Distillers Oliver Ullrich and Ralph Villager sought to create a gin which could be known as the Swiss Gin. As Swiss as Cuckoo Clocks. As Swiss as banks and neutrality. As Swiss as the Edelweiss growing in the alps.
The botanicals are distilled in four passes, loosely grouped by their aromatic profile, before being blended to create the final gin. Among the unusual botanicals in this mixture are Black Currant Leaves (a popular herbal tea, particularly in the plant’s northern Europe range), the barberry (a subtropical, very tart and bitter berry, who was repatriated in Northern Europe due to its reputed medicinal qualities) and the Carlina (which looks vaguely like a daisy, and could once be found growing from the Canary Islands all the way across Europe, Northern Africa and Asia).
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We already talked about the history of the Gin 1495 in our previous entry on the Verbatim recreation of the gin. But now we’re going to try their modern interpretation, the one they designed to appeal to modern sensibilities, including a few more modern botanical additions.
Much quieter when compared side-by-side. Minty, menthol notes present, with ginger, nutmeg, grains of paradise and a slight, but present citrus lift with lemon and orange notes.
Bright green juniper present on the palate, with ginger and cinnamon jumping out, hints of cardamom as well, but they are much more restrained. An almost waxy juniper finish, with clove oil coming out again, fading gently with a sharp, warm ginger note.
Loud and contemporary, and clearly related to the first one. You can taste the similarities, but this is the superior gin [not the superior experiment! I’m only talking about the actual thing I’m drinking here]. There might be ⅓ the amount of ginger in here when compared to the first one, but that’s a good thing. It gives a rounder, more balanced approach. It shows you just what this gin could be.
In short, I’m not sure I would go out and buy this gin if it were on the shelf.
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Cocktail Historians [yes that’s a thing, apparently] have long been seeking out the origins of the drink we call “gin.”
The criteria for something to be a proto-gin are vague, though it is generally thought to be some combination of the below:
Distilled is important because gin is a spirit, and it represents a departure from the decoctions and juniper berry flavored beers and wines that were fairly common from the medieval era forward.
Grain based was important because it sought to represent a shift from the brandies, distilled wines, Steinhagers, Schnapps, and other spirits of the time which used juniper in other ways.
And finally, recreational was important because distilled juniper berry waters were once quite common, and although prone to abuse they were designed to be drank as medicine. Yes. people used their medicine for recreation, but the step towards gin was the intentionality of distilled a spirit strictly for enjoyment, with no pretense.
The 1495 Story in < 100 Words
Buried in the Sloane Manuscripts, Phillip Duff discovered the recipe calling for a mixture of several exotic spices and the word gorsbeyn, which depending on your translation could mean “frog” or it could be a corruption of the word for “juniper.” Assuming this is a correct reading of the word on the page, there’s no mistaking based on context that this wasn’t a medicine.
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Krahn has been on the lower shelf of my neighborhood liquor store for a long time. And for some reason I was always reluctant to try. It was the last gin that they stock that I bought. And once I had it at home and began mixing with it, I was not sure why I had taken so long. It was actually quite excellent.
First a bit of background on DH Krahn gin. Its an upstate New York microdistillery founded by two graduates of Cornell University. They do a few things to distinguish themselves from the outset. Firstly, the user a maceration process to impart the flavors to the gin. This seems to become more and more common among gins with exotic flavors. The more unusual distinguishing notes are the single distillation. Its marketing vogue to distill things multiple times. DH Krahn Gin makes me question the purposes of these multiple distillations- if you can make something this smooth from a single pass, why go two, three, four or more times? Anyway, I digress, but this is also the only gin I know of which is put in steel for a few months before bottling.
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