It may have been invented by a 17th century Dutchman, but today there is no more an oh-so-Anglo spirit than gin. With its unmistakable notes and bouquet of juniper, gin, as one of the “five clears,” makes way into just about every mixed drink in a bartender’s repertoire. Its true secrets, however, are best savored solo. As the Olympics usher in all things British, here are three varieties to get your Brit on.
A Matter of Destiny
There was no question Martin Miller, founder of Martin Miller’s Gin, would become one of the most well-regarded producers in the world because, as he recalls with unabashed candor, “My parents always said I was conceived on gin, so I guess the story started way back then.”
That story picked up speed in 1998, a notorious lowpoint for gin in quality and popularity. “I was served what passed for a ‘gin-and-tonic’ in those days,” Miller says, “75 proof gin, one ice cube, a slice of preserved lemon, and dreadful gun tonic. I realized how far standards for gin fell. It was time for a Gin Renaissance!”
But a renaissance of the quintessential British tipple wasn’t a job for the uninventive. Martin Miller’s Gin is a mind-blowing garden of delights to the palate: Juniperus communis, coriander, angelica and Florentine iris mingle with cucumber, cassia, cinnamon bark, and licorice, with Seville orange peel and lime as the finishing touch. Miller then blends the raw spirit with Icelandic spring water, which imbues the gin with a gentle and ordered delivery of flavors and aromas.
The hard work shows. Miller’s pride and joy is currently blowing a hole through world spirits competitions, earning the most top awards of any other premium gin. In 2009, he scooped up two gold medals, including the “Best Gin” Trophy, at the International Spirits Challenge ISC Awards in London; at this year’s Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Convention, Martin Miller’s Gin took home Double Gold in the Spirits Tasting Competition, Best Gin in Show, and Best White Spirit in Show.
Definitely worth a shot(glass).
Bound by Tradition
When you have “Number 1” in your name, you’d best have the gravitas to back it up, and The London Nº1 gin delivers.
“Our origin resides on the dynamism of London in the 18th and 19th centuries, where herbs and spices from the vast British Empire arrived,” explains Cristina García, Marketing Manager of Spirits & Media at González Byass, the exclusive distributor for a gin that is a throwback to the days of imperial grandeur.
Heir to tradition, The London Nº1 is a fusion of England and empire, blending of Suffolk and Norfolk grain and 12 different botanicals from around the world: Angelica root and savory from the French Alps; peels of orange and lemon, plus lily root and bergamot from Italy; juniper from Croatia; cassia from China; cinnamon from Sri Lanka; licorice from Turkey; almonds from Greece; coriander from Morocco. The result has a characteristic crystal-clear turquoise color filled with spicy notes, a fine and elegant aroma, and a soft, seasoned flavor that is sensual to the palate.
And there is something to be said for tradition, particularly when it medals; The London Nº1 consistently places in the most cutthroat of spirits competitions, bringing home the silvers in the 2007 International Wine and Spirit Competition and the International Spirits Challenge in both 2009 and 2012.
A Dog’s Life
A newer, hipper entrant to the world of gins, Bulldog Gin burst onto the scene in 2007 and promptly landed Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s “Top Fifty Spirit” Award and Restaurant Magazine’s Spirit of the Year for 2008. The Wall Street Journal raved; The Financial Times gushed; Esquire and GQ swooned. This puppy hit the ground running.
“Created for a new generation of drinkers, this gin is ideal for both mixing with cocktails and sipping straight,” beams Daniel Udell, Bulldog’s Global Marketing Manager. “It mixes with everything and surrenders to nothing, all while offering a sophisticated drinking experience. Bulldog can best be described as ‘defiantly delicious.’”
All that delicious defiance is the brainwave of banker-turned-distiller Anshuman Vohra, who combined in Bulldog the sum of the highest-quality grain from Britain’s East Anglia region, pure Welsh water, and a list of botanicals that reads like a sorcerer’s grocery list: Tuscan juniper, Chinese dragon eye, French lavender, Asian lotus leaves, iris root, Turkish white poppy seeds, cassia, coriander, licorice, lemon, almond, and angelica. To top it off, Bulldog uses the time-honored copper-pot distillation process (four times!) to keep the spirit clean and crisp, its flavor in the forefront.
“Bulldog Gin is not your grandfather’s gin,” muses Udell, who adds that, in keeping the social tastes of the times, Bulldog is entirely vegan-friendly. Consider Bulldog a gin with a conscience.