A bold new distillery, a bold new venture from the Yorkshire Dales- with not a flap cap in sight !

 

Now I know what your thinking, thegrapewizard has now written a few articles on topics other than just grapes recently. So please let me reassure you: the grape is still my main passion and over the next few months I’ve a couple of fantastic interviews with your favourite big names, interesting small producers and distillers.   But before all that another topic I am passionate about is gin.  

We have all witnessed the recent meteoric rise of gin.  In 2009 Sipsmith (amongst others) began lobbying the government to challenge a law that required massive-sized stills for making ginand forbade small batch distilling. In March of 2009, after 18 months of negotiations, London’s first copper pot distillery in over 200 years was finally permitted to open. If it had not been for this bold step, many start-ups would not have ever had the chance to follow.  The Yorkshire Dales Distillery is one such company. 

The high, breathtaking views, swooping twists, hills and bends, and picture-postcard villages of the Dales evoke an era of a sleepy rural idyll, straight out of All Creatures Great and Small.  It is somehow quite surprising therefore to discover that an ultra modern business has sprung up in traditional England.  Tony and Sarah Brotherton’s business is situated just outside the historic market town of Richmond.  It is a family affair and their desire to both work and play in the industry has seen their small craft Distillery flourish.   Indeed Tony’s Grandparents were the original G&T fans that first inspired their passion for handcrafted homegrown quality.  Tony’s career in the British Army has also inspired the business to give back into the community by providing opportunities to train veterans, ex offenders, young people and the long term unemployed. 

In their pursuit of technical excellence in distillation, they produce London dry gins and vodka in very small batches using traditional techniques resulting in exceptionally smooth and unique flavours. Many of their botanicals are sourced locally: the Dales honey is sourced just a mile away from the distillery and then there is the unique and ancient water source from Swaledale.  Every bottle is hand bottled, labelled and signed and they also offer a bespoke distilling service for a number of private clients and businesses. 

Award winning

Recently the Yorkshire Dales Distillery won the Local Product of the Year 2018 category in the Flavours of Herriot Country Awards.  The judges described their products as “epic!!!”

Purple Ram London Dry Gin

Smooth and quadruple distilled and 100% vapour infused through select Yorkshire botanicals including artisan local honey.  Great served with Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water

On the nose; sweet spicy orange and cardamom with a delicate juniper finish. 

On the palette; clean cinnamon, orange and grapefruit. Delicate use of honeysuckle

Finish: A balanced Juniper finish with sweet nuts

Desert Ram Army Strength London Dry Gin

Made smooth and strong through quadruple distillation and 100% vapour infused with North African and Middle Eastern inspired botanicals.  Sit back into that comfy chair and imagine great times gone by. 

On the nose; Juniper and warm citrus, sweet peppermint and elegant pine characters

On the palette; Orange peel and cardamom. Wood and aromatic floral notes with candied rhubarb

Finish: Juniper and strawberry, with a hint of clove

Smokey Ram Yorkshire Vodka

Exceptionally smooth quadruple distilled vodka, 100% vapour infused through Yorkshire hay smoked peppercorns. Light and smokey with a gentle peppery feel.

On the nose; Rye flavours with a strong grassy note, pepper and light spice mixed with a touch of icing sugar

On the palette; Delicate evidence of white pepper and aniseed

Finish: Calm and delicate, evidence of a grain flavour

Wild Ram Yorkshire Berry London Dry Gin 

Use of Yorkshire berries and heather flowers give this quadruple distilled and 100% vapour infused a smooth, strong and warm character. Great served with Fever Tree Aromatic tonic.

On the nose; Red fruit and juniper with fragrant citrus 

On the palette; redcurrant, blackcurrant and plum juniper and a touch of pine. 

Finish: a sharp redcurrant morphs into strawberry cheesecake. Yum Yum!

Intrepid Ram Yorkshire Golden Rum 

The Caribbean meets the Yorkshire Dales!  Oak-aged in the Distillery and delicately infused with Yorkshire honey and heather. The demerara and chocolate finish is perfect for a Dark and Stormy cocktail.

On the nose: Bold oak and vanilla

On the palette: demerara and spice with a velvet chocolate finish

And now for the GW geeky stuff

Gin is an old spirit, dating back 600 years the trend today is for flavoursome botanical gins rather than the early juniper-led gins. 

Did you know that there are 3 types methods used to make gin 

Distilled gins

One shot distillation is the most traditional method and is preferred by craft distillers

Here a one shot producer distils either fermented sugar or a neutral spirit together with the juniper and the botanicals. Just the right amount of botanicals is steeped in the liquid like tea. Their essence is extracted by suspending the botanicals in a basket and exposed to the steam. Then just before the bottling the distiller adds water to cut the spirit to the proper proof 

This method requires more stills to produce even a fraction of what other Distilleries make but produces a better mouth feel and by exposing the liquid to the copper keeps unwanted sulphur compounds and acids out of the process 

Concentrate 

Distillers can stretch their gin.   Here the process produces bigger quantities by distilling a huge quantity of botanicals with just a small amount of liquid. The end result is a highly concentrated distillate to which the producer adds neutral spirits and water. 

