new…

Whether you have a certain spirit that you know you love above all others, or you want to jump in at the deep end of flavour discovery of a new tipple, we’ve rounded up a few awesome specialist bars that are pros in specific spirits!

They say variety is the spice of life, but on the flipside, there’s also the conundrum of being the jack of all trades and master of none. Well, these bars are each the master of one chosen spirit. In the words of Wham!, if you’re gonna do it, do it right.

When it’s safe to go back out to all the wonderful places the world has to offer, make sure you have this list to hand to guide you through the glorious world of spirits!

specialist bars

Hacha

What? Agave spirits
Where? London

Tequila and mezcal line the back bar of Hacha over in East London, which is also home to the legendary Mirror Margarita. Trust me, forget about any misgivings you’ve had about Tequila in the past, it’s like no other Margarita you’ve tried before. There’s a selection of 25 spirits behind the bar, and while you may have been expecting that number to be higher, when a bottle is finished a new one takes its place. Now you’ll never get bored of the same old choices! What’s pretty cool about this place is that owner Deano Moncrieffe (who was previously a Diageo Tequila ambassador) pairs different nibbles with the ever-changing selection of agave spirits. Some come with Monster Munch, others come with Toblerone. It’s all-round awesome. 

specialist bars

Smugglers Cove

What? Rum
Where? San Francisco

Opened in 2009, Smugglers Cove is everything you’d expect from a bar that specialises in rum. The three-story tiki bar boasts the largest rum selection in the country (over 550 behind the bar at one time), and it’s a place that really embraces part of rum’s identity with waterfalls, lots of nautical paraphernalia and an entirely wooden interior. Meanwhile, the cocktail list takes into account the centuries of history behind the spirit. You’ll find both classic and more contemporary serves, and one that has made quite the name for itself is the Smuggler’s Rum Barrel, a punch made with 15 different rums and 20 different juices!

(Smugglers Cove isn’t currently open because of COVID, but be sure to take a trip over there when it’s safe!)

specialist bars

Bobby Gin 

What? Gin
Where? Barcelona

Well, the clue is in the name here, and you’ll find Gin Club in the home of the Gin Tonica, Spain! Specifically, Barcelona. At Bobby Gin you’ll find those classic fishbowl glasses, with almost countless numbers of gins, tonics and garnishes to play with. With a sign on the wall stating ‘the perfect Gin & Tonic doesn’t exist’ (well, it actually says ‘el gintonic perfecto no existe’, but I thought I’d save you the trouble of translating), though you  may as well start here to try and find it!

specialist bars

Black Rock 

What? Whisky
Where? London

Now, choosing just one whisky bar was a near impossible mission. But, finally, Black Rock emerged as a winner, boasting both London and Bristol locations! Aside from the truly jaw-dropping selection of whiskies you’re faced with (over 250), the London site even has the city’s first whisky hotel, along with a blending room where you can take home your very own creation. It’s a brilliant place for people who want to explore the spirit more as well as seasoned drinkers, because each bottle is clearly labelled with one of five flavour profiles and its price. If you’re really stuck, the clever chaps behind the bar will certainly be able to help you out. Whisky for all!

specialist bars

Le Syndicat Paris 

What? Cognac
Where? Paris

Le Syndicat only stocks French spirits, so it’s not technically a Cognac bar per se, though you will be greeted with a lot of brandies among a scattering of absinthe and eau de vie. You’ll find DJs on the weekend playing mainly hip-hop (with half of the artists played probably sporting their own Cognac brand), French food and French twists on classic cocktails. If you don’t just want to try out the cocktails, you can treat your taste buds to a Cognac tasting, too!

specialist bars

Spirits Bar Sunface Tokyo

What? For when you’re feeling lucky
Where? Tokyo

Here’s a fun one. Over in Shinjuku, Spirits Bar Sunface doesn’t actually have a drinks menu. They serve brilliant cocktails, make no mistake, but instead of you choosing a drink (how normal that would be), you have a chat with the folks behind the bar and then your drink will be made to suit you. We’ve heard that it sports quite an extensive collection of Tequila, though its back bar spans quite a range of spirits! The place itself is just as unique, with its centrepiece a fabulous tree trunk which serves as the bar. It’s a bit like a tarot card reading, but with cocktails. Let us know what you get!

