Extra Frizz Tonica
Have you ever done a review in the dark before? I’ve been hunting the internet high and low, and I’m not 100% what the brand name of this tonic water is.
I’m only vaguely certain of two things. One, there’s a picture of Italy on the side of the bottle with the Italian flag colored in. I’m pretty certain that this tonic is Italian. Two, It’s tonic. It does have a bit [and not much, but more on that in a moment] of that bitterness that usually hints at the fact something is quinine. That’s where we are.
Our story begins
When I walk into the Astoria Euromart with the express purpose of finding a case of this but as luck would have it the only “tonic” that I could find that they didn’t stock in every other grocery store in the states was this one. Extra Tonica. Effervescentement Tua. With a woman licking her lips in a way that seems more eerily sexual than it does delicious. But nevertheless, if it says Tonica on the bottle I will not be deterred.
Our Story Continues
The sweetening agent in here is sugar.
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We’ve reviewed all eight of the gins from the initial batch of Origin gins from Master of Malt. It was a lot of fun to try this range of gins from four very different places and I hope that they will keep me in mind when they come out with future batches including Kosovo, Croatia and Macedonia*. And better yet, perhaps I can claim the 100 pound bounty if my mom’s juniper patch ever yields 10kg of juniper**.
But we’ve covered a lot of ground here. And the origin series is a little expensive. 35 pounds for a 700 mL bottle, and for my American readers, Master of Malt does ship to the states, but expect to pay upwards of $60 for a bottle of the Origin gins. So say you want to buy a couple of bottles, or just get acquainted with the series. Let’s do a recap of where we’ve been:
If you are just getting into gin…
Make sure that you get the Bulgaria one. Easily I’d recommend this to anyone, because this gin is shocking that this flavor is possible to come just from cold distilled juniper berries alone.
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Where are we today?
We’ve been to romantic countrysides and historical villages. For the next stop on the origin tour, we head to a commune of about 100,000 south of Florence. Arezzo is located in a fertile floodplain on the Arno River, which is among the most important rivers in central Italy. Arezzo has a temperate Mediterranean climate, and for those of you taking notes for trivia nights at your local bar, the University of Oklahoma actually has a branch in Arezzo. According to my notes, this Origin gin is the closest the state of Oklahoma has come to having a gin thus far.
Just the Juniper:
This is what I expected all of the origin juniper-only gins to taste like. Bright, piney, sharp but light. The gin has an almost watery character. Quickly dissipating leaving a long bright juniper after taste in the back of the throat. Significant heat and alcohol lingering, but the juniper sticks around a long time after the initial sip. Bright fresh, but lacking. On its own, its a good example of what the juniper tastes like, but as a gin I find it somewhat lacking.
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This is the companion piece to the Origin: Italy with just juniper ()
This actually turns out to be a rather nice gin right now. Piney and fresh, but creamy lemon meringue and bright rosemary and thyme herbal notes. There’s no rosemary and thyme in here, so don’t be fooled. But this is the kind of flavor character that this juniper seems to take on with the addition of the botanicals. Still a bit sharp, I in fact can feel hints of burn in the back of my mouth long after the initial taste and the juniper lingers on the palette, first vibrant and citrusy, then fading to sour and flat, to bitter and just the taste of alcohol. Really, really interesting gin here. I could recommend this, again, for fans of classic juniper forward gin, but think that it probably lacks the smoothness to make it ideal for martinis. But don’t be shy, Negronis, 20th Century, Leap Years, French 75’s and so on, the juniper in here can stand up and stand out.
Price: £34.95 / 700 mL
Origin: [United KingdomJuniper Terroir: Arezzo, Italy
Best consumed: Juniper forward enough to bring that “heavy punch” of juniper you want in a cocktail where the juniper in less potent gins can easily be beaten into submission.
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