Finally it is time to go on and I will do my first detailed spirits review since my Corona infection. And although I’m not entirely sure if things are as they used to be, I have deliberately chosen to do it in a way that a certain comparison is possible. On the one hand, to have certainty for myself that my overall perception is no longer insufficient for these purposes, on the other hand, to be able to give an orientation also quite in the sense of the products reviewed here. To put it less abstractly, I am tasting two gin bottlings from the same manufacturer today – one of which I have already tasted before my infection, the other I am now tasting in comparison. (provided test products)*
The products mentioned are gins from the LoneWolf range, which might also be a familiar term to some beer drinkers, as the producer behind these juniper distillates is none other than Scottish craft brewer Brewdog. This may not be obvious at first glance, but it’s easy to figure out by looking at the bottles and doing a little research. The two gins I’m concerned with today are, first, the LoneWolf Cloudy Lemon Gin and the LoneWolf Chilli and Lime Gin. The LoneWolf Chilli & Lime Gin is the newer bottling and seems at first glance certainly the crazier or more innovative one, but may not appeal to everyone equally.
Speaking of first glance and appeal: Esteemed colleague Johann from Cocktailbart has commented in his inimitable and very apt manner on the design of the bottle(s) as follows, (loosely translated) “At first glance, we emotionally associate the over-the-top design with the embossing, golden ornaments and martial dynamics of Ed Hardy shirts. But if you look a little closer at the extremely detailed wolf’s head, it does grow on you, especially because the bottle actually stands out extremely in the home bar, even after 10 years of gin hype.” I have basically nothing more to add to that.
So now let’s have a closer look at the bottle’s content: the LoneWolf Cloudy Lemon Gin was made with the botanicals angelica root, grapefruit zest, cardamom, coriander, lavender, lemongrass, almond, orris root, juniper and lemon peel. The special feature here is a one-week maceration of the gin with Sicilian lemon peel (after distillation), which is also responsible for the color of the gin. Finally, it is bottled at an abv of 40%.
The other bottle is the already mentioned LoneWolf Chilli & Lime Gin. Chilli is not necessarily one of the most frequently encountered botanicals in a gin (lime, on the other hand, is), which of course raises a crucial question: should I expect a spicy hot gin here, which gives me a proper “fire” when drinking? No, not really! There is some spiciness there, yes, but no one needs to worry here that they might have accidentally reached for the hot sauce. But more on that below. In addition to juniper, cardamom, angelica roots and pine needles, Mexican limes are – unsurprisingly – part of the botanical composition here. And also habaneros and scotch bonnet chilies. To the best of my knowledge of distillation processes, capsaicin (the alkaloid responsible for the spiciness) does not pass into the final product during distillation, or only to a limited extent, so this should primarily bring out the fruity-spicy aspects of the chile varieties (both of which I love). Unlike the Cloudy Lemon Gin, we also have a slightly higher alcohol content here with an abv of 44%.
So how do the two gins taste?
Tasting Notes “LoneWolf Cloudy Lemon Gin”:
Aroma: Ok, the main character is unmistakably and from the beginning expectably clear: full, rich, lemon. However, in a thoroughly complex and very successful way: there is both a tangy, fresh note, but also deep, spicy tones from the peel, which go very harmoniously hand in hand with juniper and once again drive the liaison known from many citrus-toned gins to new heights. Lemongrass ultimately adds a new component to the aromatics, but coriander and cardamom also shine through (albeit more subtly). A fresh and spicy aroma picture that makes me, as a lemon lover, want to take the first sip.
Taste: On the palate, a fresh, spicy experience in the truest sense of the word. The lemon immediately becomes present in the mouth, tangy and tart, but also with associations of sweetness (almost like from candied lemon peel) and just the full load of zest: fine, spicy bitter notes, as I also appreciate in good jams combine here with the spices of the gin. Juniper always comes through and balances the gin skillfully without turning it into a one-sided lemon attack of the uncharitable kind. I really like this bottling.
Finish: long with – who would have thought? – lemon (especially lemon peel).