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Garnish 101: what are they and how to use them

We chat to some industry greats about all things garnishes, from what actually counts as a garnish to their weirdest and wackiest creations, and even some handy home tips. Consider…

We chat to some industry greats about all things garnishes, from what actually counts as a garnish to their weirdest and wackiest creations, and even some handy home tips.

Consider the garnish. It can be anything from a single olive in a Martini to lavish leaves in Tiki cocktails. It can also make or break a drink – I’m sure we’ve all been to a bar with an unwelcome limp mint leaf or mangy strawberry in your drink.  

But lemon peels and olives aside, what exactly is as a garnish, what is its purpose, and how important are they? The aesthetics of a cocktail were important long before the ‘gram, to tell the story of the drink you’re about to savour. We managed to get some words from some industry experts who know exactly how it’s done.

What even is a garnish? 

The first and most important question for anyone looking to jazz up their serves. First up is Ryan Chetiyawardana, of Lyaness (formerly known as Dandelyan), Super Lyan and White Lyan fame, who manages to invent futuristic and simultaneously minimalist cocktails. “To me, it has to be functional, adding a different dimension to something you want in the drink” he tells us, though he doesn’t believe you have to be able to consume it. “A spray, a paint, physical garnish, vessel, theatre, are all things we’ve employed over the years.”

For Belgium’s Matthias Soberon of social media cocktail wizardry @ServedBySoberon, “a garnish is anything that’s added to the drink that elevates it in any sensory way, whether it be visual, auditive, tactile, gustatory or olfactory.” If you can sense it, it’s a garnish.

cocktail garnish

Coupette’s minimalist Shimmer cocktail from last summer’s menu, complete with geode coaster.

As we ask our final expert, it looks like everyone is in agreement. “A garnish can have multiple forms,” adds Andrei Marcu, of Bethnal Green’s wonderful Coupette. “It’s the final touch added to the drink, there to complement the drink and boost certain flavours or aromas.” 

So in a nutshell, what our talented trio are saying is that a garnish can be almost anything that enhances a serve in some way. The bad news is that’s pretty vague, but the good news is that it allows for a whole load of creativity.

Does every drink need one?

“I want an olive in my Martini!” says Chetiyawardana. “But only if it’s a decent one – I’ll go sans if it’s a sad, old olive.” We’d have to agree. Having said that, he also acknowledges that sometimes “the confidence to leave it bare is sometimes the best thing to do.” It looks like Chetiyawardana and Soberon are on the same page, who adds “don’t overcomplicate it just for the sake of it. Sometimes the liquid in the glass absolutely needs 100% of the focus.” Be bold, believe in your serve and go bare.

garnish cocktail

Chetiyawardana keeping it simple at Lyaness with the Rook Pool Sazerac

But as we turn to Marcu, he reminds us of the importance of certain garnishes. “A standard Martini would have a lemon twist or an olive as a garnish. But if you add a pickled onion instead, it will be a Gibson Martini which means it becomes a completely different drink.” Now, whether to put an orange or lime with your G&T may not be quite as important as this example, but what you choose to accompany your spirits with does make a big difference.

Some garnishes are integral to the formation of the drink, becoming more of a core ingredient as opposed to a garnish, because as Marcu notes, “an Old Fashioned without orange peel would be just whiskey and sugar.” Easy to make, but not what you’re looking for. While you don’t mess with some garnishes, others are totally divisive, such as “the ‘issue’ with the salt-rim on the Margarita,” Soberon points out. “Some people love the salt, others despise it, that’s why most bartenders will serve the drink with half a rim salted, to make sure that you have the option to either go for it or not.”

