I would never turn down a chance to revisit some of my oldest gin commentaries. I think my knowledge of gin and my gin experiences have expanded greatly since that time back in winter 2009 when I decided that “since I had five gins in the apartment, why don’t I start reviewing them?!” Both varieties of G’vine’s gin were among those initial five. Although my initial review of Floraison was posted in August 2010, it was one of the gins that inspired me to take on this journey. Now, while well known, and having been reviewed by so many others, I’m to re-write my initial review and wonder “what can I add to the discussion of this wonderful floral gin?”
The Floral Nose
The first thing one notices when they open G’vine is the intense sweet aroma which almost jumps from the bottle. Its immediately sweet smelling. No alcohol scent and no juniper sent present. The nose is very one note, but a memorable and enticing one at that.
A lot of this floral sensation comes from the unique base. Instead of using neutral spirits, G’vine uses a wine grape base.
To the Taste
One note that seems much bolder to me than it did in my initial review was the licorice. There is a strong licorice note that emerges at the beginning of the taste and lingers through the long sweet finish. Up front is the citrus. Notes of lemon, orange, and possible even lime. I’m able to pick out the juniper better than I was during my initial tasting. Its quite clearly here, and it comes on rather strong in the finish. There’s hints of ginger in this note as well, a faint spice taste that isn’t quite what you may expect.
The taste isn’t as perfumed as you might expect from the opening scent. That perhaps is the most striking thing to me about the taste is that it tastes more gin like than the initial notes may let on.
One of the biggest takeaways I had in my initial review was that this was a gin designed in such a way that it could welcome people to the wonderful world of gin. It’s a good “introductory” gin. I stand by that statement, not just from the obvious fact that it’s not clearly classic gin, but from experience. Many of my friends who would not normally give a gin and tonic the time of day, let alone order one, enjoyed the drinks I made with G’vine’s Floraison. I think that is definitely a strong asset that Floraison still has going for it. Of all the gins that I’ve taste so far (and its significantly more than when I wrote that review in early 2010) Floraison is still the gin which may be the least classic gin that I’ve had. This is not a bad thing by any means, but something to keep in mind when buying dad a birthday present instead of his usual Beefeater or Tanqueray
I’ve tried to break away from the term “New Western” and “New American” precisely because of gins such as G’vine. While the term “New West/American” has been used to describe gins that break from the juniper forward London Dry formula, the term carries with it a specious geographic distinction.
G’vine hails from France (which is actually East of London) rather than the United States. And Plenty of American microdistilleries actually make great London Dry style gins. London Dry isn’t just made in London and “New Western/New American” gins aren’t just made in the West and the United States.
Because of this (and not to take all the credit, I was talking to my friend David at Summer Fruit Cup and he feels similarly) I’m going to try and use a more consistent terminology on this blog going forward.
Classic (adj) – [archaic: London Dry] having a strong juniper forward character. Spice and heat are common, but often due to coriander. Has a drying character, notes of Angelica and Orris root common. Also has a citrus element that is complimentary rather than leading.
Common Botanicals: Juniper, Citrus, Angelica Root, Orris Root, Coriander
Contemporary (adj) – [archaic: New American, New Western, Western Gin] anything gin which deviates from the classic formula.
and back from semantics…
Alright. Let’s get back to the actual drink itself. Now that you’ve obliged me on my detour into the naming conventions and the two “styles” of gin, I think we can get back to the review. Where were we?
First, I’ll talk a bit about what I initially wrote. For the most part I wouldn’t change a lot of what I said:
It is great in a gin and tonic. Stay clear of the lime though, this gin does not need nor demand citrus accompaniment. Also, use a better tonic water as the sweet taste of more inexpensive waters drowns out the subtle complexities. Floraison does not blend particularly well with citrus nor vermouth in my opinion. So I would suggest you stay clear of Tom Collins, and anything other than a 100% gin martini. But with flavors this bold, it more than carries its own and is worthy of being the star on its own.
I started strongly. But I ended on a bad note. A 100% gin martini? That is no martini my friend. The only things I’d like to add to this is that its not that G’vine matches poorly with citrus, it just doesn’t go great in a Tom Collins. I’d check it out in an Aviation or the like with absolutely no qualms.
Price: $30 / 750 mL
Origin: [flag code=”FR” size=”16″ text=”no”] France
Best consumed: Great in Tonics, but also very unique martinis
Availability: Quite common, I’ve seen it all over.
Rating: A gin which adds something different to the traditional gin formula, but also which will appeal to people who don’t really normally dig gin.
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