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

Organic Apricot Ale – Samuel Smith’s (Tadcaster, England)

Organic Apricot Fruit Ale – Samuel Smith, 5.1% ABV, 550 ml., (Tadcaster, England)


on the back label:

“Handcrafted at Melbourn Bros’ tiny brewery set in a time warp in Stamford using the old manually operated brewing equipment. finest organically grown barley and wheat are used to create a complex ale which having undergone primary and secondary fermentation with different yeasts and extended maturation, is taken to Samuel Smith’s small, independent British brewery at Tadcaster. There it is blended with pure organic apricot fruit juice and a previously cellared organic brew – creating an unparalleled fruit ale. The smooth distinctive character of the matured ale serves as the perfect counterpoint to the pure organic fruit juice.”

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  • Style: (Apricot) Fruit Beer
  • Taste: Super apricot fruit forward wheat malt tangy slight sour
  • Where I got it : Firefly / Vancouver
  • How much: $6 (after 10% off) – 550 ml., May 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: sure

Visual: (cellared for 4 years). Pours cloudy pale apricot orange with a smallish dissipating head, thick ringed retention, half lacing, clusters and of very active streams.

Nose: fragrant unfiltered tangy apricot puree, slight alcoholic edge. (lvl-9)-pungency

Attack: crisp, thicker, mild fizzy-tingly, bright-fruity tangy

Mid-palate: background subdued barley malt, sweet wheat malt, (lvl-4-sweetness), soft unintrusive sour, very fruity apricot puree

Finish: subtle bitterness, a bit of wheat malt palate dry

Summary: Super fruity and a whole lot of authentic apricot flavour with enough grain malts to balance it out. Very easy drinking, but I find the finish somewhat short.

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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Oatmeal Stout – Samuel Smith’s – (Tadcaster, England)

Oatmeal Stout – Samuel Smith, 5% ABV, 550ml., (Tadcaster, England)


on the back label:

“An opaque, wonderfully silky and smooth textured ale with a complex, medium dry palate and bittersweet finish. Brewed with well water (the original well sunk in 1758 is still in use), malted barley, roasted barley, oatmeal, yeast and hops, Fermented in open-topped ‘stone Yorkshire squares’. Celebrated Oatmeal Stout is a style benchmark revived by Samuel Smith’s and the inspiration for hundreds of commercial oatmeal stouts.”
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  • Style: (Oatmeal) Sweet Stout
  • Taste: Fruity berry tangy light sour roasted barley malt chocolate
  • Where I got it : Bottle Jockey / N.Bby
  • How much: $6.85 (after 10% off) – 550ml., February 2016
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: 50/50

Visual: Foil sealed cap. Pours super dark brown with a dissipating very small head, a half-sized island with thin ringed retention, steady tight streams.

Nose: sweet caramel, light roasted barley malt, a bit of bourbon booze. (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: flat slick-crisp

Mid-palate: underlying light tangy-sour brightness, tingly CO2, (lvl-6-sweetness), raspberry, brown sugar, roasted barley, woodiness

Finish: lingering maltiness, cardboard, molasses barley exhale

Summary: Quite a bit of tangy fruitness in this one, counterbalanced with sweet roasted barley malt and a bit of bittersweetness at the end. Somewhat lacking in thickness/fullness as well as a creamy mouthfeel. Decent, but not remarkable.

Stowford Press Export Cider – Westons (Herefordshire, England) (re-tasting)

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  • My Rating: [C+],  I gave it a (3.1, upgraded from 2.8 of 5) on Ratebeer.com

Stowford Press Export Cider – Westons, 6% ABV, 500ml, (Herefordshire, England)


  • Style: (sweet) Apple Cider
  • Taste: Clean controlled sweet half apple/half woody
  • Where I got it : ??
  • How much: ?? – 500ml., ??
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to cider aficionados: 50/50

(September 3, 2013 tasting)

Visual: clear bottle, sticker labels. Pours medium dark clear golden yellow with no head and some activity.

Nose: Very woody and tangy filtered apple juice

Attack: 4/10-sweetness, incoming tang

Mid-palate: (MAIN) dense red apple, very woody, tangy/acidic

Finish: off-dry, medium sourness, mild apple exhale finish.

Summary: It has a nice woody body. Straightforward, decent, mildly above average.


April 5, 2016 re-tasting:

Visual: Pours clear apple juice yellow with no head, no activity, just a few bubbles lounging on the surface.

Nose: tangy, very woody apple juice. (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: slightly thicker viscosity, incoming fruity sugars

Mid-palate: tingly-fizzy, (lvl-6-sweetness), apple juice, big woodiness, tangy acidic bite

Finish: tingly-tart, sticky palate, apple-woody exhale

Summary: Pretty straightforward fruity apple with a very nice woody counterpart.

The Craft BeerAdvent 2014 Calendar Day #17 – Marmalade Porter (UK)

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The Craft BeerAdvent Calendar 2014 Day #17

Marmalade Porter – Wold Top Brewery, 5% ABV – 330ml., (Driffield, England)

on the back label:

“A complex, triple hopped rich dark Porter, with a sweet malty base and overtones of bitter orange alongside hints of coffee and chocolate. This porter is also certified to have a gluten content that is below the CODEX standard of 20ppm. Great with classic Roast Dinners and Chocolate!”

  • Style: Porter
  • Taste: Roasted malt bitter orange tangy bitter hops mild chocolate coffee exhale
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Visual: Pours soy sauce black with minimal head, thin ringed retention, clusters of streams here and there.

Nose: roasted malts, nuttiness. (lvl-4)-pungency

Attack: slick micro-tingly

Mid-palate: (lvl-4)-sweetness, (MAIN) bitter peel orange peel, orange sour-tangy, light roast malt

Finish: bitter chocolate, bitter resiny hops, dry roast coffee tangy exhale.

Summary: Good body and decent flavour for a 5% of a porter. Lots of tanginess and a surprise dose of bitter hops but it’s all kept in a drinkable balance.

Imperial Stout – Samuel Smith’s (Tadcaster, England)

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Imperial Stout – Samuel Smith, 7.0% ABV, 550ml., (Tadcaster, England)

on the back label:

“Brewed at Samuel Smith’s small, traditional British brewery with well water (the original well sunk in 1758 is still in use), best barley malt, roasted barley, yeast and hops to create a rich flavourful ale; deep chocolate in colour with a roasted barley nose and flavour that is a complexity of malt, hops and yeast. Fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’. This distinctive type of ale was originally shipped to Imperial Russia; it was a favourite of Russian nobility.”

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  • Style: Imperial Stout
  • Taste: Cacao roasted liquid barley malt
  • Where I got it : Liquor Barn @ Hastings/Burnaby
  • How much: $6 (after 10% off) – 550ml., February 2015
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: not memorable

Visual: Foil sealed cap. Pours coffee black with very minimal head, a thin layer of fine retention, lots of micro streams near the surface.

Nose: light burnt bread, sweet baked molasses. (lvl-4)-pungency

Attack: watery-slick, immediate burnt light-sour liquid malt

Mid-palate: (lvl-4)-sweetness, (MAIN) cacao, roasted barley, caramel, coffee sourness, soy sauce, hints of vanilla

Finish: lingering roasted malted barley, partially thin finish.

Summary: A bit dry on its own but goes nicely with a meal. Not what I’d expect from an Imperial Stout, it’s rather light but where it lacks in body it makes up for it in composure and balance. This one makes you notice subtlety.