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  • 3 Unusual Gins to Consider Trying This Weekend...

    Minus 33

    This is a brand new spirit from the scientists at the Locabev laboratory and it's smashing up the mould so much that you can’t even call it a gin. After 3 years and 539 test tubes of experimentation the guys at Locabev decided that the optimum strength for a really smooth spirit was 33% - a strength that makes it just 46 calories per serve but also means it can’t be called a gin. Hence their title ‘Juniper distilled spirit’. Gin or not this is an excellent tasting spirit with wonderful floral notes as well as the classic juniper flavours associated with gin. Look out for it on the shelves of The Gin Box Shop soon.

    Bathtub Cask Aged Gin

    Cask aged gins have been doing the circuits for a few years but we don’t think they get much better than this offering from Professor Cornelius Ampleforth. The ever popular bathtub gin is aged in oak casks previously used for single malt whisky. The resulting spirit will deal you a hand of christmas spices, caramelised oranges and a finish of classic juniper. Great for a negroni with extra depth.

    Warner Edwards Rhubarb Gin

    This wonderfully fruity little number is made by extracting the juice from the finest rhubarb grown on a crown estate. This pure rhubarb juice is then used to dilute the 70% gin that comes off the still to bring it down to bottling strength. Great for making a variety of cocktails and would be great for a take on a French 75!

    Both Bathtub Cask Aged and Warner Edwards Rhubarb are available on TGB shop and Minus 33 will be on the way very soon!

  • Anno distillers

    We took an excursion to Marden in Kent last week to the home of Anno gin. Anno is our closest distillery and a firm favourite here at The Gin Box. Their Kentish gin is made by ex-scientists Andy and Norman (can you see what they've done) and we were lucky enough to be shown around by the other key person at the distillery, Andy's daughter, Kim. We met the magnificent 'Patience', the copper pot still from which this great gin hails - check out the tall red head above - and her little sister that sparked the idea for Anno gin back in 2011/12.

    Anno incorporates some great local botanicals including hops (they wouldn't say which variety), lavender, elderflower and samphire -  the last of which makes for a great garnish with a slice of lemon in a G&T! Look out for Anno as an upcoming gin of the week here at the Gin Box Shop.....

  • Gin Dinner @ Shrub and Shutter

    We had the pleasure of attending a 'gin dinner' at the Shrub and Shutter in Brixton a couple of weeks ago hosted by the excellent Warner Edwards Gin. W.E were there with a few of their delicious offerings including the standard London Dry, Rhubarb and Sloe gins, all paired with an excellent food menu. The spirits were expertly crafted by the wizards at Shrub & Shutter into some divine cocktails, as always with a little S&S slant! A particular pairing that had me begging for more was the smoked cha with rhubarb and sea herbs served alonside a wonderfully tart rhubarb martini. The winner on the cocktail front for me though was definitely the negroni made with W.E sloe gin - it's a great strength for a sloe gin and the process of steeping the fresh berries in the undiluted alcohol gives a wonderful depth of flavour. After discovering this negroni recipe I don't think it'll be long before Warner Edwards appears on TGBS's shelves...

    We Are Distilled

    We also had the pleasure of being sat next to Annie from WeAreDistilled. Anyone who's not been to her fantastic website should do so without delay as her 'no BS' approach to reviewing great alcohols makes for great reading and they certainly no how to incorporate a juicy turn of phrase. 

  • London Dry Gin

    Here at TGB we often get asked how many different ‘types’ of gin there are.  Well the legal answer in this country is probably three. Yes, just three. London gin, distilled gin and gin.

    There are of course regional gins like Plymouth gin – only gins from Plymouth are allowed the title of Plymouth gin - but then there is only one gin from Plymouth, so it struggles to make it as a genre.

    Mahon, the capital of Menorca, also has an EU denomination that guarantees the speciality of it's gin, in much the same way but again, there is but one – Xoriguer.

    One can of course divide gin into notional categories such a floral or citrus led or spiced, but these are all very subjective and it’s not for me to define or justify those groupings now. For now I want to look at one classification that can be defined, as it is a benchmark that is affirmed by our friends in Brussels.

    London Dry Gin.

