Articles Tagged: Origin Gin Week 2012

Other Thoughts

Final Thoughts, Origin Series Batch 1

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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Gin Reviews

Origin: The Netherlands

Origin: The Netherlands

Where are we Today? We are in Meppel in the Netherlands. While we’ve mostly been in Southern Europe, the Netherlands probably represents are single biggest geographic change in the initial series of Origin gins. Meppel has been a city since 1644, and today has a population of just over 30,000. Of all of the places that gave their juniper to the initial series, this one has perhaps my favorite story of the place.

An old folk story of the region suggests that the people are called Meppeler Muggen, which translates to the “mosquitos/gnats from Meppel.” An old folk tale says that one day people of the city thought their church steeple was on fire. They rushed to its rescue….and then they realized it was just a bunch of mosquitos. Or gnats.

Okay, so the story is probably not true. But one thing is clear, Meppel is a very different place than the previous three entrants into the Origin series.

Tasting Notes

Assertive and juniper-like, but not too bracing. It starts slow and thin before quickly building. Wet and piney, with a little bit of fire, but quickly fading. It leaves a sensation of little sharp prickles on your tongue, fading flavor-wise faster but leaving a little bit of heat in the back of your throat.

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Gin Reviews

Origin: Italy

italy origin series bottles

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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Gin Reviews

Origin: Bulgaria

bulgaria origin gins

Where are we Today? The town of Veliki Preslav is the site of an important historical/archaeological region of the nation of Bulgaria. In fact, just down the road was the first capital of the Bulgarian state. Veliki Preslav was the location of a fortress constructed over 1000 years ago under the rule of Knyaz Boris the first. An important cultural center of the early Bulgarian nation, Preslav has a heritage that spans the entire existence of Bulgaria. So it seems appropriate that for Bulgarian’s entry into the juniper terroir competition comes from a place with a history such as this.

Gin: Just Juniper Bright and almost night and day when compared with other entries in the series. Floral and bright. It almost reminds me of the taste of Hendrick’s gin. As if you don’t need the rose for the flavor of that gin. Just grab some juniper from Bulgaria. I went back for a second shot of the straight up juniper version. I just can’t believe how floral this is on its own with only juniper in it. Remarkable. It does taste like juniper, but I can’t believe that this is only juniper.

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Gin Reviews

Origin: Albania

albania origin gin bottles

Where are we today? In Albania, in the hills of an 8,000 hectare national park. The region we’re in is named for the Valbona River, one of the cleanest rivers in the country and the river whose meandering path over millennia has carved out the said valley. It looks rather beautiful from the travel website [Albania’s new frontier!]. Quaint, green mountains, cute little cottages and vibrant rivers. But we’re not there for this, we’re there for the juniper today.

Tasting Notes

A little quiet at first, building sharply. Almost sweet though, warm dark cherry. Rich, but bracing and still somewhat sharp. Clean long lasting juniper flavor hanging on the edge of the palette. Somewhat sour and bitter, but still clearly juniper. As a juniper forward gin, this actually kind of works. I could see it mixing nicely, though outside of a martini the really interesting notes from the juniper will be a bit lost.

This is the companion review to the Origin: Albania with botanicals ()

Vitals

Price: £34.95 / 700 mL Origin:  United Kingdom Juniper Terroir:  Valbonë, Albania Best consumed: Sipped neat to first appreciate the flavor of the juniper.

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Other Thoughts

The Origin Gins Experiment

Terroir. Surely you’ve heard the term before. And if you haven’t, then surely I can’t have explained it any better than the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry on the topic can. At the heart, the experiment that under pins the entire line of Origin Gins is “does the provenance of a botanical alter its manifestation in the final spirit product?

And I for one think this is an excellent and under-noticed question. First, a digression as to why I think the experiment is timely, then we’ll get back to the Origin line of gins.

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