Is your gin craft or just crafty?

Craft or crafty

Gin is most definitely in again with the clear spirit at the centre of a revolution. It seems like everyone is after the next new fashionable craft gin but is your gin really craft or just crafty?

You see, not all craft or artisan gins are created equal. For all the wonderful, inventive and delicious craft gins in the UK today, there are gins that are quite simply nothing but young pretenders.

Continue reading

How to taste gin (you don’t have to spit it out)

How to taste gin

So you’ve finally realised that gin is quite simply the only drink that you’ll ever want to enjoy ever again but how best to do it?

For those smarty pants who are thinking to themselves, ‘open the bottle and pour into a glass’, get to the back of the class and put on that dunce hat (it’s 1940 for the benefit of that sentence).

There’s a lot more to drinking and enjoying an artisan gin than just sploshing it into a glass and glugging it back. There has to be due ceremony and a bit of love added to the process.

But here’s the best bit – you most definitely do not need to spit the gin out! We at NB Gin make our artisan gin to be savoured and we’d be more than a little bit miffed if you decided to discard it!

So, here are our top tips for tasting and enjoying your artisan gin.

Class in a glass

Before you even get your hands on that beautiful gin, you have to choose your gin glass and choose it wisely. What’s the best gin glass? Well, that’s a big debate of its own but we’d suggest something like a rocks glass that can handle all that ice and, in the case of a Gin and Tonic, a good tall glass is wise.

Many mixologists will choose a tall, wide glass to let plenty of air circulate in the drink.

Win by a nose

One of the true joys of a quality gin is the subtle aromas that it treats your nose to. Once you’ve poured your gin, gently swirl the glass around for a few seconds and take a small sniff of the drink. The botanicals can work their magic at this stage.

You might get floral notes, perhaps even herbs and, of course, juniper.

Be careful not to take a huge sniff of your gin. You don’t want to be overpowered before you even get to taste it!

Time to taste… and no spitting!

The groundwork you laid by smell a moment ago will stand you in good stead for the bliss that artisan gin will provide to your taste buds.

Those subtle aromas that you enjoyed by smell will be there in taste but you’ll more than likely get some other characteristics coming through too. Swirl the gin around your mouth and gently breathe in as you savour the flavour. Yum!

Experiment and repeat

So you’ve tried your artisan gin neat, why not try a Gin and Tonic now or go even further and make a cocktail, like one of the stunning creations from our mixologist TJ Littlejohn here.

We would love to hear how you like to taste and enjoy your gin. Chin chin!

Why people are choosing artisan gin over big brands

NB Gin distillery Steve Muir

There’s a curious thing happening with the spirits and beer industry at the moment, and it’s been going on for quite a while now.

You probably already know what we’re talking about if you’re a regular to our NBlog. But for those who are uninitiated NB fans, we’ll tell you.

People are leaving the well-known, mass-produced big name brands to sniff out something a bit different; something like NB Gin.

Over the last few years there has been a strong shift towards anything that falls into the category of “craft”, “artisan” or even just “real”.

Those little words are the signposts for canny buyers these days and they’re becoming even more important with every passing month.

It probably really got going in the UK about five or six years ago and it was partly thanks to producers of craft beer and real ale (although those who know their crafties and ales will also know the pains producers go to to highlight they’re not the same).

There were always small pockets of fans of craft beer and quality ales and there were a few good breweries around to quench their thirst.

But, thanks to a few brave brewers who decided to put their money where their mouths were, the industry grew arms and legs and staggered into the mainstream with a burp and a giggle.

The craft beer industry is a rock ‘n roll show now and it seems like every second 30-something bloke you meet has a hankering to launch his own craft brewery.

Perhaps buoyed by the massive success of smaller, quality brewers, there were plenty foolhardy ladies and gents who wanted to try the same in the spirits world and it worked, big time.

Just look where we are today. Obviously, there’s NB Gin, but we are just one of hundreds of artisan distillers in the UK.

It should be a byword for “quality” but it isn’t always the case. You have to be careful that the word “artisan” isn’t used by producers who simply are not. We at NB Gin have another tag we can use now too: World-class. That’s not us saying that, it’s the World Drinks Awards!

