Gin Review: Tanqueray Ranpur

My Second Gin Review!

 

Yes, it’s been a long time since I wrote my first Gin review, back in June of 2017 (Monkey 47), a year as it turns out.  I have vowed to step up my Gin reviews, partly because it’s fun to try new Gins, but mostly because there are just soooooooo many new, and often confusing, Gins out there today.

As before I am reviewing this, and future, Gins in a very dry and very cold Martini, so fair warning, my Gin reviews will be in the context of Martini usage.  After all, this blog is about the perfect Martini more than the perfect Gin.

A little more history for you new readers, my preferred Gin for Martinis is Bombay Sapphire.  It is ubiquitous in bars, lounges, and restaurants so I know it is always (almost) available.  It’s a great way to start an evening with a known and dependable Gin.  Thereafter I may experiment a bit and that is where these Gin reviews come in.

Now Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray are two of the World’s top selling Gins.   For those interested the top 5 are: Seagrams, Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, and Gordon’s, in that order, according to “The Spirits Business” June 2017.

Of further amusement is that Tanqueray and Sapphire are owned by Diageo and Barcardi, respectively, two of the world’s largest spirit distributors (1st and 5th respectively) and are therefore, and clearly, heated rivals.  This is clearly borne out when talking to Gin aficionados as they are (almost) always either in the Sapphire camp, like me, or on the “dark side” favoring Tanqueray.  Of course there are a many stragglers out there who are Nolet’s or Hendrick’s, or other Gin, fans, both of which are fine Gins in their own rights …. but I digress.

I am not a fan of Tanqueray in general, it’s a bit too much citrus for me; I prefer the herbals of Sapphire.  Tanqueray 10, having a bit more herbal components that Tanqueray, is more palatable to me for that reason.  So when I was given a bottle of Tanqueray Rangpur, knowing it was the Rangpur Limes that gave this Gin its name, I was a bit dubious.

(Yes, they’re orange.  It’s a hybrid between the mandarin orange and the citron.)

 

But I have a bottle to use and I’m certainly not one to waste Gin.  I started with some Rangpur neat.  The initial impression on the nose is predominately lime with hints of juniper way in the back.  Tasting this gin confirmed the lime forwardness.  But now the juniper decided to show up and shared the limelight with the lime (sorry, I had to do it).  The other herbals come into play on the back end but are mostly muddled together and subdued.   I also would note that when taken neat, it’s almost a bit syrupy.  You almost feel like it coats your tongue.

 

As a martini it is still very lime forward.  The aroma hits you immediately: very sweet citrus.  Even with my martini extremely cold the nose affect is immediate.  The first taste is a beautiful mix of citrus and juniper!  Nothing floral here and almost imperceptible herbal elements.  The juniper fades on the back end, but the citrus carries through to the last moments.  Again the herbals come in at the end but are subdued and remain secondary to the citrus.  I also noted that the syrupy feeling from the neat tasting was completely gone.  I suspect due to the dilution of the Gin while shaking the Martini.

 

In the end I like this Gin!  But I’m not sure how to drink it.  In my opinion it’s a bit sweet and citrusy for a Martini, I prefer a bit more herbal notes.  I think using it in a G&T might be the better choice.  Or even neat, though with some ice to lighten the tongue coating syrupy-ness.  Thinking about it, on ice on a sunny afternoon seems just about perfect.

 

As an aside, I really like lime in my cola and was tempted to add some of this to my Coke.  I did and that was really pretty good!  The acid of the Coke cut the syrupy feeling, though it was still pretty sweet; sort of a more citrus-y Cuba Libre.  One of the reasons I don’t drink sweet cocktails is that they go down so easily and so quickly and this one absolutely would quickly overpower me.

 

Would I recommend Rangpur?  Yes!  Having a bottle in your Gin collection is recommended and I do.  For that sunny afternoon.

 

 

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World Gin Day 2018

Happy World Gin Day 2018!

