I don’t know what it is about blokes. But when it comes round to a big, box office, fight night we tend to go a bit…primal.
My brother and I love the thrill of a good fight and have followed Anthony Joshua’s career for the last few years. And when the next round of build up and sledging commences, it’s an inevitability that we begin to plot where and how we’ll be watching.
When fight night finally arrives, that’s when things start to get pretty macho and the animalistic blood lust starts to surface. I’ll give you case and point. September 22nd 2018, Nottinghill London. Picture the scene; two lads in their early thirties on their way to see AJ fight at Wembley Stadium, with time to kill. But what work would the devil make for these idle hands? Surely we were pub bound, destined to fall in to bad company and good times? Perhaps end up passing cross words with a couple of likely lads who took offence to the cut of our jib?…
Well…no. Not quite. We actually ended up eating cake and drinking complementary gin & tonics at a quaint little bakery, called Pearl & Groove, who happened to be running a collaboration with drinks mixer powerhouse Fentimans! It’s doesn’t get much more macho than that we thought, as we polished off the final crumbs and remnants of gin infused buttercream from our plates.
As it happens, you can read all about our Fentimans and Pearl & Groove experience in my review here:
And so fast forward to Saturday 7th December 2019. The time for talking was done. The belts were up for grabs and this was a title fight as much about glory as it was retribution. AJ was back to face Mexican fighter Andy Ruiz Jr, who shocked the scene earlier in the year with his title winning exploits.
With the fight of the year about to get underway, what trouble were the Burton boys going to find themselves in this time around? Would we be hitting the pub early, to fuel our hunger for violence? Perhaps we’d partake in some ‘hard hitting’ drinking games or indulge in some spiked ‘punch’.
Again. No. Not quite.
Instead, I reached for the kettle and made us both a nice cup of camomile tea to form the base of a festively warm Christmas cocktail…ok, maybe we’re not the laddish brutes that I initially made out. If I was actually in a boxing match I’d almost certainly come second. Third if there was a referee! But happy in my role of ‘lover not a fighter’, we were about to settle down to take in this clash of the titans with a title contender of our very own; the latest limited edition festive release from Pothecary Gin – ‘Cinnamon Twist – Winter 2019’.
In the orange corner
What more can I say about Pothecary that I’ve not told you all before? Well…actually not that much. Because I’ve told you it all before! I’m proud to say that this is actually my fourth review of the Pothecary range, and it is a brand that I have a lot of love and respect for!
If you’d like to look back at my previous Pothecary Gin reviews you can find them here:
Martin Jennings, Master Distiller and ‘Mr. Pothecary Gin’ himself, is on a mission. He has a passion and a determination to take gin making back to its roots and to maintain the core fundamentals and classic gin sensibilities that we all fell in love with in the first place. There are no sparkles. There are no synthetic or artificial nasties. And there are certainly no tears from mythical creatures. Just excellently crafted and expertly delivered juniper based spirits! Oh, and just to really show off, they’re organic too don’t you know!
To my mind, there is no better example of this then 2019’s Trinity edition, which I described as being a gin I couldn’t see myself ever being without (a sentiment I still stand by) and as being the best of the brands releases to date. A stripped back, three botanical powerhouse, that still blows my mind.
So imagine my excitement when I learned that a limited edition festive gin was in the offing! And when it turned up at my door? Well, you could say that Christmas had come early…
The weigh in…
Made using the Pothecary Sicilian Blend gin as the base, which features Sicilian lemon, Sicilian orange and Sicilian almond, along with Bulgarian juniper and wild-foraged gentian root, the Cinnamon Twist edition sees the inclusion of…yep, you guessed it! Cinnamon.
Orange, cinnamon and spices? On paper this is as festive as getting lipstick smudged kisses from your cheek pinching elderly aunt Veera on Christmas Day – and it doesn’t get much more festive than that!
It comes packaged in the same distinctive bottle as the Sicilian Blend, baring the same orange label design. Only this time it is rocking a little festive sash marking the details of its seasonal greetings. My one criticism perhaps would be that if this were ever to become a semi permanent seasonal release, then surely it will need to justify its own festive label to stand out amongst the range and claim its seat at the table.
At this stage, with the build up and ‘stare off’ completed, there was little more to do than put on my gloves, throw off my dressing gown (what an image!) and prepare to throw down…LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!
Let’s get ready to rumble!
