If the retail price of spices by the ounce is any indication, there might be only two better than cardamom and one better than vanilla: Saffron. These extraordinary threads from the Saffron Crocus have been used as both a spice and colorant for centuries, hence given its bright hue it should come as no surprise that many gins which choose to add the priceless botanical do so post distillation via infusion.
Articles Tagged: Saffron
This review is only for the 55% ABV version of Old Raj.I have not had the 46% version. Though the 55% shares much in common with its lower ABV sister, they are different products. This one is the blue one, the other one is red. Now that we’ve cleared that up….
Old Raj begins with a classic set of botanicals among which are juniper, citrus, coriander, cassia, and other classics. But what really sets it apart is is slight golden tint, which is a result of the post-distillation addition of saffron.
This isn’t the first saffron-infused gin that we’ve reviewed. Most notably, Gabriel Boudier’s with its vivid tangerine hue (sure to stand out in any bar). I was critical of saffron gin previously as I felt that the prominent stage that was given to the saffron- a definitively non-traditional gin flavor- made it a difficult sell in most gin cocktails. This is where I think Old Raj excels: it puts the balance back into the gin and makes a gin which excels in mixing as a normal gin, but one that has enough saffron to make a difference.
I mentioned at a party over the weekend that I had bought Saffron infused gin, and the reaction was an assortment of “really?!”, “I don’t think that goes together,” and “I’m skeptical but I’ll try it anyway.”
I’m on board with all three reactions to an extent.
First up is the color. It looks something like a children’s drink resembling Pedialyte or those orange hugs. I had the same sort of cognitive dissonance when drinking the Tru gin. If my Gin and Tonic isn’t crystal clear, it doesn’t feel like a gin and tonic.
As for the taste it goes surprisingly well in a gin and tonic, but prepare not to fully experience the saffron. In a gin and tonic, the saffron and fennel come through, but in a balanced manner. There’s a strange sweet taste- not bad, just strange, almost as if there was already simple syrup in the gin. Despite the sweet undertone, this gin does not go well in a Tom Collins, Martini nor in any other drink that has a strong sweet or sour component. The flavors seem to clash with one another. Dare I say, I found the perfect gin for a Churchhill Martini, or even to be sipped on the rocks.