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2015 was the year I first tried Pinkster Gin — interestingly, at a wine tasting.

My friend and I had two samples each, neat.

Neither of us has forgotten the subtle yet distinctive flavour resulting from a marriage of raspberry with juniper.

As the label says, Pinkster is an ‘agreeably British gin’. It makes a perfect holiday or host(ess) gift.

Pinkster’s founder, Stephen Marsh, says that his doctor advised him to give up drinking wine and beer as they no longer agreed with him. After two years, his doctor said he could have vodka or gin only. Any self-respecting Englishman prefers gin.

Stephen Marsh tells his story and that of Pinkster in this video:

Marsh, who was a keen maker of liqueurs at home, wanted to create a gin that would go well with food. As juniper is the dominant aromatic in gin, it has to be tamed for it to accompany anything other than game. He began experimenting with fruit. The Pinkster website has more about his final choice of raspberry:

A keen maker of sloe liqueurs and other concoctions, he turned his attention to gin and started experimenting at home, mashing assorted fruits with different spirit strengths.

He wasn’t intentionally creating a pink drink, it’s just that after working his way through an entire fruit bowl, raspberry delivered the best flavour.

With the recipe developed, pals started encouraging him to go commercial.

The rest is history. Marsh, a former accountant working in London, was able to now make raspberry gin on a large scale:

G&J, one of the country’s oldest distillers, was recruited to the cause. They produce the core spirit with five botanicals to our original recipe.

We then macerate with a further three botanicals, including fresh, plump raspberries grown nearby our rural base outside Cambridge.

Marsh is still involved on a day-to-day basis:

Stephen still personally oversees the production, ensuring consistency from batch to batch of fresh fruit.

Ironically, being told to quit wine was the best advice he’s ever received.

I did not know about his health condition or that Pinkster goes well with food. It makes a cracking good gin and tonic.

Pinkster also has some splendid personalities when they appear at tasting venues. My friend and I will long remember the chap who poured us our samples that evening in 2015: traditionally jovial, he had us in stitches.

Pinkster’s marketing is also splendid, the best in the UK gin world to my mind. Have a look at a few of their tweets:

Indeed not!

Here is the scene of a recent tasting:

Pinkster makes a delightful gift all year around, but especially at Christmas:

Visit the Pinkster online shop for more gift ideas, including Christmas crackers, all beautifully packaged.

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If the English aren’t enjoying a decent pint of ale or wine in the evenings, they’ll often be found drinking gin.

Two niche gins I can recommend come from Silent Pool Distillery in Surrey — not too far from London — which also offers tours.

Silent Pool produces several types of gin as well as tasting (Copa) glasses. One of their bottles or a boxed set makes a distinctive holiday or host(ess) gift.

Whilst I haven’t visited the distillery — 96% of Trip Advisor comments rate the tours positively — I have tried two of their gins: Silent Pool and Admiral Collingwood Navy Strength Hand Crafted Gin.

Silent Pool (£37, 70 cl, 43% ABV) comes in a pleasingly decorated green glass bottle with a snug fitting glass stopper. It has twice as many botanicals as the average upmarket gin. It is slightly cloudy when mixed with tonic and is characterised by light citrus and spice notes. The description reads:

Our signature gin, with 24 botanicals carefully chosen for their uniqueness. All the botanicals work together in unison to afford a romantic, complex flavour. Fresh floral and clarifying citrus notes are grounded by earthy and spicy cassia bark and cubeb. The smooth finish is achieved with the help of local honey. Refreshingly individual, intricately realised gin at an ABV of 43%. Recommended serve is with a generous handful of ice, a dash of tonic, and a twist of orange peel to garnish.

Admiral Collingwood (£32, 50 cl, 57% ABV) packs a punch. One friend said that it not only put hairs on but also removed them. The flavours are bold, reminiscent of herbs and spices:

The higher proof of this product allows a bold, robust flavour packed with rich juniper, floral angelica and bright citrus a hint of cardamom and nutmeg. It is a classic flavour profile which will stand up to any gin drink, enjoy in a G&T with a twist of lemon.

