The last few weeks have mostly been taken up chatter about the gin market – where it’s going, what’s going on, ‘gin liqueurs’ and it brought me back to something that happened a few years ago.
The vodka market went through a similar up and down – we started with exploration of styles and base spirits, then flavours and then, well, flavours. I knew once I saw bubblegum gin, and the kicker for me was Skittles gin. Homemade – it’s simply Skittles infused in a bottle of gin. Exactly what my mates were doing with vodka back in the day.
Aside from a discussion into the refinement we’re due in the gin market – losing (or at least reducing the number of) the bandwagon jumping bizarre creations that bear no relation to gin but in name (I mean any juniper really isn’t discernible), and maybe a little tightening of regulations, what it has also achieved is a revisit to old flames. At the weekend a whole discussion began about vodka – a spirit I’ve never lost love for (I have a few favourites, just ask), and some admitting they’ve never even tried anything bar those teenage explorations into booze as a whole.
Which means that this little collaboration for August’s Batch Innovation is rather timely.
In the same way you can infuse, or even re-distill flavours into gin, as with the aforementioned Skittles vodka* you can add flavour to other spirits, including vodka.
*(honestly, I can feel your need to try it from here, Google it, go home, make it, realise how sweet and fake flavoured it is, and don’t make it again).
This month’s treat from Batch Innovations is a collaborative effort between their Head Distiller and local brewery, Northern Whisper Brewing Co. Taking Sorachi Ace hops as a base, they’ve blended it’s distinctive bitter and citrus led flavours with botanicals including dill, orange and lemongrass.
The result is rather good. Neat the nose is sweetness from the orange, hints of hops right at the back of the nose, amidst the grainy sweetness.
On the palate the hops and herbals are bit. The hops hit almost straight away, at the front of the palate, before everything else kicks in, moving over your tongue and finishing with a bitterness at the back of the mouth. It’s punchy, but one of those spirits that is going to lend itself to a little time in a bartender’s hands.
The recommended serve for this release is Fever Tree’s Lemon Tonic, or a Bloody Mary (their own recipe can be found here). For me, as it was evening, it was Lemon Tonic. And it’s easy to see why they chose it.
Mixed with tonic, you get lots of lemon on the nose (obviously), but hints of those bitter notes from the hops. On the palate, it’s gentled, softened and all the layers are out to play. Loads of lemon, hoppy bitterness, and it’s definitely a bit moreish. I might need more lemon tonic.
So that’s August. Can’t wait for September!