 

 

“I’ve tried Buddhism, Scientology, Numerology, Transcendental Meditation, Qabbala, t’ai chi, feng shui and Deepak Chopra but I find straight gin works best.”
Phyllis Diller

 

I hope you all celebrate with a Martini. But if not, then a Gin & Tonic will do. Whichever you choose, enjoy safely.

 

“There is something about a martini, Ere the dining and dancing begin, And to tell you the truth, It is not the vermouth- I think that perhaps it’s the gin.”
Ogden Nash

 

 

 

Homemade Gin; Round 4

Homemade Gin, round 4!

 

This batch builds very slightly on the recipe of round 3, adding a touch more juniper, a bit more peppercorn, and a bit more citrus;  this time California Lemon.

 

I’d like to thank my son and his girlfriend for the very neat small bottles for gin making.  They were a Christmas gift and work very well.  The only minor issue is they don’t hold quite 375 ml of liquid.  Therefore this batch is actually about 340 ml.

 

Here’s the ingredients and weights and times for this batch:
Day 0:
Juniper, 10gm (about 5 teaspoons)
Coriander, 2gm (about 1 teaspoon)
Cardamon, 2 Pods broken
Green peppercorn, 4 corns
All of these items I put into 340 ml of 100 proof Vodka.
None of these were ground up, and only the cardamon was broken up.

             

Prior to adding Vodka and just after.  Notice that most of the botanicals float.

 

+30 hours:  I added the following.
California Lemon Peel,  6 gms (not quite 1 tablespoon)

I also tried the gin, just to see how it was going and it was quite good, spicy, junipery, but with just a hint of bitterness.

 

You can see that some of the botanicals float and some sink.  The white material at the bottom is the Lemon Peel.

 

+42 hours:   I strained all remains and remnants from the liquid.

At this point the gin definitely tasted like gin should.   Lots of juniper, slight pepper, and a bit of earthiness.  The previous slight bitterness seemed absent, or at least unnoticeable.

 

The final product; well after a few samples of course.  After sitting for another couple of days the flavors seemed to smooth out just a bit and was very drinkable.  Again, I haven’t bothered with activated carbon filtering, so the gin is a natural amber color.

 

Next time I think I’ll go up to 500ml, adjusting the botanical by the same scale and see if increasing the total volume and botanicals is a linear relationship.  When I do, I’ll certainly let you know how it goes.

 

Previous posts on this theme can be found here:   “I made Gin!!”, “Homemade Gin, Round 2”, and “Homemade Gin, Round 3”.

 

 

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Homemade Gin, Round 3

Round 3 Homemade Gin!   And, yes, I am learning, albeit slowly.   This batch is significantly better than my two previous efforts!  (You can find my posts on those here:   “I made Gin!!”   and here:  “Homemade Gin, Round 2” .)

This time I backed up significantly, starting much simpler.  First of all I used just a very few botanicals.  Obviously Juniper is required so that goes in.  Coriander is very mild with a slight musty hay (think alfalfa) scent.  It doesn’t so much as add flavor as it seems to add some complexity to the flavor.  Then a very tiny bit of Cardamom, pepper, and lemon.

The second major change from previous batches was that I only steeped the botanicals for about 40 hours.  (I was going for 48 hours but sadly my real job got in the way and didn’t allow that.)

Here’s the process for this batch:
Day 0:  I assembled the following botanicals:
Juniper, 1 tablespoon
Coriander, 1 teaspoon
Cardamon, 1 Pod broken
Green peppercorn, 2 corns
All of these items I put into 375 ml of 100 proof Vodka.  Unlike previous batched I did not grind up any of these ingredients.

+24 hours:  I added the following.
Dried Lemon Peel,  Approx 1/2 tsp

I also tried the gin, just to see how it was going.  I was pleasantly surprised!  No bitterness at all and mild flavors.

+42 hours:   I strained all remains and remnants from the liquid.