There are historical reasons why Navy gin was strong:

The gin was shipped at 57% ABV because if it happened to spill on the gunpowder at this strength, the powder would still light. It is also likely space saving might have had something to do with it….

Also:

Navy strength gins originate from the olden days when sailors used be paid in part with booze.

For the tasting, I enjoyed both gins neat, even though I was offered tonic water. A small sip of gin — a thimbleful, as my mother used to say — is best sampled that way.

I have since dipped into Silent Pool with tonic before dinner. Admiral Collingwood will be for the holidays, enjoyed as a treat which should last throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas.

I will be going to a general gin tasting in a few weeks’ time and am very much looking forward to it. Perhaps Silent Pool will be there.

In 2017, our household received a free bottle of tonic water with a drinks order.

It was a 200ml bottle of Merchant’s Heart Hibiscus tonic water.

The Japanese drinks giant Suntory makes Merchant’s Heart mixers. In addition to Hibiscus, they also have a floral tonic and a pink peppercorn one.

Merchant’s Heart mixers went on sale in 2015, but I’d not heard of them until last year. This was at the time that hibiscus and yuzu flavours were becoming more popular in the UK.

Suntory’s website explains that they recruited a team of bartenders from the UK to help develop the product line:

A collective of world-leading drink-makers from the UK’s best bars were invited to help devise the ultimate spirit enhancers: the mixers they dreamed of adding to the best spirits in their collections.

And they continue to craft the collection, suggesting new flavours and variations according to their experience of working with Merchant’s Heart in their bars, and serving it to their customers.

Cool!

The product line’s name came from Suntory’s founder himself (emphasis in the original):

In 1899, Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii had a vision: he wanted to bring western drinking experiences to his native Japan. He made it his life’s work to make and sell outstanding drinks, and deliver exceptional drinking experiences.

Torii’s passion for his product saw him graduate from modest beginnings as a small wine-maker to becoming the Taisho – or chief – of a luxury drinks brand with world renown. But his mantra remained characteristically humble:

‘We may have grown from shop to company, but we must always be a tradesman; we must never forget our merchant’s heart’.

So, what was it like?

Merchant’s Heart Hibiscus is a delicate pink colour with a distinctive flavour, with added extracts of safflower, lemon and apple:

Delicate and fruity sweetness with a soft bitterness and a gentle rose tint. Excellent with citrus gin, vermouth and white rum.

It’s something the ladies will love, and as we are nearing holiday season, it’s time to be thinking about interesting mixers for spirits.

I also enjoyed reading the bottle, which says:

Made with Bikan Yuso

which means:

A sense of beauty and playful imagination

Pros: It works equally well with vodka or gin, transforming a pleasant everyday drink into an unforgettable one. It’s perfect just before dinner.

Cons: I had two drinks out of the bottle, one before and one after dinner. The flavour profile changed dramatically. For those who need to eat while they’re drinking, Hibiscus is not the mixer. That lovely floral-citrus taste turns rather rough with food.

Conclusion: Suntory’s ‘spirit enhancers’ are not cheap. They sell at the supermarket for £1 to £1.35 each. Therefore, I would reserve them for connoisseurs only.

Have you ever wondered what a bird’s eye view is really about?

This is what an eagle sees as it’s flying:

Enjoy the video!

This photo montage speaks for itself.

For those outside of the United States, below are CNN’s Don Lemon, MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Fox News’s Tucker Carlson:

I do not know who put this together, but it speaks a thousand words.

My apologies for not posting Forbidden Bible Verses today.

I intend to schedule it for tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I had something to do this afternoon which took much longer than expected and had to be done within a particular deadline. It’s finished now and I can truly agree, once again, that there is a wideness in God’s mercy.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy is a hymn that Dr Frederick William Faber, a clergyman with a Doctor of Divinity degree, wrote in 1862 to the melody of WELLESLEY (Tourjee).

Since then, Dr Faber’s lyrics have been adapted to other melodies, such as Corvedale by Maurice Bevan (b. 1921), sung below by the Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, London:

The hymn is widely sung across many denominations and appears in 785 hymnals.