Cold Compound 

This method is the simplest method where any sort of real or artificial botanical is added to a neutral spirit provided juniper is already present. 

So it seems the Yorkshire Dales, renowned for more traditional aspects of life; the Flat cap, the Yorkshire puddings and a qwerky sense of dialect is also a place where new things are being born.  In my opinion The Yorkshire Dales Distillery is one to watch.  It is embryonic but it is also a breakthrough cottage industry company.  Since 2009 and the change in law the small producer has flourished: there are now over 500 gin producers- so standing out is the key. The Yorkshire Dales Distillery has a unique provenance and uses alternative ingredients. 

If you have want to know more or have any questions regarding this or any other of question please feel free to contact me at Jason@thegrapewizard.com or my website thegrapewizard.com or anywhere on social media where you see thegrapewizard.

Interview to come…. Watch this space!

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http://www.yorkshiredalesdistillery.com

World Gin week- delayed because I’m on holiday drinking Amalfi Gin & Tonic in Italia !

I could make this as dry as gin itself but I’ll try and compact 300 years into a blog post and make it easy to read !!!

A few points of history  (The geeky bit )

  • A Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius

Unknown-1

(Here he is ! 😜)

…is often falsely credited with the invention of gin around 1650.  Here is why:

  • The first ever literary reference to jenever  ( original term for gin)  was in a play “The Duke of Milan” (1623), when Sylvius would have been nine!
  • English soldiers in 1585 were already drinking jenever for its calming effects before battle, from which “Dutch Courage” is believed to have originated.
  • The earliest known reference to jenever appears in the 13th century encyclopaedic work Der Naturen Bloeme (Bruges),
  • And the earliest printed recipe for jenever dating from 16th century work Een Constelijck Distileerboec (Antwerp).

Gin emerged in England in varying forms as of the early 17th century, When William of Orange,

Unknown-2

(these guys don’t do anything for the Alpha Males!!)

Ruler of the Dutch Republic, occupied the British throne with his wife Mary – gin became vastly more popular, particularly in it’s crude, inferior forms, where it was more likely to be flavoured with turpentine as an alternative to juniper.

The formation by King Charles I of the Worshipful Company of Distillers (WCD), where members had the sole right to distil spirits in London and Westminster and up to twenty-one miles beyond improved both the quality of gin and its image; it also helped English agriculture by using surplus corn and barley. Anyone could now distil by simply posting a notice in public and just waiting ten days (if only it were so simple nowadays!).  Sometimes gin was distributed to workers as part of their wages and soon the volume sold daily exceeded that of beer and ale, which was more expensive anyway.

In 1729, an excise licence of £20 was introduced and two shillings per gallon duty was levied. In addition to which, retailers now required a licence. This almost suppressed good gin but it was the quantity consumed of bad spirits which continued to rise.😪

In 1730 London had over 7,000 shops that sold only spirits.

William Hogarth in his ‘Gin Lane’, an engraving depicting gin drinking at the time portrays a scene of idleness, vice and misery, leading to madness and death. Typical of the time and showcases how bad it must of been!

See below

Gin-lane ART 2

The Gin Riots

The problem was tackled by introducing The Gin Act in 1736, which made gin prohibitively expensive. A licence to retail gin cost £50 and duty was raised fivefold to £1 per gallon with the smallest quantity you could buy retail being two gallons. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and Dr. Samuel Johnson were among those who opposed the Act since they considered it could not be enforced against the will of the common people. They were right. Riots broke out. About this time, 11 million gallons of gin were distilled in London, which was over 20 times the 1690 figure and has been estimated to be the equivalent of 14 gallons for each adult male. But within six years of the Gin Act being introduced, only two distillers took out licences, yet, over the same period of time, production rose by almost fifty per cent.

The Gin Act, finally recognised as unenforceable, was repealed in 1742 and a new policy, which distillers helped to draft was introduced: reasonably high prices, reasonable excise duties and licensed retailers under the supervision of magistrates.  Still applicable today.

These changes led to more respectable firms embarking on the business of distilling and retailing gin and it became the drink of high quality, which it has since remained.

Gin had been known as ‘Mother’s Milk’ from the 1820s but later in the century it became known as ‘Mother’s Ruin’, a description perhaps originating from the earlier ‘Blue Ruin’ of the prohibition era in the previous century.

As reforms took effect, so the gin production process became more refined. Gin evolved to become a delicate balance of  elegance and began its ascent into high society.

Ok you get the picture…

Jump forward to 2009 and HMRC receives applications for not one, but two microdistilleries in London: Sipsmith in Hammersmith, and Sacred in Highgate. There was a problem, however. HMRC didn’t know how to deal with them.  Licences had not been issued in such a long time that the process was somewhat outdated

 

After much to-ing and fro-ing, the licences were dispatched, and the two craft distilleries were in business.

