by Pink Lady
If you are a fan of LUPEC Boston you are likely aware that we are big fans of gin. We love this spirit for its versatility, mixabilty, and approachability when introducing cocktail neophytes to the wonderous world of classic cocktails. At Tales of the Cocktail this week, a plethora of seminars on gin await; at the top of our list is The Botanical Garden, led by the lovely and talented Charlotte Voisey, Portfolio Ambassador for William Grant & Sons, USA.
As we discussed a few weeks back, the botanical blend chosen by a master distiller is what sets his or her brand apart from all others in the marketplace. Juniper must be play a leading role but the rest are up to the choice and taste of the master distiller. We caught up with the Charlotte to delve a little deeper into the topic of botanicals, a little preview of what’s to come during the Botanical Garden seminar on Thursday morning.
LUPEC Boston: What are the most important factors distillers look for when selecting botanicals?
Charlotte Voisey: The most important thing is consistency of the berries/seeds/botanicals. As they are natural products there can be differences from harvest to harvest so checks are needed to look at the oil content of the botanicals to make sure that they meet the distiller’s specifications.
LB: Are there common botanicals that can be found in all/most gins besides juniper? Any particular reason for this besides tradition?
CV: Generally most gins will contain angelica, coriander and citrus elements and mainly because these botanicals work together well for a good general balance of flavor and character. Floral botanicals help give a lovely sophisticated nuance to some gins. I believe that tradition played a part for a while, but recently the selection of botanicals used has opened right up.
LB: Does seasonality affect a botanical blend as it may with wine, like a good vs. bad vintage?
CV: In general there will be no difference during the year as the botanicals are just the berries or seeds that will be produced at the same time every year. Some botanicals definitely have a time during the year when they are at their best and this is when they are harvested, but as long as this is kept consistent each year then so will their quality and their contribution to the balance of flavor of the gin in question.
What are the most important botanicals beside juniper? What kinds of flavors or aromas do they impart?
Juniper is the most important as it has to be, by law, the most dominant botanical. The other botanicals all bring something to the party but it is really the balance obtained between all of the extracted oils that is the important factor. It is no use having a really dominant nose that simply swamps everything else.
Can you suggest some go-to herbs, mixers, or other ingredients that bartenders can keep in mind while developing Hendricks cocktails to enhance different facets of the flavor profile?
Hendrick’s has a lovely delicate floral characteristic that bartenders do well not to overpower; strong, bitter and herbaceous ingredients can certainly be used in Hendrick’s cocktails but are best done with a light hand. Hendrick’s seems to play delightfully in four main flavor directions – spicy, floral, citrus and refreshingly clean.
Do you have a favorite botanical?
Juniper is the almighty botanical and therefore the most respected, as without it we have no “gin”. But I do love to draw on the refreshing subtle cucumber essence in Hendrick’s when I am mixing.
Don’t miss a chance to taste for yourself at the Botanical Garden seminar this Thursday, July 22 @ 10:30 a.m.