The premium version of the classic Ginebra San Miguel (previously reviewed) launched in 2005 as an extension to the already century and a half old formula which is the most drank gin in the world. GSM Premium is made with “extra neutral alcohol,” distilled from molasses and features juniper and a bit more citrus. It’s meant to be an upscale offering, though price wise, although costing more than GSM, we’d still find the price to be in the range of inexpensive or bargain priced gins.
Candy citrus and orange in particular on the nose, with some alcohol laden, ethanol kissed hints of mint and herbaceous juniper, with further hints of lemon mint and pineapple sage. Though with a good deal of fruity/citrusy notes strongly at the fore, there is a core underneath which is readily recognizable as gin.
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In < 100 Words
As far as I know, Ginebra San Miguel (Saint Michael’s Gin) might be the only gin in the world to also be the name of a basketball team. Well since the Gordon’s Gin Boars and Gilbey’s Gin Gimlets changed names. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel plays in the Philippine Basketball Association. And the gin they’re named after is the best-selling gin in the world. Unless you’re a gin geek, its understandable that you’ve never heard of it. As a nation the Philippines drinks the most gin per capita, and the great majority of that is Ginebra San Miguel. It is also very uncommon among gins in that it’s base spirit is cane [like rum].
Special Thanks for David T. Smith for sharing his bottle with me when I visited London last month.
The nose is recognizable juniper with a harsh edge. Low notes with a little bit of spice, pepper, coriander, acetone and salt. The palate is initially quiet, with sweet straw, a slight pine-forward edge to the juniper, but a little bit flat with an acrid, chemical after taste. The overall quality of the spirit is itself a little rough and thin.
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Every now and then as a gin writer you get an opportunity to try something that you never would have even thought about trying if it wasn’t for the writing. Or try something you didn’t know existed. Here’s one of those examples. Distilled, blended and bottled by the Peace Myanmar Group Co. Ltd. (established in 1993, and the gin(!) was one of its flagship products at launch), we have Myanmar Dry Gin.
First and foremost, a shoutout to my friend Angelo who picked this up for me while he was working on his own research in Myanmar.
There’s this absolutely crazy, unexpected top note in here. It fades really quickly, (<30 seconds after the pour, but when you first open the bottle- wow). Sweet lemon, orange, but heavier on the lime, redolent of candy- familiar in a really unexpected way. Recognizably familiar, but not really in the world of gin nose vocabulary. I also wrote down “fruit punch.” (the for-kids sweetened drink from the supermarket). There’s some more usual gin notes a bit buried at the end of the nose. But really weird, leaning contemporary at first sniff.
On the palate, it’s first worth noting that the quality of the spirit is a little lesser than we’re used to.
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As far as I know, this review is a Gin is In exclusive. It also marks the first time I’ve had a gin from New Zealand.
New Zealand has a thriving distillers’ culture. It is the the only nation, which as of right, allows citizens to distill for their own personal use. Distillers who wish to sell, have to go through a permitting process. But if you’ve ever wanted to just experiment with distilling, New Zealand is the place for you.
It’s in this thriving culture that Vaiŏne’s origins lie. The gin here was originally a home distilled product from John Sexton [the gin’s website graciously provides newspaper clippings]. The Sexton family has taken their home distilled gin to the big leagues, and John’s award winning home distilled gin is now produced by him and his son Anthony, and is available in stores.
Vaiŏne does embody the sense of place: among the botanicals are locally grown New Zealand/South Pacific limes.
The nose is a little strong, a bit of heat, some citrus, orange and lemony notes, with some juniper and a faint touch of spice on the finish.
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