6 O’clock Gin – The Range Continued
If you’ve read our review of 6 O’clock Gin (and if not, it’s a good place to start), you’ll know that the Bramley & Gage distillery began as a farm. Founders Edward Bramley Kain and Penelope Gage were fruit farmers who turned their hands to fruit liqueurs as a way to use up their leftover crop. They quickly realised that booze was a far more profitable (and enjoyable!) endeavour and abandoned the farm in the mid 80s.
In 2007, Michael Kain and his sister Felicity bought the distillery from their parents and quickly decided to make a gin – 6 O’clock. From this base spirit, they transformed their stock, changing the recipes of the distillery’s Damson and Sloe Gins to incorporate this new edition. We’ve told their full story and reviewed their original gin in our earlier article, and now, here is the rest of their range.
The Sloe and Damson Gins are decidedly luxury items, both in clear glass bottles with silver and gold metallic bottle caps respectively. They are both bottled at 26%, and both given a minimum of six months to mature alongside a healthy dose of sugar.
6 O’clock Damson Gin to taste…
This has a great complexity to the nose, with a syrupy, date smell making us think of Middle Eastern sweets. Rich and ruby red, this is a liqueur with real depth, as tea-like notes bring a surprising tart, tannic hit. Describing this as a fruitier, somewhat plummier alternative to Sloe Gin might sound daft as Sloe Gins can be both plummy and rich, but it’s somehow very accurate.
To taste, that tartness comes through first, attacking every taste bud as it somehow dries and floods the senses all at once. Fruit and citrus flourish across the mouth, striking a perfect balance between sweet and sour, before thicker, richer fruits emerge, combining with the sweet orange and coriander seed buried in the gin. Damsons shine throughout, but this is undeniably a Damson Gin, and the two components are well integrated.
Drink it neat on ice, or topped up with Prosecco for a swanky garden soiree.
This is an unusual sloe gin in that less of that nutty, marzipan aroma from the stone has come through. Instead there’s a dry, almost dusty smell beneath alongside rich caramelised red fruit.
Dark cherry-like fruits evolve to taste, but there’s not too much sweetness overall leaving a drier, satisfyingly warm finish. Slightly less full-on sugary sweetness than some Sloe’s (in our eyes this is a positive) but may leave some home-infusers wanting more.
The sloes retain that just-picked tartness, and along with that earthiness from the aroma forms a very outdoorsy taste. It makes us think of game shooting; warming flasks of sloe gin are often taken on hunts, and this feels like it’d be a great one to take along. It feels fresh and alike, musky and – dare we say it – a little bit manly.
6 O’clock Brunel Gin to taste…
In June 2017 (this is the last decade leap, we promise), Bramley & Gage added to the range with a higher strength version of 6 O’clock Gin: the Brunel Edition. The regular botanicals – juniper, coriander, angelica, orris, savory, elderflower and orange peel – have been joined by green cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, cassia, cubeb and lemon. The alcohol content has been bumped up to 50%, so it’s an overall spicier affair than the soft, citrusy 6 O’clock Gin.
6 O’clock Gin Brunel Edition is of course named for Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an engineer considered one of the most ingenious figures in the history of engineering. He built steamships, dockyards, bridges, tunnels and the Great Western Railway in his 53 short years.
Michael Kain explains the name: “Brunel has huge appeal. He was once voted the second greatest Briton of all time, after Winston Churchill… It was an easy choice for us as some of his most famous work is here in Bristol. He also standardised British time for the railways, so 6 O’clock Gin time is enjoyed by gin drinkers at the same time across the UK!”
On the Nose, the Brunel Edition has a much dustier smell than the distillery’s flagship gin, with the cumin, cardamom and nutmeg in particular lending a dried, distinct spice rack smell. An underlying lemon sweetness comes through, and there are fleeting floral glimpses, like a tinge of honeysuckle on a summer’s breeze.
To taste, there’s an earthy angelica/cardamom sweetness that combines with the early citrus as well as a slight hit of anise up front, followed swiftly by dry, deep spices. Juniper makes its presence felt throughout holding the gin very firmly in place, but cumin and cardamom lead the way in terms of discernible spices. Coriander seed does its best to extend the impression of citrus onto the finish, which is as one might expect given the botanical line up, dry, spiced and enduring. It’s worth noting that for the ABV (50%), it is remarkably smooth.
This makes for a fantastically multi-faceted G&T. It’s all at once super sweet, yet citrus tart and fragrantly spiced, with the juniper bringing a hint of fir pine and cooling forest notes. It can be taken into various directions and any citrus would be quite nice here, although, there’s something that’s quite appealing about the idea of adding fresh lemongrass into the mix.
As much as we like 6 O’clock Gin, Brunel is a much stronger, bolder gin. Not just in terms of alcohol content, but taste and functionality. It feels nuanced and clean, with huge diversity in how it can be used and offers up a new spectrum of cocktails and inspiration for those who like the distillery’s offerings and whom wanted more. Perhaps it is because the original is a please all, relatively straight forward gin that they have been able to be more adventurous here, perhaps it’s the team growing in confidence in the years since, either way, the result is to be applauded. Few manage to create a follow up gin that is of level pegging or better than their flagship spirit – the distiller’s equivalent to the difficult second album if you will – but in Brunel, Bramley & Gage have done just that. It’s definitely one worth seeking out, and while you’re at it – get the original too “just for comparison”…
For more information about Bramley & Gage, visit their website: bramleyandgage.com
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