Following hot on the heels of recent headlines about the threat to juniper bushes of a new fungus, Sainsbury's asked me if I'd like to try some of their own gin. I have to say after a few weeks of medication and painkillers it was a lovely Friday treat, frosty, fresh and wonderful - just what you want your Friday gin and tonic to be. It's a milder taste than some and would definitely lend itself to cocktailing as it doesn't have any overpowering aromatics.
The email from Sainsburys was actually somewhat serendipitous as it's prompted me to write up some gin drinking I did not so long ago, somewhere totally unexpected. Barcelona. Nope me either. If I was to associate gin with anywhere it would be the UK in the summertime, but gin, and specifically gin cocktails are where it's at in Barcelona right now.
Surprisingly Spain has the largest gin market in Europe - it's the preprandial I would expect over here, but it's also being drunk as a nightcap. It's the flavours that wildly intelligent, inspired barmen and women are putting with it that make it so special - I tried a gin, bramley apple and licquorice cocktail at Bobby Gin, as well as a Decantando - with tonka beans, peppercors and chamomile at the Ohla Boutique bar. Both drinks really were triumphs of creativity in flavours. I would never have considered apple with gin, but it works - it needs to be something like a Bramley though, tart and crisp, with the licquorice adding a sweetness and roundness that just balanced the drink.
I have to say were I not in the midst of packing up our entire kitchen, then in addition to flinging the contents of my vegetable drawer and spice shelf at my gin glasses, the gin and tonic jelly of Nigella's would definitely be being rolled out.
I was asked when I was waxing rhetorical about the Sainsbury's gin at the weekend - I can get a bit overexcited at times - if I would use it for Sloe gin, as it is nearly that time of year after all. I have to say that I wouldn't. I only ever use the cheapest gin I can lay my hands on for sloe gin - Sainsbury's basics does the job perfectly - this bottle is far too nice for sloes. And what's more, it's mine.