On the nose, the gin carries a cleanliness with a refined and elegant feel. It actually feels quite restrained, with nothing jumping out as being too overbearing. The citrus is at the fore, with the aforementioned lemon and orange peels being easily distinguishable. There is, as you would expect, a sweet warmth present here from the ‘cinnamon twist’. But as with all Pothecary gins, it comes across with a freshness and not a single sense of the synthetic – you can picture yourself holding a cinnamon stick, courtesy of the sweet warmth and almost woody tones of the scent.
On the taste, it’s much the same story. Zesty citrus peels coat the palate, and puff the cheeks. I can picture the oils from those lemon and orange skins from the neat liquid. There is an earthy spice and warmth, with a ginger sensation, coming courtesy of the gentian root and cinnamon combination.
Don’t let the fact that this is a festive edition fool you. The cinnamon isn’t amped up to a level that all other flavours are drowned out. It is there to provide a sweet and warming spice, befitting of the season. A fresh dusting of cinnamon coats the tongue, and is actually even more identifiable on the delicious aftertaste, which takes on an almost anise style dry finish. But in sticking to the core principles of both the brand, and the gin category itself, it is NEVER at the expense of the juniper. The purple, piney berry flavours run deep through the core of the gin and are never too far out of sight.
Gin is a dish best served…hot?!
I was a little caught off guard by Martins perfect serve suggestion when he told me… to serve it hot?!;
“Dispense with the tonic, and the ice – it’s Winter right, and have a nice hot cup of camomile tea with a dash of seasonal blend ‘Cinnamon Twist’ garnished with a thin cut half slice of fresh orange and sugar to taste – Enjoy!”
Well, it’s his gin, his rules! Who was I to argue I thought, as I boiled the kettle and reached for the tea (that I’ll admit to having bought especially for this serve!).
The camomile provides a subtle calmness to the serve, with the tea giving a unique profile without ever threatening to overpower the star of the show. The strength of the gin cuts through, delivering the sweet spice of cinnamon and sharp boozy orange bite to complement the fresh orange garnish. The addition of a teaspoon of organic brown sugar adds a deep, rich and indulgent sweetness.
The trio of fresh orange, brown sugar and cinnamon warmth delivers a honey like sweetness. With the medicinal heat of the gin, in the warmth of the herbal tea, it feels almost…healthy?! As I continued to sip, I couldn’t help but feel better for drinking it.
I’ll be honest in saying that when I took my first sip it felt, whilst completely inoffensive, a little flat…But given time, the cocktail evolves as the orange grows in the warmth of the tea, becoming really enjoyable and suitably festive for the season! So much so, that I’ve since returned for another cup of the good stuff to join me for a festive viewing of ‘Die Hard’ (for it is a Christmas film!).
Despite Jennings protestations to dispense with the tonic…I couldn’t help but be a little rebellious and explore further out of morbid curiosity! And I must say, don’t be too hasty in throwing out your tonic water just yet! Alongside a light tonic, with a fresh slice of orange to garnish, the gin becomes brighter with those citrus notes elevated. The cinnamon is certainly dampened down in the longer serve, but the sweet spice is there on the finish and lingers on the back of the throat. Sure, it doesn’t scream ‘Christmas’ in a G&T. But what you have here, much like with all of the Pothecary range, is a gin that stands up for itself excellently well in a mixer and delivers a very enjoyable drinking experience! If you can get hold of a ‘clementine & cinnamon’ tonic I’d be willing to bet that you’re on to a winner. That said, a shout out to a Dry Martini also wouldn’t go a miss!
As a Negroni (sorry Martin…couldn’t help myself!) the orange and juniper notes come through strongly, with the sweet warmth of a dusting of cinnamon after each sip. It’s an enjoyable festive twist on the classic, to warm the cockles on a cold winters night next to an open fire. I’m not saying it’s my favourite Negroni…but I’m not sharing it with you either.
Ring the bell
As for my final thoughts? This is a festive edition done right. True to his word, there is no glitter. There is no fairy dust. There are no ‘reindeer tears’. No. What Martin has successfully delivered is a classic with a twist. It never strays far from being true to what it is at its core; a gin!
But then again, what did you expect?! This is a Pothecary gin, a brand that has developed a well deserved reputation for producing no nonsense gins, that let the liquid do the talking.
Seamlessly jumping back to my boxing themed into; it’s a knock out!
…and once you’ve picked yourself up off the canvas…allow me to wish you a very Merry Christmas to you and your families. And a very Happy New Year!
With thanks to Martin Jennings at Pothecary Gin for my complementary bottle of the festive Cinnamon Twist gin!
Make sure to check out the website at http://www.pothecarygin.co.uk & follow the brand across social media @pothecaryGin
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