Saturday, August 27, 2016

Daffy's gin with Ian Fleming and James Bond

Daffy' is pretty new on the gin scene - launched at the tail end of 2014 after a couple of years intense development work - it also says a lot about where gin is going. It's a high quality product that conforms to a traditional gin flavour profile, but with an emphasis on a particular botanical - in this case Lebanese mint. It references gins history; Daffy is an old slang term for gin (it comes up in Dickens), though the label is pure 1960's martini glamour. The Daffy's gin people like to say it refers to the goddess of gin. Along with that back story the rest of the packaging is absolutely immaculate - it's all extreme polished, and it's paid off quickly with awards and a national distribution deal with Waitrose.

Daffy's is the brain child of an Edinburgh based couple (with a sound drinks background) and apparently partly inspired by whisky in so much as they wanted something that was recognisable in the same way (distinctly gin, but also distinctive), the Lebanese mint does the trick. It's a salad mint (I looked it up) so not harsh, the flavour is integrated, but unmistakable. The other thing Daffy's wanted was to be a gin which would drink well neat. Success again.

It works very well in a G&T, and that distinctive minty note makes it a good choice for cocktails that really allow the gin to shine through (Martini's, Gin Ricky's - that sort of thing).

The label design is what really stands out about this gin for me though. It is after all the first impression that you get of it, and it's also really distinctive. The label was designed by Robert McGinnis who's probably most famous for the James Bond posters in the 60's and 70's, and I've not really seen anything else like it, it certainly stands out. It's possibly also a love it or hate it label, I don't love it but I do admire a strong brand.

The Robert McGinnis connection makes James Bond an obvious choice, though when I think about Bond I think of the films rather than Ian Flemmings books, of which I've only read Casino Royale (the Modesty Blaise books would work too). I'm definitely thinking of Roger Moore as Bond, and a 70's jet set lifestyle. The origins of the botanicals - Belgium (angelica), the Balkans (juniper and coriander), Morocco (orris), Spain (orange and lemon), Malaysia (Cassia), and Lebanon (mint) certainly read like a set list for a Bond film (and some interesting holidays).

Finally a martini should be stirred, not shaken, and Ian Flemming knew it, there are a lot of theories as to why he specifies shaken (I've even heard it was to annoy his bartender, I would love it if that was true). The reason you should stir is mostly aesthetic, shaken martini's are likely to be cloudy, and some argue more dilute (but that's debatable). I've also read that when you shake gin it can 'bruise' it, bringing out a bitter note - though I've not tested that. Stirring takes longer, but the ritual of making a drink is important, if a things worth doing, it's worth doing properly.

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