London Dry Gin Round 8 – Fords (Champ) VS Bloom (Challenger)

Here’s another 2017 round of the gin battles, making this Round 8 to date. We have the previous, newly crowned champ Fords versus the beautifully bottled Bloom.


[CHAMPION from Round 7, winning out over Pink 47]

1) Ford’s Gin London Dry – 45% ABV – 750ml., The 86 Co. (England), $43.70 CAD,  Jan 2017 – BC Liquor Stores

  • distilled by 8th gen Master distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford of The 86 Co.
  • 9 botanicals: Italian juniper, Romanian coriander seed, Spanish lemon peel, Haitian/Moroccan bitter orange peel, Turkish grapefruit peel, Chinese jasmine, Italian/Moroccan orris powder, Polish angelica, Indonesian cassia
  • botanicals steeped for 15 hours, cooked for 5 hours

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<VS> Challenger:

2) Bloom Premium London Dry Gin – 40% ABV – 750ml., G&J Greenall (England), $53 CAD,  sometime in 2015-16 – BC Liquor Stores

  • 29 international awards since 2008 (bloomgin.com)
  • created by one of world’s few female master gin distiller, Joanne Moore
  • includes juniper berries from Tuscany, chamomile from France, honeysuckle and pomelo from China
  • affinity for strawberry, rose, lemon, and pear when creating cocktails
  • quality wood top-authentic cork stopper (as opposed to being a cheap aluminum screw top cap)

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<Criteria>

Nose: Ford exhibits a mostly clean grassy-mineral juniper body with hints of its unique ingredient jasmine, with a bit of alcohol detection at the deep backend. Bloom… what?? had to do a double take; Extremely different with a chamomile-honeysuckle-soft pomelo identity, whilst being very clean from start to finish. It’s a close one but I prefer the brightness of Bloom. Bloom takes it.

Taste & Texture: Ford comes out swinging with an aggressive tangy alcoholic medium harshness, thicker oily viscosity, cinnamon-juniper-jasmine, prickly numbing tongue, menthol throat warmth finish. Blooms is less thick than its competitor, floral-honeysuckle and chamomile up front, light-medium alcohol burn mixed with pomelo citrus while juniper kicks in at the late mids until the finish. Very mild throat burn and a rather clean but unfortunately short finish. There’s about a medium level of depth of flavour for Bloom but the duration of flavour seems too short. I definitely enjoy the flavour, but Ford is simply a more robust gin. Ford gots it.

Final Notes:

  • Ford has a +body, +length, +depth, but unfortunately -smoothness and +burn = will work better in a cocktail with many ingredients
  • Bloom has a unique floral-citrus flavour profile but a weaker body = suitable in a cocktail with few ingredients
  • I would stock both, as both are delicious

but if I had to pick a winner to go to the next round, WINNER = Fords Gin

London Dry Gin Round 7 – Pink 47 (New Champion) VS Fords (Challenger)

Let’s kick off the start of a new year by welcoming the 7th Round of the London Dry Gin Battles. We have the newly crowned Pink 47 going up against The 86 Co.’s Fords London dry.


[CHAMPION from Round 6, recrowned after losing out on round 5, Pink 47]

1) Pink 47 – 47% ABV – 700ml., Old St. Andrews (UK), ~$40 CAD no longer sold at BC Liquor Stores

  • beautiful diamond shaped bottle – inspired by the legendary Khavaraya pink diamond
  • 4x distilled
  • recipe includes 12 botanicals: juniper berries (Tuscany), coriander seeds (Morocco), two types of Angelica roots (Saxony and ?), lemon and orange peel (Spain), orris root (Italy), almonds (Spain), licorice roots (China), cassia bark (Indochina), nutmeg (West Africa) – [actually that’s only 11…]
  • accolades include: International Spirits Challenge 2012 Gold, 69th 2012 Annual Wine & Spirits WSWA Silver, 5***** rating from Paul Pacult 2012, etc, etc, (18 awards and counting)

[VS]

[CHALLENGER]

2) Ford’s Gin London Dry – 45% ABV – 750ml., The 86 Co. (England), $43.70 CAD,  Jan 2017 – BC Liquor Stores

  • distilled by 8th gen Master distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford of The 86 Co.
  • 9 botanicals: Italian juniper, Romanian coriander seed, Spanish lemon peel, Haitian/Moroccan bitter orange peel, Turkish grapefruit peel, Chinese jasmine, Italian/Moroccan orris powder, Polish angelica, Indonesian cassia
  • botanicals steeped for 15 hours, cooked for 5 hours

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Criteria:

Nose: Keeping in mind that almond, licorice, and nutmeg differ in ingredients for P47, I get half juniper-half licorice floral harshness. While it’s not exactly unpleasant, I find the alcohol detection slightly disengaging. Fords main difference is its use of grapefruit peel and jasmine. Upon nosing Fords I get a very clean, composed and mellow sweet grapefruit-lemon citrus – virtually no nasal burn whatsoever; Impressive since it is just 2% ABV lower. Fords wins the nosing challenge.