Aesthetics 

So far, everything we’ve talked about has altered the taste or smell of the drink in some way, But is there any point in a purely aesthetic garnish? Our industry minds were divided on this one. Marcu takes the view that “drinks are very sensorial, and everything influences the taste. I would only use an aesthetic garnish when we have a conceptual drink.” A bed of sand for a drink inspired by the sea, for example, to enhance the storytelling aspect of the serve, or a colourful geode coaster to imitate the look of the sea (as shown in Shimmer above) have both been used at Coupette.  

garnish cocktail

Soberon’s flamboyant Tiki cocktail!

For Soberon, it’s a yes. “For Tiki drinks, a single orchid doesn’t make any difference to the drink’s flavour profile, but it makes all the difference in how the drink is perceived.” Plus, he’s not going to ignore the fact that social media has a huge part to play in the formation of many drinks these days. “In this day and age where everyone is walking around with their smartphones (and all bars requiring to have social media presence), everything just needs to be prettier.”

Each to their own, and aesthetic garnishes aren’t for Chetiyawardana. “I see what they add, but it’s just not my style.”

Weird and wacky

Now, we couldn’t possibly chat to all these awesome bartenders without getting the garnish gossip. Classic cocktails and olives are one thing, but we want to know about the weird and wacky, the ones that make it onto the ‘gram and into our memories.

For Chetiyawardana, his wildest garnish is the truly awesome whisky Mousetrap contraption at what was formerly known as Dandelyan. Two years in the making, everyone’s favourite childhood game had a few boozy changes; the ball was swapped for ice, and you get whisky at the end! This is definitely taking the notion of a garnish to a whole new level, and you can see it in action here.

Marcu recalls the time he channelled his green finger into his mixology, creating a mini greenhouse with micro herbs planted inside. “Sitting in the middle of that green house was the drink. Every time you had a sip you could pick one of the herbs that were growing and surrounding the drinks and eat it.” It’s a bit like a choose-your-own-ending version of a cocktail. “Every single different micro herb was putting the drink in a different light and bringing out different aromas and flavours.” No surprise this one made it to Instagram fame right here.

garnish cocktail

Soberon’s zaniest creation, octopus arms and all…

Soberon can’t pick just one finest serve, with his cocktail portfolio showcasing squirt guns filled with booze, octopus arms, and veins of blood in the form of dehydrated beetroot powder on top of drinks for Halloween. Sometimes he even adds “small ornaments that people could take home afterwards, as little gifts.” A cocktail with a party bag? We’re in.

Let’s get garnishing!

After all this talk, I’m sure we’re all fancying a drink! But without our own professional contraptions, most of us are going to have to make do with what we have in our homes already. Our industry pals are back to guide us towards what to use, simply reaching for the cupboard rather than the stars. 

So citrus peels are probably the go to garnish for most people, someone always has a lemon or lime laying about. “Citrus peels are obvious, and often you don’t need as much citrus peel as you think,” Chetiyawardana tells us. “Sometimes a big swathe is wonderful, but the oils can also overpower and can become bitter. A small ‘coin’ expressed over a drink can give just the right brightness and lift you need.” Soberon adds, “make sure there’s as little pith as possible,” leading us onto some handy slicing tips from Marcu: “Peel the fruit on a diagonal line and cut the edges into a nice square shape,” to help you to twist it over the drink. Don’t forget to save a slice of your morning orange for that Old Fashioned.

garnish cocktail

Express yourself!

But what about when we leave the fruit bowl? “Everyone should definitely have a little look in their spice racks,” Soberon suggests. “A single star anise or cardamom pod is hugely aromatic. Or maybe dust (sparingly!) some ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, Chinese five spice powder, pepper.” If you’re looking to try out a handful of different spirits, then Soberon recommends keeping the strongest aromatic spices for darker spirits, such as rum and whisky, and the lighter ones for gin, vodka and Tequila. Though heed his warning: “Just make sure you don’t dust every drink!”

