Rubber Lips PR is delighted to be featured in this CITYLICIOUS article following our recent Gleann Mor Spirits: Firkin Gin launch event – [ Read the article on the Citylicious website ]
Gin is hot right now, of that there is no doubt! In Edinburgh we have bars like 56 North and Heads & Tales who carry a multitude of brands and flavours to cater for everyone’s Gin of choice. So when we received an invitation to attend the launch of the Gleann Mor Spirits Company’s new ‘Firkin Gin’ at Bistro Moderne by Mark Greenaway, there was a small sense of familiarity.
However, the more we looked into the event, the more we were gripped by intrigue. You see, Firkin Gin offers something a bit different.“Perfectly balanced botanicals, yet matured in American Oak casks, resulting in an interesting combination of flavours and a unique colouration, untypical of gin.” Ok, so what does that mean? We went along to find out…
The most frequently asked question I get as a food writer is as you would expect, “which is your favourite restaurant?” This is an impossible question for me to answer as the question has many layers. However, Mark Greenaway is unquestionably one of the finest chefs in the country and our Balvenie Whisky tasting dinner at Restaurant Mark Greenaway in January was one of the highlights to our food and drink journey to date. The food was incredible, the theatre was second to none and thanks in no small part to James Buntin and a bottle of 21yo Port Wood, the night was full of laughter and many many good stories! So I was pretty sure our lunch at Bistro Moderne was going to be very special.
Warmly welcomed by Lisa from Rubber Lips PR
We were welcomed by Lisa from Rubber Lips PR who organised the launch and after a brief walkabout we reached the Firkin bar. To ease us in we were offered a classic G&T, but wait a minute, this Gin looks suspiciously like Whisky! But why? Well… when you mature the gin in American Oak casks you are left with a caramel colour which makes Firkin Gin (as far as I know) unique.
Emma from Food & Drink Glasgow patiently waiting for her F&T
Now I am no gin aficionado, I do like the odd G&T and if I am honest I normally choose Bombay Sapphire because that’s what my mum drinks! However, the taste I got from the Firkin Gin was not quite as bitter as I was expecting and with a very distinctive sweetness to it (I presume from the bourbon cask). This may all be in my head of course but luckily for us we did our expert for the evening was none other than a good friend of ours… Annabel Meikle. Annabel is the Barbara Gordon of the spirits world and was on hand to talk about the journey Gleann Mor Spirits Company have taken to bring us Firkin Gin.
Annabel Meikle talks about Firkin Gin’s journey to date
Derek Mair, director of Gleann Mor Spirits Company
Anyway, I am sure you all want to know about the main event, the meal. We were there to enjoy a 4 course menu with each course accompanied by a Firkin Gin cocktail. To kick the feast off we were served ‘Firkin Gin Cured Sea Trout, Cucumber, Lemon and a Foraged Salad’ accompanied by a ‘Revisited Champagne Cocktail.’
Revisited Champagne Cocktail
Now you can take the trout out of the river but you cannot take the river out of the trout, it will always have that freshwater taste, perhaps the freshwater trout carries a slightly earthier taste but what trout has is a very subtle and very fresh flavour. The curing of the trout was slight and did not overpower the fish, the cucumber (which was slightly charred) was refreshingand to go with it was a fantastic trout skin crisp. Salty with a delicate crunch, I have never tasted anything like it before, it was delicious!
Firkin Gin Cured Sea Trout, Cucumber, Lemon and a Foraged Salad
There is though always one ingredient that brings the whole dish together and on this plate it was the lemon puree. Sharp and tangy it was the foil to the subtlety of the rest of the plate and contrasted the saltiness of the crisp. It was exactly what you needed to bring that little pop to every mouthful. A wonderful start to the meal. The cocktail was lovely and refreshing too, perfect to accompany the fish.
Firkin Sweet and Sour Cocktail
Next up was ‘Pan Fried Hake, Jerusalem Artichoke Risotto with Spring Onion and Seaweed’ with a ‘Firkin Sweet and Sour’ cocktail. I love hake! No question it is one of my favourite fish.
Pan Fried Hake, Jerusalem Artichoke Risotto with Spring Onion and Seaweed
This was a beautiful piece of fish, meaty and fresh and packed full of flavour. Add to this a risotto which was drawing oohs and aahs from around the room and you can safely assume this was a masterclass of cooking. The creamy rich risotto was deep in flavour and you could not ask for a better partner to the hake. The texture added by the seaweed was very clever but for me the cocktail played a big part in this dish. Because of the intense flavours of the food you needed something to balance everything out. Now that normally would come on the plate but here it came in the glass. The sweetness of the gin soaked maraschino cherries and the bitters blended together to deliver a fantastically delicious cocktail working in harmony with the food. As a combination, this for me was the star couple of the meal.
Firkin Gin Negroni and Homemade Vermouth
For our main course we were treated to a beautiful ‘Haunch of Venison with Roasted Root Vegetables and Fondant Potato’. The accompanying cocktail to our main was a ‘Firkin Gin Negroni and Homemade Vermouth’.The venison was quite simply delicious! I am a big fan of game, I love the strong flavour of venison and when it is cooked that well it is in my opinion as good as any other meat. Of course three ounces of lean beef contains 247 calories and 15 grams of total fat whereas three ounces of venison contains 134 calories and only 3 grams of total fat so there are other benefits to eating venison!
Haunch of Venison with Roasted Root Vegetables and Fondant Potato
The potato was lovely and sweet with a slightly crispy edge and the peppery earthiness of the root vegetables added texture and further highlighted the honesty of the flavours on the plate. The ingredients shone through and really showcased fantastic Scottish produce. Sadly for me the Negroni was a drink too far. I can’t handle Negroni, I find it far too bitter for my liking and I did try but failed miserably to manage more than one sip. Martin Duffy from Solid Liquids summed it up by referring to Negroni as the drink equivalent of Marmite, you either love it or hate it! Do not fear though as the cocktail did not go to waste, Kate loves Negroni and managed to polish of both hers and mine!
Firkin Sweet Pink Grapefruit
Our finale was a ‘Tonka Bean Parfait, Dark Chocolate and a Blood Orange Gel’ accompanied by a ‘Firkin Sweet Pink Grapefruit.’ We were presented with what essentially looked like a Tunnocks Tea Cake with a chocolate disc balanced on the top but let me tell you this, I was in pudding heaven!
Tonka Bean Parfait, Dark Chocolate and a Blood Orange Gel
The fruity vanilla flavour of the tonka bean parfait with the richness of the dark chocolate and the bitterness of the blood orange gel culminated in the ultimate threesome! It is difficult to stress just how much I enjoyed this pudding, simple flavours creating a simple dish but delivering so much. Add to that the bittersweet pink grapefruit and what we got was a fitting finale to a fantastic feast!