Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Edgerton gin: think pink?

I am reliably informed that pink drinks are “in” at the moment, and it’s true that at recent Candlelight Club events we have actually shifted as much if not more pink fizz than white. Edgerton Original Pink Dry Gin is precisely that, a gin with a strong pink colour that apparently “derives from pomegranate”, though pomegranate is not listed as a botanical. Given that distillate is always colourless, the hue must be added post distillation, in the form of an extract rather than infusing actual chunks of pomegranate. Edgerton is “genuinely distilled and bottled in London—the ‘appellation controlée’ of super premium gin”, which just means it was made by the doughty Thames Distillers, like so many other small-batch gins.

The company behind the pink drink are the same crowd who brought us the bright blue The London No.1 Original Blue Gin, so clearly they’re obsessed with making gin in funny colours. Or perhaps, having made a blue one for boys, they felt the need to balance things up with a pink one for girls. This is a less trivial observation than you might think—as I assumed my customary position at the bar in Graphic, barman Adam Smithson was playing around with this gin and made the point that you might assume the colour meant it was, like quite a few other recently released gins, aimed at women. And yet Edgerton is bottled at 47%. “That’s quite a masculine strength,” Adam muses, “but how many men are going to want to stand at the bar with a pink drink?”

Leaving the sexual politics of colour aside, what is the gin like? As you bring your nose to bear you immediately get sweet, fruity, floral notes, then the dry, powdery spice of cinnamon and cassia underneath; quite a seductive combination. It’s hard to get too much taste off it neat so I add a bit of water, and immediately orange and juniper start to emerge on the nose. The palate is fruity/floral with a grapefruit-bitter finish and a chocolately aftertaste.

There are 14 botanicals at work here, including some of the usual suspects—juniper, coriander seeds, angelica root, orris powder and lemon peel—plus cinnamon, cassia and almond powder. Like many new gins it uses sweet orange peel rather than bitter, and probably gets extra sweetness from the liquorice that warms your tongue in the afterglow. Then there are savoury, nutmeg, grains of paradise—and damiana. I’d never heard of this before but apparently it is a Mexican botanical with a “smoky, slightly minty taste”.

A Martini made with Edgerton
It’s worth noting that, out of these 14 botanicals, fully 12 of them are identical to The London No.1 (the only difference being that instead of damiana and grains of paradise that one has bergamot and gardenia). All of which makes you think it really is all about the silly colour.

The overall flavour of Edgerton Original Pink is pleasant enough though, as with a lot of new gins, I think the sweet, floral profile pursued, presumably to make it accessible to non-gin-drinkers, would get a bit cloying for me after a while. My other problem is that this particular combination of sweet/fruity/floral, but with a bitter sting at the back of the nose, rather reminds me of shampoo. They are quite right that, at 47%, it “will not fade with tonic”: at 2:1 the character of the gin remains strong. This holds true in a Martini as well.

Adam tries a few inventions on me without telling me the ingredients. His Mary Pinkford, a variation on the Mary Pickford, adds (if I recall correctly) pineapple juice, grenadine and lime but I’m convinced there is something minty in there too, like crème de menthe—perhaps this is the mintiness of the damiana coming through? Then he hits me with his Edgertonian, essentially a Martini made with dry sherry and plum bitters. I find this fascinating: the dryness makes me wonder if there is tea in it, and I’m getting something like caramelised oats as well; the plum element is strong and lingering, reminding me of slivovice.

Lemon and lime balance Edgerton’s sweet/floral stance—in a gimlet the lime cordial and gin lock horns in an intriguing way, revealing unexpected meaty elements in the spirit. A Corpse Reviver No.2 tames the gin more, so that its distinctive character is submerged a bit (though not its colour!). It also makes a good, coherent—and pleasingly lilac—Aviation (gin, lemon juice, maraschino, crème de violette). One final thing I noticed: I smelled an empty glass that had contained the neat gin, and suddenly got a dry, hot, smoky whiff, like Mexican chipotle (smoked jalapeño) chile.

While not my New Favourite Gin, Edgerton deserves some experimentation to winkle out its flavour elements. And if you hanker after a less austere, less juniper-led gin, then it might be worth investigating. Especially if you have a pink kitchen.

Edgerton Original Pink Dry Gin can be had from around £28 for 70cl.

3 comments:

  1. in all my years as amateur bartender this is the most used drink to prepare cocktails, for example there one with some fruits and vodka, anothers is preapre just ice and martini, well there some others but in this moment I was busy to think in that jajajaja.

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