Gin Advent Calendar 2020 – Sipping my way through December
Everyone knows that December is a good excuse to indulge. A lot of people get themselves an advent calendar to count down the days. Most of the time these are filled with chocolates, but a trend has emerge in more recent years for more exotic or crafted items such as hand made trinkets, candles, or in my case, a Gin Advent Calendar.
At the end of last year, which now seems a lifetime ago, I saw some advent calendars filled with miniature bottles of gin. I really loved the idea of them… until I saw the price. Then a thought crossed my mind. Why don’t I buy my own miniatures and make my own Gin Advent Calendar. A good idea in theory, until I started looking at the woeful selection of miniature gins that were on offer at my local supermarket.
Calculating what it would cost to get 24 miniatures for my own Gin Advent Calendar, it would have worked out cheaper to buy a ready made one, but would I have liked what I got? I know half of the point is to try different things, but being a member of the Craft Gin Club, and enjoying premium craft gins, would I really enjoy drinking my way through to Christmas?
The answer came to me as I was opening one of my presents on Christmas day, which just happened to be one of my favourite bottles of gin. Why don’t I decant a miniature of the best gins I have throughout the coming year and make my own Gin Advent Calendar that I can guarantee that I will enjoy. Plus it will stimulate the happy memories associated with each of the gins.
By the start of December 2020 I had managed to collect 25 different miniatures for my Gin Advent Calendar. Yes I know that’s one too many but this is gin we’re talking about and can you really have too many different gins? The only thing left to do now is to mix and drink my way through to December whilst keeping note of all the lovely gins I’ve collected through the year and why I enjoy each of them.
Gin Advent Calendar Part 1
December 1st – Shetland Reel Ocean Sent
The first gin in my Gin Advent Calendar was the Shetland Reel Ocean Sent. This craft gin from Shetland had a slight salty aroma like the smell of the tide going out on a cold day but also a sweet citric scent. The flavour of this gin was mostly orange with juniper at the back of the flavour and an undercurrent of saltiness. This makes a very light G&T that allows the citrus notes sing.
December 2nd – Amázzoni Gin
This gin came from the Craft Gin Club and had a tropical pine scent. It had a syrupy texture on the tongue with mango and juniper as the predominant flavours. I stirred myself a variation on a Martini using 50ml of the gin, 10ml of Noilly Prat, a dash of olive brine and garnished it with a slice of salted cucumber and an olive. It had a wonderfully oily texture but there was also a syrupy sweet and salty flavour which brought out the fruitiness in the gin. This ended up being a really creamy cocktail.
December 3rd – Pink 47 London Dry Gin
This gin was given to me as a present on my birthday back in April. Sometimes you will have a bottle that looks beautiful on the outside (which I why I kept it!) but what is contained within is rather lacklustre. This is not the case with the Pink 47 London Dry Gin. This is a juniper forward gin with notes of angelica, coriander and almonds. Again I felt that this worked best as a Gin and Tonic – I’m always a little light on the tonic, which I garnished with a few flakes of almonds.
December 4th – Masons Dry Yorkshire Gin: Peppered Pear Edition
I first came across Masons of Yorkshire up in Huddersfield at their annual Food & Drink Festival in 2019. They had a stand that was offering samples of each of their gins and the Peppered Pear Edition was my favourite, so I left with a bottle. This is a classic London Dry gin with, as its name suggests, a light sweetness of pears with a warming hint of pepper.
To drink this one I did a variation on the Bramble and had it over crushed ice with a dash of lemon juice and a drizzle of blackcurrant syrup over the top. This was a beautiful little cocktail that was the perfect balance between the sweetness of the pear and blackcurrant and brought out the pepper notes.
December 5th – Whittakers Winter Solstice Gin
This is the gin brand that started my love affair with “mother’s ruin”. I couldn’t do a Gin Advent Calendar without including at least one of their gins making an appearance. The Winter Solstice Gin has a London Dry as its base, but adds what can best be described as rich fruitcake flavours with cloves and star anise making their presence know.
I mixed up a variation on the Craft Gin Club‘s Rudolph’s Martini. I shook my 50ml of gin with 10ml of dry vermouth, 5ml of Maraschino liqueur and a dash of Grenadine, poured it into a chilled glass and dropped a cocktail cherry in the bottom. Yum!
One of my favourite cocktails is the Gibson. This is partly because of these two gins. Having realised that I had 25 bottles rather than the 24 that I needed in my Gin Advent Calendar seemed like the perfect opportunity to taste test two of my favourite gins not only against each other, but also in my favourite cocktail.
The Gin Mare is full of typically Mediterranean botanicals. The first that hit you are olives, rosemary and basil. Following these you get a sweet and oily citrus flavour. These give the gin an oleaginous texture making it perfect for a Martini.
The Caorunn is made from similarly local botanicals. This time the location is the Scottish Highlands. Alongside the traditional juniper, coriander and citrus, this gin tastes of the Scottish moors that surround the distillery. There is a softness from the heather and bog myrtle flavours with a gentle fruitiness from rowan berries and apple.
Of the two Gibson’s that I mixed myself, there wasn’t a clear winner as they were both delicious and moreish, but the Gin Mare slightly edged it against the Caorunn.
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The next six drinks from my Gin Advent Calendar will be coming soon, so make sure you come back to find out what they are.