At this point the Gin really tasted like ‘gin’!  A bit light on the juniper but overall mildly spicy with just a hint of lemon.  (Next time I’ll add a bit more citrus.)  As expected it is not clear having a nice mild amber tinge to the gin.  That’s easily fixable with an activated carbon filter (Brita, for example) but for the  moment I’m pleased with the gin ‘as is’.

Finally I let it sit for a couple of days in the pantry, just to let the flavors meld (?).   Then made a very cold, very welcome, Martini!  It was totally acceptable.  Certainly not worthy of even a single stem rating* of course, but a big step in the  right direction!

Keep your eyes out for the results of Batch 4 coming soon to a blog near you.

 

* If you’re curious about what one vs. two stems means,
I refer you to the following:
*****   Rating Definitions   ****

Gin Review: Monkey 47

My first Gin Review!

And I think I’ve picked a excellent candidate for that honor:  Monkey 47.  I had been told to keep my eye out for this Gin and when I saw it I jumped at the opportunity to try it.  Now that I’ve tried it I think it just might be my new favorite Gin!

But before I jump into this Gin Review, I should let you all know that I experience this Gin in a very dry and very cold Martini.  So, fair warning, my Gin reviews will be in the context of Martini usage.  After all this blog is about the perfect Martini more than the perfect Gin.

However, if I can persuade the barkeep to let me sample a bit before I order the Martini, I’ll let you know how it tastes at room temperature.  Certainly so if I add a bottle to my own collection.

And now back to the Monkey 47!!

The bottom line is that Monkey 47 makes an excellent Martini.  There are a lot of flavors running around and it’s very hard to pin down exactly what is going on.

The first impression, the aroma that hits you before even taking a sip, is herbal.   Juniper is foremost, then bits of citrus and smooth subtle herbals.  Upon tasting you get some floral notes combined with citrus, some light spices, and more subtle juniper.

The finish is sweet and more fruity.  The juniper almost disappears at this point.

Furthermore, I’ve had a Monkey 47 Martini now several times and the flavor profile seems to change just a bit each time.

There are a couple of interesting items about this Gin.  First it’s German, from the Black Forest region, which of course is”Schwarzwald” in German.   Hence the tag line on the bottle “Schwarzwald Dry Gin”.   Second, it’s 94 Proof or 47% ABV.   Yet that is not the reason it’s called Monkey 47.  Or is it?  Finally this Gin is made from 47 different botanicals!  (See below for the list.)  Including some odd ones like cranberries and some local ones like lingonberries.

Finally, as I’ve purchased a bottle, I can also tell you that I’ve tried it neat.  That was also excellent.   The same flavors that you taste in the Martini are here, though more powerful as they aren’t diluted during the making of the Martini.  While I will continue to drink this Gin as a Martini, I would have no hesitation in ordering it neat if the desire or mood so moved me.

Typical Price:  $45 – $50 for 375 ml.

 

For those interested in this sort of information, I’ve copied down the major ingredients for your fun and amusement … 47 items in all.    Another interesting coincidence??
Acacia flowers, Acorus Calamus, almond, angelica root, bitter orange, blackberry, bramble leaves, cardamom, cassia, chamomile, cinnamon, lemon verbena, cloves, coriander, cranberries, cubeb, dog rose, elderflower, ginger, Grains of Paradise, hawthorn berries, hibiscus abelmoshus, hibiscus syriacus, honeysuckle, jasmine, Kaffir lime, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, lemongrass, licorice, lingonberries, Mondara Didyma, nutmeg, orris, pepper (six types!), pimento, pomelo, rosehip, sage, sloe, spruce shoots, and of course Juniper berries!!!

You can compare this to a few other selected Gins in the “Botanical Elements of Gin” page of this blog if you’re so inclined.

Homemade Gin, Round #2

My hopes of being the next gin magnate have crashed.  My first batch of gin was not very good, as I’ve documented in “I made Gin!!”  I had hopes that this second batch would be much better.  Not so.  But fear not, I will persevere and am already planning my next batch.

