Review: & Willem Barentsz Premium Gin


Anyone who knows me will probably know that I am quite partial to a gin or three, so when I was asked to review a recent addition to the 31DOVER,com website I was hardly going to say no!

Who are Only the UK’s leading online drinks vendor. They stock the best drinks (and there are some really excellent brands stocked) at the best prices and deliver them right to your doorstep the next day.

The offer of free gin (even the words make me happy…) actually came at exactly the right time as I had run clean out of gin. I know! How does such a thing happen? Clearly a massive oversight on my part but never mind, because 31Dover provided me with a lovely bottle of Willem Barentsz Premium Gin which I have to also add was beautifully presented in an uber stylish matt black gift box.


Now this isn’t my first experience with Willem Barentsz but lets not let that get in the way of some much needed gin-tasting shall we?  First up, lets hear a bit more about Willem Barentsz gin, which is named after the Dutch Artic explorer of the same name.

Willem Barentsz London Gin apparently boasts an exotic but delicate balance of botanicals sourced from the far ends of the world, enhanced with the signature botanical of jasmine flower and combined with a classic mix of juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, orange peel, almond, liquorice, cassia bark and orris root.

I decided to try this gin with my favourite mixer, Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic (which incidentally is also stocked at though I picked it up at my local Co-op). Honestly, I have turned into such a gin and tonic snob, it’s untrue. I used to believe that all gins and all tonics were created equally. Then I discovered craft gin and premium tonic and I have never looked back. This Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic just transforms your G’n’T.


This gin has a really smooth flavour, that was something Mr M commented on and he’s hardly a gin aficionado, but it really has, and with the elderflower tonic and a garnish of pink grapefruit it is nothing short of divine. I imagine, of course, you could use this in all manner of cocktails but I honestly feel like a good gin is wasted in a cocktail – enjoy it simply over ice or with premium tonic and you’re onto a winner!

We absolutely adored this gin and at £32.95 for a 70cl bottle I’d say it was a mid-range price for a premium gin.  Would I buy it? Yes I would. Would I buy from in the future? Again, yes I would – especially for a present as I was totally won over by the presentation of the gift!

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Review: Gin Explorer June 2016


Yes, I realise it’s now October and I also realise that I am hideously late with this review…

I received this product back in June 2016 and it’s taken me until recently to get around to trying the product.  I know that’s hard to believe, because, erm, GIN, but the summer was just the most incredibly busy time for. Not that I am complaining of course, it was ace, and it goes without saying that there was plenty of gin drinking occurring but I wanted to give the Gin Explorer box the full attention it deserved.

Brought to you by the uber fantastic people behind Gin Festival (awesome gin events – many copies have started to pop up but none will ever beat the original and the bestest!), Gin Explorer is a monthly subscription service – for some of the best gins you’ll ever lay your hands on, giving you the opportunity to try new products and perhaps even discover yourself a new favourite.


Let me start by saying that I would never label myself a gin connoisseur, gin soaked yes, gin expert, no. I would never have really thought I knew that much about it, however having attended a couple of Gin Festivals in the past, I think it’s fair to say my knowledge of gin has now increased – and I don’t just mean in the drinking of it! I have attended many masterclasses at Gin Festival and it’s fair to say, I am somewhat of a gin snob these days.  Gin has stolen my heart and the craftier the better!

In your Gin Explorer box you have four 50ml miniature bottles of gin, all beautifully packaged, and now I want to tell you a little bit about each of the ones that arrived in the June box.


Pinkster – This was already a favourite from Gin Festivals past and I even recently attended a Pinkster masterclass where I was asked to ‘spank the mint’. This is NOT a euphemism. Pinkster was launched in 2013 and is distilled in small batches, with it’s name coming from it’s lovely pink colour (which I learned was totally accidental) – which in turns comes from the locally grown raspberries that are hand-steeped to create this gin. I am a big fan of Pinkster which is best served simply with raspberries and mint!  Of course there are many signature cocktails you could make like the Pinktini or the Pink Paloma but I am a simple girl with simple tastes…

Masons Yorkshire Gin I love the story behind Masons, which started life out as a pair of gin lovers who started a group of Facebook which grew and grew, which along the way saw them turning into spokemean and conniossuers of gin and ultimately making the decision to craft their own gin!  Fabulous!  I went with my favourite tonic over a lot of ice. There’s apparently a tea edition along with a lavender one, both sound fabulous, will have to hunt them down.


The Lakes Explorer This is a floral gin from Cumbria and while it can be easily drunk neat over ice, it was absolutely delicious with Fever-Tree Elderflower tonic, which is by far the best tonic in the world. Fact.  The Lakes Distillery is just North of Keswick and you can go for a tour, which I think one day I might well do!

