I thoroughly enjoy the chemistry between a gin and a tonic and I bet you do too. Here’s some gins that get a tick from me.
Memories of baking and pies
Mrs Cuthbert’s Parma Violet Cupcake (RRP £13.99, for 50cl, Amazon) is one of a new range of baking-themed gin liqueurs.
They were inspired by the founder’s late Auntie Dorothy – a.k.a. Mrs Cuthbert. She was a baker in the 40s and 50s and also a big fan of gin.
Included in the range are Mrs Cuthbert’s Rhubarb & Custard Crumble, Mrs Cuthbert’s Lemon Drizzle and Mrs Cuthbert’s Cherry Bakewell. Yummie!
The liqueur I tried is a lovely rich violet colour. It is distilled with six botanicals including citrus and star anise. The nose is cake-like, sweet and perfumed, with hums of vanilla and violet.
Pour it with tonic, or create a violet treat by topping it up with prosecco. I preferred it neat, with a cube of ice.
I was chatting with a pal the other day and we said that gooseberries were a distant memory. When I was growing up gooseberry pie was “a thing”. Maybe it still is but that passes me by.
A day after that chat I read about the new Slingsby Gooseberry Gin (£39.99, spiritofharrogate.co.uk and World Duty Free shops).
The Slingsby creators were inspired by New Zealand’s sauvignon blanc after visiting the country. They wanted to “develop a gin that encapsulated the tangy sharpness of the gooseberry”.
Did they succeed? There’s a lightness of gooseberry, nettles, citrus and woodland in the rain. I dipped in my nose again and sensed a subtlety of orange peel. The flavours are crisp with green fruit and citrus, and are tangy and fresh.
Pretty in pink
If you’re looking for the prettiest of bottles then the City of London Distillery Rhubarb & Rose Gin (£34.99, Sainsbury) ticks the box. The embossed glass is shouting out to have one of those fairy light attachments. Then, in a future life, the bottle will sparkle and shine when the gin is but a memory.
This gin reflects our love affair with the classic British rhubarb and roses. This pairing brings a cloud of subtle aromas notes at the top of the glass, as juniper takes the lead role. Floral notes of an English garden rose peep in. The fruit of rhubarb isn’t far behind. It is pretty. It is pretty moreish.
Another pink delight is Whitley Neill Pink Grapefruit Gin (RRP £20, exclusively at Asda). I’m told this gin is inspired by the citrus groves of Spain. It is infused with Iberian Pink Grapefruit. Other botanicals include orange, lemon peel, lime flowers, cloves and chamomile.
Whitley Neill gin creations are loved by many. I can see this one being much the same. It has an enticing sweet citrus nose which follows through on to the palate. I served it with a plain tonic and it was a fresh, relaxing glass at the end of a long day.
Botanicals are the thing
Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin (£34.95, thewhiskyexchange.com) has a thumbs-up in my household. It is created in Rampur Distillery in the foothills of the Himalayas.
The producers chose seven 11 botanicals to represent several regions of India. These include coriander, vetiver, orange peel and even Darjeeling green tea leaves.
The aroma of Jaisalmer (pronounced jess-al-meer) is complex, but juniper shines through, This gives the gin a traditional backbone. It softens and oozes delight served with tonic and ice.
I was interested to read that Wiltshire’s Single Estate Ramsbury Gin (£31.95, 31dover.com) is created within a mini ecosystem.
A biomass boiler generates the heat to distill the spirit. This boiler is fed by trees from Ramsbury’s forest. A wildlife habitat is created by waste water filtering through a reed bed. Then Ramsbury’s livestock are fed bi-products.
Sip this gin and you’ll know you’re doing the earth a favour.
The gin is distilled with nine botanicals, including fresh quince. It is an elegant, smooth gin. Those quince notes are balanced within a fresh, citrus nose. The flavour is moreish with spice and the ever-present juniper.
Tradition and fruit bombs
Over in Asda, Extra Special Triple Distilled Premium Gin (£16) is at the heart of the retailer’s gin liqueurs. The gin came third in a Which? blind-tasting of gins under £20. You don’t really need me to add anything. But you know I will.
It is fresh, crisp and as precise as a crystal cut glass and makes a tasty traditional gin and tonic.
The Infusionist Passion Fruit Gin Liqueur (£9.99, 50cl, Aldi) is a lush affair. The aromas are an indulgent fruit bomb of tropical fruit. It’s such a wow on the nose, you can easily forget to sip it.
The richness of the fruit is offset by a slash of acidity and the strength of the alcohol. It doesn’t need tonic, just pour it over a couple of chunks of ice. If you’re feeling fizztastic, top it up with some prosecco.
Aldi will be releasing a whole new range of these gin liqueurs from April 26 2019, including Parma Violet Shimmer Gin, Coconut & Vanilla Rum Liqueur, Mango, Papaya & Yuzu Vodka Liqueur and Rhubarb, Pink Grapefruit & Black Pepper Gin Liqueur.