Hymnary.org has the lyrics to Faber’s hymn:

1 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea.
There’s a kindness in God’s justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows
are more felt than up in heaven.
There is no place where earth’s failings
have such kindly judgment given.

2 For the love of God is broader
than the measures of the mind.
And the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we would gladly trust God’s Word,
and our lives reflect thanksgiving
for the goodness of our Lord.

Faber was part of the Oxford Movement — members of the Church of England who moved to High Church (traditional Roman Catholic-style) liturgy — in the 19th century. The movement later became known as Anglo-Catholicism and exists today.

John Henry Newman was one of the Oxford Movement adherents. He eventually became not only a Roman Catholic but also a Cardinal.

Faber also ‘crossed the Tiber’ and became a Roman Catholic in 1846. Hymnary.org tells us that he was the son of a Church of England clergyman, Mr T H Faber, and:

was born at Calverley Vicarage, Yorkshire, June 28, 1814, and educated at Balliol College, Oxford, graduating B.A. in 1836. He was for some time a Fellow of University College, in the same University. Taking Holy Orders in 1837, he became Rector of Elton, Huntingdonshire, in 1843, but in 1846 he seceded to the Church of Rome. After residing for some time at St. Wilfrid’s, Staffordshire, he went to London in 1849, and established the London “Oratorians,” or, “Priests of the Congregation of St. Philip Neri,” in King William Street, Strand. In 1854 the Oratory was removed to Brompton. Dr. Faber died Sept. 26, 1863.

Balliol College is one of the foremost Oxford colleges. It is interesting that Faber served a parish in Huntingdonshire, part of Cambridgeshire, which was known for its Low Church adherence. During Cromwell’s time, two centuries earlier, Cambridgeshire was Calvinistic in belief, the very antithesis of High Church beliefs and worship.

Anyone who knows London will also know that the London Oratory is one of the centres of the capital’s Roman Catholic worship. The Oratory also has a famous boys’ school, which is over-subscribed year on year.

In 2016, friends of ours gave us a bottle of Hart of Gold English sparkling wine.

That was the year Hart of Gold won a Gold Medal at The International Wine Challenge.

We rather enjoyed it, and now that the height of summer is upon us, my British readers might be interested in sparkling refreshment.

Hart of Gold makes a reasonably priced host/hostess gift that everyone who likes a glass of fizz will enjoy.

(Image credit: wine-searcher.com)

The bottle is also a delight to read. The front label says:

MADE IN THE REALM OF ALBION

The back label winsomely describes the occasions which it suits best:

Just the ticket for boating expeditions and sheltering from the rain in a marquee, it is also worth opening a bottle at the end of a long day, just to toast the sunset reflected in your loved one’s eyes (even if your loved one is a labrador).

A quote from Justin Howard-Sneyd MW (Master of Wine) follows:

We hope you enjoy it!

Hart of Gold was made and bottled in Ditchling, Sussex, by Ridgeview Wine Estate, owned by the Roberts Family.

They use Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes to come up with a very good product indeed.

Glass of Bubbly has more interesting information about this sparkling wine, which cannot be called Champagne, as it was not made in that region of France.

The English references hearken back to the days in mediaeval times when England was a wine producer (yes!):

‘Hart of Gold’ which is inspired by England’s rich history of viticulture especially in the Middle Ages. The name draws on folk legends of an elusive and mysterious white stag with golden horns – The Hart. This legend fascinated Richard II, who made the Hart his personal symbol.

Their article says that Justin Howard-Sneyd MW has spent his whole career in selling — and, more recently, making — wine:

Justin Howard-Sneyd MW has spent years buying wine and advising winemakers on how to make and market their wines, so has now decided to put his money where his mouth is and launch his own English Sparkling Wine.

After working at Chapel Down in 1997, Justin went on to buy English wine for Safeway, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, being instrumental in planting the John Lewis Partnership’s vineyard at Leckford Estate in Hampshire.

