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marlow rows gin
NOSE: Strong Lemon | Coriander
TASTE: Warm Lemon | Black Currant | Ginger spice at mid-palate
FINISH: Strong Anise at the back palate that lingers
SHARE WITH: Gin lovers, especially those who like aniseed botanicals. Also good for cocktail creatives looking for a new gin. Those who are strong-juniper flavor averse.
WORTH THE PRICE: Retail averages $37, which is about par for craft gin.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: If you see it at a bar, definitely give it a try. I would purchase another bottle for cocktails and G&Ts. If I saw it at the store or bar, I would buy it.
OVERALL: Royal Foundry was started with the mission to import the spirits culture of the United Kingdom to the United States. There being no unaged spirit more British than gin, Marlow Rows is their first big release. It is a solid cocktail gin, and the anise flavor opens up intensely with water. Lemon is the predominant bright note, and does well with tonic or in a martini. Overall, a solid craft gin and worth the try if you can get it.
Keep Calm and cocktail On!
Chief Distiller Andy McLain does not sound like he grew up in the United Kingdom. His accent is unmistakably from "can't put your finger on it" Middle America. Andy's dream of bringing the deep-seated spirits culture he grew up with across the pond is imbued into every aspect of the Royal Foundry Craft Spirits distillery, its brand, and its cocktail room (recipes are represented in metric, bless them). Growing up, Andy's Dad did not regale him sports patter; rather, father-son lessons were soaked with the finer points of brewing, malts, and what made a good drink. After Andy moved to Minnesota, he sought to continue the tradition with the good people of Minneapolis, bringing "British flavour" to the Twin Cities.
Gin is pretty darn British, considering its popularity in the country originally grew in the early 18th century with a literal "Gin Craze" and the most popular style is named after its capital city. It only makes sense that Royal Foundry launched a gin as their first un-aged spirit for sale beyond the distillery's cocktail room. Named for the town of Marlow, which sits along the River Thames near where Andy grew up. He and his wife, Nikki, liked the name so much that they dubbed their first daughter Marlow, as well as their first born gin.
Marlow Rows is not really a London Dry Gin, though, as the juniper hides behind the strong notes of citrus and anise. However, the listed primary botanical is juniper, which makes this behave in many ways like a London Dry varietal. It is well-suited for citrus-forward cocktails, or a martini. I, myself, am enjoying it in a Vesper as I write (so typos, be excused!). For now, the Marlow Rows is the only gin varietal on offer, but plans to issue seasonal botanical bouquets are in the works (once this pesky virus clears out, that is).
But Royal Foundry's sights are set far beyond gin; Andy's heart is in the whisk(e)y. McLain already has single malts stored away aging, hoping to break into what he sees as the next hot market in American craft spirits. Set to release about 3 years from now, McLain wants to bring more "dynamism" to the craft whisk(e)y offerings across the country. What will bring folks in for a taste? Curious palates, he hopes. As for the rest of the distillery's non-gin spirits, the cocktail room offers their own vodka distillate in their on-premise craft libations. Rum is also set to be the next spirit sold beyond the cups and coupes of the cocktail bar, slated to hit shelves in Minnesota in the coming months.
To give Marlow Rows a try for yourself, you will need to be in Minnesota, for now. Over 60 liquor stores across the state carry the gin, including the one in the review link, which ships. Due to oddball Minnesota laws, only the 375ml ($20) can be sold at distillery's cocktail room (closed during COVID but set to reopen once given the green light), so for the 750, you have to find it on a store shelf.
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The Royal Foundry cocktail room menu looks wonderful, featuring homemade shrubs alongside a bounty of herb-centric recipes; I will certainly pay a visit if I am ever up that way. But until then, I wanted to give the gin a test drive in my Instagram video series, "It's 5 O'Clock Here". Playing off of their signature cocktail - The Professor - I crafted its less-expensive (read: I did not have Nordic Bitters) cousin, The Adjunct. It's a delightful sipper, full of rosemary, a tad of sweet, and playing well into the lemony base of the gin.
- 2 oz Marlow Rows Gin (Royal Foundry)
- 1/3 oz Rosemary simple syrup
- 1/4 tsp honey
- 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
- Lemon peel
Combine liquids into mixing glass with ice, stir gently. Strain into coupe glass. Express lemon peel across top. Garnish with sugared rosemary sprig.
Rosemary Syrup: bring 1 cup water to a boil, dissolve in 1 cup sugar. Add fresh rosemary sprigs to to pot and let boil for 1 minutes. Set aside and let steep for 30 minutes. Remove sprigs and store syrup in a glass bottle in the fridge (it will keep for awhile).
Sugared Rosemary: take the steeped rosemary sprigs and place on a parchment or foil covered baking tray. Allow water to evaporate (you can put on a low oven, if you like). Toss sprigs in fine white sugar. Store in air tight container.
Disclaimer: Royal Foundry Craft Spirits provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.