A collaboration between Master of Malt and an East London bar, The Worship Street Whistling Shop – Cream Gin was launched in late 2012. Though the brain-child of The Whistling Shop’s head bartender at the time (now super geek mixologist genius co-founder of The White Lyan), Ryan Chetiyawardana, references to “cream gin” can be found in old illustrations of Gin Palaces from the 18th century. We quote from Master of Malt’s blog post announcing the launch, where Ryan talks about how Cream Gin came around – “When looking through drawings of Gin Palace scenes from the 18th Century, there were often depictions of two (usually barrelled) products in the bars. One was Old Tom Gin, and the other was Cream Gin. Upon quizzing several people as to what this may mean, as it is with Old Tom, different answers were given. I eventually got an answer with which I was satisfied, which alluded to the fact that it was probably gin mixed with cream and sugar and left in barrel to soften the harshness of the gin.”
What started off as being a gin uniquely made for a cocktail at The Worship Street Whistling Shop – thankfully for all us gin fans, the Fluid Movement team decided that it was for the greater good if they released a Cream Gin to all, rather than just have it it in their bar. And so a partnership with Maverick Drinks monger Ben Ellefsen was formed and Cream Gin production moved out of the Worship Street lab to Tunbridge Wells.
Cream Gin’s looks are deceiving; after a long stare you will notice that yes, this gin is indeed completely colourless raising the question of how the heck 100cl of the 700cl bottle is (or at some point was) just cream? Well, it’s all rather clever really; the cream is cold distilled and used within the gin-production process like a botanical, meaning that cream is added before distillation starts rather than at the end allowing a longer and maximised infusion. By not cooking it, not only do you not get that burnt cream smell and taste, but also the full flavour of the cream is left intact and as it is when it is completely fresh. The cream is preserved within the gin due to the production processes, allowing it to have as long a shelf-life as all other regular gins and stops it from needing to be refrigerated in order to be kept fresh. Cunning chaps. For a bit more detail and to quote Ryan exactly…
“Instead of infusing the gin with cream post-distillation, we’ve used the cream as a botanical – pre-distillation. Fresh cream is macerated into a nice citrussy gin base we selected specially for the product, and then cold-distilled under vacuum. This means the cream isn’t cooked at all giving none of the burnt/off cream notes, but that all of the lactic thickness and mouthfeel is retained. No doubt some of the oils distil across to give some of the mouthfeel, but also the psychosomatic effect of smelling the vanillin-rich cream and experiencing thickness in the mouth.”.
The other ingredients in Cream Gin include that of a more traditional profile; juniper, lemon, orange, cassia root, liquorice, coriander, cinnamon and orris root in a wheat based spirit. What’s quite interesting when looking at just how many botanicals there are in this gin, is that this clearly is not just about the cream-gin blend, rather it’s a gin made with cream as a botanical amongst others – not a cream gin. It’s a finer point but quite an important one. Cream Gin should be enjoyed for the whole of it, the sum of all its parts. The cream is there to add a mouthfeel, not to be a gimmick.
On the nose, there is a citrus aroma which has hints of sweetness, vanilla and cream. In the mouth this melts into a creamy yet quite spicy taste, with flashes of citrus. Juniper also has a lead which is sweetened throughout.
Whilst this gin is tasty and does have some texture, to us, a more oily and creamy gin, with a more viscous mouthfeel would have been preferred. Obviously it would appeal to less people, which is clearly why Master of Malt and The Whistling Shop have not done it. It would make no commercial sense to be more extreme. However we feel that the gin is poorer for the result. They have chosen what they perceive as the best cut between what they want the gin to be like and what they think other people will want the gin to taste like, but having a creamy resinous finish left behind certainly appeals to us! It would be more unique and stand alone, more befitting the name. That said, it would be considerably less useful in anything other than a Martini and so it would become single purpose gin and therefore quite limiting. Subtlety and being less bombastic is usually something that we applaud, but in this case it’s also a double edged sword that has as many advantages as it does disadvantages.
Cream Gin adds something exciting and new to the gin-market which had not been available before. It is not about using a funky botanical to create an outrageous blend, but rather has historic and scientific roots; having been created in a bar in order to re-imagine a drink and in turn re-create a style of gin. The Cream Gin that is available to buy is not a one-dimensional one-trick pony and is actually rather flexible so can be enjoyed in a multitude of cocktails.
Cream Gin is the only one of it’s kind available on the UK market, meaning that it is able to draw all the attention to itself without ever needing to knock out any competition. The price tag is as heavy as the name might suggest the liquid is, perhaps overly so given the same team can produce gins using similar processes for less (7 Dials Gin, Origin). However, the collaboration and concept are worthy of an extra few bob as it remains a gin that has tried to push the boundary of what is possible to create, or recreate – using modern distilling techniques and some good old fashioned research.
For more information about Cream Gin, visit their website: www.masterofmalt.com
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