Taste & Texture: Sipping P47 for the first time in 2017, I remember why I dethroned T.10 in round 6. It comes out with a huge alcoholic intensity backup up by a very lengthy sweet juniper base, prickly licorice and subtle citrus mids, and incredible throat heat at the finish. My intuition says that this will make a sturdy gin base in a cocktail. Onto Fords, slightly thicker in viscosity and wow, I’m really digging the juniper/cinnamon->grapefruit-lemon-orange->sleeper jasmine notes at the finish. Amazingly the alcohol harshness stays for the most part, hidden in the background so you are able to concentrate on teasing apart the individual botanicals. Although P47 has intensity and length, Fords takes it with its composed clean elegance.

Final Notes:

  • P47 exhibits intense juniper sweet, alcoholic soft citrus licorice, a reliable gin-cocktail base spirit
  • Fords showcases a burst of grapefruit juniper citrus with a subtle jasmine backend
  • Both have their place when concocting cocktails; P47 for cocktails with numerous ingredients, Fords to accentuate either the citrus or spotlight the jasmine in it.
  • As I mentioned at the start of Round 1 in the Gin battles, every gin has its own unique recipe, therefore each is more suitable according to the cocktail you wish to create. Thus, all gins are WINNERS! (actually there are probably some awful bathtub gins out there…)

but for this round 7, WINNER = Fords London Dry Gin

Extra battle – [T.10 VS Fords citrus battle]

Outcome: T.10 grapefruit/lime/orange/chamomile VS Fords grapefruit/lemon/orange/jasmine = T.10 is much more grapefruity citrus forward but with it comes a lot of aggressive alcohol at 47.3% ABV. It’s quite suitable in a lower ABV cocktail. Fords is much more tame and around a 65:35 – juniper:citrus ratio. I’d pick T.10 but obviously only for citrus-oriented gin cocktails.

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London Dry Gin Round 6 – Tanqueray No. 10 (Champ) VS Boodles (Challenger)

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This is Round 6 in the Gin battle, where two bottles go head-to-head and the winner moves on. Last round we had Tanqueray No.10 winning and now we have it up against Boodles British Gin. Let’s duel!


[CHAMPION from Round 5, eeking out a win against the game Pink 47]

1) Tanqueray No. 10 London Dry Gin – 47.3% ABV – 750ml., Diageo (London, but distilled in Scotland), $46 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores

  • the name No.10 comes from their “Still No.10”, aka “Tiny Ten”
  • recipe contains at least: Tuscan juniper, angelica root, coriander, and licorice.
  • recipe also includes use of fresh citrus fruits, including: white grapefruit, lime, orange, as well as chamomile flowers.

[VS]

[CHALLENGER]

2) Boodles British Gin London Dry – 45.2% ABV – 750ml., Cock Russell and Company (UK), $29 CAD, November 2014 @ BC Liquor Stores

  • distilled from British wheat
  • recipe includes the traditional herbs as well some unique such as nutmeg, sage and rosemary
  • no citrus ingredients in the recipe. The distillers expect the imbiber to add a citrus component  to their cocktail.

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Criteria:

Nose: T.10 is mellow up front, followed by nasal tingliness and some minerality. Boodles on the hand burns your nasal cavity straight out of the gate, very harsh. There is some rosemary/sage plus some juniper mixed in there but overall the alcohol is quite apparent. T.10 is simply gentle and welcoming on the nose.

Taste & Texture: Once again I’m reminded of the slick and silky mouthfeel of T.10 with the first sip. Big grapefruit citrus as usual along with background juniper, a touch of spiced heat, and lingering throat warmth encompasses its flavour profile. Boodles is just a smidge less thick, alcohol tingly and tongue numbing in the mids, sweet wheat malt, grassy juniper body, and very mild hints of sage and rosemary (not enough to discern them). Surprisingly there’s not as much heat as the nose suggests, just a moderate amount. Although T.10 does actually taste a bit soapyI still prefer it.

