All you need to know about Jensen’s gin can be found in this fantastic article on Difford’s Guide.
In brief, Christian Jensen, a banking IT specialist, was working in Tokyo and came across a hidden bar serving a “Naked Martini” – just London Dry gin and a twist of lime. Jensen enjoyed the drink so much he regularly returned to the bar during his stay, and on his last visit before returning to London he was presented with a bottle of the gin by the owner. This gin was no longer in production, and the brand on the label was illegible. Jensen made it his personal mission to find or recreate his new favourite spirit when he was back in London.
After over 15 trial distillations with Charles Maxwell at Thames Distillers in Clapham, and a number of pages photographed from old recipe books from the public records office, they had created a gin that accurately reflected the original. Jensen bought 800 cases to enjoy himself, give to friends and sell to local bars so that he could enjoy his favourite Martini as often as he liked. 10 years on, he now owns a distillery in an railway arch in Bermondsey, London, which also produced an Old Tom gin made to the same classic recipes found in the public records office.
The Old Tom gin uniquely uses no sugar in the distillation process. Only sweet botanicals, although it tastes far drier than most modern Old Tom gins. Eucalyptus, green vegetable notes and woody liquorice are the flavours, with piny juniper, parma violet, zesty orange and tea on the nose.
The Bermondsey Dry is a clean, very mixable gin (ideal for our cocktails!) with piney juniper, parma violet, lavender, coriander and citrus flavours on the nose, and a similar taste with the addition of nutty almond notes and a liquorice finish.
Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
In 1813, Joseph Noilly created the first recipe for his dry vermouth, which was created by ageing French wines in barrels outdoors. In 1855, Joseph’s son, Louis, partnered with his cousin Claudius Prat, and formed the Noilly Prat company. The daughter of Louis, Anne-Rosine took over the company and drove it’s international expansion. Noilly Prat was the first French vermouth to be exported and is still recognised as one of the best on the market.
Martini Rosso Vermouth
Martini make some of the world’s most well liked and well used vermouths. They’re so popular that the famous gin and vermouth drink “The Martini” is often claimed to have been named after the company: The Martini & Rossi Distilleria Nazionale di Spirito di Vino, in Turin.
Martini Rosso actually out-dates the famous Martini Extra Dry, being launched in 1863, while the dry was launched on New Year’s Day, 1900.
Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
Maraschino is a liqueur from the city of Zadar on the Dalmation coast of Croatia. Marasca cherries grow wild there, and the liqueur is made from distilling the cherries into a sweet, syrupy liquid used in a great number of sweet cocktails. Most notably, the Martinez!
In 1759, Francesco Drioli, a Venetian merchant, began industrial-scale production of maraschino in Zadar. Girolamo Luxardo founded his company in Zadar in 1821, and it is now well known for its maraschino, amaretto, sambucca and many other liqueurs and spirits. The Luxardo distillery is now in Veneto, Italy, due to relocation caused by the two World Wars.
Angostura Orange Bitters
A cousin of the most famous bitters of all time, the classic “Angosutra Bitters”, their orange bitters have only been produced since 2007. Orange bitters fell out of favour for a long time after the prohibition, but as shown above, the classic martinez and martini recipes often called for a dash or two of orange bitters.
Orange bitters are made from the peel of Seville oranges, cardamom, caraway seed and coriander, and I’m sure a fair few secret ingredients as well.
If you haven’t already used up all the gin, try making a “Pink Gin” cocktail. It’s simply gin and bitters (usually the classic angostura) but it works well with orange bitters too.
All about Gin
So what is “Gin” anyway? Bizarrely, it’s only gin because of one particular ingredient… Juniper. Without Juniper as a botanical, the spirit would just be a vodka. To be called a “Gin”, Juniper must be the predominant flavour, but a huge array of botanicals are used to give the many different brands of gin their distinct flavours.
Gin as we know it today stems from “Jenever”, a Dutch spirit made with Juniper berries and usually aged in casks. Originally it was used as a medicinal tonic, but developed over time into a recreational drink, and exploded as an industry when it was brought to Britain by the Dutch in the 17th century.
The British government allowed gin to be distilled without a licence around that time, and as a result Gin became more popular than beer with over half of all the drinking shops in London serving mostly gin.
In tropical British colonies, Gin was used to mask the flavour of quinine, which was the only effective anti-malarial at the time. Quinine is now the main flavour of Tonic water, so we can thank the colonies for the humble origins of the G&T!
The legal definition of Gin is simply a juniper-flavoured spirit made from adding natural flavourings to a neutral spirit of “agricultural origins”. Distilled gin is one made by re-distilling ethyl alcohol from agricultural origin in the presence of juniper and other botanicals. The difference between distilled gin and standard gin, is when the botanicals are introduced to the process.
London Gin must contain only natural ingredients, and only a very small amount of sugar. No additional flavourings or colourings may be added after the distillation process. Other “Gins” may be flavoured after the distillation, and are often called “Compound gins” to distinguish them from others.
Old Tom gin is often referred to as the missing link between Dutch style Genever (or Jenever) and London Gin. It uses a recipe including sugar in the re-distillation and often different botanicals to result in a sweeter product, although Junpier must still be predominant.
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