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Arriving at just about half past six for a 7:00pm Gin tasting and Martini Master Class, I eagerly stepped off the Metro bus in the heart of the Beverly Hills Shopping District and promptly made my way to the beautiful Montage Hotel to begin the first phase in this Junipery Journey. Upon arriving, I promptly found a seat and introduced myself around. Our hosts for the evening were Sebastian “Seb” Mudge, the Plymouth Global Ambassador, and Ken Baranda who was still a recent addition to the Plymouth at that point in time.
A Gin Rickey was promptly served to all, along with some light bites including a sort of pasta, burger sliders, and delicious crab cake ball things. At about 7:30 the tasting got underway. We learned about the history of the word “Proof”, and how Plymouth Gin used to be of appellation origin. Plymouth makes three variations of their Gin: Navy Strength, Sloe and Original. We tasted only the Original and used it to mix Martini’s, of which the 2:1 was probably my favourite (two parts gin, one part vermouth).
Now before we get to the main part of this write up, I’d like to mention that this piece will be slightly different in that I’ll be writing about cocktails and liqueurs, and not just the base spirit.
Plymouth Gin Original: The gin that started it all, as in their first. I’ve not had many gins but Plymouth is a top brand for a reason; they’re a fairly nice and even gin.
- Nose: As you would expect with a Gin the nose is Juniper forward and has some citrus notes, but not much else to it. Pretty standard fare for a gin, nothing to write home about.
- Flavour: Also juniper forward, but with a sweetness, followed by what tasted like sugar.
Plymouth Gin Original Part Deux (Or after Water): After adding about a shot of water to the gin, it opened up a little more, allowing us to get a few more flavours and aromas.
- Nose: After water the nose opened up to reveal a more mellow juniper aroma with some pepper notes (possibly green pepper). We weren’t entirely certain on this one.
- Flavour: After adding water, the flavour changed to warmer and more subtle sweet juniper notes.
So now that we’ve discussed the base spirit, let’s move on to the vermouth.
Martini & Rossi: Up first, an oldie but a goodie. Martini & Rossi is a sweet vermouth that dates back to sometime before I care to look up, and is a fairly well known name, and I’d imagine common place behind a cocktail bar.
- Nose: As you would expect in a sweet vermouth the nose was very much that, but once I got past that upfront aroma of sweetness there were notes of tanginess and grape.
- Flavour: It was a sweet, but dry flavour with a hint of grape and slightly bready.
Dolin Dry Vermouth: My favourite vermouth of the evening, followed closely by Lillet Blanc.
- Nose: Very sweet on the nose, with notes of fruit jelly and a tanginess that, while subtle, was prevalent.
- Flavour: Very dry, but still sweet and warm.
Lillet Blanc: The modern day version of Kina Lillet which was discontinued years ago. Many feel it doesn’t taste the same, but I honestly don’t know as I never had its predecessor. Of the Vermouth’s we tasted, this was one of my favourites, with the Dolin taking the lead.
- Nose: It had a very strong and sweet grape nose.
- Flavour: Prominent notes of sweet grape, followed by a slight tang and capped off with a very “wet” texture.
Now we move on to the cocktails! I’ve never written about a cocktail in this much depth before, so bare with me!
Bone Dry: This is a martini that has just had vermouth used to rinse the shaker, there is none in the cocktail, which meant it was mostly your choice of Gin shaken or stirred and then
- Nose: Juniper. That’s it, pure Juniper.
- Flavour: There was at least some subtlety of flavour here. It was dry, bitter, and then finished off with more juniper.
10:1: If memory serves, this was 10 parts gin to one part vermouth. But that’s not really that scary when you realize it’s not 10 shots of Gin, that would seriously mess up the balance.
- Nose: Pure Juniper, but this time it was a lot more mellow, much to my surprise.
- Flavour: Juniper forward with some subtle spice and a more dormant sweetness.
5:1: Like it’s 10:1 counter-part this is five parts gin to one part vermouth.
- Nose: I hate to restate the obvious but the nose on this cocktail was Juniper forward (surprise, I know…) with some notes of citrus and sugar.
- Flavour: Nothing special here, juniper, citrus and an extremely mellow sweet/sugary flavour made up this cocktail.
Margerite: Not to be confused with a margarita, this is a gin cocktail that is essentially a 2:1, which, if you haven’t already guessed, is two parts gin to one part vermouth.
- Nose: The nose was, as per expectations, juniper forward with a very subdued citrus aroma.
- Flavour: It tastes like whatever vermouth they used to mix it. Seb said it was Lillet Blanc. It’s sweet with a light bitterness on the back end.
And there you have it folks, my first experience with Plymouth Gin and learning how to make Martini’s. Thanks Seb, Ken, and the entire Plymouth team for having me not once, not twice, but three times to get these notes right! Cheers y’all.