The giraffe (see header for my feeble effort at knitting one) happens to be the favourite animal of one of John’s grandchildren, but to her parents there is a much more important G: Gin. And you thought I was buying the stuff because I liked it. No, it’s all market research. John’s daughter and husband in Spain have decided to set up in the gin trade. You might have wondered why there seem to be so many artisanal gins around nowadays. Unlike whisky or wine, you don’t have to wait years for it to mature. Essentially, gin is a spirit with a predominant taste of juniper berries, ready to drink in months. The EU Regulation 787/2019 of 17th April 2019 gives more details than you or I really want to read. I rather wish I’d not found the EU Regulation as it lists hundreds of spirits (most of which I do not have). If you really want the link, shout and I’ll add it to my next Post!
Distilled gin means that the botanicals are re-distilled with the spirit, whereas for compound gin the botanicals are steeped in it (like me making sloe gin. I don’t have any distilling equipment, believe it or not!). Dry gin has no or very little sweetening (0.1 g/l or less of sugar). London Dry Gin can be made anywhere in the world. It has to be distilled and colourless with no added flavours (botanicals) other than juniper. There’s also Plymouth Gin, which does not appear to have an official definition, but comes from Plymouth, made at the oldest working gin distillery in England. https://www.plymouthgin.com/en-EN
The name gin (possibly) comes from the Dutch or French word for juniper (jenever or genievre). As well as juniper, other botanicals are allowed and this is where the excitement comes in, blending different flavours and quantities to make a gin you think is just perfect. Any neutral spirit can be used as the base, as long as it is ‘of agricultural origin’. I’m sure each gin maker has his or her favourite spirit base. For an example of the diversity of gin, try https://www.masterofmalt.com/gin/
I’m blithely wittering on about botanicals, but what exactly are they? In simple terms, plants. Look at any gin website and you’ll see they claim to have used a blend of plants, often to reflect where the gin is made and more often unique to that gin. For example, Plymouth Gin has orange and lemon peels, angelica root, orris root and green cardamom as well as the juniper. Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin (to pick one in my bar at random) has gunpowder green tea, meadowsweet, angelica root, caraway seeds, grapefruit, cardamom, coriander, oriss root, star anise, lemon and kaffir lime (which I think we now must call makrut or Thai lime). Oh, and don’t forget juniper berries. https://drumshanbogunpowderirishgin.com/ I could go on for the rest of my life but let’s stop there. As soon as I have the Family Gin I’ll let you know what it’s like (the best gin ever, obviously) and which botanicals it has.
The other week I found two local gins but so far have only opened one, the strawberry tarragon which I mentioned in Post 106 dated 8th October. Whether you drink it or make it into ice cream, it’s good. If you go onto their website, they have a watermelon flavour just waiting for me to try. https://haselburyspirit.com/shop
Last weekend we spent a couple of days in Padstow. I know, I’m never home! Well I will be for a while as the diary is currently empty (apart from my Pilates and Piano of course). It’s also looking more and more likely that another lockdown is looming. For possibly our last outing, we made the most of eating and drinking but not much of the splendid walking due to the foul weather. This is our B&B, although they didn’t actually do the second b, we had to walk down to Rick Stein’s Café for that.
Of course, we bought a bottle of Padstow Gin, https://www.padstowdistilling.com/ not connected to Rick Stein (to the best of my knowledge). This is an interesting gin, in that it is made from barley and, to me, looks slightly darker than your usual gin. The taste is different too, and there’s not the immediate hit of juniper when you smell it. We had it with tonic, which was traditionally used to prevent malaria in ‘The Tropics’ in the day of the British Empire. As the active anti-malarial ingredient (quinine) in tonic is bitter, gin was added to improve the taste. The Padstow Gin website does have some cocktail recipes, so my final judgement is yet to be given. Instead, I’ll tell you about No 6, where we ate the first night. Once again, nothing to do with Rick Stein as it’s run by Paul Ainsworth. This is the menu, to make your taste buds water, with the fairground dessert above somewhere.
Before trying these new gins, the last weekend we were at home, I made two cocktails I’ve not yet mentioned, moondream and Milano martini (sort of). Moondream consists of 45 ml gin, 30 ml Fino sherry and 7 ml crème de Peche (I used Archers). I’m not sold on it (this seems to be a common theme today? Let’s hope things improve). The Martini is 60 ml gin, 5 ml Campari, 15 ml dry vermouth and 15 ml dry white wine. It was ‘sort of’ as we had no white wine open (!) so used the Chinese cooking wine in the fridge. It feels like it’s been there for ever but in this cocktail it was very good so maybe it just needs to mature. Talking of Martini, I think I’ll have to make those tonight as I’ve just seen that Sir Sean Connery has died. To my mind, the best ever James Bond.
Well, one of you told me that I talk too much about alcohol, so onto other matters. JD’s chipper was in action once they’d assembled it: very disappointing to see the size of branch it will chip. I’d call it a twig!
In line with cutting up and tidying away all the wood lying around, JD decided to clear out the log store of all the old floor boards and other woodwormy wood we had. He was so successful we now are unable to have a fire indoors as all the old logs have been burnt on the bonfire and all the new ones are not yet cut to size. I think this will be the job for the next few months. Back in the garden, we have our first spring flower (?), a narcissus. At the same time we have nerines (Guernsey lilies) which are sensible enough to flower at the right time.
The beasts went to their usual holiday resort when we were away for our weekends (the local kennels and cattery). Here are Polly and Adie greeting each other after being separated for a few days.
An update was received from Clipper on 21st October regarding the restart of the 20-19/20 Race. They have now decided that both February 2021 (initial plan) and April 2021 are not going to be feasible. The Race will, therefore, restart from Subic Bay on 28th August 2021, with crew expected to be on site by 16th August to have time for refresher training. It is planned that all three Chinese stops (Sanya, Zhuhai and Qingdao) will be included before heading off to Seattle, arriving there between 24th and 29th October (2021). In addition to the two day refresher training prior to setting off, crew can undertake extra training in Gosport from April next year. I’ll update as and when we have more news, but there are a lot more details on the Clipper website, here: https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/clipper-201920-race-update
For George, it is difficult to predict whether he’ll get back on and finish this Race. If he doesn’t, he has time on his side, up to emulating his dad and re-joining when he is 70. JD is keen to finish ‘The Race of Your Life’ but on the other hand (literally), he has put his wedding ring back on, so I think he’s accepted that the Race isn’t going to be finished any time soon. He had to take it off as there’s a real risk of de-gloving if you catch a ring on any part of the boat that doesn’t give. I might have told you about it before but if curious (and not squeamish) then hunt on your favourite search engine. It’s quite a good topic for this Hallowe’en weekend. I don’t take any notice of it, but I think Adie is getting into the spirit of it. To add to the fun, tonight is a blue moon, that is the second full moon in one month. You’ll have to wait 19 years for the next one. Storm Aiden is also playing havoc with the UK weather so a good spooky night could be had!