BROKER’S 47% ABV (export strength)
I’m all for fun in drinks, but I’ve always thought the bowler hat that sits jauntily atop the Broker’s bottle makes this gin look slightly gimmicky. It was first distilled (at the Langley Distillery near Birmingham, West Midlands) in 1998 to an old recipe for brothers Martin and Andy Dawson and has been a huge success in the USA. Maybe the bowler hat helps. It is as juniper-forward, weighty, and rootily dry as you would expect a traditional gin to be, with a crisp, almost biscuity element. Coriander, celery, violet, and spice follow on, alongside understated citrus. The palate is chewy and quite sweet with very peppery coriander surging through, closely followed by a dense cloud of juniper that opens to roots and a little nut. It’s long and considerably more serious a proposition than the bottle suggests.
G&T: Clean and dry with big gin delivery at 2:1, so you might want to lengthen it further. Perfumed on the back palate, which is so essential in this old-style G&T.
With its minimal packaging, Christian Jensen’s first gin sneaked onto the market in 2004 winning many followers for its uncluttered, juniper-forward style. This was an old-style, traditional dry gin with no pretensions. For the first decade it was produced by Charles Maxwell at Thames Distillers but is now produced at Jensen’s distillery in Bermondsey, south London. This sample is from the latter. This gin celebrates its juniper element. It roars with pine and sage followed by calming notes of liquorice, aniseed and violet. Only then are the coriander and peels uncaged, adding sweet spice and fleshy tangerine. Any dustiness is held in check by the oiliness of the spirit. The taste is almost discreet to start, then drives into the middle before an almond note carries it towards the finish. This is calm, ordered, precise, and complex.
G&T: A proper old-school G&T with the tonic adding effervescence, and a light drying element, while allowing the gin to come through. In time, earthy elements begin to show. Good persistence.
SIPSMITH V.J.O.P. 57.7% ABV (Alastair Wiper)
The idea of V.J.O.P. – Very Junipery Over Proof Gin – came to Jared Brown when he was musing on how predominant you can make juniper without producing something that smells of turpentine. His cunning solution was to add the juniper in three ways: macerated, just prior to distillation, and finally with some in a botanical basket. Doing this allowed him to extract different notes from the same ingredient. It’s like being lost in a Christmas tree plantation while hearing the sounds of approaching chainsaws, resulting in you pushing ever harder against the resinous needles. There is a lovely medicinal edge, some cigar/cedar, sage, and lavender. The palate is dry with orange adding lift, before it softens into almond and coriander seeds. This is not a gin for the faint-hearted or those who like things on the perfumed side.
G&T: Big. Sorry, BIG. Here the juniper unfolds itself from the chair in which it has been lounging and whacks you in the face. There is a smarting citrus element as well.
Extract taken from Gin: The Manual by Dave Broom, available here