Three gins released in 2020 presented on Sunday Brunch
For the Drinks segment on Sunday Brunch, we decided to present three new releases from 2020, which also happen to make think fantastic gifts for those looking at Gin this Christmas…
Here’s a few words from Olivier to explain:
As with every other industry, the fortunes of those involved in the world of gin has been a real mixed bag this year. The tiny operations have done okay to adapt and a lot of people are buying direct from their local distillers which is helping. It’s been tough for many though, as not having events and tastings have limited their ability to connect with curious drinkers. The big boys have also done quite well to whether the storm too, as sales are up 30% in supermarkets (where the volumes for gin were already impressive).
Despite the tough climate, it hasn’t stopped over 150 gins launching in the UK this year though! I wanted to take a few of the newer gins to showcase what had been emerging in 2020, and specifically feature some mid sized operations and the brands that often get caught between the two ends of the media attention this year yet need just as much help to keep going.
Martin Miller’s Winterful Gin
Up first is a release that really showcases two big trends from 2020. The first is that most new releases are coming from existing producers. Martin Miller’s hadn’t released a new gin under their name and in that distinct bottle for over a decade. In the past 18 months however, they added two gins to their range. This is similar to many distillers whose ranges have expanded over the years and today, it is far more common to have 3 or 4 gins in a line up than just the one.
The second trend that it echoes is how Flavoured Gin is moving away from pink and towards other flavours, and a much greater emphasis on seasonality. For those who haven’t come across it, Winterful is created using the original blend of Martin Miller’s Gin, to which the botanicals associated with England and Iceland’s preferred winter tastes – principally cinnamon and mandarin orange peel – are then added.
The gin has clear flavours of cinnamon added with the edge and tang of mandarin peel, so i made a cranberry and lemon juice syrup to add to the Winterful (add cranberry jam, lemon juice and gin together, then shake with ice.) and then top with tonic. A festive and fun drink, filled with flavours that shine with their Yuletide combination.
Porter’s Orchard Gin
Up next we have Porter’s Orchard Gin, a new release for the Aberdeen based team. To make it, they take their classic gin base and add cold-distilled apples and pears to lend a fruitiness reminiscent of the chardonnay grape. The spirit also contains a soybean distillate, which brings rich, buttery notes, and a red apple extract, which gives it a golden colour.
To me it’s up there in the top releases of the year because of its fresh and contemporary profile. It taps into the Flavoured Gin realm but doesn’t lose sight of juniper and, almost in stark contrast to many flavoured or seasonal expressions that focus on delivering one note with a sledgehammer, this has quite intricate layers. It is really complex and works across many cocktails, from the G&T to something like a Martini.
I served it in a Martini using a Fino Sherry instead of Vermouth. The sherry works well as a dance partner here, as it elevates the buttery notes of the gin, while also letting the apple top note shine through.
Off Piste Gin
Last but not least is a Gin called Off Piste. It’s owned by a wine wholesaler and is contract made at Sibling Distillery in Cheltenham. The distillery is youthful, dynamic family operation that’s really evolving into something of a hidden gem of British Distilling.
For Off Piste, they use classic gin botanicals including juniper, cardamom and lemon zest and combine it with rowan, alpine cornflowers and Saaz hops. It has a savoury freshness that translates into a deliciously bracing taste of the alpine slopes.
For me it is up there in that dozen or so top releases of 2020 as on flavour alone – it’s a great Dry Gin. However, it also combines two things that brands have needed to encapsulate this year to be successful – a sense of escapism and immaculate packaging.
Off Piste looks incredible and it really does taste like what you image a gin that’s made in the UK but inspired by the alps – it’s fresh and crisp. It’s a really accomplished new release and shows how high the benchmark is for those joining the Gin shelves.
I served it in what I’ve called it an Alpine Negroni (which is essentially a twist on a White Negroni). I’ve found ingredients that are really common in the region and put them together. Gentian bitters from northern Italy, a dry Vermouth de Chambery, a dash of Genepi and some Off Piste Gin.
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