Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin Review

Bloody hell. My quarantined buddies, there are a lot of gins in the world. I have tasted a fair few of them. Enough of them, at least, to render me somewhat blasé about cracking open a new one. What surprises, after all, can remain to a seasoned gin hound such as Old Parn?

Well. This.

You see, Dà Mhìle’s Seaweed Gin is exceptionally good. Your schnoz tells you it’s going to be rather special as soon as you sniff the newly uncorked bottle. And your schnoz isn’t wrong. Your schnoz is so seldom wrong. Dependable schnoz.

I think this may be the freshest, most mouth-watering smell I can remember getting off a gin. It’s definitely up there with the best. All those familiar, delicious ginny touchstones you expect, but an extra dimension of— of what? Sea air? I don’t even know. It’s like the ephemeral scent of a new perfume on the lover you haven’t seen for a month.

The gins that I enjoy most, I think, are those that combine an unmistakable ginishness (plenty of juniper, dry, solid, punchy) with something subtly new or unexpected. Emphasis, there, should be on subtlety, though. The strong, classic foundation is the dominant element. Gimmicky gins might or might not be worthwhile, but even the really good ones I’d reach for only as an occasional dalliance, not as a staple.

This is not a gimmicky gin; it is a Gin With Interest. It’s made in West Wales, alongside a range of other gins and spirits I’m now extremely keen to try. Here’s why.

Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin & Tonic

Fantastic. As I say, above, this still tastes like an honest G&T, not some funky nonsense. It has great heft and a full, savoury flavour. There’s a fresh, a green quality to it. I don’t know what seaweed actually tastes like (seaweed in a Chinese restaurant, sure, but that’s kale, innit?) but if it’s anything like this, I’m jumping into the car and caning it down to the beach at West Wittering — rules on social distancing be damned — to pick some up for supper.

There’s still plentiful juniper, plus citrus, coriander and the gang. Like I said, this is not an out-and-out weird gin. The freshness and delicate salinity is layered gently atop those familiar ol’ ginny flavours.

It is delicious.

G&T Verdict

Verdict: Neck it!

Serving-wise, I’d go with lemon here, and Fever Tree Light tonic.

Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin Martini

This gin works excellently both in a classic martini and in a Duke’s-style — as it has the elegance and poise to carry off the latter without tasting overly boozy and fiery. In both contexts — especially Duke’s style — you get a distinctive minty, peppery zing to accompany that deliciously savoury first impression in your gob. Whereas the opening salvo of flavour is quite herbaceous, the taste broadens and deepens as the juniper and pepper step in. I love the subtle saltiness, for I am a salt-hound as well as a gin-hound.

So, yeah, are you following me? Do I need to spell it out for you? This is an absolutely bloody delicious drink. One of the nicest martinis I’ve made. And I’ve made a lot of sodding good martinis, let me tell you. The martini is my quintessential appetiser cocktail and the saline, savoury quality of Da Mhile Seaweed Gin is perfect in that pre-dinner context. And also post-dinner. Hell, don’t bother with the wine; give it to me during dinner too. On a drip.

Martini Verdict

Verdict: Neck it!

This is an exceptionally versatile Martini gin. I’d urge you to serve it with a twist rather than olive, as I think that’s a much more auspicious flavour combo, but feel free to try both. You can go pretty dry with this gin if that’s your bag.

Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin Negroni

I can’t bear to lie to you: I don’t know. This gin is too damn good in a martini to waste on a Negroni. And I say that, you realise, as a man who adores Negronis. But when you have a gin with deliciously balanced subtleties like this, you don’t slosh Campari into it. Sorry.

Come at me in the comments if you want. I can take it.

So, in summary…

In case you hadn’t gathered, this gin gets top marks. I had a ridiculous cupboard of gins even before all you wankers started stockpiling. But while I was still finishing the first bottle of Dà Mhìle, I went online and ordered two more.

You should do similar. Given the current dismal goings on, I’d suggest you order direct from the distillery and support them directly. They’re offering free postage, and a 70cl bottle of this will set you back £34. You can also get it from Master of Malt for £29.95, though without the free shipping unless you’re spending £99+.

La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge Review

It’s been a while since I last told y’all about a vermouth. Let’s change that, courtesy of the rather charming specimen below: La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge. It has a very long name and a very handsome bottle.