    Oddly this label does not necessarily mean you are drinking a gin from London. It doesn’t even mean it has been produced in England, let alone the UK. It does however mean that the gin you are drinking has had to reach a certain standard that adheres to some very particular rules; Rule 1 is that the gin must be produced from top quality alcohol. This is defined as not having more than 5 grams of methanol per hectoliter of 100% vol alcohol. That’s clean. What’s more, the alcohol must be of agricultural origin and all flavourings – the most predominant of which must be juniper – have to be natural and have to impart through distillation alone. Cold compounding does not cut it when it comes to London Dry Gin - that’s not to say you can not produce great gin that way - just look at the wonderful Bathtub gin!

    Rule 2 Is that no additional sweetening may be added nor additional colouring. The final rule is that the only additional ingredient one may add is water and you have to be careful not to add to much as the final product must retain a strength of at least 37.5% to be classified as gin.

    Whilst ensuring a superior level of quality, these rules can be interpreted to allow a broad range of flavour profiles within London Dry, from the award winning NB which focuses on the classic approach, to Opihr which incorporates botanicals from the orient and smells like my spice cupboard.  London Dry is as varied and diverse as the city itself. 

  • The Gin Botanical table

    Our fantastic Gin Botanic Table is now available to buy as an A1 print in the gift section of our website. Click here to buy it now.

  • 5 Quick Gin Tips

    1. Ice, Ice, Ice, Ice baby.

    When making a G&T more ice is better if you don’t want a watered down drink - the more ice you put in the more surface area of ice in contact with your drink and the quicker it cools the drink…… But, make sure your cubes aren’t too small as a poor ratio of volume to surface area will make for a quicker melt!

    2. Just add water.

    Want to taste your gin neat to try and discern some of those botanicals? Stick it in a glass that tapers in at the top (like a snifter) so that you hold in some of the aromas and add a little dash of water. The water will dilute the alcohol, preventing it from over powering the flavours and allowing you to pick out the subtleties of the ingredients.

    3. Twist and Go

    We think a twist of citrus fruit rind can be better garnish if you want a cleaner tasting drink. Use a peeler to take take off a large area of peel - try to not go too deep so you avoid the pith. Twist the peel over your drink to allow the oils to spray over the surface and drop in for a really refreshing beverage. 

    4. You’re out Jim.

    Slim Jims have been used for the humble G&T for donkey’s years but have you ever considered something with a bit more space in it to allow your drink to move around? The Copa de Balon as the Spanish call it is the preferred glass off choice for many barmen these days and there’s a good reason. Similar (if not identical) to a cabernet wine glass it also tapers in at the top to allow the fragrances from the gin to collect at the top. So go on, take those big wine glasses that you don’t use out of the cupboard and stick a gin in them. Don't have them already? You can buy copa de balon glasses here.

    5. Just the Tonic.

    We have, for most of our lives, had but two choices when it came to tonic - Indian or Slimline. Well times have changed. Thanks in part to great companies like Fever Tree there are a plethora of wonderful tasting tonics on the market to pair up with those ever increasing variations of gin. Mediterranean and elderflower versions are made by a few companies as well as Fever Tree but have you tried lemon grass tonic from Peter Spanton or Hop Tonic by Square Root in Hackney? There’s lots out there to choose from if you do a bit of digging so rather than stick to the Schweppes, look at the botanicals in your fave gin and see what you can pair it up with!

  • Gin & Tonic cake

    Here at TGB we’ve been hearing a lot about gin and tonic cake and we’ve tried a couple of examples that were pretty good so we decided to give it a go ourselves. Now there is a minor issue in that we don’t really bake. We can certainly cook a mean roast dinner and BBQ like a trooper but baking has never really featured highly on the skill set. Cue our good friends at Social Pantry in London. They’ve got lots of experience with gin and tonic and more importantly lots and lots of experience with excellent cake. 

    First up we had to decide on a cake medium - this was easy, sponge. Next up was shape and as we can only really think of three - loaf shaped, round shaped or fairy shaped - it wasn’t too difficult to reach a conclusion. Fairy.

    So having purchased a dozen appropriate cake cups we consulted SP on the best possible recipe.

    Ingredients

    • 175g Self Raising Flour
    • 175g Golden Caster Sugar
    • 175g Unsalted Butter
    • 3 Eggs
    • 70ml Good Quality Tonic Water 

    “But where’s the bloody gin?” I hear you say. Well, in the interests of scientific curiosity we thought it a good idea to experiment with a variety of gins in order to offer some sound advice to any tipsy baker that might decide to follow in our footsteps. So the gins we chose were as follows:

    1) NB - A classic London dry (think of this as the control), that’s just won the award for BEST london dry no less

    2) Sibling - A more fruity gin with blueberries and vanilla in the botanicals. 

