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+.

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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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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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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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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Boxer Gin Review. Punchy or Paunchy?

I mean, when a gin’s called Boxer, how am I meant to avoid the most bloody obvious metaphor? Christ. Give me something to work with. Fortunately, Boxer Gin does exactly that, in abundance, as soon as you get it into your gob. Here’s how it measures up.

I bought Boxer Gin because it was the gin of choice at Poco Tapas Bar, the excellent Bristolian tapas restaurant at which I first discovered the Negroni Manzanilla. And given my predilection for punchy gins and stooping to lowest-common-denominator wordplay, what could be more auspicious than a gin that is literally punchy?

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The Society’s High Strength Gin Martini

This is wonderful gin. It’s not trying to be anything else. It’s juniper and citrus and booze. And it’s smoother than you could ever hope to be, mate.

Christ, yes. A martini with the Wine Society’s High Strength Gin.

I know it’s been a while, and I know this is going to look cursory. Like I’m fobbing you off.

Fob fob fob.

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Fort Gin Review: Mighty Fortress or Crumbling Ruin?

Now, a fort is supposed to protect you against danger, right? I’m not convinced. Fort Gin, y’see, is pretty damn dangerous in itself. Take a gulp and you’ll understand why…

Portsmouth! Following last week’s account of our adventures at Portsmouth Fish Market, we’re back to Pompey today — but this time we’re swapping fish for fortifications. Specifically, Fort Gin (£31.95, Master of Malt), which is made by the Portsmouth Distillery.

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Lone Wolf Gin Review

Lone Wolf is the kind of gin of which the captain of secret police in a repressive, totalitarian regime would heartily approve. Question is, does Old Parn feel similarly…?

Come in! Come in! Fortunate favourite of Old Parn — or else not so fortunate.

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The Perfect Gin Martini Recipe

Right, listen. This is important. You either make a perfect martini or you don’t make one at all. Read on for Old Parn’s rhapsody on the innumerable savage charms of this noble drink — and, natch, the recipe for the aforementioned perfect martini…

Your first gobful of martini should brace you even as it slams you. You should gasp. Your mouth should thrill, your blood should pump, your heart should sing. Continue reading “The Perfect Gin Martini Recipe”

Gin Corner: Greenall’s Bloom — The Slug’s Choice

… is a big ol’ herbaceous gin. How will it fare in the Old Parn test-lab? G&Terrific or G&Terrible?

Macro photo of a bottle of Greenall's Bloom, with logo in focus

Oh. The leafy, herby, juicy green aroma of corriander. Heck. It’s like you’re a slug munching your way through a herb garden. (You are such a slug.)

Greenall’s Bloom is, I suppose, aptly enough named. It is a big ol’ herbaceous gin.

Here at Old Parn labs, we put Greenall’s Bloom through a rigorous and scientific testing procedure. I made a gin and tonic with it, and I made a martini with it. Then I repeated these tests several times (purely for scientific purposes, natch). Here’s what the results sheets said.

The Greenall’s Bloom Gin and Tonic

Yeah, it’s all about the corriander, here. In tonic-wedded form, Greenall’s Bloom isn’t as punchy as some (loyal readers will know that I like my G&Ts like I like my women: punchy and bitey*). When I made a Greenall’s Bloom and Tonic with my usual proportions of gin:tonic (don’t ask me what they are; I just feel it, y’know?), the result was a little bit lacking. A tad sweet, even.

But, next time round, perhaps my hand slipped. You know what I’m saying? MY HAND SLIPPED. And I ended up with a higher proportion of gin. And that, a bit like taking the path less travelled, made all the difference.

Suddenly, I was drinking an assertive, confident bastard of a G&T. One that’d just had a massive Thai stir-fry piled with obscene amounts of corriander, I guess.

Pretty nice.

The Greenall’s Bloom Martini

No surprises here, given what I’ve said already: the Bloom Martini is as green and herbaceous as you’d expect. Lighter, more hippyish than your usual Martini. And, yeah, nice for the novelty value. But I’ve not been tempted to make them for non-experimental purposes. Greenall’s Bloom strikes me as more of a G&T-friendly kind of gin; it doesn’t really gel in the context of the Martini. That magical masculine-feminine chemistry isn’t there; it’s all a bit too verdant, too lush, too goddamn fertile.

The verdict

So long as you atone for its slightly less bolshy character by adjusting your gin:tonic ratio, this is a pretty nice G&T gin. I like the grassy, herby ebullience of it — though probably more as an occasional curveball to the palate than as an everyday highball-filler.

I’d recommend putting it with a lighter tonic (something like Fever Tree Naturally Light) — or, if you want to sample the hippy Bloom Martini, try using The Wine Society’s Chambery as your vermouth, and go for a twist rather than an olive.

* That’s not even remotely true. But didn’t it sound cool?