If you’re a vermouth geek, another thing that might catch your attention is the fact that the stuff is fortified (ie. its alcohol content is increased) by the addition of Pineau des Charentes rather than a neutral spirit of the kind more usually employed by those who cook up vermouths.

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The Wine Society vs February

I drink a lot of wine from The Wine Society. That’s because The Wine Society is bloody good, and you should join it if you haven’t already. However, it seems rather tiresome to write a review of every bottle of Wine Soc booze I sink, especially for those of you who aren’t members (though, as I said, you should be) so instead I plan to run through a few bottles of theirs I enjoyed on a monthly basis. Starting with February.

February always seems to be a month of consolidation for me. That’s partly meteorological (weather that encourages hermithood) and partly financial, insofar as it follows January — a month notable not just for its post-festive belt-tightening, but also the arse-rending existential agony of buying my annual South West Railway season ticket. If there’s a more appalling way to spend more than £5k, please do let me know.

In the South Downs, February was mud and blossom, uprooted trees, sudden breathtaking islands of sunshine in the ocean of grey. And I wanted wine to be the metaphorical equivalent of those rare bouts of sunshine.

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Cocktail of the Month: The Martinez

It’s February and the world is bleak. Storms with implausible names rage outside, and I suggest you make yourself a Martinez.

There’s an Old English poem called The Wanderer, which is basically about being cold, having no home and everyone being dead. Mood.

‘Walls stand battered by the wind,
Covered by frost, the roofs collapsed.
The wine halls crumbled; the warriors lie dead,
Cut off from joy’

As you can see, the Wanderer doesn’t sugar-coat things. Probably due to the lack of wine halls. What he needed, it seems to me, was someone to leap out from behind a nearby ruin and hand him a Martinez. A cocktail that’s absolutely cold, but also rather warm, and entirely season-appropriate.

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Wessex Gin Review

Let’s talk about Wessex, shall we? Back in the Dark Ages, there was no England (which must be a concept that’s upsetting for people like Mark Francois). Instead, an ever-changing mishmash of kingdoms, of which Wessex was one, incorporating, at different times, a sizeable chunk of the south of what’s now England.

One of the last kings of Wessex was Alfred, who seems to have been a fairly good chap. Not long after his reign, seemingly on the basis of much of his canny political manoeuvrings, Wessex expanded and became the dominant party in the newly unified English nation.

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Commuter Belters 3: Waitrose Maris Organic Rosé

We’ve sampled gin in a tin. We’ve sampled a heinous vermouth and tonic. What convenience beverage next for our thirsty commuter? This week, the fine folk at Waitrose have provided an enticing can of pink wine…

Now, I don’t usually buy rose in a bottle, let alone a goddamn can. But against the siren song of a yellow Waitrose reduced label — together, of course, with the prospect of masochism for your amusement, dear reader — I’m powerless.

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Hampshire Navy Strength Gunpowder Gin Review

About as local as gin gets (for me, that is), this distillery is practically my neighbour. And the best kind of near-neighbour: one that supplies me with bloody good booze.

Why do none of my actual neighbours do that?

I mentioned Hampshire Gunpowder Gin before, en passant. But it deserves a proper review, I think. One of the things I want to do this year is — in a spasmodic bout of localism — to write more about drink and food from my surrounds, meaning Hampshire, Sussex and thereabouts (where I live) and perhaps also London (where I work). So what better, SEO-friendly means by which to do this than by reviewing something that’s actually got the (key)words Hampshire Gin in the name?

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Rock Samphire Martini at Native Restaurant

An excellent Martini concocted by the fabulous foragers of Native Restaurant.

A quick one for you, today: Native. Amy and I had an excellent supper there, a couple of days weeks months ago. I could probably spout a few hundred words on the food, but let’s keep the focus boozy, shall we? Let’s talk about the Native Martini.

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Post-Election Sardines

Today. Today is not a good day, and was never going to be a good day. Today is a day on which to find objects of gratitude rather than (as is the temptation) of rage.

So, today, I bought sardines.

Sardines, four of the buggers — whole — for under £1.50, are the kind of thing I buy whenever I see them — irrespective of weather, mood or recent national tragedy. Sardines are the polar opposite of the choice in front of me on yesterday’s ballot paper: you can’t go wrong with sardines.

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Young & Crazy

There are several disadvantages to drinking red wine. You’re familiar, no doubt, with many; I shalln’t try your patience and morale by enumerating them. I like to think that we go into this (this, y’know, drinking) with our collective eyes open as to its downsides. But it turns out there are risks, dear reader, of which even I was unaware.

