I was innocently messing about on Twitter a few weeks back when I came into contact with Fifty/50 Gin.
When I read a little about the gin I was quite intrigued as its really not like any other gin that is around just now.
The short description is that it has an aged gin quality… I’m not saying there aren’t any aged gins out there because, as we all know, there are… Not many but they are out there. What I will say is that this one is that little bit different…
The House of MacDuff are based in Renfrew, Scotland and are specialists in bottling single cask Scotch Whiskies under the Golden Cask brand, Blended malts under the Selkirk brand, Burns Nectar single malt and Blend No 888 blended Scotch Whisky.
Since their move to Renfrew in 2013 they have began concentrating on their own brands and are looking to expand into grain whiskies and rum in the future.
Fifty/50 Gin is a London Dry gin… Half regular London Dry and the other half of it has been cask aged for 20 years. Clearly the guys are using their knowledge of whisky to jump into the gin market with something a little different!!!
For the first ten years of its aging the gin is left in virgin oak casks. This is to allow the flavours of vanilla, ginger and strong oak flavours to infuse into the liquid. The second ten years are spent in the whisky casks whereby the wood will bring “greater depth and a more gentle range of flavours” to it.
You can IMMEDIATELY see the result of the aging process in the deep deep colour of the gin. The colour is very very reminiscent of whisky… That’s easy to see. I’d even go so far as to say that if you were served this neat with no knowledge of what the liquid itself was… You’d likely think it was whisky… Certainly, I think, gin would be the farthest thing from your mind.
The aging has its downside in that the cask flavour became the dominant taste and the juniper loveliness of the gin had almost vanished. In order to rectify this the decision was made to mix the aged gin with un-aged London dry at a 1:1 ratio.
The botanicals in the gin are:
juniper, coriander, cassia bark, cinnamon, angelica, orris root, liquorice, lemon and orange peel.
ABV – 50%
Size – 50cl
RRP – £55
Website – House of MacDuff – Fifty/50 Gin
The Fifty/50 gin currently on sale with batch 1 was casked 20 years ago. The guys at MacDuff told me that at the time it was casked there wasn’t really a Scottish gin scene and that they were unable to acquire a Scottish produced gin.
The gin in batch 1 was distilled in a pot still in a Langley distillery in England. To retain the first batch’s origins they used the same gin to make up the other half of batch one as had been casked 20 years previously. For batch 2 they are hoping to find a Scottish gin to mix with the aged gin.
The gin is, however aged and bottle in Scotland. They hope to have a still at some point but there are no immediate plans to arrange this.
“Aging gin was an experiment for us to see what it would end up like. Only now that gin has become so popular did we feel that people’s tastes would be open to something that is different in the way Fifty/50 is.” – Iain MacDuff, Product Manager
Let me start by saying that this gin was provided to me for the purposes of this review.
The first thing you notice after the colour is the stunning bottle… Its clearly a cask isn’t it? I loved that the bottle was shaped this way… Even the mini I had. I love a classy bottle that I can retain long after the booze has been demolished and this is 100% one I’d keep and fire some wee lights into. Love it.
I tried the gin neat first of all. When I smelled it I noticed that the prominent smell was that of whisky… It’s really all I got.
When I tasted it, again, what I got was whisky and some light orange/citrus fruit. I didn’t find the botanicals to be particularly strong and felt they were, perhaps overpowered by the aging.
It was a very clean, smooth drink. The flavour felt like it did run really deep and it was an incredibly full flavour. I can’t say that I got much gin from it… I think London dry gin is such a quiet little thing that the loudness of the cask has overtaken the gin and hidden it away.
I’m not keen on whisky so, due to this being the dominant flavour, I wasn’t massively keen on this gin… Now… I DO like cask aged gins… I own one and drink it regularly I just felt this one was too far over to the whisky side.
I let the other half try it and it got rave reviews but then… We’re dealing with someone who likes whisky now!
When I served it as a long drink I dished it up with Schweppes Muscavado mixer which is specially made for dark spirits and I’d mixed it with my own aged gin previously and it made for a stunning drink… I still wasn’t keen… Other half loved it…
A lot of love has clearly went into this gin. I think it’s unfortunate that the aged gin overpowers the other half but it does feel like it has been directed to a very specific market and, to be honest, I think those consumers will love it.
Basically I reckon if you like whisky or bourbon or similar you’ll probably love this… However if those drinks aren’t your bag then chances are you won’t be too keen on Fifty/50 Gin.