Review – Martin Miller’s Gin
Whilst a certain Victorian apothecary-styled gin makes a great deal of fuss about its inclusion of cucumber in its botanical list, there is another gin content with a much more subtle approach. So subtle in fact, it is considered a ‘secret’ botanical. The other botanicals comprise of juniper, cassia, orris, liquorice, coriander, angelica, nutmeg, cinnamon and citrus peel. All except the citrus are left to macerate in neutral spirit and hot water overnight in the pot still. They are then distilled separately to the citrus peels. The distilled ‘concentrate’ is then transported all the way to Borganes in Iceland to be diluted to bottling strength with local spring water.
Neat: The citrus sherbet and juniper are again in battle on the palate, perhaps too much so. The mid-palate is a little lacking aside from some peppery spice which leads into a slightly oily vegetal finish, pricked this time by both nutmeg and cinnamon as the citrus again reminds you of its dominance. It feels a bit jumpy and disjointed.
Mixing: A versatile gin this is not, but nor is it an entirely unsuccessful one. Gin-forward drinks such as the G+T and Martini are not the way to head for an enjoyable libation, the former being both too light on flavour and too heavy on quinine bitterness, and the latter being dominated by the citrus notes. The Bramble heads in the right direction, the creme de mure helping to round things out and offer a smoother tasting drink. A similar effect is achieved in the Wibble, the sloe gin too offering an opportunity to balance the imperfections of this gin. It is the signature Tuscan Sunset however, with its use of both sweet vermouth and Maraschino liqueur that presents a truly enjoyable drinking experience, both being lovers of citrus-y gins.
Signature Cocktail – Tuscan Sunset
50ml Martin Miller’s Gin, 35ml Sweet Vermouth, 20ml Lime Juice, 15ml Maraschino Liqueur, 2 dash Peychaud’s Bitters, Ginger Ale
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball glass chilled glass. Top with ginger ale and garnish with a mint sprig.
Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength
Made using the same distillate/recipe as the ‘regular’ gin, the Westbourne Strength is bottled at a more punchy 45.2% abv.
Nose: The orange sherbet from its weaker sibling is present, but not so dominantly so. The juniper is smooth, slightly resinous and prominent, but supple and balanced. A certain greenness to the aroma, spiced with nutmeg and smoothed with liquorice.
Neat: Quite frankly insanely smooth and almost chewy on the palate. Sweet liquorice builds to a mildly spicy but not at all edgy mid-palate prickled with citrus. Not even a glimpse of the disjointed flavours in the regular strength, the botanicals have been brought together in such harmony that they are almost indistinguishable from each other. Pleasingly bold on the juniper, but so smooth is this gin that you hardly notice.
Mixing: This is a fine sipping gin, but it is an exceptional mixing gin. Peculiarly considering the smooth palate, the spicy elements oftentimes come to the fore in cocktails, a simple G+T being a particularly pleasingly complex example. This means that highly floral drinks such as the Aviation with its creme de violette turn out with a wonderful contrast of flavours, brought together by the excellent smooth base of the gin. The Last Word too is punchy on many levels, herbal, sweet, sour, floral and spicy, a bit of everything for sure. Sometimes though, the botanical boldness is not successful; the Wink with its inclusion of absinthe being just a bit too much, resulting in a drink that ends up just tasting flat. Although a wise choice for such short classic cocktails, the Westbourne Strength stands up to the rigours of mixing long and fruity too. The raspberry-based Venus Martini is both quaffable and flavoursome, whilst the Fruit Cup will prove that you never need buy the ready-made stuff again.
Martin Miller’s gin is a tale of two halves. The regular strength disappoints, feeling disjointed and unbalanced. The Westbourne Strength by contrast is one of the finest gins available, top stuff indeed.
Rating: ★★★ (Regular) ★★★★★ (Westbourne Strength)
Martin Miller’s Gin 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.