“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, she walks into mine.” – Humphrey Bogart (as Rick Blaine), Casablanca (1942)
While Brewery at the Palace is certainly not a mere “gin joint”, it served as a perfect venue for the Langley’s England Gin Manila launch.
I’m getting ahead of myself. A little technical background: Gin is classified as a neutral flavoured spirit with notes of juniper. Gin makers can make their distinctive gin with their choice of botanicals, distillation methods (there are two distillation methods: using pot stills for more character, or using column stills for a purer, smoother spirit), and their preference in adding flavours*.
Having said that, what makes Langley’s England Gin different? It would help to look at the brand’s background: In 2011, drinks industry veterans Mark Dawkins and Mark Crump decided to launch their own gin brand. Focusing on the finding the “most perfectly balanced gin”, they created Langley’s No. 8, which went on to win multiple awards globally (including a Gold in San Francisco’s World Spirits Competition in 2014, and the Double Gold and UK Gin of the Year at the New York International Spirits Competition in 2016). They then went on to launch Langley’s Old Tom Gin, and Langley’s First Chapter.
Of course, at this point, the important question is, how is their gin?
We had the privilege of trying both the No. 8 and the Old Tom Gin during the launch, as well as cocktails that have incorporated said gins. Langley’s No. 8 is classified as a London Dry (may only be re-distilled with juniper and other botanicals, and no other flavourings may be added to the gin after distillation), and has refreshing notes of juniper, coriander seeds, sage, and citrus. It was perfect as the base used for the Langley’s G&B (made with classic Indian tonic, red grapefruit wheel, and a sprig of basil). I thought that it was a great easy-drinking gin to consume in our hot and humid weather (and I’m lazy, so I’d likely replicate the simple-to-make cocktail at home).
I never heard of Old Tom Gin until the brand’s Head of Export, Matt Ashton-Melia, told us about its existence. It’s an old gin recipe from 18th century England that has resurfaced in the craft cocktail scene, and is slightly sweeter than a London Dry. The Langley take on the Old Tom has touches of nutmeg, lemon peel, coriander, and fennel. I particularly loved how guest mixologist (and the brand’s Group Sales and Marketing Manager) Jonathan Zammit-Tabona used Langley’s Old Tom Gin to make a traditional Tom Collins. Neat (over a couple of ice cubes), I actually prefer this recipe because I like a little character in my drink.
Those keen to try the gin out can visit The Brewery (their setup was absolutely perfect for the launch, which also featured something very English: A cricket setup), Draft branches (Rockwell, Ortigas, Greenbelt, and my neighbourhood haunt in Molito Alabang), Discovery Primea, and many cool new bars in Metro Manila (such as Run Rabbit Run, OTO, Yes Please, and Behind the Brick House Bar).
That said, I’m going out to have myself something “quintessentially English” and get a glass. Cheers!
*Flavours may be added to gin by maceration (soaking flavouring ingredients in the spirit), re-distillation (re-distillation of spirit with flavour ingredients), or the addition of essences (or artificial flavours); particularly juniper and other botanicals (different seeds, berries, roots, fruits, and herbs)
Very, very special thanks to Mr. Chester Cabrera, Mr. Jonathan Zammit-Tabona, and Mr. Matt Ashton-Melia