Gin on Brick Lane

This week saw me in London for two days on business. I stayed in Brick Lane in a somewhat crappy hotel whose air-conditioning made my room stink of mould and dirty filters. I slept with the windows open to clear the smell and had an awful night’s sleep.

Anyway, we are here for the Gin, and not a hotel review. Just in case you want to avoid the overpriced hole that I stayed in, it was the City Hotel London (12 Osborn St).

I had the fortune of being in London with the colleague who introduced me to gin in the first place; he is rather passionate about gin as well, so G&T consumption was almost a certainly.

We started out in an all-you-can-eat curry buffet place. At £7 per head, it wasn’t going to be gourmet curry, but it has volume and variety on its side. It looked like the only gin behind the bar was Gordon’s; we tried to order a couple of gin & tonics, but the young Asian lady serving us was having some difficulty understanding us. After summoning help from another member of staff, we were soon plied with our drink of choice, or were we?

Initial observation would suggest that the tonic water was a little flat; a little unusual, but it could have been a post-mix system that had run out of gas.

It turned out we had been served gin and water. While not entirely unpleasant, it was definitely not a gin & tonic. It was still quite cleansing on the palate, but not what the doctor ordered.

We finished up in our eating establishment and retired to the hotel. For all the City Hotel was a bit of a dive, it had a well stocked bar offering the following gins…

All-in-all there was an impressive choice of gins for a hotel bar and after the Gordon’s & water experience, I was keen to get onto the better stuff.

First up was the Tanqueray No 10. This was a fairly good gin; smooth and complex. It is loaded with citrus botanicals and is quadruple distilled. Apparently its botanicals include chamomile as well – not that I could tell from drinking it. All-in-all, the number ten was a good gin and one I would seriously consider for my own drinks cabinet.

Second up was the Plymouth Navy Strength. At 57% AVB (or 100% proof) this was going to be a firecracker of a drink. However, while smooth, this gin was a little disappointing and I don’t know if it was the gin or the barman that was the problem. The barman squeezed the lime slice into the drink before dropping it into the glass; this gave a rather intense lime hit to the drink which over-rode the gin. I don’t know if this accounted fully for the apparent lack of depth, or whether is is a gin without the complexity of some of its competitors.

Plymouth has a high portion of root botanicals that lends it quite an earthy flavour and I am wondering if my palette prefers the lighter top-notes of floral and leaf botanicals. I guess only time will tell.

Anyway, it was a long day and we didn’t really get beyond those two. But still, there are two new gins I have tried, so life is good.


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