Final Notes:

  • These completely opposite gins: Tanqueray No.10 = grapefruit citrus bomb, Boodles = herbal grassy juniper

Extra battle – [Boodles VS Pink 47]

Outcome: Pink 47 is even waterier in mouthfeel than Boodles but it packs much more round fullness than the its UK companion. Now I finally see why Pink 47 has so many accolades, it drinks like a well-aged scotch or bourbon with superb length and depth. Pink 47 is levels above Boodles.

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After much thought (clouded by alcohol), I’ve decided to renounce Tanqueray No.10 as the champ and crown Pink 47 as the NEW CHAMP

London Dry Gin Round 5 – Tanqueray No. 10 (Champ) VS Pink 47 (Challenger)

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Tonight makes it Round 5 of the Gin VS challenge and this time we have the previous rounds new title holder Tanqueray 10 up against an virtually equal ABV’d Pink 47. Let the Gin battle begin!


[CHAMPION from Round 4, dethroning Bulldog Gin]

1) Tanqueray No. 10 London Dry Gin – 47.3% ABV – 750ml., Diageo (London, but distilled in Scotland), $46 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores

  • the name No.10 comes from their “Still No.10”, aka “Tiny Ten”
  • recipe contains at least: Tuscan juniper, angelica root, coriander, and licorice.
  • recipe also includes use of fresh citrus fruits, including: white grapefruit, lime, orange, as well as chamomile flowers.

[VS]

[CHALLENGER]

2) Pink 47 – 47% ABV – 700ml., Old St. Andrews (UK), ~$40 CAD no longer sold at BC Liquor Stores

  • beautiful diamond shaped bottle – inspired by the legendary Khavaraya pink diamond
  • 4x distilled
  • recipe includes 12 botanicals: juniper berries (Tuscany), coriander seeds (Morocco), two types of Angelica roots (Saxony and ?), lemon and orange peel (Spain), orris root (Italy), almonds (Spain), licorice roots (China), cassia bark (Indochina), nutmeg (West Africa) – [actually that’s only 11…]
  • accolades include: International Spirits Challenge 2012 Gold, 69th 2012 Annual Wine & Spirits WSWA Silver, 5***** rating from Paul Pacult 2012, etc, etc, (18 awards and counting)

Criteria:

Nose: Starting off with T.10, the base grain spirit immediately jumps out with the ethyl alcohol and partial soapiness. It doesn’t have a ton of aroma with it, only a bit of citrus oil in the background. P47 noses quite similarly with the alcohol detection but is backed up by juniper notes, some rootiness, and significantly more nasal burn. Bottom line, T.10 = sweeter, muted alcohol. P47 = harsh alcohol detection. Tanqueray No.10 wins the aroma test.

Taste & Texture: T.10 first, it is slightly thicker in viscosity while the tongue gets coated with ctirus oils. A big grapefruit burst grabs your attention followed by juniper, and then the lime/orange oils. There’s a slight prickly sensation as well, and then comes the lasting throat warmth. Lingering bitter citrus oils at the finish. On to the P47, it feels noticeably thinner in the mouth than T.10, big juniper flavour from the get go, some citrus in the mids, cassia and coriander in finish. The flavour is quite full but the alcohol is also harsher. Subsequent sips numb the tip of the tongue. Bottom line, although I appreciate the big flavour of P47, Tanqueray No.10 is silkier in texture and better in smooth flavour delivery.

Final Notes:

  • Still lovin’ the grapefruit citrus of Tanqueray No.10, lots of throat heat for the 47.3% ABV.
  • Full, rounded bodied juniper (and more) profile of Pink 47, but it also comes with nasal burn
  • Both achieve different goals: Tanqueray No.10 = grapefruit-lime-orange, Pink 47 = full flavoured juniper-citrus-rooty spice. Depends on what you prefer.

WINNER = I prefer Tanqueray N.10

London Dry Gin Round 4 – Bulldog (Champ) VS Tanqueray No. 10 (Challenger)

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Welcome to another round of the Gin VS battle, today, Round 4. Tanqueray 10 is known for have a more robust presence in cocktails due to its higher than usual ABV. Let’s duel!

