By James Thomas, WBM Co-Founder
It’s not all that often we get to taste a gin at a Thai restaurant, but that’s exactly where we found ourselves when Andy, proud owner of Lilliput Gin, invited us to do our 2018 challenge tasting with his friends at the Koh Noi Thai tapas restaurant and cocktail bar in Poole.
The somewhat limited gin selection featured neither Daffy’s nor Tanqueray No. 10, so we decided to skip the control and base our initial assessment of Harley’s skills by tasting the Lilliput classic martini. Harley proceeded to mix a nice, dry classic with a mere suggestion of Lillet vermouth and finished it, unusually, with a sprig of rosemary.
The classic Lilliput martini presents with the rosemary on the nose balancing hints of the underlying all-organic botanicals of rosemary, Egyptian basil, Spanish thyme and fresh water fermented Kalamata olives, and wild Sarajevo juniper on the palate. The distillers have taken care not to produce a juniper-led gin, thus avoiding some of the bitterness in the finish that we find in quite a few other small batch offerings.
THE SHOWCASE RECIPE
Harley had clearly spent some time developing his showcase recipe and what would best express the Lilliput gin. He understands his ingredients and how to balance them to achieve a specific combination of tastes.
His recipe started with a gentle muddling of specially selected white grapes. To this he added some rosemary and a hint of crushed black pepper. Having previously tried to achieve the pepper taste with home-made bitters but finding them to be a bit overpowering, he reverted to the raw ingredient in careful measure. His goal was to produce a very drinkable martini (he clearly knows what we are all about) that represents a specific taste journey from rosemary to pepper to the grapes complementing the gin.
We were initially nervous that this would end up closer to a fruit juice-based cocktail than a classic martini, but we shouldn’t have been surprised when we tasted it that Harley had managed to pull it off. No single ingredient tried to outshine or overpower the others, and they were present in just the right quantities to take us on journey Harley originally intended.
Lilliput in either guise produces a clean, crisp martini that you’ll want to order more than once.
Thanks again to Harley, Jade and the entire team at Koh for looking after us so well.