Jesus In Town – It Must be Centinela Tequila Time! By Lucy Rundle

Casa CentinelaIt did not escape my notice that a flicker of fear ran through the eyes of those I mentioned “tequila tasting” to. Oh no, doubtless they have memories, albeit blurry, of scantily clad women with holsters and small glasses insisting you down a shot with lemon and salt, whooping and banging on the table then disappearing as fast as your cash. But this was the tequila tradition of the eighties, and not at all the lifestyle we are introduced to at this tasting. In any case, the lovable Mexican from the House of Cabrito & Centinela Tequilas with us today is called Jesus Morasso, and there’s nothing harsh about him.

Jesus Morasso
Jesus Morasso

On the contrary, we learn how this family-owned business makes memories with its tequilas, living life ‘como va’ or ‘as it goes’ – no hurry or sense of urgency, just a careful watch over the Weber Agave plants, planted in the Jalisco region of Mexico – the tequila highlands. There are five tequila regions in Mexico, rather like the delimited areas indicating permitted wines of France (AOCs) amongst which Jalisco is the main player. With its red soil, rich in iron oxide to produce a good concentration of sugars in the agave plant, tequilas from here tend to be fruitier than the more herbaceous tasting tequilas of Mexico’s lowlands.

Having established the first tequila distillery in 1904, the Centinela Family has grown considerably, with agave plantations covering the equivalent of 3,000 football fields to produce 4,000 piñas – or agave hearts – each day in order to make enough tequila for the Casa to reign as the third largest producer, providing Mexico with its most popular tequila.

Time for the taste test! We start with the Cabrito range – this is Mexico’s No. 1 selling tequila and in case you were wondering cabrito means goat (as depicted on the label) and can also be used to describe a rather cool, do-as-he pleases sort of a person – an independent spirit.

Nick Making Cocktails
Nick Making Cocktails

Cabrito Blanco
A clear, bright liquid with fruity flavours of the agave plant and a touch of herbal notes too. This is the ideal mixing tequila really – Nick (see picture) made lovely margaritas with this; freshly squeezed lime juice and a touch of agave syrup for sweetness. They really were refreshing and delicious.

Cabrito Reposado
Reposado tequilas have spent a little time in wood barrels. Ex-bourbon barrels are used as they may only be used once for bourbon, so there is still plenty of flavour to be extracted from the American oak of the barrel. Consequently there is a more spicy and complex palate than the Blanco, and softer mouth-feel.
On to the elegantly packaged Centinela range. (Centinela: The one who defends or protects.)

Centinela Blanco
This blanco tequila had a stronger agave flavour than the Cabrito blanco, along with a real freshness. All the makings of a margarita linger, a hint of mint, salt and lime, although Nick mixed this one with Friché grapefruit soda and served it in a glass with a salt rim. This went down extremely well, possibly as the grapefruit flavour went so well with the agave.

Centinela Reposado
Now we are onto tequilas to spend time with, definitely to be sipped and enjoyed! The Centinela Reposado is my personal favourite, with a bit of a green tea flavour along with cinnamon, toffee, vanilla and a hint of smokiness. Easy to drink, smooth and a lovely, soft mouth-feel.

Centinela Añejo
Ooh, the intensity! This tequila is certainly more complex than the reposado, more closed too, but fuller in body, softer, heaps of vanilla and notes of sweetness – caramel, fudge and toffee. Not sure you would really want to mix this – not to make a margarita anyway, as that would hide some of the delicate flavours derived from more than a year on oak. A proper tequila lover’s tequila.

All tequilas at the tasting are 38% abv.

 

By Lucy Rundle, Amathus Soho
0207 287 5769

Three Corners Dry Gin, by David T. Smith

There is a gin that I have noticed is becoming increasingly prevalent in a number of bars in London and its appearance is matched by an enthusiasm of bartenders for this product; the spirit in question is Three Corners Dry Gin by A.v.WEES.

A.v.Wees are a Dutch company that are well-known for their traditional-style Genevers, but this new product “respects the English influence” on gin. That said, Van Wees were not content to produce another carbon-copy of other London Dry Gins; instead, they opted for a little differentiation and, as a result, only use two botanicals: juniper berries (naturally) and lemon.

As a fan of gin in a market where producers seem to be constantly out-doing each other with how many botanicals they can put in – I think the record is now close to 40 – two botanicals is rather a breath of fresh air.