And Marcu’s home suggestions? Pair your Calvados with apple, your tropical drinks with pineapple (or lime, if it’s rum-based), and grate some chocolate for those cream liqueurs.

Happy mixing! Though seeing as bars are back open this weekend, perhaps you could get somebody else to do all the hard work for you…

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Whisky making at the Lakes Distillery with Dhavall Gandhi 

The Lakes Distillery doesn’t do things by halves, as we found out when we spent a couple of days up in Cumbria with whisky maker Dhavall Gandhi. We were even…

The Lakes Distillery doesn’t do things by halves, as we found out when we spent a couple of days up in Cumbria with whisky maker Dhavall Gandhi. We were even allowed into the inner sanctum of the whisky studio… 

Surrounded by whisky and a field of alpacas doesn’t seem like such a shabby spot for an office. At the Lakes Distillery, Dhavall Gandhi is lucky enough to call this space his whisky studio, where big decisions and tastings take place. Having spent a couple of days at the distillery with Gandhi and his team, we were lucky enough to sneak a peek into every step of the whisky making process.

whisky Lakes Distillery

The picturesque Lakes Distillery

Dhavall Gandhi, whisky maker 

First of all, leaving your job in corporate finance to go and work for a whisky distillery seems like a pretty rogue move, even if that distillery is Macallan. But then Gandhi decided to call it quits at Macallan when he got an offer to work at a small, unknown craft distillery in the Lake District. Gandhi also has experience in the brewing industry having worked at Heineken, which is what really sparked his interest in fermentation.

whisky lakes distillery

Dhavall Gandhi and some fabulous English whisky!

I imagine the move not just from a large, established distillery to a smaller one, but from the Scotch whisky industry to the much lesser-known English must be something of a culture shock. “The size is a big difference,” Gandhi agrees. “You’re working with millions of litres of alcohol a year down to 130,000 litres.” 

Even so, Gandhi took what he had learnt from a large distillery and applied it on a much smaller scale to the Lakes. The best thing about coming to a brand new, unknown distillery? “The freedom and opportunity to create a house style of Lakes single malt,” Gandhi tells me. That’s pretty priceless for somebody with a vision. 

Whisky making 

There is something unique about each stage of the whisky making process at the Lakes, from the fermentation to the oak to the blending. To start with, most distilleries would have a different person (or team) in charge of each of these stages, Gandhi oversees the entire process from start to finish giving him complete creative control. He calls this his “holistic approach to making whisky.” 

lakes distillery whisky

Whisky making in the process

So, what is Gandhi’s whisky making method? “I start at the very end,” he tells me. Gandhi envisions the style of whisky he wants to create, and then works backwards. What kind of casks will help him achieve this style? Then, what new make will suit these casks best, and be robust enough to handle the cask type? How will he achieve this new make through fermentation and yeast types? Each stage is meticulously planned, and ensure that Gandhi knows exactly what he is looking for.

Fermentation

After the mashing to obtain a clear, fruity wort, it’s time for fermentation. Three different styles of yeast are used, Scotch yeast, French yeast and heritage yeast, with each yeast strain giving top, base and middle notes. The wort goes through a lengthy 96 hour fermentation period. Why so long? It results in a lighter, creamier spirit. 

whisky Lakes Distillery

Time to get mashing

Gandhi talks a lot about his “three tier spirit architecture”, and architecture is a good way to describe what he is doing with the whisky, building it from the ground up from his blueprints. The three tiers refers to the three different yeast strains, with different yeasts used on different days in different combinations. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach here. 

Distillation

As well as a long fermentation, the spirit also goes through a slow distillation, allowing the spirit more contact with the still. Gandhi takes a very narrow cut to produce a fruity but robust new make of around 67% ABV. 

whisky Lakes Distillery

Meet Susan the still

The condensers are of particular interest to whisky geeks like us. The distillery boasts both copper and stainless steel condensers, allowing Gandhi to create two different new make spirits. We’ll call them type A and type B. Type A is the light to medium bodied spirit yielded from the copper condenser, while type B is heavier bodied, coming from the stainless steel condenser. Ding ding! This is yet another point in the process which allows Gandhi to tailor his spirit. We’ve lost count! 