Whilst Global Wine Director at Laithwaite’s Wine, Justin started an initiative whereby anyone who worked in the Theale office was invited to adopt a vine in the 700-vine award-winning Theale vineyard …

Justin has worked with the Roberts Family at Ridgeview to produce Hart of Gold …

The article provides the tasting notes:

Eyes: A lovely pale gold in colour, with a persistent stream of fine bubbles.
Nose: A combination of citrus and stone fruit with rich toasty notes
Mouth: Complex flavours of refreshing citrus, alongside distinctive toastiness are underpinned by balanced acidity and a long mouth-watering finish.

Domaine of the Bee has more detailed information for oenophiles.

Time’s running out to buy Hart of Gold, as the drinking window expires in 2018.

This is your last chance to buy what remains of Hart of Gold 2010.

Now that summer is here, those throwing parties are looking for different drinks to serve their guests.

One that we recently sampled is Gordon’s Premium Pink Gin, which is around the same price as their regular dry gin.

This is not a new recipe, but one that Gordon’s dug out of their archives. It dates back to 1880 and sounds sweeter than it actually is:

Inspired by an original Gordon’s recipe from the 1880s, Gordon’s Pink is perfectly crafted to balance the refreshing taste of Gordon’s with the natural sweetness of raspberries and strawberries, with the tang of redcurrant served up in a unique blushing tone. Made using only natural fruit flavours to guarantee the highest quality real berry taste. 

I sipped it neat, because it seemed the sort of delicate flavour profile that would lose its character if diluted or altered. A large ice cube would be perfect.

This is a gin that is more for women than men. That said, I would not hesitate to drink it on occasion.

There’s time only for a quick post today.

James Clapper has served in various intelligence positions in the United States government, most recently as DNI — Director of National Intelligence — from August 2010 to January 2017.

Last week, he appeared on the women’s television programme The View (ABC) to say this (image courtesy of USA Carry forums):

I hope people can see through Clapper’s questionable logic.

When will this ever end?

Perhaps when President Trump gets a yuge win in North Korea.

On a brighter note, best wishes to my British readers for an enjoyable Spring Bank Holiday and to my American readers for an equally pleasant Memorial Day.

Speaking of children, a social epidemic that seems to be rampant is that of child trafficking and exploitation.

The British ‘grooming’ cases are by now well known. Sadly, such tragic depravity continues because of local corruption (perpetrators, police, politicians) and the refusal to prosecute destructive ‘cultural norms’.

The United States also has a problem with child trafficking and exploitation. I wonder if it started in the early 1980s. Many of us remember that was when missing children’s photos began appearing on milk cartons.

Children Missing From Care is the source of the sad statistic that one in seven of 25,000 runaways in 2017 was likely to be a victim of child sex trafficking. Of that number, 88 per cent were in the care of social services when they went missing. This appears to be down from one in six runaways in 2016 who were trafficked.

Therefore, progress is being made, albeit very slowly.

Children Missing From Care is part of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

There is a federal law against child trafficking and exploitation:

Enacted in September 2014, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, P.L. 113-183 (H.R. 4980) requires the States to report each missing or abducted foster child to law enforcement and to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

The Bringing Missing Children Home Act, a portion of the larger Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, P.L. 114-22, was enacted in May, 2015. Among other improvements related to record-keeping, this legislation amended federal law to ensure that law enforcement agencies respond appropriately and coordinate with NCMEC and social service agencies when a child goes missing from foster care.

For many years prior to the passage of these important laws, NCMEC has successfully partnered with social service agencies in several states and local jurisdictions by assisting and supporting their efforts to locate and return missing children to safe places. Please see Resources for Social Services for additional information regarding reporting requirements, steps to take when a child in care goes missing and how NCMEC can assist.

Unfortunately, putting an end to this horrific practice is unlikely to end soon. It is lucrative and involves many people, including government employees. In 2016, FBI Anon commented on 4chan (see here, here and here). This is what he said about child trafficking, particularly in California. The State is complicit (image courtesy of 8chan):

In January 2018, Newsweek published an article on this topic: ‘We Have Set Up a System to Sex Traffic American Children’ (image courtesy of 8chan):

A lawyer, Michael Dolce, wrote the article. He is Of Counsel at Cohen Milstein, and a member of the firm’s Catastrophic Injury practice group.

