Review: Kamm and Sons Ginseng Spirit
Sitting across the bar was an amiable looking chap cradling a curious unlabelled bottle of liquid. Periodically he would pour a small sample and share with a steady stream of patrons being referred by the bartender. Not wishing to be left out, I hopped over and asked if I might sample his wares. What I discovered was not your usual homemade sloe gin, or undisclosed import from Eastern Europe, but instead one of the tastiest, most intriguing artisanal spirits I have ever enjoyed. That spirit was Kamm and Son’s Ginseng Spirit.
Developed by Alex Kammerling, this is a product that is the result of years of passionate and dedicated development to produce a spirit that is so unique, it has created its own product category! Kamm and Sons is produced to a secret recipe containing 45 different botanicals including four different types of ginseng. The botanicals are distilled (similar to gin) with neutral spirit before being mixed with a herbal infusion containing Manuka honey, gentian and wormwood. The result is a spirit at 33% ABV that seems part-gin, part-bitters, part-Campari, part-liqueur, but so totally better than all combined!
The most immediate thing that strikes you is the almost luminous rusty orange colour. As you are drawn in to take a closer look, the bitter herbaceous smell only serves to build the interest. With a definite honeyed aroma also lingering and a citrus freshness, your eyes and nose both tell you that the palate is in for a complex treat. The complexity, depth and length of flavour are all impressive. With warming herbal anise and juniper notes to start, the bitterness develops in the mouth but remains restrained by citrus and honey tones that come into play and balance the whole thing out. The finish is long and mellow, making this an extremely enjoyable spirit to drink on the rocks. Although certainly a ‘bitter’ product, there is a great balance with the sweeter elements that make this much more approachable.
With Kamm and Sons being somewhat unique, the choices for which cocktails to use it in are varied. I opted for the following;
Kamm and Sons Negroni
1oz Kamm and Sons, 1oz gin, 1oz sweet vermouth. Pour over ice and garnish with a lemon twist.
The immediate thing I notice is the softness compared with the usual bitterness of a traditional 1:1:1 Negroni. The bitterness certainly comes through, but it develops in the mouth rather than coming at you face on. This is a very approachable drink that allows the complexity of the Kamm and Sons to shine, making good use of all its elements. Kamm and Sons is so cleverly versatile that whilst here it takes centre stage, a small increase in the gin:Kamm and Sons ratio completely changes the balance and the gin is soon allowed to shine through, with the Kamm and Sons helping to enhance the gin botanicals.
The First Word
50ml Kamm and Sons, 25ml lemon juice, 2 barspoons Maraschino liqueur, 2 barspoons sugar syrup, dash egg white. Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
A Kamm and Sons signature serve. Sweet maraschino is first up, followed by a nicely balanced lemon and sweet fruity note. As is so characteristic of Kamm and Sons, the bitterness develops and this drink really accentuates the bitter notes. The herbal and juniper elements take a backseat but the depth of flavour is still there, with layers coming through as the drink develops in the mouth. A trademark long finish makes this drink really rather moreish. More bitter than the Kamm and Sons negroni but the initial sweetness balances this and the changing flavour profile is exciting and enjoyable.
The Hedgerow Sour (Courtesy of Bitters and Twisted)
25ml Kamm and Sons, 25ml Sloe gin, 15ml lime juice, 10ml lemon juice, 10ml sugar syrup, 15ml egg white. Dry shake, wet shake, strain. Garnish with seasonal berries.
This cocktail brings out some great characteristics in both the sloe gin and the Kamm and Sons. With the sloe gin flavours first up on stage, the harmony between the sweet and the sour accentuates the fruity and nutty elements of the gin. There is no mistaking this is a sloe gin cocktail. But then the Kamm and Sobs comes gliding through, bringing with it a delicious bitterness that complements the almond notes of the sloe gin beautifully. Another cocktail of two halves, but seamlessly joined in the middle. The Kamm and Sons is unmistakable on the finish, leaving a lingering bitterness that works superbly with the dryness and mouthfeel added by the egg white. The flavours all play off one another to create an elegant and interesting sour.
The Golden Manhattan (Courtesy of Bitters and Twisted)
50ml Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, 20ml Kamm and Sons, 10ml Maraschino liqueur, dash Angostura bitters. Long stir with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The bourbon takes centre stage but it is smoothed and (despite the Maraschino) less sweet than when sipped neat. It’s flavour profile is opened up and the natural fruit and oak notes enlivened by the herbal elements of the Kamm and Sons. The Maraschino really tames the bitterness of the Kammerlings, which in turn tames the Maraschino. Neither are too strong and everything is in balance. This is an easy-drinking Manhattan but with a great depth of flavour, a Kamm and Sons cocktail for those who aren’t so keen on the bitterness but still like their cocktails complex and short.
“Kamm and Sons Ginseng Spirit is a unique product that sits somewhere between Campari, gin, Pimms and Vermouth. This description does however, not do it justice as this is one of the most innovative, versatile and delicious spirits released in a very long time. Everyone must try this product.”
Kamm and Sons is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.