Artisan, craft, real. They’re more than just words to us at NB Gin. They’re part of the manual that we use to create a drink that boasts a quality that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world.

The fantastic news for producers like NB Gin is that many, many consumers have simply had enough of drinking Spirit A or Beer B just because the massive corporation that makes it can afford the best marketing.

Not that long ago, it was only the enthusiastic foodies who might be tempted to seek out a real quality artisan gin or craft beer, but that tide has turned and it’s far more mainstream to want something of a higher quality.

Perhaps the best example of that is how supermarkets have had to completely overhaul their spirits and beer ranges. When the buying public speak, they have to listen and a walk down the aisles will show you just how far we’ve come in the quest for quality.

As for NB Gin, we’re not supermarket-mainstream and we like it that way, and that will never change so keep finding us where you do and keep enjoying us.

Bugger it, we’ll have a G&T right now. Care to join us? Chin chin!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter here and like us on Facebook here for more news, competitions and gin-fuelled fun!

Gin: From Mother’s Ruin to a Mother’s Day gift

Mother's Ruin

As Mother’s Day approaches, there’s a good chance you’ll be thinking of spoiling your fantastic mum with a bottle of gin, perhaps even a bottle of NB Gin.

But in days gone by, gin wouldn’t have been considered a gift for mummy; it was a drink that she might have sold you to pay for!

Before we alarm you anymore, we’re talking specifically about the London gin problem of the 1700s and 1800s.

The drink that we all know and love today wasn’t always quite as refined as it is now. In fact, it was once seen as a blight on the working classes that had the British Government terrified about its influence.

Perhaps you’ll be settling down this evening or at the weekend to a well-deserved gin and tonic, an event that you give due ceremony to. You probably feel rather civilised as you savour it. And so you should. If ever there were a drink to be relished then it is artisan gin.

Things were slightly different in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries though. Gin wasn’t sold in pretty bottles from a well-informed spirits store. It definitely wasn’t enjoyed in cocktails in fine bars. Nope. Gin was sold by the gallon in those days, and bought by a whole army of people who were far more interested in its alcohol content than its botanicals.

Gin was cheap and far more accessible to the working classes than wine or other spirits. It was even cheaper than beer so you can understand its appeal when you were drinking for effect and not for taste.

It was a scourge in London. The very idea that such a fashionable drink today could have been such a problem is quite hard to comprehend but it was a massive problem back then.

In the 1730s it was found that the average Londoner drank 14 gallons of gin every year. That’s more than 63 litres. Ouch.

The stories from “the gin problem” in those days make for grim reading. Parents neglected their children and women in particular were seen as particularly “susceptible to the problem” which lead to the term ‘Mother’s Ruin’ being coined.

There’s plenty evidence of workers being paid partly, and even fully, in gin and one particularly awful story tells of a drover who sold his 11-year-old daughter to a trader for a gallon of the stuff.

Something had to be done but the Government of the time was terrified of the ramifications, such was gin’s grip on society. Tighter legislation and bigger taxes didn’t have the desired effect – it simply drove the distillers underground and sparked a raging black market.

In 1830 the Duke of Wellington did something that would finally bring an end to the problem and, in turn, made beer an infinitely more popular drink. He passed the Sale of Beer Act, which removed the tax on beer and allowed anyone to open a beer shop after paying a small fee.

So, as you give your gift of gin this Mother’s Day, you can dazzle her with some trivia from a time that was far less civilised than now.

Chin chin!

For more on NB Gin, like us on Facebook here and follow us on Twitter here. 

Try the NB Gin cocktails that we’ll be serving to the stars!

Singapore-Sling

We could have served our artisan NB Gin to the stars at the BRIT Awards After Party just as it is – neat, perhaps with a little ice – and we’re pretty sure it would have gone down a storm.

But then we thought, wouldn’t it be good to give the music royalty guests some brand new cocktails to enjoy our gin in?

Our super-talented mixologist and brand ambassador TJ Littlejohn from Bar In A Box was more than happy to oblige and you lucky, lucky people can try them before Madonna, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran et al get to!

