Fri 12 Jun 2015

Gin and bear it

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As part of Saturday’s World Gin Day, The Cellar Showroom’s fine wine co-ordinator Conrad Braganza celebrates mother’s ruin

Not many drinks can claim to be British classics but gin definitely has my vote. It draws on so many ingredients or botanicals gathered from around the world to create the unique flavours I feel mirror British culture and history.

However, gin’s roots have a Dutch origin; indeed it is believed the word ‘gin’ is derived from the Dutch for juniper jenever, the common ingredient in all gins.

Juniper berries are an essential ingredient in gin

Juniper berries are an essential ingredient in gin

Along the way gin has been credited with making soldiers braver (‘Dutch courage’), helping the medicine go down (quinine was mixed with gin to counter malaria in the far reaches of the British Empire) and for the decline in morality (‘mother’s ruin!’) in the 18th century.

When I heard that Saturday 13th June was World Gin Day I felt obliged to offer my appreciation of this British institution. Where would we be without a Singapore Sling, a Tom Collins or the host of cocktails that use gin as its base? Let alone the quintessential long cool aperitif, a G&T.

Gin Lane by William Hogarth

Gin Lane by William Hogarth

At The Society we have accumulated a selection of gins. Traditionalist could try the citrus-dominated The Society’s Gin (GN91) with its classic juniper fragrance or for those preferring a bit more intensity try The Society’s High Strength Gin (GN101) with a with a higher natural alcoholic strength. Both are crying out for tonic, ice and slice, and for me a great partner to curries.

Taking a neutral spirit and adding a host of flavours to create a pleasurable drink is both and art and a science. Recently there has been a wave of small-batch gins on the market that are not only using the established botanicals, like liquorice root, coriander seeds or lemon peel, but also introducing other flavours such as elderflower and even samphire.

Using Northamptonshire natural spring water and a range of botanicals, including elderflower that imparts its characteristic fragrance, Warner Edwards Harrington Dry Gin (GN141) is a handcrafted smooth gin. Some of the ingredients are a secret, but it displays plenty of spice and ginger.

From Kent and sourcing the botanicals locally in the ‘Garden of England’ comes Anno Dry Gin (GN151), an artisan gin which displays the characteristic juniper and citrus notes but with a smooth spicy finish.

Not forgetting Sloe Gin (LR111), a delightful Yorkshire spirit with a cherry and almond palate, perfect sipped neat, as the alcohol is a modest 20%.

With summer round the corner, a refreshing cocktail or a classic G&T is on the cards. I will just have to gin and bear it, which really isn’t a hardship!

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