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Review

Bulldog Gin

Distillery

Bulldog Gin Company, New York, USA (made by G & J Greenall International, Risley, Warrington, England, UK). Imported into the USA by Campari America, San Francisco, California.

Website

Bulldog Gin Company and G & J Greenall.

History

Founded in 2006 by former Banker Anshuman Vohra with Master Distiller David Kanbar, formally of Skyy Vodka. The Gin was launched in very early 2007 (at the end of the Chinese year of the dog) in New York before launching in Western Europe in 2008 - it is now to be found in over a dozen countries.

Established back in 1761, Greenall’s are the oldest continuously producing London Dry Gin distillery in the world. Thomas Dakin built the distillery initially, Edward Greenall started using it and in 1870 it was purchased completely (The G&J comes from Edward’s younger brothers – Gilbert & John). The previous chairman, Lord Daresbury, was a direct descendent of Edward Greenall. The family motto “Alto Peto” translates as "I Strive Higher". This once cottage based industry is now the second largest gin distillery in Britain, producing over 50% of the UK’s Gin and almost 15% of the world’s Gin. In 2011 the business was bought by Quintessential Brands.

Production

Made from wheat grown in Norfolk, East Anglia, England. It is distilled four times in traditional copper pot stills, using pure fresh water from Lake Wyrnwy (in Wales) and triple filtered. It is Vegan friendly, certified Kosher and gluten free.

The distinctive gothic packaging has proved to be successful in differentiation within the marketplace. The bottles are produced by Allied Glass Containers Ltd. (who also make the bottles for Langtons No.1 Gin) and are charcoal grey colored with deep purple hues. Apothecary in style, the bottles have broad shoulders, which taper down towards the base, perhaps most notably it has a studded glass (dog) collar around the neck of the bottle.

Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

40% (80 Proof).

Price Range

$$ - $$$. Good availability across the USA. Online, good prices may be found at: Astor Wines, 67 Liquor, France 44, Wine Chateau and Gillette Ridge.

Botanicals

Botanicals include: almond (Spain), angelica (Germany), cassia (Asia), coriander (Morocco), dragon eye (China), juniper berries (Italy), lavender (France), lemon (Spain), liquorice (China), lotus leaves (China), orris (Italy), and (white) poppy seeds (Turkey).

Some of these botanicals are unusual: Poppy seeds, lotus leaves and Dragon eye. Dragon eye is perhaps the most offbeat ingredient, which when peeled looks like an eyeball! A distant relation to the lychee, it is also known as a Lonan, and has been used by the Chinese for hundreds of years (if not thousands) for medicinal purposes. Most notably it is said to stimulate vitality and sexual stamina - who are we to suggest otherwise, make ours a double!

Name

The inspiration for the name is from Sir Winston Churchill and the British “Bulldog spirit” that he embodied. Interestingly, Churchill never owned a Bulldog (one of his daughters did apparently) his personal fondness was for Poodles, having one called Rufus during the Second World War. The reference to “Bulldog” and Churchill was not only his facial resemblance to the breed but the similar characteristics: steadfast, brave and some might say “stubborn” tendencies.

The Bulldog is a pure English bred dog originally used for "bull baiting" (which was banned in 1835). This activity involved the bulldog fighting a bull – the dog seeking to bite the Bull’s snout, which would painfully bring it down to the ground and the dog steadfastly refusing to let go. In return the Bull would seek to gore the dog with its horns and throw it around – to combat this, the Bulldog has a high pain threshold and is very strong. Today, despite the cartoon representation of them being ferocious they’re anything but! While resolute and courageous they are very kind and affectionate dogs.

Perhaps this Gin has similarities too, one of their marketing phrases is: "Mixes with everything, surrenders to nothing".

Tasting Notes

On the nose is citrus (lemon), pine (juniper) and floral aromas with a faint hint of sweetness (possibly the dragon eye). On the palate this medium bodied, not too oily, slightly fruity sweet spirit discerns juniper followed by citrus (lemon) with hints of herbal and floral (lavender) tastes. The short finish is warm as spices appear, supported by the juniper, lavender and citrus. All in all a well balanced, finely crafted and nicely complex Gin.

This is mild and smooth (creamy) whilst still moderately forward in juniper and complexity, making for a good Martini and a particularly good Dirty Martini (Bulldog recommend omitting the vermouth and call it a Dirty Dog - we preferred it with the Vermouth). It is nice in a Gin & Tonic (with a lime garnish) but how nice depends upon the tonic e.g. Fever Tree we believe works well but Fentimans less so. This is no reflection upon the tonic but more in regard to the Gin and its taste profile – the bolder the ingredients in the mixed drink the greater the Gin is diminished or even lost entirely.

Bulldog have been bold and courageous in aiming for a Gin which meets the needs of many i.e. mild enough for converts to Gin and yet with enough classic Gin characteristics to keep the interest of Gin lovers. We applaud their style because this meets their target about 80% of the time, which is an amazing achievement because being all things, to all people, all the time is just impossible. What we have is a good Gin, suitable for the crowd and thus an excellent party Gin – light, breezy, smooth and fun. The quality is very good indeed and the unique botanicals add significantly, making it a welcome addition to any bar – its as likeable and enjoyable, dare we say it…as a Bulldog.

Within a short time of being launched F. Paul Pacult’s review on Bulldog Gin for Wine Enthusiast left us with a question “Would it be even better at 47% abv?” We wondered this ourselves and in late 2013 the question was answered: They released a 47% version called Bulldog Extra Bold.

Awards & Accolades

90 Points, Wine Enthusiast.

89 Points, Beverage Testing Institute.

88 Points, Ultimate Beverage Challenge.

Silver Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2012.



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