From spiced to barrel-rested: Six gins fit for the winter season
Santa is bewildered because his Martini tastes a little too summery for his liking. Worry not folks, I've got your back covered. To help you make Santa happy again I've rounded up some of the best gins for the cold season, including one or two you might not expect...
Martin Miller’s Winterful
Not a flavoured gin, but certainly one whose botanicals hint at Christmas. Based on Martin Miller’s flagship gin, this wintery variant is inspired by spices and fruits commonly used in mulled wine, including cinnamon, mandarin peel and cardamon.
It can be used to give your classic gin cocktails a Christmassy twist – goes well in a Negroni – but you'll find it particularly at home as an alternative to hot spiced wine. To make the serve, you can follow this simple recipe:
125ml Red wine (ideally, not a particularly tannic one)
Juice and zest of one orange
Honey to taste
Bring to Simmer and reduce to desired taste and concentration. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and orange wedge.
Limbeck Cask Aged (45%)
Released by Welsh distillery In The Welsh Wind as part of a full rebrand, Limbeck is a barrel-rested gin made with blue ginger, tarragon, Seville orange, orris and other citrus fruit.
Once distilled, it’s rested in Burgundy casks, which lend a subtle peachy colour as well as a delicate array of aromas of red apple, toast and vanilla that complement really well the gin’s original spicy character.
There are plenty of options to use Limbeck in cocktails: it will amp up a Negroni to just the right wintery level, but I found its perfect recipe to be a colourful wet martini:
60ml Limbeck Cask Aged
15ml Amber or rosé vermouth
2 Green olives
Pour gin and vermouth into a coupette glass and stir for 30 seconds, then serve topped off with the olives speared on a cocktail stick. Remember to make an additional serve for Santa on Christmas Eve.
Anno Extreme 95 (95%)
This comes at a whooping strength of 95% abv, which sounds pretty wintery to me. I wouldn't advise to ever drink it straight though; rather the contrary, Extreme 95 is in fact designed to lower your cocktail's abv. Packed full of flavour, you'll only need a few drops to make your serve sing.
Why is this featured in this list, you may wonder? Well, we all tend to indulge over Christmas so this will come in handy when your liver needs a break but you still want to enjoy a full-flavoured cocktail experience.
To give you an idea of how much you should put into a cocktail, use 10% of the conventional amount for a "light" serve.
The gin comes in a small, 20cl bottle bundled with a cute 25ml measuring beaker.
One Gin Port Barrel Rested (43%)
Now, back to barrel resting. This limited-edition winter expression by One Gin employes sage as its leading botanical. It's then rested in Port barrels, which lend a light ruby colour, vanilla, toast and extra spicy notes.
Although it can make excellent cocktails, I found that One Gin Port Barrel Rested is actually best consumed neat. It has a beautiful creamy palate and balsamic nose, with plenty of citrus fruit (with grapefruit leading the way), a touch of winter spices, some dark fruit (plum) and lavender, plus flavours of vanilla and toast from the oak.
(One Gin works in partnership with The One Foundation and 10% of its profits go towards funding clean water projects in “some of the world’s poorest communities”).
Frankly, I'm not sure anyone but me would ever call this a wintery gin. The packaging screams summer on a beach and the taste is fresh, citrussy and zippy. Still, I'm so used to drinking home-made limoncello over Christmas that I really can't help but associate this Pinot Grigio-based gin infused with Sicilian lemon (and Tuscan juniper) with the winter season.
The nose has aromas of lemon zest, freshly cut grass, green apples, pear and grapefruit. The palate is silky, with a bit of sweetness that makes it very sippable. Yes, I would happily sit on the couch and drink it neat as a digestif, but it does work well in cocktails as an alternative to lemon vodka.
Boatyard Sloe Boat Gin Liqueur (29.8%)
Hailing from Northern Ireland, this limited-edition gin liqueur is steeped with sloe berries for six months. The producer then adds wild Fermanagh honeysuckle syrup for sweetness. The base spirit is the distillery's Double Gin, whose botanicals include coriander, liquorice root, angelica, orris, sweet gale, grains of paradise, and citrus.
It has a herbaceous, fresh and tart character to it and an intense fruity nose, with aromas of plum, dark berries, and green almonds. Once again, this is one to be enjoyed neat over the cold winter months.