Here are the wonderful creations that TJ crafted:

B’s Knees

50ml NB Gin, 25ml Lemon, 25ml B’s Syrup

Shake all ingredients and double strain to coupe, no garnish.

B’s Syrup:

250ml Bees Honey, 125ml Hot Water, 2 Rosemary Sprigs, 5g Crushed Black Peppercorns

These ratios can be multiplied to make larger batches.

Strawberry Kiss

25ml NB Gin, 12.5ml Triple Sec, 12.5ml Strawberry Liqueur, 25ml Lemon Juice, 12.5ml Simple Syrup

Shake ingredients, fine strain to champagne flute, top with Prosecco. Half strawberry on the rim of the glass to garnish.

And now for the classics… Five vintage favourites to enjoy

Is there anything more refreshing and enjoyable than a gin at the end of a long, hard week? Of course there’s not!

At NB Gin, we think that one of the best ways to enjoy our drink is neat, perhaps with a little ice or in a mighty gin and tonic, but what about a gin cocktail?

Gin is at the epicentre of a spirits revolution in the UK and gin cocktails are once again firmly in the minds of our country’s great mixologists.

Sometimes, there’s no substitute for a classic, so the next time you’re planning on enjoying NB’s artisan London Dry Gin, why not whip up one of these classic gin cocktails?

Gin Fizz

The Gin Fizz has seen something of a revival and why not, it’s simply stunning and can be enjoyed all year round.

Try it with 2oz of NB Gin in a shaker with a good dash of fresh lemon juice, say 1oz. Add around .75oz of simple syrup (one part sugar to one part water) and shake it well for 10 seconds. Add some ice cubes and shake like your life depends on it. Add the club soda to a glass and strain the remaining ingredients in. Yum!

Martini

Perhaps the G&T would be even more iconic than this one, but even that cannot boast Mr James Bond as a fan.

A well-made Martini is something sent right from heaven and it couldn’t be simpler. Gin and Vermouth and that’s it. The only topic for dispute on this one is the ratios but really, it should be down to personal preference.

Mix 2 ½ oz of NB Gin with about half that amount of Vermouth with plenty of ice and stir (if you are 007 you’ll want to shake of course). To garnish, go with a twist of lemon peel.

Singapore Sling

Most cocktail aficionados are well versed in the story of the Singapore Sling coming to being at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore in the 1900s. We love it!

Pour 1 ½ oz of gin, 1oz of lime juice and ¼ oz of simple syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and give it a damn good shake. Strain the inviting mix into a highball glass with ice cubes and then lovingly add 2oz of club soda.

Float ½ oz of cherry brandy on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon.

If you want to get really fancy, garnish with a lemon slice and cherry.

Negroni

Who would have thought that the vintage Negroni would be popular once again? It’s a good thing though, because it’s a delicious cocktail! Our London Dry Gin is just perfect for this one too.

The key to a good Negroni is to use the ingredients in equal measures.

To try for the first time, try 1oz of each. Add some ice to a short glass, add 1oz of NB Gin, 1oz of Campari and 1oz of Vermouth, give it a quick spin with a spoon, add a slice of orange and serve to a no-doubt very appreciate friend… remember to make yourself one too though.

Tom Collins

Okay, so it’s still bitterly cold out there and you’d probably enjoy this old favourite in the summer but, go on, be a bit cheeky and enjoy it now anyway.

It’s easy peasy. Pour 1 ½ oz of NB Gin, 1oz of lemon juice and a simple syrup into a Collins glass, if you have one, which you’ve already added ice to. Give it a whirl with a spoon or a straw and top it off with club soda. For the garnish, add an extra splash of colour with a cherry and a slice of orange.

What’s your favourite NB Gin cocktail? We’d love to hear from you! Have you made your very own NB Gin cocktail? We’d love to see it!

The kink that makes NB Gin perfect, in an imperfect kind of way

NB Gin waitresses

Would you rather be perfect or unique? For NB Gin, those two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, we like to say that we are unique in our own perfection.

Not many would consider a kink to be perfect. It’s usually the result of a mistake; of a heavy hand or an unfortunate collision but the kink that we are talking about is now integral to the gin we produce. You could say it’s engrained in what we do.

