Price: €45 / 500 mL
Distiller: Helsinki Distilling Company
Availability: Finland, UK
Rating: Foresty, Helsinki Dry Gin may be an example of an Alpine style gin. In short, I think it’s a contemporary focused gin that starts with a lot of foresty, green, juniper/pine notes, but those Lingonberries and Rose add a rich touch that really helps the gin stand out. [Rating:4/5]
Another day of Ginvent, another Impression of a new gin.
I sometimes wonder if we’re finally reaching that breaking point where we won’t be encountering more “the first ______[type of spirit]_______ distillery in ______[fairly well known city or place]________ in ___[number greater than 100]___ years. But not so!
Helsinki Distilling Company is the first distillery in Helsinki since the century before the last one. The origin of the botanicals are proudly shared: the Lingonberries are local and Finnish; the Juniper comes from the Balkans; the Seville Oranges… come from Seville. In addition, there’s lemon, fennel, coriander, angelica and rose. As is becoming more common, it maintains the intensity of its botanicals by not chill filtering it. So gin aesthetic purists, you might find catch yourself crying in your cloudy Martini [further clouding it, oh cruel irony!] A little Ouzo effect never bothered me.
A little bit foresty on the nose, with angelica, coriander, fresh crushed juniper berry, and some citrus. The palate is rife with resinous juniper, bold notes of spruce and pine. What a green, truly foresty middle ground*.Bitter citrus later with hints of tart cranberry, anise, and a musky floral finish. Fairly long finish, with a pleasant warmth. Resinous juniper seems to endure on the back of the throat, long after the spirit has subsided.
It’s actually quite nice, and I really like the foresty flavor profile of it. I think this is a top choice for a Martini in my book, benefitting nicely from the addition of some bitter botanical notes; however, it seems a natural fit in an Alaska Cocktail or a Last Word as well. Good with tonic, but I think I might prefer it neat or in a cocktail to a mixed drink. Considering that oily, rich, thick botanical bouquet is what makes the distinct pleasure of Helsinki Dry Gin, I think its best to stick to what highlights it.
On Gin Styles
My friend and colleague David T. Smith [whom you might remember from such books as the Craft of Gin, which we co-wrote, or his personal blog Summer Fruit Cup] speculates that there may be an Alpine style of gin, generally characterized by foresty tones, heavy emphasis on pine, spruce, and fir notes via juniper, As a flavor profile, I agree that it seems there are several gins which embody this flavor profile, but I’m not convinced yet that it’s something about the region/culture that naturally leads to this gin. Certainly, you might suggest that many Alpine cultures made use of local, and sometimes distinctive herbs, as part of their drinking culture, and although gins with this flavor profile seem to be clustered in this area, it doesn’t seem to be a critical mass, e.g. you find more gins doing this than not in these regions or unique to just these regions e.g. you only find expressions of gin like this being distilled here. That being said, I think it’s worth keeping an eye on.
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