Tasting Notes “LoneWolf Chilli & Lime Gin”:
Aroma: Compared to the Cloudy Lemon Gin, the Chilli & Lime Gin seems almost ordinary on the nose. But that is certainly also due to the contrast. You can clearly find the juniper and lime spearhead here, preceding a cohort of classic gin aromas. Cardamom is there, pine needles can also be found and mix with the juniper to create a lightly spicy, somewhat resinous undertone. A certain fruitiness comes through with time, distantly reminiscent of peppers or apricots, so this is where the chilies should make their presence felt.
Taste: On the palate, too, it’s not a spicy chili attack at first (no need to fear that at all), but the dual tone of juniper and lime that shows up. Then fresh, subtle spicy associations (!) appear, which intertwine also with ginger. Over time, however, typical habanero notes with their fruity spiciness show up again, which at no time burn the palate, but very successfully round off the flavor picture of the gin. I also like this bottling – and that I can write at all again so differentiated about the taste of a spirit, makes this tasting (and thus for me also somehow this gin) once again special in a completely different way.
Finish: quite long with spicy notes and slight associations of chili heat.
Two gins, two cocktails – that’s the motto today.
And the first is the LoneWolf Chilli & Lime Gin. Here, I didn’t have to think long about where I could find an aromatic point of contact for this gin: orange. Actually, almost all the flavors of this gin harmonize wonderfully with oranges: Limes, chilies, juniper, peppers and apricots, all of which go quite nicely with the popular citrus fruit. And that’s when the Blooded Knees cocktail, invented by Simon Difford as a twist on the Bee’s Knees, came to my mind. The chili notes work quite wonderfully in this drink and the LoneWolf Chili & Lime Gin really has room to shine. If you have a juicer, you can easily add some very interesting nuance here by adding two bar spoons of the juice of a red bell pepper: works fantastically.
Recipe „Blooded Knees“ (from Simon Difford, slightly modified version):
6 cl LoneWolf Chilli & Lime Gin
2 cl honey syrup (3 parts honey to 1 part water, see below)
2,25 cl blood orange juice
2,25 cl lemon juice
2 bar spoons (my barspoons have approx. 0.25 cl each) of juice from a red bell pepper made in the juicer (optional, but really enhances the drink!)
Honey syrup: simply heat three parts honey and one part water in a pan or small saucepan briefly and stir. Once a homogeneous syrup has formed, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Preparation: Shake all ingredients vigorously in a shaker over ice and strain into a pre-chilled glass.
Garnish: orange zest
So that leaves the LoneWolf Cloudy Lemon Gin. Well, and here I have opted for a spicy Crusta cocktail. The gin is flanked here by the spicy-earthy Exliri China from Nardini. Add to that – typical for a crusta – lemon juice and sugar, plus one dash of Orange Bitters and one dash of By the Dutch Ginger Bitters. The result tastes like the essence of bitter-spicy citrus zests, which is why I simply named the drink “The Zesty Crusta.”
Recipe „The Zesty Crusta“:
6 cl LoneWolf Cloudy Lemon Gin
1,5 cl sugar syrup
2 cl lemon juice
0,75 cl Nardini Elixir China
1 dash Orange Bitters
1 dash Ginger Bitters (By the Dutch)
Preparation: first, peel half of an orange, if possible in one piece, so that you get an orange peel cut round and wide. Now moisten the slightly pre-cooled glass with some orange pulp and turn it in a plate with vanilla sugar (for this one, I put a cut vanilla bean in a screw-top jar with sugar and let it sit for a few days), so that a sugar rim is formed. Now carefully add the orange zest to the glass so that it sticks and doesn’t fall to the bottom of the glass. Then shake all ingredients vigorously over ice and carefully strain into the glass without damaging the sugar rim. Jerry Thomas, in his instructions for making a crusta, recommends to smile during this step. Best to follow his instruction!
Glass: Crusta (a sour or prosecco glass will also work).
Garnish: vanilla sugar as crusta and orange zest (see above).
Buying sources: at specialized retailers or online
*The fact that these products have been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.