Everything at the Lakes is allowed ample time including the slow reduction process at six litres of pure water a minute, where the spirit is diluted to around 58% ABV. It turns out that the spirit can go into a kind of shock if it’s diluted too quickly, so this helps keep it nice and mellow. 

Maturation

The Lakes is all about the sherry influence, which may not surprise you knowing Gandhi’s previous Macallan experience. So, why sherry? “Write the books you want to read,” Gandhi tells me. He isn’t out to create a sherry bomb, rather more of a refined, subtle sherry character. 

It would be easy to simplify the cask maturation into the types of sherry, with fino, oloroso and Pedro Ximénez. But the reality is much more complex than that. American whiskey, Port and red wine casks are also used, but sparingly, sherry casks are Gandhi’s forte. He is also experimenting with amontillado, palo cortado and manzanilla, though oloroso forms the backbone of the single malts.

whisky Lakes Distillery

There’s also the oak type to consider, with American, Spanish and French oak all used. This in itself isn’t unusual, but the fact that both sherried Spanish and American oak are used is (often, European oak is reserved for sherry, while American oak is reserved for American whiskey). Then there’s the size: butts are the most common (seeing as that’s what sherry is usually housed in), but hogsheads, barriques and barrels are all used as well. To generalise, American oak is more creamy and tropical, full of vanillins, while European oak is often responsible for those peppery, spicy notes, so the combination results in something wonderfully complex and rounded. 

Blending

This is where Gandhi’s passion truly lays. The whisky industry seems to have a problem with the word blend, and he wants to banish any inferior associations. Unless you’re sipping single cask expressions chances are you’ll be drinking a blend, even if it’s a single malt, seeing as different malts from the same distillery are blended together to create different expressions. But people rarely associate the word ‘blend’ with single malts.

whisky Lakes Distillery

A hard day’s work of tasting ahead

We enter the whisky studio, and it’s like a whisky lover’s dream come true, with sample upon sample prepared in the futuristic, glistening space. Gandhi noses and tastes 125 samples in front of us in minutes, quickly deciding on which can stay and which don’t make the cut. Sounds like a lot, right? He tells me that he can regularly nose and taste around 300 samples in a session!

Sitting on the fence isn’t something that Gandhi does, and snap decisions define this part of the whisky making process. Crafting a whisky can take anything from hours to months, he tells me, and gut feelings are crucial. 

Cask Influence 

Gandhi picks out random samples and dissects them for us. He pulls up a rather light sample, and at first guess I would have thought it was aged in a refill cask. He tells me that it’s actually drawn from an oloroso American oak butt. He pulls up a much darker bottling, what most people probably expect a sherried whisky to look like, and reveals that this is drawn from an oloroso Spanish oak hogshead. Simply saying knowing something was matured in an oloroso cask reveals little about it, and hammers home the notion that colour can often tell us very little.

whisky Lakes Distillery

50 shades of whisky…

What really stuck with me was Gandhi’s metaphor of whisky as a painting. The new make spirit acts as the canvas (hence why Gandhi wants it to be as clean as possible), while casks and flavours are the colours, and blending is the act of painting. Delving deeper into the metaphor, Gandhi notes that each cask is like a shade of colour. Just like you have lime, forest or emerald rather than just green, you don’t just have an oloroso cask. “For me, whisky making is all about creative expression,” says Gandhi. “A whisky, when you drink it, needs to stir emotion in you. If that happens, my job is done.”

New releases

When we visit, two exciting new whiskies are in the pipeline; Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3 and The One Orange Wine Cask Finish. Well, reader, in the time it took to get these words down, the releases are now ready. 

whisky Lakes Distillery

The shiny new Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3!