    3) Jensen’s Old Tom - We wondered if the sweeter flavour of the Old tom might be fairly appropriate for cake making.

    So here’s the method:

    1. 1. Preheat oven to 170 and make sure your butter is soft enough to work with. 
    2. 2. Mix together your sugar and butter to a creamy consistency.
    3. 3. Add the eggs one at a time until they are fully combined. 
    4. 4. Sift the flour in making sure you fold rather than mix.
    5. 5. Add the tonic water and again fold into the mix.
    6. 6. Bake in the oven for about 20 mins or until a knife pierced into the cake comes out clean. 
    7. 7. Remove from the baking tray and leave on a rack to cool. 
    8. 8. While the cakes are still warm, pierce the top and brush a generous amount of gin into each one. 

    Whilst the cakes were cooling we made a butter icing. You will need the following:

    • 200g Butter
    • 450g Icing sugar
    • 1 Lemon (juiced)

    Whisk the above ingredients together in a bowl until you get a light, fluffy mix and pipe onto each cake once cooled. We then garnished with some lemon zest on the cakes with Jensen’s and NB in them and a bit of orange zest on the Sibling cakes.

    The winner: For me the winner was the Jensen’s Old Tom cakes. All of them were lovely and moist (thanks to the tonic I think) and had a great ‘ginny’ flavour but overall the Old Tom gave the most depth of flavour with just the right amount of sweetness. I think you could add more gin to the butter icing if you wished. 

  • Jamie's Party

    The Gin Box was looking resplendent in its regalia at Jamie's Party last week. Guests were loving the menu of Anno Kent Gin with Square Root Hop Tonic, Gin Mare with rosemary and Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic, Xoriguer Menorcan Gin with Peter Spanton's Lemongrass Tonic or a bit of fruity Brockmans with some red berries and a classic indian tonic.

    Best seller - Sibling Gin

    One that really went down a storm - and it was the first time we offered it - was new Sibling Gin with Blueberries and a piece of orange peel. People enjoyed this so much we'd sold out after a couple of hours! Finally we offered NB London Dry Gin with a light tonic for those who loved a classic London Gin flavour. NB just won best London Dry Gin at the World Drink Awards 2015.

  • Martini like a pro

    Want to know how to order and epic martini or perhaps you want to make one in the comfort of your own home, well this guide to the basics of a martini is just the ticket. Whats more if you want a great classic gin with which to make these great martinis then why not try the fantastic Daffy's or for something a bit different give Gin Mare a go.

  • The Rise of Craft Gin

    Craft gins are currently on the rise and it’s not surprising, as craft gin is not only about the quality of the ingredients and production techniques, but about the people that stand behind the finished products. Gin is an incredibly versatile drink that can be consumed pure, as well as turned into a myriad of different cocktails. Small distillers such as Sibling, Two Birds or Sacred work closely with the local producers and many of them personally know the growers, pickers and farmers that supply the ingredients. This gives the end customer an extra dimension, a feeling that the gin manufacture is not about business and sales, but about something more personal.

    According to Waitrose staff, craft and artisan gins have spiked in sales in the last years. The retailer now offers 57 types of gins and the increasing number of craft gin supply is a response to the increasing customer demand. This trend can be seen in all parts of the world, UK, Europe, USA and Australia, as well. Of course, they’re still mainstream gins, but the end consumers are now increasingly interested in buying local. In US alone, craft drinks, including gin, are experiencing around 30% increase in sales just in recent years. Craft production increases across markets on a worldwide scale to accommodate the new preferences of the end consumers and gin appreciators and sales have increased by up to 20% just between 2005 and 2010.

    According to experts, today’s gin drinker is someone interested in the quality and nature of what they’re drinking. This is one of the main reasons behind the sudden “explosion” in popularity of craft gins. Local companies can offer something that big distributors simply lack - a human story behind the product. The ingredients and grains, involved in the production of every single bottle of craft gin can easily be traced back to the farmers and manufacturers… and to the people, who share the same values, as the end consumer - quality gin.

Quick links to all articles..

3 Unusual Gins to Consider Trying This Weekend...
5 Quick Gin Tips
Anno distillers
Gin & Tonic cake
Gin Dinner @ Shrub and Shutter
Jamie's Party
London Dry Gin
Martini like a pro
The Gin Botanical table
The Rise of Craft Gin

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