As of 2016, Xoriguer Mahón Gin still qualifies for protection as a gin with a geographical indication under European Union Regulation No 110/2008. Famously, you might remember Plymouth Gin formerly qualified for this as well; however, under the terms of the 2008 regulation, trademark owners had to produce and publicly distribute a technical file which would disclose “what makes this spirit unique.” Plymouth, and Plymouth trademark owners Pernod Ricard, saw the value in the process rather than the GI, and decided to rather than disclose the details of what makes Plymouth so unique, they opted to forgo the Geographical Indication. On the other hand, the GI was so important to La Isla De Menroce, that they did indeed file a technical summary which describes the process in keen detail.
All Gins from Spain
Nordés Atlantic Galician Gin seeks to differentiate itself pretty radically from the get go.
The base spirit is distilled from locally grown Albariño (or Cainho Branco) grapes. The wine from the grapes is bright, almost botanical just on its own, and wine-aficionados compare it favorable to Gerwurtztraminer. Food and Wine magazine one suggested it might be “the next great summer wine” (Rieslings be on guard!). While the wines are a particular specialty of Galicia, Albariños are still more uncommon, making this gin a unique specimen before you get to the botanicals.
Spain has a reputation for pushing the envelope with their gins. That doesn’t make them a style unto themselves (despite frequent efforts to try and force an entire national identity about gins crafted in a place), but it does mean that you can expect to find a few surprise in place. The inclusion of plums (outside of Sloe Gins) is a rarity, while Gorse might be slightly more common, but still a surprise to find the flowers of an evergreen shrub that has been declared an invasive species everywhere but its native range in Western Europe, in your gin.
Recently, I was taken to task by an anonymous commenter. The gist was as followed: you’ve called several gins the “best selling gin in the world.” Yes, many are. Gordon’s () is one of the best selling gins in the English-speaking world, and the best-selling gin in the world in terms of overall numbers over the life of the brand. And then there’s Ginebra San Miguel (), which in turn (in terms of volume, units sold) is the best-selling gin in the world, in terms of year over year sales. And then we have Larios, owned by Beam Suntory, which is the best selling gin in Spain, and in terms of units, among the best selling gins in the world year over year. But this impression is of their upscale offering featuring 12 botanicals.
This was going to end up in the forthcoming book (!), but due to some complications it ended up not making it in. So Instead, we’ll take a look at it here.
The nose is bright and awash with orange blossoms and coriander. Quite nice, very inviting, and decidedly contemporary.
The palate is still bright with lots of citrus: a melange of tangelo, orange, and particularly Minneola.
Spanish Gin is perhaps slightly undercovered here on The Gin is In. So special thanks goes to David, my chum over at Summer Fruit Cup who scored me a couple Spanish gin samples. A lot of the Spanish gins I’ve covered in the past have been really out there: some green, some purple, some flavored with eccentric botanicals. But instead, today we have a Spanish gin who predates the contemporary gin revolution by no small amount. Giró Gin has been around since 1930, and it has a much more illustrious history when compared to other Spanish gins we’ve covered. And at a relatively inexpensive price of $13/L, this is truly a people’s gin if there was one.
The nose is strong, a good deal of ethanol, but with a faint, and quite pleasant notes of juniper and orange behind it. A bit harsh, but quite gin like, and not all too different from many inexpensive gins.
The palate is a bit stronger and colors in the notes of the nose vividly. Juniper at first, a rich earthy middle with coriander, angelica, and then suddenly and boldly a really quite surprising finish.
We have another bold colored gin from the Galicia region of Spain. Entropia’s golden color isn’t from aging, its actually from the post-distillation infusion of the two botanicals most prominently called out on the bottle. Guarana and Ginseng. I know, it’s hard to not think “energy drink” considering I’ve seen those two ingredients prominently called out on the labels of everything from Sobe to Vitamin Water over the last decade.
Ginseng is often considered a natural boost for one’s mental acuity, sexual drive, or mood, science thus far has only been able to find weak evidence to associate it with boosting one’s immune system. Not exactly unabashed support, yet some claim to experience these benefits.
Guarana has been associated with a whole host of supposed boosts, everything from weight loss, to mental sharpness, to sexual stamina and really everything in between. Science remains unconvinced.
But we’re not here to try the botanicals’ medical properties. We’re here to try their flavor. And on that matter we feel like we’re qualified to pass judgement.
Entropia Gin has a golden color, similar to that of a lager. It has the hue of bright hay or goldenrod.
When I talk about Spain as the “bold frontier” of gin, you’ve got to understand: I’m not kidding. From the nation that brought you “purple gin” (COOL Gin ), we now have a “green gin.”
The color is usually indicative of flavors added post-distillation. Though, this hue in particular doesn’t seem reminiscent of a bathtub style. It is genuinely odd: a bright, somewhat mint or lime Jolly Rancher shade. I’d guess that whatever was added is only a small portion of the overall list of botanicals: all 19 of them. Only a small list are available: Angelica, Cardamom, florence lily, Cilantro, cinchona, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, cálamos, Lemon, Black Tea, Chammomile, licorice. A couple possibilities exist but none readily come to mind as to what may have given this its shade.
Firstly, the color: pale mint, somewhat fake lime, dilute food coloring. A washed out grass color. Very hard to place, it probably most resembles the color of broccoli leaves to me.
Nose: Surprisingly, juniper and alcohol. Very straightforward gin nose.
Palate: Rather subtle, not quite overwhelming. Juniper and a touch of citrus early, herbs, and floral notes come on the mid and finish,subtle in the back of the throat and edges of the palate.
Spain, once again you surprise us. Pushing the boundaries of what gin can be. Using ingredients that few ever thought of using in gin. Yes, Blanc Gin is the gin probably better known among the gin community as the “seaweed” gin, owing to its one rather unique botanical–
–well I should break in here. The list isn’t what you’d consider a standard list. A few surprising names appear on it. Bergamot, Lemon and Verbena, and three different kinds of citrus, including Key Lime. Different, but none of these botanicals get top billing, so although we’ll be tasting them later, this IS the seaweed gin–
The Nose and the Palate of Blanc Interesting at very first scent. A bit of orange, but the distinct aroma of dark cocoa. The nose reminds me a lot of orange chocolate, the Easter candy. Not much juniper on the nose, and definitely not much to tell you this isn’t a chocolate vodka. Wow, not gin like at all.
Citrus at front, with a bright burst of cocoa. Rich, chocolaty, a little bit of burn, and a hint of juniper. Some earthy notes more towards the finish, a little bit of bitters punch from the gentian/angelica and rich creamy orange chocolate again on the finish.
That is NOT colored glass my friends. This gin is actually purple. Not as purple as the bottle is at right. But it is a light pastel violet hue. Surely unlike any gin that I’ve ever had in this regard.
Once again, here we are in Spain on the bold frontier of contemporary gin. Surely anything goes and as Cool gin will show, sometimes anything works too.
Notes on drinking Cool Gin:
The nose is floral and sweet. Lots of berry, creamy. Hints of strawberry, blackberry and custard. Very inviting. This is not your grandpa’s gin. Heck, the nose makes it seem like it may not be gin at all.
Floral on the tip of the toungue, vanilla and crisp buttery bread, juniper really shines and peaks quite strongly. Berries, ebb and flow, coming in towards the end of the palette with an almost boysenberry note. The finish is a bit heat, definitively aware of the alcohol in this drink, and juniper lingers, Faint jammy note at the end. Wow, this is interesting and bright. Unique and more definitively contemporary than perhaps all but a couple of gins out there right now.