Happy 1st Birthday Red Door!

Today is Red Door Gin’s 1st Birthday! What better way to celebrate than cracking open the beautifully bold red bottle and enjoying a gin and tonic in the sunshine. I’m serving mine with ice, Walter Gregors tonic, creating the perfect Scottish pair and garnishing with a handful of raspberries from the garden.

Red Door Gin, served with ice, a good quality tonic and a handful of raspberries from the garden.

Red Door is a small-batch handcrafted Gin, which gets it name from the distinctive red doors at it’s distillery. The flavours are inspired by the Scottish Mountains, forests and coastal fringes. Handmade in the copper still names ‘Peggy’, Red Door delivers signature notes of juniper, citrus notes from the bitter orange, with aromatic tones of the sea buckthorn, floral pearls of heather and chocolatey rowan berries. Red Door contains a total of 8 botanicals and is bottled at 45%.

I have always been a lover of Scottish gin and Red Door is not exception. Its iconic red bottle and distinctive flavours stand out from the rest. It might be a small batch gin, but it is a bold one!

My First taste… a few months ago in garden. I first discovered Red Door on Instagram. Lots of other bloggers were writing such positive thing about it. It certainly stands out on social media and the botanicals sounded so intriguing to me, especially the chocolatey rowan berries. I just had to get a bottle and I was not disappointed!

First taste

P.s if you like negronis, Red Door makes the perfect base!

Negroni

Happy Birthday Red Door! Keep shining and be bold! #OneYearYoung #RedDoorGin

I am excited to see what the coming years bring. Silánte!

Gin School at Gorilla Spirits, Upton Grey, Basingstoke

Gin School

Gorilla Spirits distillery in Upton Grey make award-winning spirits with an amazing ethical conscience and I was truly honoured to attend their gin school. Founded in 2015 by Andy Daniels, Gorilla Sprits has an impressive portfolio including: Silverback Mountain Strength Gin, Silverback Old Tom Gin, Silverback Raspberry Gin, Blackback Mountain Strength and Maraba Coffee Liqueur. It is remarkable that this small business donates £1 from every bottle to The Gorilla Organisation, saving the endangered gorilla population (just 880 in existence!) This is an amazing example of just how well businesses, governance and charities can work together to make a difference. The link with gorillas reflects everything that gin is, ‘strong and gentle’. Whilst Mountain Gorillas are strong and powerful, they are also gentle and very shy. The Silverback will protect his group rather than his territory at any cost. I was completely blown away by the entire experience lead by Kirsty. Her enthusiasm and passion for Gorilla Spirits was truly inspiring.

Silverback Gorilla

At the gin school, Kirsty was extremely knowledgable in helping us create our very own gin. We were provided with our own distill, which were all individually named and I had ‘Hirwa’, meaning ‘the lucky one’. We were also given a chart indicating which botanicals are herbal, floral, wood, fruit, spice or citrus, along with a guide on how much to add and what to pair the botanicals with. It was also a lovely touch to be given a few gin and tonics (Mountain Strength and Old Tom) whilst making our gin and just reflects how relaxed the experience was.

Botanicals

Obviously juniper must be chosen, the other key botanicals include coriander seeds and angelica root. Inspired by my love for a punchy gin with strong flavours, I also added orange blossom, black lime, lemon peel, star anise, bay leaves and blackcurrant leaf. The herbal and floral flavours from the juniper, bay leaf, orange blossom and blackcurrant leaf balance well with the citrus from the lemon and black lime, and the star anise, coriander seeds and angelica root provide spicy and wood tones. These were precisely measured in line with the guide. With a final smell of the combined botanicals, the distillation begins!

Weighing botanicals

The botanicals are added to the base spirit. Once the distill reaches temperature (60 degrees) it must be turned back down. Shortly after, the magic starts to happen… and the gin begins to appear!

Adding the botanicals

Whilst the distillation is well underway, we were shown around the distillery by Andy. He firstly showed us the botanical room which smelt incredible! We were then shown the distill which name translates to ‘she who is content’ and produces an impressive 1000 bottles a day! Andy’s energy and passion is fantastic! The tour was very personal, genuine and transparent, which is a complete contrast to the more larger commercial distilleries out there.

When we returned, we stood around the bar and sampled the spirits neat (plus something extra which is coming soon to Gorilla Spirits!) and also learnt about each spirit.

Spirit sampling at the bar

We then returned to our distills we completed the process by adding the measured amount of water.

Adding water

Finally we added our labels and we had our very own gin! Kirsty also poured out the dregs so that we could sample the flavours. We then enjoyed it as a gin and tonic. Mine is pictured below and garnished with orange peel and orange blossom. Each of our gins were remarkably different and to our own unique palettes.

It truly is one of the best gin experiences I have ever come across. The atmosphere was very chilled and personal. Kirsty and Andy were so approachable, friendly and inspirational. Their brand is bold, powerful and completely unique. It is a day that will stay with me and I can’t wait to enjoy my very own gin at home. I couldn’t leave without a few purchases, so I bought the Old Tom Gin, Raspberry Gin and a gorilla glass. I am excited to see what the future holds for Gorilla Spirits and I will continue to support and purchase their gin for both the outstanding flavours and charitable work. This is an absolute MUST place to visit!!

Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour, Covent Garden

I was recently staying in London for work and so I took this opportunity to visit Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour in Convent Garden. The Gin Parlour was once the home of Mr Fogg’s Aunt Gertrude and has over 150 different gins! The decor is traditional and elegant and the staff were incredibly enthusiastic and friendly. The atmosphere is laid back and cosy but the experience was truly enchanting…

Mr Fogg’s has six bars which send you back in time to the Victorian era. These include: Mr Fogg’s Residence, Mayfair; Mr Fogg’s Tavern, Covent Garden; Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals, Fitzrovia; Mr Fogg’s Society of Exploration, The Strand; Mrs Fogg’s Maritime Club & Distillery, The City and of course Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour, Covent Garden.

At the parlour, I decided to go for one of their ‘Gins of the Month’ called ‘Japanese Blossom’ which consists of Japanese Gin, Briottet Liqueur de Violette, lemon juice, sugar syrup, lavender tincture and egg white. Topped with an edible flower. Quite a sour cocktail with an immediate tart hit, followed by a well balanced sweet finish. Delicious! I could have stayed all evening. Next time I will be trying Aunt Gertrude’s tasting tray, which consists of four gins, four tonics and a selection of accompanying botanicals.

I will definitely be visiting their other bars in the near future.

The Beefeater Gin Distillery, Kennington, London

While staying in London for work, I decided to make the most of it and managed to book some last minute tickets to the Beefeater Gin Distillery in Kennington. The distillery could be viewed through the glass ceilings and some of the original equipment that James Burrough used and his original beefeater recipe remains in use. The distillery also has a museum and most importantly… a bar. The tour guide was very enthusiastic and it was also nice to be left on our own to explore. The complimentary drinks at the bar were an added bonus!

While staying in London for work, I decided to make the most of it and managed to book some last minute tickets to the Beefeater Gin Distillery in Kennington.

The tour begins with a wonder around their museum, which explains the famous ‘gin craze’ and gin laws. It also takes you through the history of Beefeater. After this, our amazing enthusiastic guide talked us through the botanticals used in the various Beefeater gins. Having tried a few, we then learnt about the distillation process. The distillery could be viewed through the glass ceilings and some of James Burrough’s original equipment and his original beefeater recipe remains in use. The tour ends at the bar, where we enjoyed complimentary drinks.

At the end, I had to pick up a bottle of their London Garden Beefeater Gin, which is exclusive to the distillery. London Garden is inspired by the Chelsea Physic Garden, which was frequently visited by Burrough. London Garden contains lemon, verbena and thyme, whilst still keeping hold of the Beefeater London Dry’s citric precision. Only available at the distillery and therefore a good reason alone to visit!

Fun Fact? Whilst Beefeater gin is distilled in London, it is bottled in Scotland using Scottish water!

What did I think? Well worth a visit! The distillery gets the perfect balance between being left to wonder around the museum, whilst being guided through the gin process. The complimentary drinks are a lovely touch and there was no rush to leave at the end.

London Garden

Holly’s Gin

From Saltash to the Witterings… Holly’s really is the perfect gin to enjoy by the sea. Holly’s has 9 botanicals including passion flower, gentian root and orange, creating a beautiful zesty sweet flavour. Holly’s is a small batch gin distilled in Saltash, Cornwall using 300 litre copper pot stills at Trevethan Distillery.

The iconic green and gold bottle is inspired by Art Deco and truly stands out almost other gins.

What did I think? An initial amazing punchy sweet and zesty flavour, which is well balanced with peppery, earthy and grassy tones. I’m looking forward to trying this out with a new Cornish tonic called ‘Navas’.

Recommended Serve? Ice, a light tonic and garnished with orange peel.

So, where did it all start?

Whilst I have always been fond of gin, it all began recently in Bridport, Dorset. I was away for a long weekend and the weather was, well… British, and on more occasions than not, we found ourselves running into the local pub for cover. I became fascinated by the colourful and unusual gin collections that each pub stocked, always different from the last.

This is when it became more about the history and taste of the gin and less about ‘having a drink’.

On one of the days, we drove over to Lyme Regis and wondered around the town. I came across several independent gin and tonic shops and they completely blew my mind. London dry, coloured, flavoured, navy strength, sipping, small batch, British, foreign, charity and so on.


“Would you like to taste it?” the Sales Assistant said, whilst holding out a small plastic cup. 25 minutes passed, 5 gins bought and head slightly dizzy, I realised I had the taste for it and with a little encouragement from other gin bloggers which I’d been following, I created ‘The Gin Judge’.

Why ‘The Gin Judge’ ?

The concept of the ‘The Gin Judge’ combines my personal love for gin and my work life in the legal industry. The use of the word ‘Judge’ also links in with the importance of balancing the botanicals.

As well as tasting the gin (the best part), I love learning the history and understanding the unique story behind the gin. Ideally, I also aim to explore the area where the gin is made or visiting the distillery where I can, in order to gage the passion behind the creation.

It’s a journey that is only just getting started…