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1) Bulldog London Dry Gin – 40% ABV – 750ml, (Lawrenceburg, IN, USA), ~$43 CAD @ Newport Village

  • Came into the market in 2007. (homepage)
  • 12 botanicals from 8 countries: Italian Juniper, German angelica, coriander seeds, Chinese licorice, Spanish almonds, Italian orris root, Seville lemons, CHINESE DRAGON EYE (longan), TURKISH WHITE POPPY SEEDS, ASIAN LOTUS LEAVES, ASIAN CASSIA, FRENCH LAVENDER. (differing ingredients in bold)
  • 90-95 points rated by Paul Pacult, Wine Enthusiast Magazine; Restaurant Magazine’s 2008 Spirit of the Year.

[VS]

2) Tanqueray No. 10 London Dry Gin – 47.3% ABV – 750ml, Diageo (London, but distilled in Scotland), $46 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores

  • the name No.10 comes from their “Still No.10”, aka known as “Tiny Ten”
  • recipe contains at least: Tuscan juniper, angelica root, coriander, and licorice.
  • recipe also includes use of fresh citrus fruits, including: white grapefruit, lime, orange, as well as chamomile flowers.

Criteria:

Nose: This time, Bulldog’s nosing includes a mix of juniper and citrus. The burn isn’t so bad, it comes after the initial bright flavours that come forward. In comparison, No.10 is much more juicy in its citrus profile, exhibiting lots of lime and grapefruit, as well as juniper. Nasal burn jumps out much sharper and right off the bat. Aromawise, No.10 wins hands down; it’s bolder and brighter.

Taste & Texture: Bulldog starts of thick and sweet, juniper creeping up in the mids, finishing fruity yet spicy showcasing the longan. No.10 feels much thinner in comparison, but bursting with immediate assault of grapefruit peel oil mixed with milder orange and then lime oils in the exhale. Alcoholic heat and burn are apparent from the start but offset by the juicy citrus. Alcohol burn is much more apparent than the Bulldog as expected. No.10 has my vote, it grabs you attention from start to finish.

Final Notes:

  • Bulldog’s flavour is a lot more subdued and light in comparison
  • No.10 has the biggest grapefruit citrus taste I’ve ever had in a gin, great for cocktails
  • Although Bulldog is smoother as a sipper (but who sips gin?), No.10 has that robust citrus flavour you just can’t ignore, albeit with a harsher alcohol burn.

Extra: Tanqueray VS Tanqueray No.10: Normal Tanqueray is mellow in comparision. Juniper and pine flavours particularly stick out. No.10 is a lot more aggressive in flavour and heat, but the finish and flavour last much longer. No.10 all the way. Also because No.10, Beefeater and Bulldog exist I’d stock them instead.

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WINNER = Tanqueray N.10 (new Round 4 winner!)

London Dry Gin Round 3 – Bulldog (Champ) VS Tanqueray (Challenger)

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Welcome to Round 3 of the Gin battle! It’s been just over 2 years since I last compared or tasted Bulldog so I’m really looking forward to trying it again this duel. Up against our champ we have the heavy hitter Tanqueray, a globally well-known gin.

1) Bulldog London Dry Gin – 40% ABV – 750ml, (Lawrenceburg, IN, USA), ~$43 CAD @ Newport Village

  • Came into the market in 2007. (homepage)
  • 12 botanicals from 8 countries: Italian Juniper, German angelica, coriander seeds, Chinese licorice, Spanish almonds, Italian orris root, Seville lemons, CHINESE DRAGON EYE (longan), TURKISH WHITE POPPY SEEDS, ASIAN LOTUS LEAVES, ASIAN CASSIA, FRENCH LAVENDER. (differing ingredients in bold)
  • 90-95 points rated by Paul Pacult, Wine Enthusiast Magazine; Restaurant Magazine’s 2008 Spirit of the Year.

[VS]

2) Tanqueray London Dry Gin – 40% ABV – 750ml, Diageo (London, but distilled in Scotland), $27.50 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores

  • First distilled in 1830, now distilled in the Cameronbridge Gin distillery in Scotland. (wiki)
  • recipe contains at least: Tuscan juniper, angelica root, coriander, and licorice.

Criteria:

Nose: The initial whiff of Bulldog is actually too aggressive and offensively burning. Subsequent nosings reveal fruity juniper and florals but still a lot of sharp nasal burn. Tanqueray: did I just pour water in my glass? Where’s the alcohol? Incredibly mute until you really stick your nose in there, light juniper and mild nasal tingliness. Kind of a toss-up, flavour or smoothness – depends on what you want. Me, I want something because I’m drinking a gin, not vodka. My preference is Bulldog.