Anno Kent Gin Founded in 2011, Anno is Kent’s first micro-distillery and the first people to distill gin in Kent for over 200 years! With a blend of fresh citrus, bold herbs and some subtle spiced notes, this is another gin which can be enjoyed neat, however, neat is still a bit too hardcore for me so I garnished with some lime and tonic.

Following on from several good experiences and discoveries, I normally drink my gin following the recommendations of my gin gurus at Gin Festival – they’ve never served me a gin I didn’t like!  I already mentioned above that I became a gin snob after attending Gin Festival, well let me tell you, I also became a tonic snob. Premium tonic, especially Fever-Tree, all the way please!

gin explorer box june 2016

You also find a few other little treats in your Gin Explorer Box and in the June box was some Joe & Seph’s Gin and Tonic popcorn and some premium tonic that I had never tried before – Peter Spanton Drinks No 9 Cardamom. I was a little worried I wouldn’t like this as I’m not overly keen on cardamom but I have to say it was really lovely when I had it with the Masons gin. I’ve discovered that with higher-quality tonic, the gin-drinking experience is even better.

Gin Explorer boxes are available through three price plans – on a month to month basis at £24.99, three months prepay at £69.99 and a twelve month prepay at £279.99.  Find out more information and how to subscribe by visiting the Gin Explorer website here.

Of course all the gins I have mentioned above are also available to buy via the Gin Festival shop and each box comes with a 10% voucher to use of that months selected gins.

Are you a gin lover? I’d love to hear about your favourite gins – I’ve got some new favourites that I’ll be telling you about very soon!

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Cocktail Love: Malibu


It’s been a while since I did a cocktail post but we all know I am a MASSIVE fan of a cocktail.  When I received an email this week sharing some Valentines-inspired Malibu I had to share.

Not because I have been paid because I haven’t – not in money OR Malibu but because I flipping love Malibu and all it’s coconuty goodness. It’s probably one of my favourite drinks. I have fond memories of sitting by the sea on a warm evening in Barbados with my Malibu and pineapple juice…oh take me back!

I’ve picked three of my favourite recipes to share with you here. I am definitely going to be trying these and adding them to my cocktail recipe book. (Yes I have a little book I write my favourite cocktail finds in…)

Malibu Bellini

Malibu Cosmo Island

Malibu Pine-berry

Let me know if you try any – they all sound delicious!

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Cocktail Love: Cherry Pie Bellini

It’s been a while since I did a “Cocktail Love” post, nearly 2 years in fact! Yes I know it’s not even midday, however this one definitely needs sharing.

Just before Christmas I went for cocktails with the girls and this was one of the drinks I sampled. I love a Bellini and I love cherries so this was always going to be a winner. It was a lovely sweet drink and I felt that it was something I definitely needed to recreate at home.

The Cherry Pie Bellini is made up of red cherry syrup, a good splash of Disaronno (amaretto) and finally topped up Prosecco.

The first thing I needed to find was red cherry syrup but I drew a blank at the supermarket. I remembered that a few months ago my friends at Monin had sent me a Black Forest Syrup so I asked them very kindly if they would send me a bottle and rather pleasingly they were only too happy to oblige.

I’ve mentioned Monin on my blog before on both a Friday Foody and in my Christmas Gift Guides.  Monin make an absolutely fabulous range of cocktail and coffee syrups in a pretty amazing range of flavours. I’m getting a little bit addicted to them and next on my hit list is the Apple Pie and Creme Brulee. Yum!

Once I had the syrup I was ready to go, as Disaronno is pretty much a staple in my drinks cabinet *hic*. I wasn’t disappointed, it tasted exactly the same as the one I’d had at the cocktail bar. It was like a Bakewell Tart in a glass and what’s not to love about that?

There’s no exact measurements to this, fiddle with it to suit but I would say don’t put too much Disaronno in as it does end up tasting quite strong, just a good splash, that’s all you need!

Get your lips around that!

Cocktail Love: Black Forest Martini


That’s all I’m going to say.

I decided to make Christmas 2011, the year of the cocktail. I found this recipe for Black Forest Martini in Nigella Christmas and loving all things Black Forest, I thought I’d give it a go.

Checking down the ingredients list, I already had all the necessary tipples so I went for it.

Let me just say, Nigella must be a complete LUSH! Wow, this is strong. Clearly if you check the list there are no mixers in this – I need a mixer! No way I can drink pure alcohol (anymore). Whilst quite like the taste and loving the smell, I couldn’t finish this drink. I mean if I had, I wouldn’t have been having a second, unless I could drink it lying half-comatose flat out on my back on the floor. 

Black Forest Martini


ice cubes
1 part vodka
1 part cherry brandy
1/2 part creme de cacao


To make one drink, put at least three ice cubes into a martini glass. Make your drink over the ice using a 25ml measure per part.

Now go forth and try. 

If you’re brave enough.

love & kisses
Mrs M x