FEW is an American Style Gin. If you have followed all my Gin research by now, you probably realize that Genever was the original drink from the Belgium/Netherlands area. Then came Tom Gin and finally London Dry style (which is not aged in a barrel at all). American style Gin is a very recent phenomenon and they tend to be (not always) less junipery and a little more citrus forward.
That said, this Gin is very different. To begin with, there is a distinct wood-y nose. Which is surprising for a gin not aged in a barrel till you realize that the base of this gin is not the traditional neutral grain but more akin to white whiskey. The warm toasty malty nose comes from the base of barley, corn and whiskey used.
In terms of the botanicals, other than the standard juniper, citrus, orange peels, lemon and cassia, you have the interesting twists of vanilla (Tahitian vanilla), grains of paradise and home grown hops.
If you are into brown alcohols and want to try gins, you will like this. If you are not too much into barrel aged alcohols, do not take this straight up or with tonic water. Your best way to try this might be with something that compensates for the woody-ness — perhaps a cocktail like Negroni or a Martini.
FEW is made in an interesting place – Evanston – about 30 miles north of Chicago and very close to the Northwestern University. The real interesting part of this area is that this was one of the areas that inspired the Prohibition area!! The distillery is rather new – only about 6 years in existence.
I would also put this gin on the higher end of price – although nothing like Monkey 47.
This is probably the last cocktail with the Esme gin for me. Aviation is, of course, gin, maraschino liqueur and lemon juice. The original Aviation is supposed to include creme de violette to give the distinctive light purple color. Commonly garnished either with a lemon peel or a brandied cherry.
Jasmine was the first cocktail I experimented with the Esme gin. The floral essence of the gin played rather well with the edgy bitterness of a Campari. To soften the Campari, I went with some Triple Sec and then some lemon juice to retain the citrus-forward gin’s character.
The nose was mostly carried by the gin and the Triple sec – junipers, orange and rose petals were the most prominent. The palette started with the citrusy taste but quickly the soft bitterness of Campari took over and settled down. The finish was mostly the junipers, the lemons and the rose petals.
First, let me admit that I have no idea where is the distillery that makes this gin. I know it is in France. And I have written multiple times to the distributor that imports it from France. But they had steadfastly, refused to respond.
When you open the bottle – which is pretty cute in shape – the first thing that hits your nose are the citrus notes. This is certainly what would be called a citrus-forward gin. I tried this with some Indian Tonic Water. The nose sure was citrusy and juniper. The palette initially is that of juniper but soon in the finish you sense something even sweeter – almost floral. And that is when you realize that you are drinking one of the rare gins that uses rose petals during the distilling process!
The base of the gin is neutral spirit made from indigenous French wheat. The infusion includes juniper, citrus, orange blossom, cucumbers and rose petals,
Try it some time. You will not be disappointed. Stick with a martini or a gin and tonic (or even gin on the rocks) to truly get a sense of the gin. The rose petal aroma can get very quickly overcome by the ingredients of most cocktails.
Tried a London Fog with the Ophir gin. The end result was good. However, the absinthe completely drowned the botanicals in the nose. The spicy kick from pepper and cardamom was good though…
Very interesting gin. The brand is built around the Oriental touch. The bottle is decorated with Oriental themed pictures and designs – for example, elephants. Many of the ingredients are sourced from countries along the Spice Route. The spicy cubeb berries come from Indonesia and Malaysia, the black peppers, cardamoms and ginger all come from India, coriander from Morocco, cumin from Turkey and the bitter oranges from Spain. The staple of all gins – juniper is sourced from Italy and angelica comes from Germany. It also has grapefruit peels but I could not find out the source during my research.
These all are put thru the distillation process by master distiller Joanne Moore in G&J Distillery in Birchwood, England. This is renowned to be the second largest distillery in England and they claim to be the oldest. They have been using the same London Dry Gin method since 1761.
I tried this straight up. On the nose the junipers and cardamom were immediately noticeable. The citrus made it presence felt too. On the palette, the juniper was once again felt as was the spiciness of pepper. The finish included traces of orange and what appeared to me as most likely berries.
This should work well with since tonic water (try Fever Tree Indian tonic water) or in classics like a Negroni or a London Fog.
This cocktail is made with Cointreau, Sweet Vermouth and Gin. I, of course, experimented with the German Gin – Monkey 47. So that cocktail was pretty much a concoction of a German alcohol, a French liqueur and an Italian liqueur. Should have had an Alpine name!
While the cocktail itself was great – especially for anybody who likes orange, the Monkey 47 struggled mightily trying to stay above the strong orange nose and finish from the Cointreau. I am more or less convinced that Monkey 47 is so complex, it is best taken straight up (or on the rocks). I would not even bother it with tonic water.
This is definitely one of the costlier gins – if not the costliest. For a bottle half the size (375ml), you pay about twice the price of normal gin bottles. It is also one of the few German gins. This also has the distinction of having the largest number of botanicals in the gin. 47, to be precise. That explains the “47” part of the name. (It has nothing to do with the ABV content of 47% – 94 proof; that is a mere coincidence).
To get to the other part of the name – “Monkey” – one has to go back to 1945. The Second World War had just come to end. An Indian born, British Royal Air Force Commander – Commander Collins was sent to divided Berlin to overlook reconstruction. At that time, he had adopted an egret monkey in the Berlin Zoo called “Max”. Commander Collins created a new gin out of the botanicals he had learnt about in India and the ones available in the Black Forest area in Germany. He called it “Schwarzwald Dry Gin”. It was not very popular outside of the guesthouse that Collins owned.
Much later – in 2006, one distiller Alexander Stein discovered about the story and reconstructed the recipe. And then the name Monkey 47 was given – in deference to Commander Collins’ affinity for Max.
This gin is made by Black Forest Distillers in South West part of Germany not too far from the French border.
The gin itself is extremely complex. Here is another unique trait of this gin. The base alcohol is made from molasses. I had it straight up today. The nose is very rich – thanks to all those botanicals. The juniper, rose and lavender is very distinct. To the palate, initially it was all mint and juniper. As time went though, you could detect some more herbals – different berries, pepper and peppermint. Of 47 botanicals, I was probably able to detect no more than six or seven. The finish was strong in citrus.
If you have tried different kinds of gins, you may want to try this. If you have not, this may not be a good buy. For one, it is too pricey for no good reason. For another, my guess is if you use it for a cocktail, you cannot find much difference between this and Nolets or even a Vivacity. Unless you have a far superior ability to detect small traces of other herbals.
Boomsma Genever with Curacao orange liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup…
Continuing with the Genever experiments, this cocktail is made from Genever, Orange Curaçao, Lemon juice and simple syrup.