To give you the run down, here is my ingredient list for Batch 2:

Day 0:  I assembled the following botanicals.
15 gms Juniper, 1/2 of which I ground
4 gms Coriander, ground
1 Cardomon Pod, ground
1/5 Star Anise (one petal), ground
2 gms, Allspice, ground
6 green peppercorn, ground
4 pink peppercorn, ground
1 1/2 inch Cinnamon Stick
All of these items I put into 375 ml of 100 proof Vodka.

+48 hours:  I added the following.
Orange zest.  Approx 1 tsp
Lemon zest, dried.  Approx 1 tsp

Day 5: Tasting.
WOW!!  Way to intense and horribly bitter.  The details:
The aroma that hits you isn’t really too bad, though it is pretty intense.  Lots of herbal notes sliding to the spicy side and hints of Juniper.
The first taste is very intense, nothing subtle here.  Again very heavy on the spice and herbs, with emphasis on the Allspice, and a bitter unde-rnote.
The finish is very bitter!!  So much that it totally ruins any early favorable tastes.

On the positive side, the overwhelming Anise of the first batch has been reduced.  Now there is just a hint of anise.

Unfortunately whatever positive elements there were, although intense, were overwhelmed by bitterness.  In trying to explain this bitterness I believe I have two possible culprits.  First, I wonder if I have too much botanical input!  I may have left the botanicals in too long (5 days).  Next time I think I’ll sieve them on day 3 and see if that eases the botanical impact!  I’m also rethinking my decision to grind all the botanicals or how much I grind them.  Perhaps just a short pulse on the grinder to break up the big pieces?

Second, I may have been overly exuberant with the citrus zest.  I’ve been informed that just a few quick passes of the orange or lemon on the zester is all you need.  I zested pretty much the  entire orange and lemon!

Going forward I think I need to back up a bit and start more slowly and simply.  I started with a recipe that I found on line and I think it was too big a leap.  I’m even considering just starting with juniper and very little, if anything, else.  Maybe just a hint of pepper or Cinnamon.

An interesting note for future reference:  I started with 375ml of Vodka.  After sieving the botanical remnants from the Gin, I was left with approximately 240ml.  So between the residual moisture in the ground botanicals and coffee filter used for the sieve and were then discarded and I lost about a third of the liquid.  I don’t recall that from batch #1, but I didn’t think to measure then.  I’ll remember to note volume lost in the future.

Keep your eyes out for the results of Batch 3 coming soon to a blog near you.

I Made Gin!!

Yes, it is Gin.  No, it really wasn’t that great.  In fact it was pretty poor, barely drinkable.

But it was a lot of fun and I learned a quite a bit.   The most important thing I learned is that some botanicals are really powerful!   For example a little anise goes a long way.  A lot of anise is way too much.

No, I’m not distilling my own spirits.  In fact I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in most states!  I’m creating gin by ‘infusion’.  The basic concept is pretty simple: Take a neutral spirit, typically vodka, and combine with the botanicals of your choice and let steep for 2-5 days.  Pretty simple really.


The only rule is that Gin must have Juniper, that’s what makes a spirit “Gin”.  If you’re wondering what other sorts of botanicals to use, google “Homemade Gin” and you’ll find quite a few recipes for guidance.   That’s how I started.   Also take a look at my “Botanical Elements of Gin” page to see what some commercial Gins use.

Here’s the process I used for this small, initial batch:

Day 0:  I assembled the following botanicals.
10 gms Juniper, 1/3 of which I ground
4 gms Coriander, ground
1 Cardomon Pod, ground
1 Star Anise, ground
2 gms, Allspice, ground
2 green peppercorn, ground
2 red peppercorn, ground
All of these items I put into 375 ml of 100 proof Vodka.