 

Sipsmith Website                                 Sacred Gin Website

Ian Hart of Sacred – who cold distills his gins, vodka and vermouths using his laboratory set up in his living room – remembers how difficult it was in the early days. ‘Back in 2009 when we and Sipsmith started, people had only really heard about Gordon’s, Beefeater, Tanqueray… the idea that there was a two-man band operating out of their house was very unusual, and it was a real uphill struggle to start with. But it’s a lot easier now, because there’s a lot more enthusiasm for new artisan gins.’

The UK has come a long way since 2009 – HMRC are now prepared and willing to work with new craft distillers to help get them set up with the required licences, and this step change has had a positive effect.

‘There was a wave of craft distillers starting up in America, and that really inspired what happened in the UK – the first wave was Chase [in Herefordshire], Sipsmith and Sacred,’ says Jamie Baxter, master distiller at COLD, who used to be the distiller at Chase. ‘We’re part of the second wave that’s coming through at the moment, and the third wave is just about to start.’

 

 

VESPER MARTINI

 

Now onto drinking the stuff.  One of the best ways to appreciate its unique characteristics is in a classic Martini.  My favourite is The Vesper which according to Ian Fleming Is 007’s cocktail of choice, shaken not stirred naturally:

“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
-Casino Royale, Chapter 7

 

Gin-lane ART 5

GIN 50 cl and Tonic 1 measure of gin and three of tonic 150cl

and because I am writing this from Italy here is the Italian way of drinking it:

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NEGRONI

1 oz. dry gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. vermouth rosso
cocktail glass

So what ever you do this week  what ever gin you choose  just enjoy yourself and dont let anyone tell you there are set rules for what gin goes.  Of course enjoy the classics but there are so many to choose from nowadays, all with their own aromatic and distinctive character. It would be a shame to stop at Gordon’s, Tanqueray or even Sipsmith.  It may not turn out to be your forever favourite but it just might be! That’s the fun of discovering something new.  I for one am on the hunt this week for a local Apuglian gin – I might find a blinder or I might not but the enjoying the experience is what counts!

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Please send me photos of you gin pick today to thegrapewizard@gmail.com  Salute!!

See these fab links for more stuff

World Gin Awards 2017

Best London Gin Bars

Best Gins in NYC

Famous Gin moments in the movies,tv and books

Tiger Gin – Big brave and ready to take on the world – and that’s only JJ Lawrence

tiger 1

If ever there was David and Goliath moment . This was it!  An event of a global super brand taking on a minnow And loosing ! (High court battle against Heineken) 😀

Tiger Gin had a problem on its hands and Heineken though it could squash the annoying little bug 🐜 and protect their brand. Heineken had argued that “tiger gin” and “tiger 🐯 beer ” were  too closely linked and that one would damage the image of the other.  The judges in the court case overthrew Heineken’s objections and the end result was that Tiger Gin got its name and I get to try this product to see what all the fuss is about.

JJ Lawrence (owner of Tiger Gin) followed his passion and produced a new class of luxury British Spirit using only the finest botanicals and spices, carefully chosen from the best harvests from around the world.

A formula that gives the taste a smooth and sweet feel.

Distilled and bottled in the UK.

It was named TIGER GIN  due to the long drawn out fight with JJ and the courageous actions for the little guy to take on a global company.

tiger 41/6/17 Setting up the fabulous Gin !

Having won a legal battle in the High Court, this Shropshire gin is the ‘baby’ of a Shropshire lad – JJ Lawrence. It is crafted in England by artisan master distillers using traditional methods, and proudly presented in a unique bottle with great care and affection. Working alongside a local distiller they have created a unique, complex formula. which results in a great tasting, smooth, sweet gin.

Below (if you’ve never seen them are the ingredients for TG.)

Image result for angelica root

 

 Angelica root

cassia bark

 Image result for cinnamon bark

cinnamon bark

 Image result for ground nutmeg

 
ground nutmeg

Image result for lemon peel

lemon peel

liquorice root


 Image result for orange peel

orange peel

orris root

The taste test.

Aroma : Strong Juniper and a zesty lemon drizzle cake citrus

To taste, Strong juniper and liquorice fill the mouth – slightly sweet. Coriander seed, cinnamon and cassia bring a waxy lemon finish.

Tiger is classically styled gin to taste as the gin slides down the throat easily . Rich juniper enhances the classic G&T taste and in terms of a cocktail. In terms of a cocktail, the liquid makes for a lovely, traditional Martini.

Image result for traditional martini

 

One thing that is mysterious is …. who is JJ Lawrence. A quick search of the internet shows little evidence of the man/ or woman behind this fabulous product.  Maybe that the way it’s supposed to happen ,  maybe the brand speaks louder than the people behind it.

Any info on the man the myth is greatly appreciated .

Music Pairing :  Ludivico Einaudi  – Elements

Image result for einaudi elements
So to sum up upon tasting the gin i was very surprised at how much a couple of slices of oranges made to the drink . very much a big citrus punch juniper came through like a steamroller but all ingredients are symbiotic and harmonize the overall character of the product. A must have addition in any cocktail cabinet