Taste & Texture: I get medium thick, initially sweet and then fruity longan-juniper with a lemon bite. Also a there’s a peppery finish. Good depth of flavour, heat control and elegance exhibited. Tanquery on the other hand, drinks watery, sweeter, juniper with bursting lemony citrus, all the while accompanied by alcohol burn and tingliness from the mids to the flat finish. Nowhere near as graceful nor smooth. Bulldog has my vote.

Final Notes:

  • Bulldog has distinct one-shot composure from start to finish: mellow entry, juniper to sweet longan transition, rounded floral finish. Very sippable.
  • Tanqueray has a mainly citrusy lemon juniper character. Not sippable, better for highballs and not 15%+ ABV cocktails (flavour is too flat)
  • I’d likely stock Beefeater over Tanqueray if want a citrusy gin. I’ll have to do a proper head-to-head to find out for sure.

WINNER = BULLDOG London Dry Gin (Round 1-2-3 champ)

London Dry Gin Round 2 – Bulldog (Champ) VS Bombay Sapphire (Challenger)

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Welcome to Round 2 of the Gin battle! Last time Bulldog won because of its complexity, but which one will prevail today? In the challenger’s corner we have Bombay Sapphire, another English distilled Gin with the global reach rivaling Beefeater. (Note: Bulldog’s description was copy+pasted from Round 1)

1) Bulldog London Dry Gin – 40% ABV – 750ml, (Lawrenceburg, IN, USA), ~$43 CAD @ Newport Village

  • Came into the market in 2007. (homepage)
  • 12 botanicals from 8 countries: Italian Juniper, German angelica, coriander seeds, Chinese licorice, Spanish almonds, Italian orris root, Seville lemons, CHINESE DRAGON EYE (longan), TURKISH WHITE POPPY SEEDS, ASIAN LOTUS LEAVES, ASIAN CASSIA, FRENCH LAVENDER. (differing ingredients in bold)
  • 90-95 points rated by Paul Pacult, Wine Enthusiast Magazine; Restaurant Magazine’s 2008 Spirit of the Year.

[VS]

2) Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin – 40% ABV – 750ml, (Laverstoke, Hampshire, England), $28 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores

  • Introduced in 1987. (wiki)
  • Flavour is obtained by the “hanging basket” method where alcohol vapours pass through a mesh basket containing the 10 ingredients below. Such method supposedly gives a cleaner, crisper, more balanced taste as opposed to boiling the ingredients with the mash (according to the back label on the bottle).
  • 10 botanicals from 7 countries: Italian juniper, German angelica root, Moroccan coriander seeds, Chinese liquorice, Spanish almonds, Italian orris root, Murcian lemon peel, Indo-China cassia bark, WEST AFRICAN GRAINS OF PARADISE, JAVA CUBEB BERRIES.

Criteria:

Nose: To my surprise, even though I chose Bulldog as a winner last round, this time it comes across as overly harsh and sharp on the senses. It makes my nasal cavity tingle too much for my liking. In contrast, Bombay is noticeably softer yet dampened, with floral notes of lavender leading the way. The winner is Bombay Sapphire.

Taste & Texture: Exotic fruit aromas of longan is nicely balanced with the lemon and florals in Bulldog. Furthermore, this elegance extends to the finish with soft, biting coriander and licorice. Bombay has a strange intial “grassy” quinine bitterness, transitioning into juniper and ending with massive amounts of peppery fire; This makes sense, attributable to the spicy qualities of grains of paradise and cubeb berries. In the end I prefer my gins to be first and foremost:  balanced; secondly: exciting; and finally, floral. Based on these three criteria, I choose Bulldog.

Final Notes:

  • Bulldog is more balanced, more SIPPABLE but is more expensive.
  • Bombay Sapphire has this initial grassy bitterness, and a MAJOR FIERY BACKEND.
  • Yes, I WOULD stock Bombay Sapphire in my bar based on its unique spicy character, it certainly has its place in gin-based cocktails.

WINNER = BULLDOG London Dry Gin (Round 1 & 2 champ)

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Used to be new but is now old News Flash: Bombay Sapphire East! It has two additional ingredients, Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black peppercorns. I have a bottle that will be reviewed in the future.

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