+24 hours:  I added the following.
Orange Peel dried, 6 inches thin
Lemon Peel dried, 6 inches thin

+72 hours:  First tasting!
First I sieved out the bits and pieces of the botanicals.  As expected the liquid was a nice caramel color. Then the first quick taste.  WOW, lots of Anise!!  Really a lot.   Reminiscent of Jagermeister, Ouzo, or Raki, but with out their subtlety and refinement.  There were also all the other flavors, but definitely in the background, except for a bit of bitterness that came through.  And overall it was a bit light on Juniper.

Day 5: Final tasting.
Still Lots of Anise!  Definitely too much.   Next time I’ll cut the Star Anise by 75%, at least!!  I might just skip it all together and focus on the more subtle flavors.

I should have added a photo of  this, but sometimes a picture isn’t really worth 1000 words.

For my next batch, and there will be another, I think I’ll use the following changes:
Cut, or eliminate, the Star Anise.
Use dried citrus zest instead of the dried thin citrus peels.
Just a couple more peppercorns to give it more pepper kick.
And more Juniper, probably bump it up by 50%.
Keep watching, I’ll let you know that turns out!

For my first effort I give my self one upside down Martini glass.   

 

If you’re curious about what one vs. two vs. upside down stems means,
I refer you to the following:
*****   Rating Definitions   ****

 

 

The Perfect Gin Explained

I often get asked “What is the best gin?”

Apparently some people seem to think I should know.  I’m still researching that myself and until I try all the Gins I don’t think I can really give a valid assessment.   But it’s a valid question and deserves a little thought.   So I started with a bit of research on the internet (aka Google search) to see what other people were thinking.  Here are the “10 Best Gins” as determined by three different websites:

www.shortlist.com
1 Williams Chase
2 Martin Millers
3 Monkey 47
4 Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Blackfriars Gin
5 Bloom
6 Beefeater 24
7 Hendrick’s
8 Hayman’s 1850 Reserve Gin
9 Tanqueray No. 10
10 Caorunn Gin

www.independent.co.uk
1 Tanqueray 10
2 Langley’s No. 8 Gin
3 Filliers Pine Tree Blossom Gin
4 Daffy’s Premium Gin
5 Brooklyn Gin
6 Gin No. 209
7 Blackwoods Gin
8 Jinzu Gin
9 Eden Mill Love
10 Gin Mare

www.gayot.com
Anchor Old Tom Gin
Aviation Gin
Barr Hill
Caorunn Gin
Genevieve
Monkey 47 Gin
Sipsmith VJOP
Botanist Islay Dry Gin
Uncle Val’s Restorative Gin
Watershed Four Peel Gin
…..(Gayot did not rank these, just listed them as top 10.)

Notice the consistency there?  Neither did I.  In these 3 different “Top 10 Gins” there are 27 different Gins.   But I didn’t stop there!  At the end of this post are two more “Top 10 Gins” lists for further amusement.   A total of 44 different gins in 5 top 10 lists.  There is NO single gin listed on more than two lists.

There are many familiar Gins on these lists and I have tried many, and clearly not all (yet), of them.   I really like Monkey 47 and that would be on my Top 10 list and it’s on two of the lists above.   Tanqueray No. 10 is also on two of these lists but that is not one I would put on my list.  Then there is Barr Hill which I personally think is terrible (the only flavor other than juniper is honey…. just too sweet for me).

It’s worth mentioning that these lists do not specify whether these are the best gins for Martinis, Gin & Tonics, Gimlets, Negronis, or neat!  That is important.  Personally I would not ever order Hendrick’s in a Martini but I would in a G&T.   Clearly different Gin flavor profiles will work differently in a G&T vs a Singapore Sling.

What can we conclude by this?  What is the “Perfect Gin”?  My best answer is, like the Perfect Martini, the Perfect Gin is that one which most appeals to you.  You’re really going to have to try them.   Perhaps many of them.