But we’re shining a spotlight on The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3. As the name of the series suggests, these releases are Gandhi’s chance to really show his artistic exploration of oak and blending. The trio of single malts in the series all have the same DNA, though each expression is unique in its own way with different nuances. For No.3, a combination of oloroso, cream and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks work alongside a small number of red wine casks.

Gandhi described Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1 as more “intense and bold” with more sherry character. Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3 on the other hand, is a bit more “seductive”, with more of that incense and chocolate character thanks to the French and Spanish oak influence.

If all this talk of whisky has got you thirsty by now, then you should try Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.3 yourself. Now that you know the labour and love that goes into it, we’re sure it’ll taste just that much sweeter.

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Top 5 drinks songs

The true perfect pairing to a delicious drink? A catchy song about said drink! Here’s our top five boozy tunes. We’ve chosen our top five drinks-related films, books and TV…

The true perfect pairing to a delicious drink? A catchy song about said drink! Here’s our top five boozy tunes.

We’ve chosen our top five drinks-related films, books and TV shows, so it was only a matter of time before we moved on to…. Music! The plethora of songs written about the plethora of boozes means it was a pretty big choice, but we managed to whittle it down to five. Let us know in the comments or on social which ones you would have included. We know one way to beat the quarantine blues; grab a drink, whack on these tracks and have a boogie.

Behold, the quarantunes!

As always, these may not always feature the most responsible booze consumption. Let’s keep it in the songs!

Whiskey in the Jar – Thin Lizzy

An iconic Irish folk song that’s been covered more times than you can shake a stick at, but Thin Lizzy’s version has perhaps been the most influential (bar The Dubliners’ 15 years prior). The Irish rock band took the traditional ballad and added a bit of oomph. Pour yourself your favourite dram and settle down for a good ol’ listening session, tale of an outlaw highwayman from the comforts of your sofa.

Gin & Juice – Snoop Dogg

We’re taking it back to the ‘90s with this one, Snoop D-O-double-G knew what was up before the gin boom in his debut album. Oh, and he’s not just sipping on any old juniper goodness, he even specifies Seagram’s gin and Tanqueray! This song is in no way stuck in the past, in May 2018, Snoop Dogg even set the world record for the largest Gin and Juice at 500 litres! Needless to say, don’t try that at home… 

Red Red Wine – UB40

The ultimate song to sway around your kitchen to with a glass of said red wine in your hand, this is a true classic from UB40, even though the original was recorded by Neil Diamond. Who knew? Well, not even UB40 it turns out. When they recorded the song they thought that the writing credit ‘N Diamond’ was a Jamaican artist called Negus Diamond. That’s enough history, time to sit back, relax and enjoy the grooves. Even if you think that red wine isn’t for you, this is sure to convince you to give it another try!

Tequila – The Champs

Can you believe that this awesome little tune has been around since 1958?! Who doesn’t want to dance when this song comes on? Go on, get your Margarita and have a little quarantine boogie. Maybe even go all out and make a dance routine, it’s that kind of jig (though perhaps put your drink down for that one). Plus, it’s an easy one to learn the lyrics to… Tequila!

While it’s not the best quality, here is an absolutely stellar video of the band playing the song live on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beechnut Show in May 1958.

Champagne Supernova – Oasis

Anyway, here’s… Champagne Supernova! Love or hate Oasis, whatever you feel about the Gallagher brothers, Champagne Supernova is the anthem of a generation (just behind Wonderwall, obviously). One for when you’re feeling a little fancy, pour yourself a glass of the fizzy stuff (we’re sure Prosecco would do as well) and contemplate whether the brothers will get back together. Or whether they should. Oasis may be gone, but Champagne Supernova is forever.

