Foragers Winberry Gin Review, Recipes & Pairings

Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. Mombacho has the Diplomatico series. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce gin, rum, vodka and liquors, and bottle whisky. They were kind enough to sponsor Cigar Inspector with samples so we can write about pairings.

Foragers Winberry Gin

I admit, I am not an expert on fruits and that includes berries. I can tell the difference between a strawberry, raspberry and a blackberry but when it comes to more exotic fruits, I really need my friend Mr. Wikipedia to help me out. I already had to go online to find out what a Sloe berry was for the Foragers Soulful Sloe Gin, and I find myself googling again to learn about the wineberry. And it turns out it is a European wild blueberry, closely related to but not the same as the famous American blueberry. The name Winberry is used in Derbyshire, along the Anglo-Welsh border, and south Wales, amongst other place. The same berry is also known as Whortleberry and Blaeberry while the official name is Bilberry.

The winberries for the Foragers Winberry Gin are foraged along the coals of Wales and its cascading hills. There is only a short window to harvest these native berries. The berries are stunningly sweet with a long tart finish. Using these fruits in the distillation process leads to a complex spirit with a profile of fresh citrus, robust berries and warming floral notes while the colour is a vibrant amber orange like a nice cognac or whisky. Each batch is only good for 200 bottles, so if you want to try this gin, get it while its available.

Neat

The drink looks nice due to the light colour instead of a clear spirit. It’s a nice mixture of amber and orange to the eye with a golden hue. On the nose I get a bit of alcohol with floral and  fruity notes with some white pepper. After swallowing my first sip there is a slight burn of alcohol. The drink is smooth though, with notes of white pepper and berries. The floral notes also return in the flavour. The spirit is delicate and well balanced. I was pairing it with a peppery cigar, but that’s not the best combination. I would go for something soft and sweet like an Ashton Maduro for example, or a Cuban Fonseca. A well-aged Vegas Robaina seems like a good combination too.

Gin & Tonic

The ice and the tonic make the nice amber colour of the gin disappear. It is now a completely clear drink. There is a nice fresh aroma of botanicals and pine. The drink is refreshing as any gin & tonic is. It is slightly sweeter with a tart finish and that must be the influence of the winberries. The sweetness won’t make the pairing hard, but the tart finish makes this cocktail less preferable to pair with a mild cigar. I was smoking a Ramon Allones Specially Selected while drinking this and that was a perfect pairing. I suspect that something with a Cameroon wrapper with its spices would be a great match as well. The new Arturo Fuente Rainforest and this Winberry Gin & Tonic is a combination I will have to try soon.

And now for the gin tonic recipe:

2 ounces of 60ml of Foragers Winberry gin
4 ounces or 120ml of Tonic water
Fill a highball or Collins glass with ice. Add the gin, then the tonic and stir gently.

Tom Collins

Instead of two cocktails, a number I usually stick to while writing these articles, I decided to go for three. And not because I wanted to drink more cocktails, but because the three cocktails that I selected are quite similar, and I was wondering how much difference it makes when you use limes instead of lemons, and how much a splash of simple syrup changes the cocktail.

The Tom Collins is a classic and the cocktail has the aroma of lemon with a little bit of the berries from the Foragers Winberry Gin. The drink itself is very lemony, it’s just like lemonade and I can see myself in the garden on a hot summer night with a large glass of this. The cocktail is quite dry and sour, pleasant and refreshing but the lemon clearly overpowers the delicate Foragers Winberry gin. I would not use this gin in this cocktail again, the lemon needs something stronger and the Foragers Winberry gin needs a cocktail that gives the spirit the respect it deserves. The lemon doesn’t play well with the delicate balance of berries and floral notes. I regret my choice for the Tom Collins, not because I don’t like the cocktail but because it doesn’t do the gin justice.  And it is too lemon forward to be a perfect pairing with a cigar. If it works, if will have to be an earthy or woody cigar with bold enough flavours to cut through the lemon.

and now for the Tom Collins recipe

2 ounces or 60ml of Foragers Winberry gin

1 ounce or 30ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed

½ ounce or 15ml  simple syrup

Club soda, to top

Garnish: lemon wheel

Garnish: maraschino cherry

Add the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to a Collins glass.  Fill with ice, top with club soda and stir. Garnish with a lemon wheel and maraschino cherry.

Gin Rickey

The Gin Rickey is very similar to the Tom Collins. It just swaps the lemon with lime, cuts the quantity in half and drops the simple syrup. This cocktail hardly has any nose, only a little bit of line. The lime comes back in the taste, but unlike with the Tom Collins, the berries are also in the flavour profile. Maybe it’s the half ounce instead of a full ounce, or maybe it’s the lime instead of a lemon. I should try a Tom Collins again but with ½ oz/15ml of lemon instead of the double dose But the gin is noticeable unlike with the previous cocktail. The drink is still very tart, it is still citrus forward. Refreshing and tasty but same qualities that make this a very refreshing summer cocktail are also the characteristics that make it hard to pair with a cigar. Something earthy will work. A Leaf by Oscar Corojo, a Padron 1926, or Montecristo for the Cuban smokers.

and now for the Gin Rickey recipe

2 ounces or 60ml of Foragers Winberry gin

½ ounce or 15ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed

Club soda, to top

Garnish: lime wheels

Fill a highball glass with ice and add the gin and lime juice. Top with club soda. Garnish with 2 lime wheels.

Gimlet

The third cocktail drops the soda water and reintroduces the simple syrup. Plus there is a bit more gin involved. That immediately transfers into the aroma of the drink, the lime is dominant but the berries of the Foragers Winberry gin is clearly there. The same goes for the taste, it’s still tart of because of the lime although more balanced due to the simple syrup with way more of the Foragers Winberry than the other two cocktails. This is also the first of the three that give you the idea that you are drinking an alcoholic beverage. This drink is refreshing with some sweetness, lime, berries and floral notes. It’s well balanced, refined and delicate. This does the gin justice. Of the three this is also the best one to pair with a cigar as the citrus is quite mellow. A nice Connecticut Shade cigar would be a good pairing. Something like the Perdomo 10th anniversary Champagne, an Undercrown Shade Flying Pig or an Oliva Connecticut Reserva. For the fans of Cuban cigars, think about Quai d’Orsay, Hoyo de Monterrey of Rafael Gonzalez.

And now for the Gimlet recipe
2½ ounces of 75ml of Foragers Winberry gin

½ ounce or 15ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
½ ounce or 15ml of simple syrup

Garnish: lime wheel

Add the gin, lime juice and simple syrup to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Inspector X

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