Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Gin Masterclass with The Botanist

As I'm sure you've seen, gin has definitely been the alcoholic drink of 2017. Everywhere you go there is a speciality for gin drinkers, so when I got invited to a gin masterclass with The Botanist, my curiosity peaked. Now by no means am I a gin connoisseur, however I am partial to a G&T.
As we arrived we saw everything laid out for us for the masterclass. Chris was our gin guy for the day and he began introducing us to the history of gin.
Gin actually originates from Holland in the 1300s but was referred to as Jenever. It wasn't until the 17th century that it was known as gin. Gin was created, then adding the botanicals after distillation to give it the unique taste. Distilled gin can be from 96% ABV.
They believed gin and juniper berries had medicinal values, so during the time of the plague in the 1600s, plague doctors work duck billed masks filled with crushed juniper berries - believed to protect them from the plague.
He then showed us a second image. This is known as 'Gin Lane' by a guy called William Hogarth. It dates to to 1751 when the gin craze began; during that time it was safer to drink gin than water. It got to the point were people were distilling it at home in the baths, with a lot of poor people using turpentine & sulphuric acid.
He then began to tell us about the phrase Dutch courage. William Orange found that the English soldiers noted the bravery-ducted effect of jenever liquor (gin) on the Dutch soldiers, there giving you the phrase Dutch Courage. 
Now for the taste testing. We had four stages. Firstly the scent of the gin, then trying to gin neat. Thirdly we tried with tonic water, and finally with added flavours/ingredients. We had five different gins to try.
The first gin being Tanqueray - a lot of people know this is a London dry gin. That it exactly what it is, a dry gin. It take the moisture out of your mouth ad you can taste the botanicals more when this is neat. We then added squeezed grapefruit & pink peppercorns to it. I loved the added grapefruit as it gave a touch of sweetness but I wasn't a fan of the pink peppercorn. **Chris also said to try a double shot of gin with boiled tonic water**
 Next up  Brockmans. This is meant to be good started gin. it has 18 botanicals in it, including Bulgarian coriander & almonds. You get quite a strong hit of liquorice; which I hate. I tried to ignore the taste, but that's all I was getting with this gin. We added blackberries to this.
Now everyone with know Hendrick's. This is probably one the more well known gins out there. The creator Leslie Gracie actually created two gins, and put them together to create Hendrick's. I've had Hendrick's many times, so I know this is a gin I like. It's to too overpowering, it's a lot more citrusy. We added cucumber and lemon - this is a perfect summer gin to sip on.
 Until today, I had never heard of Gin Mare before so this was something totally new for me. This is a Spanish gin distilled in a monastery & is more of a savoury gin. Distilled with olives, rosemary, thyme & basil - it definitely transports you to the Mediterranean. This ended up being my favourite gin, especially after we added squeezed grapefruit & basil. I need a bottle of this for the house.
Last but not least we had Thomas Dakin. This was originally created in 1751 in Warrington, however in 2005 a fire destroyed everything in the distillery. They relaunched in 2015 & still is a very popular gin. It contains 11 botanicals including liquorice roots, orange zest & English coriander seeds. This had a strong aniseed smell; quite similar to Brockman's. We added black peppercorns, so again I wasn't too keen.
I think it's safe to say I was all ginned out after that. It was an amazing experience, especially the was every component was broken down and you actually learnt about what you're drinking. Chris was a great bartender, as he answered all of our (sometimes gin infused silly) questions.. I highly recommend trying it for yourself, It is £25pp for a 90 minute masterclass. Get a group together and try it!

What's you're favourite kind of gin?