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If you've got a gin lover's birthday coming up (and these days that pretty much means any given birthday) we've gone and solved your present-buying conundrum: Selfridges, Birmingham, have just taken delivery of what they believe is Britain's first Japanese gin. And pfff... S'good stuff.
In fact English gin is only the tip of the juniper-infused iceberg. We spoke with Kate Hands of Birmingham gin parlour, The Jekyll & Hyde, to find out what non-English gins we should, occasionally, be shunning national loyalty for. 

GIN MARE (Spain)

"Pronounced 'Gin Mah-ray' and made outside Barcelona in a converted chapel, it's infused with rosemary, thyme and olive - one of my favourites. Drink it like they do in The Med - a big goblet glass with lots of ice and a sprig of bruised rosemary. Add Fever Tree tonic. The flavour profile is so different to most gins. Gin purists drink it - so it's no gimmick - and it's great for novices to taste how different gins can be." 

MONKEY 47 (Germany)

"Inspired by the Indian spice trail it contains 47 botanicals - hence the name - but they're extremely secretive about what they are. We pick up some spice and citrus, notes of cardamom and white pepper. If you hold a shot in your hand, the warmth transforms the flavour into something more earthy. More coriander. It has a wonderful finish of lingonberry and an amazing sweetness. Goes well with fig, or ginger." 


"This is finished in oak casks from the Cognac region. You can smell and see the Cognac. If the gin stays in the casks longer than four weeks it starts to take the colour - hence the tint. Due to its aged quality it can take on the sugar and citrus peel of an Old Fashioned and bitterness of Campari in a Negroni. This one's an after dinner drink. Due to its brandy-like quality, tonic would ruin it. Stir it over ice with orange peel for a great sipping gin."


"Made on Potrero Hill, San Francisco, this one's heavy on the juniper. Spicy, like most US gins, they use a traditional process of distillation with a small copper pot still, adding more than a dozen botanicals - making it complex. Thanks to the high level of juniper it's perfect for a G&T. Pair it with Fever Tree tonic, which is heavier than other tonics and packs enough quinine to carry that hit of juniper." 


"Gin was invented by the Dutch. We discovered it through war, in the 17th century - it was called Genever. English soldiers shortened the word to 'gin' and would take tots before battle, coining 'Dutch courage'. Bols is an 1820 recipe. Completely different from all other gins there are no fragrant botanicals, it's insanely malty, very round. It would appeal to whisky drinkers and goes great with lemon and sugar over ice." 

CAORUNN (Scotland)

"Handcrafted in small batches at Balmenach Distillery in Speyside, it's a herbal experience with Rowan Berry. The botanicals are prevalent, but it's one for the gin purists because they only use six botanicals. We serve this with tonic and an apple crisp - but an apple wedge will do. I recommend 1724 tonic, which is easy on the quinine, to let those botanicals do the talking. It's a nice and light so makes for a lovely pre-dinner G&T." 
Visit Jekyll & Hyde or pop in to Wine Lord which sells all six. Prices here
Not quite. This is one of a number of intriguing pieces on display at BMAG's New Art West Midlands exhibition. Sikander Pervez transforms mundane but instantly recognisable objects, into statement sculptures. Taking place at four galleries across the region the exhibition showcases incredible work by some of the best artists graduating from our art schools. We also love Lucy Hutchinson's masked chinoiserie prints. It's all free. Go.  


After sorting out politics (Hitler Moustache), religion (Christ on a Bike), love (What is Love, Anyway?) and penises (Talking Cock) comedian Richard Herring returns to Birmingham's Glee Club, on Sunday, to tackle death with his We're All Going To Die tour. Is it a tragedy or an excuse to have an extended lie-in? Are we snuffed out or forced to endure eternity without bodily pleasures? Let's pour ice cubes down death's vest while our hearts still beat. Tickets are £15.  


The imagery down this end of the email has become creepy, no? The fantastic Flatpack Festival lands in Birmingham (March 20 - 30) and there's too much going on to tell you everything, so check out their schedule. Most of it's free, but typically we're most excited about the screening of 1922 German expressionist horror Nosferatu (March 23, £12). What really makes this a must is that it's being shown in Birmingham Cathedral, to a live soundtrack. Book here.    
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