Let me take you back to a Friday night some time ago. A Friday night that came at the end of a day spent working my mouse-finger to the bone, selling cheap shit to idiots on the internet.

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Copperfield Gin Review

‘Do you like Dickens, sir?’

‘I don’t know. I’ve never been to one.’

That was a favourite joke of Mr Jarvis, my A Level English teacher. To the degree, I seem to remember, that he had to ask someone in the class to provide him with the setup question in order that he might triumphantly deliver the punchline. Which is nice for you to know.

What’s also nice for you to know is that Copperfield Gin may be the most handsomely packaged gin I’ve seen. Obviously I dig it because it’s literary, innit, and given that my idea of a perfect sitting room is one bedecked with books floor to ceiling, how could I not be seduced by a book-themed gin bottle? Or, at least, one so bloody well executed. Hats off to the designers, who presumably like Dickens.

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The Sloe & Steady Portfolio

With Brexit slouching towards Britain to be born, a couple of jokers vying for the helm of the sinking ship that is the United Kingdom, and a low-functioning sociopath clogging up the White House’s (metaphorical?) plumbing with his (metaphorical?) shit, where the hell should you invest? A question to which, you may well believe, Old Parn devotes much thought and sage analysis. Please be aware, while reading the post that follows, that I am neither licensed nor qualified to provide investment advice, but I’m going to anyway.

These handsome jars are, I predict, one of the best investments I’ll make this year. Alongside, y’know, the emotional investment of getting married, and suchlike… But, yeah, I certainly expect the next few years’ impact on the liquid contents of these jars to be rather more benevolent than their impact on my FTSE All Share tracker fund holdings.

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Commuter Belters 2: M&S Vermouth & Tonic

Here we are again for another instalment of COMMUTER BELTERS, my quest to find the booze best matched to the knees-rammed-against-plastic pleasures of southwestern railways.

This time, emboldened mayhap by our liaison with M&S gin-in-a-tin, let’s push the boat out a little further into the treacherous seas of M&S’s canned booze range — to their Vermouth & Tonic.

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The Best Tonic for your Gin — 2019 Edition

Which tonic is supersonic? According to the laws of physics, none of them. But what care we for physics? We have gin. So the idea of this post, in case the title didn’t tip you off, is to taste and rank the numerous premium tonics in a quest to crown the best tonic for your gin.

You remember, don’t you, my pretties, the time that we blind tasted ten gins in an attempt to crown 2019’s best gin for a G&T? Well, this is the inevitable tonic-centred follow-up.

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Blackdown Silver Birch Vermouth Review

Well, it’s been a while since I hoofed a vermouth review in your direction, so let’s change that. Like Asterley Bros, it’s another English vermouth, but this time white not red: Blackdown Silver Birch Vermouth.

As it happens, Blackdown’s vermouth (£20.25, The Whisky Exchange) is made not so very far from me, nestling in neighbouring Sussex’s portion of the South Downs. The titular reference to silver birch? It’s because the base wine is made from the sap of the birch trees growing around the distillery. Apparently, getting that sap is a pain in the arse, with each tree yielding a very small amount. According to Blackdown’s website: ‘In 2017 we tapped over 300 trees, with an average tree providing 5 gallons a day collecting over 1,500 gallons producing 15 gallons of pure syrup’.

So I shalln’t be setting out to make silver birch wine any time soon.

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Commuter Belters 1: G&T-in-a-Can

You’ll have observed, no doubt, my proclivity for starting new ‘series’ on this blog which fail to extend beyond their first post. And I’m sorry if you mistook the expression on my face for that of somebody who gives a shit about THAT. It is with an arrogant, Dominic Cummings-esque defiance bordering on sociopathy, indeed, that I double-down and inaugurate another. This one I shall call ‘Commuter Belters’: chronicling a journey both literal (Waterloo to Petersfield, many many times) and metaphorical (the search for BELTINGLY good alcoholic beverages with which to aneasthetise oneself against the tedium of the aforementioned).

Let’s have at it.

Waterloo. It’s Friday, 6.15. Amongst the thronged congregation on the concourse, eyes raised reverently to the departure boards, waiting for the hallowed platform number to blink into existence; ‘on time’ to flip to ‘boarding’.

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