Own

The nose is of juniper & citrus (surprise! surprise!). The taste contains powerful juniper and citrus notes, floral touches and a hint of coriander (even though I know it contains none). I thought that it was dry and a rather classic example of the London Dry Gin style.

Gin & Tonic
A strong flavour, with a pleasant mix of juniper and citrus, which holds up well to the tonic. A making a memorable and cooling drink.

Martini
Another strongly flavoured drink that is also clean and crisp. The simplicity of flavours works well in what is a very simple cocktail. That said, the drink is surprisingly complex and has good depth of flavour.

Negroni
A bitter and herbally complex Negroni. Very flavourful, with slightly more of a bitter edge than your average Negroni.

Aviation
Sharp and citrusy, with some juniper and some very subtle floral hints from the maraschino and Creme de Violette. Very smooth and quite tart.


James Bond Gin & Tonic

Following the popularity of the Carte Blanche cocktail in the recent Angostura Bitters article, I thought I’d take a look at another 007 cocktail: the James Bond Gin & Tonic.
This is enjoyed by Bond in the book Dr. No after a long trans-Atlantic flight to Jamaica.

Take a large hi-ball glass and add a double measure of gin.
Cut a lime in half and drop the two squeezed halves into the glass.
Fill the glass with ice.
Top-up with tonic water.

With Three Corners, this had a nice, fresh tartness, making a refreshing and invigorating drink. The simple, no-nonsense character of the gin comes through, with the citrus of the gin also working well with the lime; perhaps surprisingly, the sheer volume of lime juice called for by the recipe is not overpowered.
This is a Gin & Tonic full of juniper and citrus and is rather lovely.


In Conclusion

I found experimenting with the Three Corners very interesting and, for me, it works best in simple cocktails, where it can be fully appreciated. For a gin with only two botanicals, this is also surprisingly complex and I can see why it is gaining popularity with the country’s bartenders.

By David T. Smith
Summer Fruit Cup
david@summerfruitcup.com
http://www.summerfruitcup.com

Hammer: A Norwegian Gin by David T. Smith

I’ve been aware of Hammer Gin from Norway for a little while, so I was excited to recently try it. Launched within the Norwegian Market in 2003, Hammer Gin is made near Oslo, Norway by Arcus, who currently operate the only distillery in the country. The Gin’s recipe is originally from England and dates back to 1776.

Hammer uses water from springs in Hadeland near Oslo. This water is said to be filtered and purified by the sedimentary rock minerals in the air. These rock formations are estimated to be over 300 million years old. Hammer uses a double distillation process, as well as a special filtration system, to achieve the best flavours from its botanicals.


The Taste

#1) Own
Nose: A classic London Dry; there are notes of juniper and coriander, with a little violet.
Taste: Pleasantly smooth, the prominent flavour is classic, with juniper, coriander and a little angelica at the forefront. Long dry finish from the juniper.

#2) Gin & Tonic
This is a great example of a Gin & Tonic: there were some bitter-fresh notes from the juniper and citrus, with a little pine in the mix, too. Extremely refreshing and a great way to enjoy the gin.

#3) Martini
Very, very smooth. I used a 4:1 ratio of gin to vermouth, which achieves a nice balance. The flavour is a subtle mix of juniper, coriander and a very light hint of cinnamon on the finish. Full of flavour and easy to drink.

#4) Tom Collins
Quite tasty; it is not uncommon for a gin to be lost in a Collins, but Hammer Gin holds its own and can be easily tasted. Full of flavour, the gin works well with the citrus from the lemon juice.

#5) Gin Buck
A simple, but effective way to cool down on a hot late afternoon and a delicious way to quench your thirst. There’s a pleasant interaction between citrus juice, gin and the sweet warmth of the ginger ale. I like this an alternative to a Gin & Tonic.

#6) Basil Smash
Fresh notes of green salad from the basil went very well with the citrus and herbal notes of the gin. The lemon juice and sugar syrup add some depth to drink, but it maintains its balance nonetheless. A very approachable way to enjoy the gin.

#7) Gin Sour
This is, essentially, a compact Collins and with Hammer Gin it was tart, but it also rather rousing and would make a good pre-dinner cocktail. Exceptionally refreshing, with a finish reminiscent of fruit salad.

I was very pleased to try Hammer Gin and it is great to see such a good quality London Dry Gin produced outside of the British Isles. Any drink that is designed for a classic-style of gin, Hammer will surely excel in.

By David T. Smith

Summer Fruit Cup
david@summerfruitcup.com
www.summerfruitcup.com