Bummer and Lazarus Gin

Bummer and Lazarus Gin
Bummer and Lazarus Gin
Bummer and Lazarus Gin

Liquor importation is a tricky and expensive thing. There are a great many wonderful gins that can’t be bought here. There are many, many reasons that I am enormously lucky to have my Gentleman Gin Drinker, one of them are his regular international work trips, and his great generosity in devoting his liquor allowance to gins from the world over. He recently returned from San Francisco with three beautiful American gins.

Bummer and Lazarus is distilled by Raff Distillerie on Treasure Island. Isn’t that delicious? Carter Raff has been distilling there since 2011. He started with absinthe and now distills bourbon, rhum (sic) and, of course, gin.

And the story of the name is even better. In the 1860s San Francisco  was overrun by stray dogs. Dogs outnumbered people two to one. Dogs were baited and trapped all over town. Bummer was a stray Newfoundland who would have been killed, but for his remarkable ability as a ratter. He rescued another dog from a fight, the dog was badly injured and not expected to survive, but Bummer tended to him, bringing him food, cuddling up to him at night to keep him warm. He soon made an unexpected recovery and earned the moniker Lazarus.

The two were inseparable. Their comradery became the stuff of legend. When they were impounded by new dog-catcher an angry mob demanded their release and they were petitioned as protected property of the city. They lived on the fat of the land for several years but then Lazarus died after being kicked by horse. Two years later Bummer died and his eulogy was written by Mark Twain. A plaque honouring their friendship was unveiled in San Francisco in the early 1990s.

Bummer and Lazarus Gin Review

Bummer and Lazarus Gin
THE PROCESS

Bummer and Lazarus is made from a grape spirit. It starts life as a California grape brandy which is then distilled with botanicals to make gin. It’s distilled in a copper still, a light and pure gin that qualifies as a London Dry.

THE BOTANICALS

Juniper
Orris root
Coriander seeds
Angelica root
Bitter orange peel
Lemon peel
Cinnamon bark
Liquorice root

TASTING NOTES

The aroma is light and floral and familiar. I hadn’t read the notes so I did realise it was a grape based spirit, but knew the scent as soon as I read that. So similar to G’Vine. The botanicals are very traditional but perfectly balanced. I have no problem with not being adventurous when you get the basics this right.

IN DRINKS

Makes a terrific gin and tonic with Fevertree tonic. I garnished with a twist of lemon and a touch of freshly ground black pepper. The heat in the pepper cuts the floral sweetness beautifully. Adding an edge without changing the flavour.

With its light floral tones, it’s lovely in a wet martini with a twist of fresh lemon peel. The woody tones from the vermouth with the sweetness of the gin and lightness of the citrus its refreshingly enjoyable martini.

WHAT OTHERS SAY

I can’t find any review, if you see one or write one, let me know!

WHERE TO BUY

Not readily available in Australia, The Wine Stop ships internationally by request so that’s probably your best bet.

What Is Gin? How Gin is Made

So, what is gin? The simple version; gin is a white spirit flavoured with juniper and whatever else you like. Some people, not my people, but some people, say that gin is just flavoured vodka. Let’s get back to that once I’ve explained this whole gin thing.

Ethanol, neutral spirit or white spirit can be made from anything really, grain, potato, sugarcane, apples, grapes. Ethanol must be at least 96% alcohol by volume (ABV). Most gin distilleries buy in their neutral spirit in bulk. A very small number make their own neutral spirit.

At the gin distillery this neutral spirit is flavoured with juniper and other botanicals (botanicals is just a fancy word for plants, or herbs and spices, it makes us feel smarter). For a spirit to be gin, juniper must be one of the flavourings, otherwise any botanical can be used. The botanicals can be added as compounds, or macerated and distilled, or vapour distilled.This gives the gin its style which you can read more about here.

The juniper plant is a conifer mostly grown in the mediterranean, but found all over the northern hemisphere. That means it’s a pine. Yep, our favourite drink is made from a pine tree. Most people will tell you that the flavour comes from juniper berries, but they are in a tiny, tiny pinecone! Fun fact, male juniper trees create highly allergenic pollen, while female juniper tree are hypoallergenic. Just another example of the female of the species being more helpful than the male…

How Gin is Made

Flavour profiles of gin are similar to perfume, with top notes, middle notes and base notes which blend for a full flavour. Top notes are the most volatile flavours, meaning they evaporate very quickly and add lightness and freshness, in gin the top notes are citrus, floral botanicals and some herbs like lemongrass. Middle notes offer punchy flavour, juniper is a middle note along with spices like cardamom, cinnamon and cassia bark. Base notes are the earthy flavours that bind all the flavours together. They are often roots such as angelica root, coriander root and orris root.

The botanicals are distilled into the neutral spirit in the makers chosen way. The result is a very overproof gin which is mixed with water to the desired ABV. Most gin is 38-42% (must be over 38% to be legally sold as gin) and anything over 57% is Navy Strength.

The final important ingredient is water. If you’re following along, and not bad at maths, you’ll have figured out that close to half of a bottle of gin is water used to dilute the overproof as it comes off the still. So distillers as picky about the water they use as they are about the style and the botanicals.

Now you know a bit more about what goes into gin, you’ll understand why every gin is so different. Each distiller carefully selects and blends their botanicals to be an expression of their own vision of gin. This is just the briefest overview and there is so much more to learn about the science of gin , but what I’ve found is whether you know a little or a lot, gin is still just as delicious!

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