Drinking Diaries: Spring Gin Tasting

You know the drill by now. Here we cover the third instalment of our gin tasting series with Magnum Wine Shop by welcoming some floral players to the table, matching the change in season perfectly.

As per usual, all six gins featured in this evening’s tasting can be found at the shop in Old Town, Swindon, where you can stock up on your favourite tipples to your heart’s content. If you’re ever needing some advice or looking to try something new, owner Brian will be more than happy to guide you through. The Gins of Spring series will also be running fairly frequently over the next few months, so there’s plenty of opportunity to sample some truly excellent flavours.

We’ll begin in classic style by tasting some ever-reliable London Dry Gins, before meandering our way through to some more experimental flavours. Fasten yourself in, there’s some absolute blinders on the menu this evening.

Sly Gin

One of the more individual examples of a classic London Dry, this particular gin delivers a refined, polished flavour, with a surprisingly complex herby finish. Sly Gin is created in relatively small batches in Herefordshire, using locally grown herbs. Typical base notes of juniper and orris root are combined with lavender and lemon thyme, which gives an intriguing edge. The flavour certainly stands out compared to other London Dry Gins available on the market, and it’s probably not for everyone by any means. But I found the distinctive taste of lavender refreshingly subtle, working harmoniously with the notes of citrus. Sly Gin also stands up to tonic really well, without the flavour being lost; serve with plenty of ice and a cheeky lemon segment for easy drinking.

Nelson’s Gin 

Created by super-star chef Neil Harrison, Nelson’s strives to create a memorable, well-balanced gin, made on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border. Named after Lord Nelson, this navy-strength gin infuses a blend of worldwide ingredients such a kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and vanilla, but has a particularly heavy finish. While the overall aroma is pretty enticing, the taste itself proves almost too complex for its own good; the lemongrass and vanilla come together in a rather strange way, leaving a somewhat disagreeable taste on the palette. On paper, this was the gin I was probably most excited to sample, but it ended up being a bit of disappointment.

Rock Rose Spring Edition

Another addition to the Rock Rose family, this seasonal spirit offers an array of delicate springtime flavours. Based in the North of Scotland, Rock Rose look to source their ingredients locally, delivering an authentic, fresh taste. Gorse flowers add a creamy, almost coconut-like aroma, which compliment the earthy tones of dandelion. Flavours are balanced perfectly with the cardamom and water mint, providing a cool, refreshing finish. A great after-dinner gin that goes down all too easily.

McQueen Super Premium Dry

After winning Silver at the International Spirits Challenge 2017, McQueen’s distillery has gone from strength to strength. Based in Callender, the small, family-run business have recently expanded their range, with plenty of flavours to choose from. This is the more classical of McQueen’s offerings, which delivers a sweet yet spicy profile. The Bulgarian juniper is strong on the nose, leading to a creamy, vanilla sweetness that finishes with a hint of pepper. It’s one of those reliable, easy-drinking gins that doesn’t attempt to deviate too far from the norm, and doesn’t grow heavy on the palette after a few sips. To open up the flavours, add a splash of Fever Tree, which neatly releases the notes of lime and grapefruit. With so many bold flavours on the menu tonight, it’s easy to overlook McQueen, but it’s an absolute gem.

Broken Heart

True to its name, Broken Heart gin was fashioned in particularly tragic circumstances. After a friendship blossomed between two master Distillers, Joerg and Bernd, who worked tirelessly to create an intricate gin consisting of eleven botanicals, Bernd sadly passed away. Joerg then decided to share this gin with the public, as a dedication to the friend he lost. Broken Heart offers a wonderfully clean taste; the use of glacial water gives a crisp background note that allows the bold botanicals to shine through perfectly. Juniper, ginger and lavender are balanced effectively to deliver a punchy flavour, with the use of angelica root delivering an earthy finish. Light, clean and perfectly crafted, it’s a great gin to keep in the cabinet for a special occasion.

Boe Violet

A gin that tastes nothing like gin whatsoever. Boe are yet another Scottish distillery that use hand-picked botanicals, infused with the finest neutral grain spirit to create a smooth finish. Why they would then destroy all that hard work by creating such a bizarre concoction is beyond me. Adopting a garish purple colour, it looks more like a Robinson’s fruit cordial that anything else, and contains FAR more sugar than Boe are letting on. Nevertheless, there were a fair few people in the room who went absolutely bananas for this gin, so perhaps I’m just turning into a bit of a gin snob these days. If you like the occasional gimmick, you’ll enjoy it. But if you’re a hardcore gin fan, I’d suggest giving Boe Violet a bit of a wide birth.

 

Tonight’s selection has certainly been eclectic, with a few controversial flavours that don’t quite hit the spot. That being said, this is probably the most intriguing collection of gins I’ve ever sampled, and has certainly given me an insight into the more experimental notes available on the market. My personal favourite would have to be Broken Heart, as it brings some great flavours to the table whilst maintaining its subtlety.

As ever, I’d really love to hear about your own experiences with these particular spirits, as well as any exciting recommendations from my fellow gin enthusiasts!

 

Gin Tastings at Magnum Wine Shop take place on Friday evenings, with tickets priced at £20. Visit http://magnumwineshop.co.uk/ for more information.

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