Let’s go back to the original question that I get: “What is the best gin?”  My first reply is:  “For a Martini?  Gin and Tonic?”   Then I follow up asking whether thy like their Gin on the citrus, floral, or herbal side?   If their eyes do not glaze over at this point then we can move on and really start a discussion of flavors, profiles, and cocktail options.

A couple of final comments.   I think it is noteworthy that these 5 top 10 lists are so different.  There has been an explosion of gins in the last few years!  New distilleries entering the market and old distilleries now adding Gins to their lines.  There are now barrel aged gins, small batch gins, and reserve gins.  It’s not surprising that different people(s) would rate the gins so differently.

Finally, the few gins that did appear twice in the lists are:  Caorunn, Gin Mare, Hendrick’s, Martin Millers, Monkey 47, and Tanqueray No. 10.  If you’re looking to start exploring Gins, I would suggest you start with these.

 

www.askmen.com
1 Hendrick’s
2 Anchor Distilling Company “Genevieve” Genever Style
3 G’Vine Nouaison Gin
4 Bombay Sapphire Gin
5 Leopold Bros. Small Batch American Gin
6 Blue Ribbon London Dry Gin
7 Plymouth Gin
8 Martin Miller’s London Dry Gin
9 Tanqueray Gin
10 Gordon’s London Dry Gin

www.standard.co.uk
1 No. 209 Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Reserve Gin
2 Elephant Gin
3 Dictador Premium Columbian Aged Treasure Gin
4 Citadelle Gin
5 Cruxland Gin
6 Glendalough Gin
7 Rutte Celery Gin
8 Gin Mare
9 Blue Bottle Dry Gin
10 Hernӧ Blackcurrant Gin

What Your Martini Says About You

Enjoying a Martini at Sunset overlooking the ocean.

A friend sent me the following link to “Wine Enthusiast” Magazine with the comment that they were not sure they agreed with the story’s conclusions.  And I would agree that I’m not sure I agreed either.

But it’s an interesting read and a short read.  I offer it up here to my readers so you may make your own judgement.

What Your Martini Says About You | Wine Enthusiast Magazine

 

I always welcome suggestions for stories or links to interesting “Martini” articles, so please don’t hesitate to contribute.

The Perfect Martini “How To”s Collected

martini-with-twist

Over the course of the almost two years that I’ve been writing this blog I’ve posted many random martini quotes, several reviews of restaurant and bars, made opinionated comments about stemware, and expounded on my pet peeves.  And, of course, I’ve also written extensively on what I believe makes a great Martini.  But these “How To” posts are scattered throughout this website and are hard to find.   No Longer!

Here, finally, is a compendium of links to the “How To” articles of Martini Making.  These describe my thoughts and beliefs of making the “Perfect Martini”.  Or to be most precise, my perfect martini.   The posts describe more than just the recipe and process of assembling the finest cocktail, but give some of the technical background of ‘what’ and ‘why’.

So here below for the first time are assembled the heart of Martini Magic…..

Here’s where we start, the art of creation:
The Perfect Martini Process

This link will help you find the answer to the age old question that keeps us awake at nights …. is Shaken really better than Stirred?   And why?
Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Conclusion.

If you just want to really know what they mean when some Gin snob warns you about ‘Bruising’, here’s the real deal.  (Hint; its not what you think.  But then, it’s not what they think either!)
Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited : Bruising

Are there really differences between Shaking and Stirring??? Yes!  And here are the two most significant differences.
Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Dilution
Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Temperature.

Finally, does Shaking taste better?  Read below to find out.
Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Taste

Cold Ice is critical to making the perfect Martini.  If you’re confused about the difference between warm and cold ice, check this out.
Cold Ice Please!

Of course a great Martini needs a suitable container from which to sip this marvelous beverage.   Here are a few thoughts on stemware.
Thoughts on Stemware, Part One
Thoughts on Stemware, Part Two
Thoughts on Stemware, Part Three
And even…..
To Stem or Not to Stem

As always, comments are very welcome.  Please let me know what you think especially if you disagree with my comments.

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