Spirited News 03/2020: Brewdog Spirits

The second online tasting I joined was the tasting of the new Brewdog Spirits range. Kirsch-Whisky started the distribution of Brewdog’s gin, vodka, rum as well as shochu and send out great care packages. So, Steven Kersley and Alasdair Stevenson took us through their line-up. Here is what I think about the different spirits.

Steven Kersley the head distiller of Brewdog gathered his experience at Diageo and planned the distillery for Brewdog. All the stills, the 50 l test still, the beer still with three bubbles, the 19 -meter column still as well as the spirits still are from Arnold Holstein. The first spirit we tasted was the Rogue Wave Vodka. It is fermented with ale yeast and because it is a vodka it is allowed to add enzymes to the mash.

Typical vodka notes

The first distillation takes place on the pot-still with 8 plates to up to 90 %. Afterwards the vodka is distilled in the 60 plate column still. On top of that the vodka is also the base for the Brewdog’s gins.The vodka has overripe fruit flavours with some menthol. Otherwise, it is relatively smooth spirit with fruit notes. I guess it is good for a vodka, but I am still not a big fan of this spirits category.

Surprisingly juniper forward

The LoneWolf Gin uses juniper, Scots pine, fresh grapefruit peel, fresh lemon peel, coriander seeds, cardamom, angelica root, orris root, Thai lemongrass, pink peppercorns, Makrut lime leafs, mace, almond and lavender as botanicals. Interestingly enough the Brewdog Gin is relatively juniper forward. Apart from juniper, you can find some citrus notes in the taste along with a fair amount of pine needles. On top of that, you can detect spices and a clear cut lavender flavour. I enjoyed the gin, but I am wondering what it would be like at a higher ABV.

Flavoured gin thought differently

The Lemon Gin was inspired by Limoncello and developed to counter the flood of artificially flavoured gins on the market. For the Lemon Gin Brewdog macerates Sicilian lemon peels for seven days in the gin. This results in an intensive lemon flavour, reminding me more of fresh lemons than just their peel. In the taste you can also sense some tannins I guess also come from the maceration process. I was pleasantly surprised by the Cloudy Lemon Gin and I find it to be a good alternative to Pink Gins etc.

Powerful cactus fig notes

The next flavoured gin in the Brewdog Distilling Company’s line-up is the LoneWolf Cactus & Lime Gin. The gin uses Makrut limes as a botanical and is finished with the juice of a cactus called “Queen of the Night”. While this sounds way too exotic for a gin, it actually works quite well. It is just refreshing to try a new approach to flavoured gins, with only natural ingredients. While I guess it would work with a dry tonic water, I had it with Fever Tree’s Sicilian Lemonade as an interesting and exotic highball.

A heart full of juniper

While we tried the limited Gunpowder Gin in the tasting next, I would suggest you go for the Zealot’s Heart Gin first. This gin was created to showcase the juniper Brewdog uses and the recipe uses a lot of it: Five times more juniper than the usual recipe. All in all, the Zealot’s Heart includes 17 botanicals which are juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, thai lemongrass, grapefruit peel, lavender, all spice, goji berries, meadowsweet, lemon peel, lime peel, mace, Makrut lime leaves, Szechuan peppercorns, Sansho peppercorns and grains of paradise. What can I say? I absolutely loved the taste of the gin. While it is juniper forward, it also has the most powerful – yet well integrated spice note I have encountered in gins so far. If you are looking for a Christmassy gin, you have found it in this. However, I can also enjoy this when it is war outside.

Gunning for gin

The last, but not the least gin of the Brewdog spirits portfolio is the LoneWolf Gunpowder Gin. As the name suggests, it comes in the tradition of Navy Strength gins. However, they also changed the recipe a bit and also added sage, bitter orange and different pepper corns. In total, the LoneWolf uses 17 Botanicals: Juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, dill seeds, lemongrass, Scots pine, fresh lemon peel, fresh grapefruit peel, bitter orange peel, green cardamom, lavender, star anise, black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, Szechuan peppercorns and sage.

Spiced rum? Not exactly!

The next spirit is a spiced rum, called Five Hundred Cuts Botanical Rum. For it Steven Kersley combines molasses with red wine and rum yeast and after a five-day fermentation it is distilled twice on a pot-still. The white rum is then macerated with tonka beans, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and spices. On top of that, another part of the rum is distilled over four hours with orange peel, Szechuan peppercorns, green cardamom and cloves. After mixing the two parts of the rum, a little unrefinded moscavado sugar is added. The resulting spirit is very spicy, with notes of tonka bean, nutmeg, cloves and star anise. You can taste a subtle sweetness, but it is by far dryer than other spiced rums out there.

Inspired by Japan

The last currant spirit from Brewdog is their Inugami Shochu. Being inspired by Japan’s national spirit, it is distilled from a mix of barley, molasses, malted wheat and rice. Apart from that, Brewdog also adds Scottish rhubarb, ginger and galangal as botanicals, but they are distilled individually with the grain spirit. While I applaud the Brewdog take on this Japanese spirit, In unfortunately find the Shochu I bit weak. Of course, I get that this is the point when creating low ABV spirits. However, the Inugami has a rhubarb and yoghurt like note which I find very pleasant, but still it feels “watered down”. However, this just is one slip-up in an otherwise exceptional spirit’s portfolio. I am looking forward to trying and experimenting with more spirits from the Brewdog Distilling Co.

*The fact that I received a product reviewed in this article for free, did not – in any way – influence the rating of said product.

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