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Five must-haves for the perfect virtual tasting with friends

It’s time to get your friends together over, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, whatever your preferred mode of video chat, and taste some delicious spirits together! Everything you need is right here……

It’s time to get your friends together over, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, whatever your preferred mode of video chat, and taste some delicious spirits together! Everything you need is right here…

So, you’re virtual-pub-quizzed-out. You now have all of the general knowledge and you need a new activity for you and your pals. Well, virtual tastings are going to be the next big thing! No need to be a spirits connoisseur for this, it’s just a bit (okay, a lot) of fun and a great opportunity to get together with your friends and try some new tipples together. We’ve also done most of the hard work for you, because we’ve rounded up everything you need right here! 

5 must haves for virtual tasting

This could be you!

Tasting Set 

First things first, you’re going to need a drink. Obviously. Our ideal candidate would be an awesome tasting set from Drinks by the Dram! That way, you have five different spirits to taste through together, all wrapped up in a neat little box. They even come with tasting notes already, so you can compare and contrast, like an expert! You and your friends can order one each, and then do a little taste-along. Like those singalong versions of films, but with more drinks.

There’s the Premium Gin, for all you juniper heads out there, Premium Rum if darker spirits are more your cup of tea. Plus, we’ve gone and knocked 10% off these two! Whisky fanatics, taste round Scotland with Regions of Scotland Whisky Tasting Set, or if you’re wanting a bumper tasting, there’s a double whammy with Ian Buxton 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die Tasting Set, complete with 10 drams and even a copy of Buxton’s book! 

five must haves virtual tasting

They literally have our name on them!

Tasting glasses 

Next thing you’ll need is something to put your drinks in. It turns out that the shape and whatnot of a tasting glass is rather important, with tapered glasses directing all those lovely aromas right to your nose. Well, luckily we have our very own Master of Malt Glencairn tasting glasses for you! You can either grab yourself a single glass, or treat yourself to a set of six so you don’t have to rinse one out every time you crack open a new dram, missing out on all the fun. We may have a lot of time on our hands, but it’s still precious! 

It’s time to get your friends together over, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, whatever your preferred mode of video chat, and taste some delicious spirits together! Everything you need is right here...

Time to get mixing!

Mixers

Here’s where it’s time to get inventive! We don’t have any qualms about mixing spirits over here. What we rather like doing is having just one nose and taste of your spirit neat before you mix it, just to get a feel for it and compare… but no pressure! This is your tasting. Then it’s time to mix it with whatever you think is best. Keep it simple with a good ol’ tonic water from 1724, or perhaps branch out with The Artisan Drinks Co. Barrel Smoked Cola or Fiery Ginger Beer, ideal for dark spirits! If you’re feeling creative, fancy a garnish out of whatever you can find in your fridge or fruit bowl… 

five must haves virtual tasting

Pink sofa and plant not essential…

A comfy corner 

Somewhere for you to let your hair down and have some (delicious) fun! Get that sofa plumped, lights down, music on and maybe even some bar snacks. It can be your dram den. Your spirit sanctuary. Your tasting retreat! We ran out of alliteration, so we’ll stop.

five must haves virtual tasting

Pray for full bars!

Good wifi 

Okay, so we can’t help with this one. May the wifi gods be with you. Hopefully your flatmate won’t be downloading every episode of The Simpsons. Maybe try rubbing your phone on your head? Yeah, that definitely works…

And that’s it! So grab your phones and computers, get those spirits in your snazzy glasses and get ready for a deliciously fun evening with your pals. Who says staying in can’t still be fun? Happy tasting!

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Behold, the World Gin Awards 2020 winners!