When the copperhead still was being lovingly put together, we ended up with a kink in one of the pipes. Others would fix that sort of thing right away but when NB Gin was first crafted in that still, the result far exceeded what even our high expectations were. Why would we want to change that?

You see, fads come and go in a flash, especially when it comes to drinks, but quality will always endure.

We’re most definitely at the centre of a gin revolution, as many of our fans will tell you, and we’re definitely not stuck in our ways but there are some things you simply don’t change. That kink would probably drive neat freaks to distraction but to us – in a weird kind of way – it’s as an integral to our artisan gin as the eight botanicals that go into NB.

All this talk about kinks and imperfections might make you think that we are nonchalant about how we produce our gin but that could not be further from the truth. We spent countless hours in the early days making sure absolutely everything that went into NB Gin was as perfect as it could be and, believe us, that commitment has not changed since those formative distilling days.

Our master distiller would never compromise on anything. You could call him a hard task master distiller… but we would never say that.

It goes back to that word, perfection, again. For him anything less than perfect just will not do. It’s that simple.

Okay, so practically every fine drinks producer might wax lyrical about quality and perfection but to many of them, they’re just words. They’re part of a marketing operation to sell more units. Talk to our master distiller about marketing and watch his reaction. He doesn’t have time for that – there’s another batch of NB Gin reaching a crucial stage in the distilling process!

Long before we thought of telling the world about our drink, we tested, we trialled, we plagued friends to sample our product. Only once we were absolutely sure that the artisan gin we had produced was of a quality that could rival the best gins in the world, then we cast a fleeting glance at the market. Not the distiller though, his focus is only ever on that still, with its little kink.

 

All this talk of kinked pipes might lead you to think we’ve spent too long tucked away in the distillery. Maybe we have, but give NB Gin a try and you’ll probably understand why we’re so keen to keep our process consistent. Like we said, we’re unique in our own perfection… or imperfection.

Visit our website for more information or to contact us. Chin chin!

Come in, sit down and make yourself comfortable! Can we get you a drink?

Viv and Steve photo

Creating something that people love is an odd thing, especially when you started out just tinkering with ideas and having fun.

NB Gin was borne out of a desire to create something that we could be proud of and that we would enjoy doing. Something that we could say, “Yip, we made that.” Nothing else.

We really had no grandiose visions of creating a brand that people would come to love. We didn’t even think about people buying the product at first.

But first thing first – you must create something that is truly the best you can make it. That was crucial at the start for us. If it’s not going to be the best you can possibly do, then what’s the point?

Perhaps experimenting with botanicals and an old bashed pressure cooker were not the most auspicious beginnings but, hey, we had to start somewhere.

We like to think that all the quirks and backstories, trials and errors, have all gone in to make NB Gin what it is today and we are routinely blown away by the feedback that we get from those who drink our produce.

The stories we could tell you… wow! There have been some really exciting days, some very tough days and some days that we’ll never forget. It has always been fun though. If it weren’t fun, then what would be the point? We aim to create something that people enjoy and that they want to talk about and share with their friends.

To that end, we thought it was about time to start talking to you in a little space we can call our own. This is for those who love gin, those who buy our gin, those who don’t and those who might just be interested in learning more about the gin revolution – welcome to the NB Gin Blog!

It’s really quite exciting to think that over the coming months and years, we get to share all the stories and news about our artisan gin in this little digital corner of the world.

The next 12 months look set to be massive for us and we’ll be telling you all about it all right here.

It’s been a real adventure from day one for NB Gin and every day seems to bring a new opportunity or challenge, which we relish.

We have a passion for what we do and we want to let you in on that. Whether you love artisan gin or not, we want to make this a welcoming and enjoyable place to come. There will be a prize or two and perhaps even some exclusives to those who follow the blog.

So, pour yourself a drink (it is Friday evening after all), settle in and enjoy our stories. We’ve got lots to tell you!

And to think it all started with an old pressure cooker.

Chin chin!

Want even more news about NB Gin? Follow us on Twitter here and like our Facebook page here. We have a competition where you can win a bottle of our gin right now (entries close on Monday, January 26th 2015) so head on over!