Some gins you have a really abstract name and you don’t quite know what you’re getting into. Abstract concepts, animals, words, geography. All good names in and of themselves, but they tell you little to nothing about the spirit. A lot of times that’s where I come in.
Knockeen Hills’ Elderflower Gin. You don’t need a gin expert to tell you that there’s elderflower in this gin. It says right on the bottle. I will assure you. There’s truth in titles.
Nose: bright summer elderflower, surprisingly prominent juniper. And a bit of heat. Coming in at a respectable 47.3% ABV that note doesn’t seem out of place.
Palate: Licorice out of nowhere. It’s of the ilk of black jellybeans. I went back to check the nose. Not a whole lot not to indicate where this was coming from. Licorice notes fade, and you get a mid palate floral note without the usual sweetness of most elderflower spirits. Juniper, sharp stabbing in the middle. The finish is with a distinctive faintly citrusy spiciness [coriander likely] and a bit more licorice and flowers. The finish is enduring and a bit hot. Juniper notes and licorice continue to make themselves present long after the initial sip. In other words, quite interesting and quite unique.
The label says “London Dry Gin” right on it, but I think in some sense that might be a misnomer in this case. Its very unlike most London Dry Gins and its differs quite a bit from the classic profile many gins try to invoke when referring to themselves as this. But I will say this. I think this is a contemporary style gin, no matter what the label says.
There’s a couple interesting things about this gin worth pointing out. The gin is built on a rather unique base: Irish Whey. The base spirit is the same one Knockeen Hills uses for their Poteen.
This is a gin blog, but this is also new to me. So briefly: traditional Irish vodka like spirit, made from potatoes, grain, fruits or whey. Outlawed for several hundred years [not allowed to be made in Ireland until the 1980s!] it was best known as the moonshine of the Irish countryside. It is also traditionally very strong.
So I’ve never had the pleasure of trying Poteen. So I have a hard time saying exactly what notes are brought to this drink courtesy of the base.
Some might enjoy the notes neat or on the rocks, but I think this is a gin built for mixing. A little bit of sweet and the elderflower notes begin to shine. A little more citrus and the juniper starts to come out. I thought it made a good gin and tonic and it could work quite well in an Aviation. Very mixable, and the flavors tend to hold their own. The licorice notes do show often, so if you’re not into that you might be best advised to use cautiously, even if you love the flavor of elderflowers.
Origin: [flag code=”IE” size=”16″ text=”no”] Ireland
Best consumed: Good gin and tonics, especially if you want citrus but don’t feel like cutting a lime. Works well in citrus oriented cocktails, as well as the martini.
Availability: Online and throughout Europe. They are in the process of looking for a US Importer, so hopefully soon stateside. [full list]
Rating: Interesting, but the flavors seem like they could benefit from some balancing. Good for mixing. But whether you like this gin won’t come down to “do you like Elderflower flavor?” as much as it comes down to “do you like eating the black jellybeans?”
——————International Gin Exchange 2013———————–
Thanks to David over at Summer Fruit Cup for helping make this tasting possible. Because the bottles are small sample bottles, this review is not as thorough as my normal gin reviews. There’s only enough for some tasting neat and no more than one normal-sized cocktail. Although I do my best to give as full of a review as possible, complete with ratings, the tasting is not as complete as I would normally want to do. If a bottle enters into my possession, I will update this review with more tasting notes, and I reserve the right to update my rating accordingly.
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