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Review

Raffles Gin

Distillery

William Maxwell Distillery, Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd., Broxburn, West Lothian, Scotland, UK.

Website

Ian Macleod Distilleries.

History

Leonard J Russell established a business in 1933 and in 1963 the Russell family acquired the Ian Macloed distillery. Today it is in its third generation of family leadership and is best known for their whiskies, which include Glengoyne Highland single malt.

Sometime during the 1960’s to the 1980’s The Russell business (Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd.) acquired the William Maxwell Company and their brands, including Raffles Gin.

Production

Distilled twice.

The Gin is presented in tall clear rectangular bottle with angular shoulders and a short bulbous neck (although we believe this has recently changed to short straight neck). It has a black/dark green rectangular label with green trim and white text. Raffles Gin is clearly seen at the top of the label with a picture of a sprig of juniper just below.

Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

40% (80 Proof).

Price Range

$ - $$. Not available in the USA as this is produced for Spain only. Available online for European shipping destinations only: Antonios Market, Bodega Privada, Vinissimus, Smart Bites, eBuy Wines, Decantalo or Uvinum.

Botanicals

Uses 13 botanicals including: almonds, angelica root, cardamom seeds, cassia bark, cinnamon bark, coriander seeds, fennel, ginger, juniper berries, lemon peel, liquorice root, nutmeg and orange peel.

Name

Sir Stamford Raffles founded modern day Singapore in 1819, as a port and trading post for the East India Company. The Raffles Hotel in Singapore, named after Sir Stamford, was established in 1887. Around 1915 a classic Gin cocktail originally called the Gin Sling (today called the Singapore Sling), was invented by Hainanese bartender Ngiam Tong Boon, whilst working at the Long Bar of the Raffles Hotel.

What better name to call a Gin than after the modern day founder of Singapore, and the hotel named in honor of him, which happens to be the birthplace of the Gin based Singapore Sling.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is a cornucopia of aromas (more earthy bark in nature) with fruity juniper, citrus and exotic spicy notes plus a hint of alcohol. On the palate this soft and slightly oily spirit has light creamy but dry juniper and peppery spice (cardamom) with a slightly sweet taste. On the close the smooth juniper and spice continues with a hit of refreshing citrus plus a pleasant bitter and light warm (ginger) finish. Raffles is a complex and nicely balanced light Gin.

Whilst this is a classic London Dry style of Gin it is quite remarkable because despite the low price it is surprisingly complex and aromatic. We would love to see this Gin’s availability stretch much further afield; it is relatively unknown outside of Spain and this is such a shame, especially for those on a frugal budget. In our minds this Gin although subtler in taste, is somewhat better than Gordon’s and perhaps not quite as good as Beefeater (the 47% ABV version, not the 40% ABV version).

This is not a high quality sipping Gin (but many are surprised just how shippable it is) and is best used in mixed drinks where it is not overpowered. It makes a very nice Gin and Tonic, although the light subtleties are lost unless you make it light on the tonic e.g. 2:1 of tonic to Gin. Our preference, and supported by many bartenders in Spain, is to use Fever Tree tonic with a lemon twist garnish (and maybe even add a couple of juniper berries). It also makes a very presentable Martini with hints of spice and is better still in a Dry Martini. Our preferred garnish is certainly a lemon twist rather than olives, but at this price you can afford to experiment a plenty - and you’ll willingly want to given its reasonable level of palate quality.

We can’t help ourselves, and we would be failing in so many ways not to mention…you must try this Gin in a Singapore Sling, but be prepared for the Gin (like most Gins) to be lost in the cocktail. Plus, if you happen to be travelling in Singapore do go to Raffles Hotel and order this drink, it’s certainly a tourist cliché but at least (for both of these suggestions) you can say you’ve done it!

Awards & Accolades

Unknown.



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