It’s official: the World Gin Awards are out! Now you can grab yourself a bottle, make yourself a Gin & Tonic, settle down and tell yourself that you’re drinking the…

It’s official: the World Gin Awards are out! Now you can grab yourself a bottle, make yourself a Gin & Tonic, settle down and tell yourself that you’re drinking the world’s best gin. Now that’s something to brag about. From aged expressions to best Old Tom, we’ve rounded up the best of the best right here. 

world gin awards

It may be easy to see awards as vacuous and unimportant, but with numerous rounds of blind tasting, Gin Magazine’s World Gin Awards is sure to single out spirits that are truly outstanding and worthy of your time as well as your taste buds. Gin-thusiasts, read on!

world gin awards

Drinks by the Dram World Gin Awards Winners 2020 Tasting Set

Want to taste the winners without committing to an entire bottle? Drinks by the Dram has gone and created a handy tasting set boasting five 30cl drams of award-winning gin from this year’s World Gin Awards! You’ll find Bathtub Gin, Lubuski Aged Gin, Marylebone Orange & Geranium Gin, Hayman’s Spiced Sloe Gin and Sky Wave Gin, all in one nifty box. Who says convenience can’t be delicious too?

https://www.instagram.com/shreddy/?hl=en

 

World’s Best Matured Gin: Lubuski Aged Gin

Poland’s Lubuski distillery secured World’s Best Matured Gin this year with its Aged Gin! A combination of oak and chestnut casks gives this one silky caramel alongside green oak notes. One to test twists of classic cocktails with, we reckon.

world gin awards

World’s Best Old Tom Gin (Sweden Country Winner): Hernö Old Tom Gin

Sweden’s Country Winner here, with the wonderful Hernö just continuing to scoop up awards! With the same base botanicals as Hernö Dry Gin, though with a dialled up amount of meadowsweet, honey and sugar are also added post distillation for that hallmark Old Tom sweetness.

world gin awards

World’s Best Flavoured Gin: Marylebone Orange & Geranium Gin

It turns out that geraniums aren’t just for the garden thanks to Marylebone Orange & Geranium Gin, the work of London’s Pleasure Gardens Distilling Co.! As you’d expect, it’s all about the floral and citrus notes in this one.

Get a head start on Father's Day!

World’s Best Compound Gin: Bathtub Gin

Don’t be fooled by the bootlegger name, Bathtub Gin is a far cry from the Prohibition spirits of old. From England’s very own Ableforth’s comes this year’s World’s Best Compound Gin, named for the 1920s Prohibition method of infusing botanicals in a bathtub. The highly aromatic gin sees the infusion of six botanicals through cold compounding resulting in a rich, viscous mouthfeel boasting orange citrus, fragrant spices and a good core of juniper. 

world gin awards

World’s Best Sloe Gin: Hayman’s Spiced Sloe Gin

How to make sloe gin even more warming? Give it a good kick of spice! The wonderful Hayman’s steeped its own Sloe Gin in sloe fruit flowers and a whole host of seasonal spices to create this Spiced Sloe Gin, which will do rather well as a fruity evening sipper. 

world gin awards

World’s Best Contemporary Gin (Japan Country Winner): Ki No Tea Gin

From the city’s first dedicated gin distillery comes the Kyoto Distillery’s Ki No Tea Gin! Japan’s Country Winner, it was the second release from the distillery and the tasty result of a partnership with local tea grower and blender Hori-Shichimeien. Tencha and Gyokuro teas are among the botanicals used, so it’s full of floral tea notes alongside prominent juniper.

world gin awards

World’s Best London Dry Gin (Australia Country Winner): Manly Spirits Co Australian Dry Gin

If you want to sip on a taste of Australia’s east coast, Australia’s Manly Spirits Co. has bottled up just that with its Australian Dry Gin, Australia’s Country Winner this year. It’s jam-packed full of sustainably foraged Australian botanicals such as sea lettuce, finger lime and mountain pepperberry. A refreshing, savoury and peppery affair, this one.

world gin awards

World’s Best Navy Gin (America Country Winner): Conniption Navy Strength Gin

We journey to Durham, North Carolina for America’s Country Winner in the World’s Best Navy Gin category, with the spicy and sweet Conniption Navy Strength Gin! Juniper, cardamom and rosemary are vapour infused in a pot still, while citrus and fig are vacuum distilled at room temperature before being blended together and bottled up at 57% ABV.

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