Geranium Gin

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Old Tom Gin? No this is Old English Gin

 

It’s not every day you get a bottle delivered to your house of a new product that has a note from the brand owner telling you that this is the first bottle outside of his own house. So this past Thursday, when exactly that happened, and I found in my hands a bottle of Hammer & Son Old English Gin, I was pretty excited to say the least. I’ve been waiting for the release of this product for several months, ever since Henrik Hammer (of Geranium Gin) mentioned that he had found a 1783 gin recipe in the safe at a distillery and was going to have a go at recreating it, as closely as possible within the confines of modern production techniques and current regulations.

But what exactly is an Old English Gin? Well essentially it’s the original style of gin produced in England, and is somewhere between the sweet rich flavour of Genever, and the dry style of gin we’re used to today. It differs from London Dry in that it is slightly sweetened, a tradition that goes back to a time when poor quality spirits could have some of their impurities masked by the addition of sugar after distillation. The decision not to refer to this new product as an Old Tom Gin, as some might expect, comes from Henrik’s research into the history of gin in the 1700s, and his desire to produce a spirit that would be true to the origins of English Gin.

those old summertime favourites

If you’re in the UK you’ll have been enjoying the unusually early appearance of the sun in our April skies, which of course means that barbecues have been fired up in record numbers over the past week or so. It seems to me that my drinking habits change the moment the sun starts shining and, without even thinking about it, I turn to white spirits and crisp refreshing summer cocktails to keep me cool.
 
 
By nature, I admit, I am a dark spirit drinker. My love of bourbon and aged rums is well documented, and I’m occasionally partial to a drop of cognac, Scotch or even Irish whiskey too, but suddenly I seem to be ordering gin drinks! Suddenly my lime intake has increased and my tequila and white rums are disappearing at an alarming rate. It seems a few rays of sun are all it has taken to remind me of my summer cocktail favourites.
 

A Little Bit of Favouritism

Looking at my drinks cabinet I have just realised that there are certain bottles that get used a lot more than others. Havana Club 7 year old Rum, Geranium Gin, Siete Leguas Tequila, Sagatiba Velha Cachaca, Wild Turkey 101, these bottles seem to need replenishing rather often. But why is it that I have formed a bond with these brands? It’s not as though I don’t have other great rums or tequilas to choose from, but I seem to often find myself drawn to my old favourites.
 
 
The same is true when I’m sat at a bar, staring at the back bar and pondering what to drink first. I always smile when I see a few of my favourites on the shelf, knowing that I have some choices that are bound to hit the spot. 
 
 
Of course a lot of it has to do with finding products that taste good and I find myself going back to them simply because I enjoy the flavour, but sometimes there is a deeper pull towards one brand over another. I think there are a few reasons for this emotional attachment that go beyond simply liking the taste of the liquid in the bottle.

what happens in Copenhagen stays in Copenhagen

It’s been another interesting week and frankly I am wiped out. You see I had a last minute invitation to go to Copenhagen for a tonic water tasting… yes you read that right… I went to Denmark to drink tonic water. But that’s a different story for another time. All I will say is that after a night trawling the bars in Copenhagen 13 glasses of tonic water were exactly what I wanted to see in the morning!
 
 
In my mind this update was going to cover quite a lot of what we’ve been up to lately, kind of a ‘what we’re drinking, where we’re drinking and who we’re drinking with’ type of thing. But actually there’s more than enough to write about after just 1 night in Copenhagen so I think I’ll just stick with that.
 
 

To be honest I had mixed thoughts about what to expect from Copenhagen, I have a couple of friends who tend bar over there and they tell me it has a great up-and-coming scene, but I hear that a lot and sometimes the skeptic in me wins out. So I caught the plane looking forward to seeing the city, but also perfectly prepared to order beers if the drinks weren’t up to expectations… As it turned out the only beer I drank was at lunchtime with my traditional Danish Christmas lunch.  

Day of the dead? more like month of the living-dead!

My God it's been a couple of busy weeks for us here at Bitters & Twisted HQ. We have been working closely with our web designers and they have done us proud so we are getting closer and closer to the launch of our full site. We have been to check out the Sipsmith distillery in London, then we went drinking tequila in Leeds, followed by Gin in London, not to mention making pineapple bitters as well as homemade syrups and we have been catching up with friends old and new. I am getting tired just thinking about how rushed off my feet I have been.

 

On the subject of Sipsmith I am not going to say too much as I am going to be including them in an upcoming blog about artesianal producers and small batch spirits. I will say this however, if you get a chance to try their gin, I can highly recommend it. Somehow it makes me think that this is how old fashioned gins might have been. Not overly rounded or soft, Sipsmith gin is full of character and flavour and is a lively gin that grabs you by the taste buds and takes you for a ride. Right, that's enough of that, before I get carried away and don't leave myself anything else to write about!

 

I was lucky enough to be asked to judge the 'Cazadores hunt' in Leeds last week, which for those of you who don't know is an ever evolving tequila event that Cazadores are starting to roll out. The idea is simple, get 20 - 30 top bartenders together in a city centre at lunchtime. Refresh them with loads of tequila and then set them a series of tasks to compete at in several bars. End it all with a cocktail comp (after 6 hours of drinking tequila this was the most rowdy comp I have ever seen!) and crown the winning team as winners of the Cazadores hunt... The experience actually got me looking at both tequila and brand run competitions in a whole new light, so much so that I am going to be dedicating a blog update to the subject very soon. Keep your eyes peeled or subscribe to our blog to be notified when it gets updated... 

 

this new gin really is the cat's whiskers...

All cheesy puns aside, we have just had one hell of a week what with a sample bottle of gin arriving on Bitters & Twisted HQ's doorstep on Monday, the small but perfectly formed Boutique Bar Show Tuesday and Wednesday, a Cachaca tasting day held at the Brazilian Embassy on Thursday followed by a night in Brighton with good friends and excellent cocktails. If every week was like this my liver would fail me within the next year but I would die happy! 

 

I almost don't know where to begin with this blog, but since I have recently talked about both Cachaca and The Boutique Bar Show, I think it only right to talk about Brighton and Gin. So let's start with the rather excellent gin that we at B&T HQ have been eagerly anticipating for some time. Geranium gin!

 

Over in New Orleans at Tales of the Cocktail we met a talented young bartender from Copenhagen named Jimmy Olsen, and over several days drinking got to know him pretty well, so we were pleased when he dropped us a line to tell us that he has just become the Brand Ambassador for Geranium, a new London Dry gin that is launching in Europe as we speak. We were even more pleased when he told us that he sent us a bottle to play with, to see what we think of it.