Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bombay London Dry - the cookbook gin

As August speeds past (where is the time going?) it's time to consider bottling last years damson gin and start thinking about this years preserving options. For the last few years I've really gone overboard with this (I think I might have bought something like 300 jam jars/bottles etc, so this year I'm thinking I might really need to dial it back a bit and have a clear out of the cupboards. Against that is how oddly compelling preserving is, I find it a deeply satisfying process to make jam, or to look at the jars of maturing damson gin (under the bed, I need a pantry - or at least I dream of a life that has a pantry and a good cellar in it).

Part of the considering process involves laying in some raw ingredients, and gin is one of them. For the last couple of years I've used Bombay London dry, it comes in a clear bottle, has fewer botanicals than its sister, and has been on special offer in Sainsbury's at just the right time (around £16 a litre which compares well with supermarket own labels). 

Whatever culinary purpose you're putting alcohol to, the one basic rule to follow is this; never use something you wouldn't drink by itself. I have nothing particular against supermarket gins (Aldi's gets particularly good reviews, when I get a chance I'll try it) but I wouldn't buy them to make a G&T when there are so many other interesting things around, and for the time and trouble it takes to make a sloe or damson gin I don't see the point of skimping on ingredients. For me a grain gin is preferable. If it is a grain gin it will generally state it on the label because it's a selling point, cheap gin is often made from a molasses base - just like rum - and the botanicals will possibly be added in the form of concentrates. There's nothing wrong with any of that but it's like the difference between the cheapest tea bags and good quality loose leaf tea...

It may also be that you want gin infusions for cocktails (lavender flavoured gin is particularly good), or to splash into the damson jam, or to give an edge to a sauce - same rule, only use something you'd ordinarily be happy to drink (maybe not the best gin, but still something you genuinely like). 

And then, modest gin in hand, it's time to sit back and browse for inspiration whilst drinking a toast to the end of summer and preparing to meet autumn with equinamity. 


  1. This may seem an odd question when your post is about gin, but: what kind of cookbook is A Year at Otter Farm?

  2. No otters are involved! It's a seasonal cookbook from Mark Diacono who was involved with River Cottage for a while. He grows a lot of exotic, for the UK, things on the principal that you can buy carrots for less than it takes to grow them, and spend the time on growing mulberries instead (random examples) which are all but impossible to buy, so there's lots of growing advice along with what to do with the more unusual things you might grow. It makes me long for a garden again. There's also quite a few drinks in there, and lots of herbs which I can at least grow on my windowsill. Altogether it's a lovely book - well worth a good look at.

  3. Thank you! I have friends named Otter, who live on a (now non-working) farm here in Nova Scotia, and wondered if it might make a suitable gift.

    1. I'm not sure how well the crops would translate (presumably reasonably well?) but that aside its a lovely book and would make a great present (though I'm biased when it comes to cookbooks...)