What struck me about the article was Dolce’s conclusion, which echoes the aforementioned FBI Anon quote (emphases mine):

We need law enforcement consistently prosecuting those who fail to report child abuse and runaways in a timely manner so we can find them before the pimps do. From cases of child abuse victims I have represented, I can name dozens of adults who knew of abuse in institutional care, but failed to report it.

Not one of them was arrested, even when I asked law enforcement to do it. And we must fire child welfare officials accountable for their role. I have never seen an official be fired in any case; in fact, I’ve seen one responsible official get a job promotion.

With or without the Internet, predators will continue to find vulnerable children to build the sex trade. Until we address the source of the victims, this will continue to be the truth we create for our nation’s youth.

True. (This is the same in the UK, by the way.)

This is why President Trump is intent on putting a stop to this (image courtesy of 8chan):

There is another element to this, which is child sacrifice. 8chan can be crude at times, but it also a fertile place for morality and the occasional Bible commentary, such as the following:

Question: “What does the Bible say about child sacrifice?”

Answer: The horrific practice of child sacrifice has been committed throughout the world for thousands of years. Generally, the sacrifice of a child was intertwined with the worship of a pagan deity, often a fertility god. Worshipers sought to obtain a blessing from their god(s) or to confirm or complete a vow taken in the name of the god.

Ancient Aztecs, Incas, and a few other peoples in South and Central America practiced child sacrifice. The same for the Druids of Europe. The city of Carthage in North Africa contains evidence of child sacrifice related to the worship of Ba’al Hammon, a god imported from Phoenicia. Many Roman writers refer to this barbaric act in Carthage.

The Bible contains the heart-breaking tale of child sacrifice practiced in the name of Molech (also spelled Moloch or Molek), a god of the Ammonites. Molech worship was practiced by the Ammonites and Canaanites, who revered Molech as a protecting father figure. Images of Molech were made of bronze, and their outstretched arms were heated red-hot. Living children were then placed into the idol’s hands and died there or were rolled into a fire pit below. Some sources indicate a child might also be “passed through the fire” prior to the actual sacrifice in order to purify or baptize the child. Molech worship occurred in the Hinnom Valley near Jerusalem. Because of this, the valley became associated with the idea of Tophet, or hell (Isaiah 30:33; Jeremiah 19:12; Mark 9:45).

God prohibited Israel from child sacrifice in general and Molech worship in particular. Leviticus 20:2-5 states, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.’” Many other Old Testament passages affirm God’s zero-tolerance for child sacrifice.

Sadly, King Solomon became involved in this horrendous practice, as recorded in 1 Kings 11:4-11, “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD. . . . On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. . . . The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command.”

Later, the evil king Manassah offered his own son as a sacrifice (2 Kings 21:6), as did King Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:1-4). The people of Judah participated in this crime against their own sons—a sin so “detestable” that God said it had never even crossed His mind (Jeremiah 32:35). Child sacrifice was one reason for the Babylonian captivity (verse 36).

Some critics of the Bible point to the story of Abraham, who laid his son Isaac on an altar and prepared to sacrifice him as directed by God (Genesis 22:1-14). However, in this case, God was testing the obedience and faith of Abraham. God stopped him from actually following through and provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice.

Today, child sacrifice is practiced throughout the world. There has been a resurgence of child sacrifice in Uganda. Witch doctors have been implicated in the mutilation and death of children who were killed in an effort to bring good fortune and wealth to those willing to pay for it. There is also a correlation between child sacrifice and modern-day abortion. Unprecedented numbers of children have been “sacrificed” at the hands of abortionists for the sake of convenience, immorality, or pride. Hundreds of thousands of babies have been killed so that their parents can maintain a certain lifestyle. God hates “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17), and we can be sure that God will judge this horrendous sin.

Whether trafficking, exploitation and/or sacrifice, I pray that God guides law enforcement and government officials to rout this indescribably egregious practice against children.

Once that happens, we will be amazed to discover that people we hold in high esteem — politicians, captains of industry and celebrities — are not only involved but also networked together, often internationally.

I also pray for the helpless victims, wherever they might be in the world. May God heal their wounds, mental and physical.

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