Er Gin from Distillerie Capitoline is a bathtub style gin from Italy. The botanicals are added and macerated in the spirit after distillation. This helps lend Er Gin its medium brown hue, similar to some sherries or port.
Similar to another Italian distiller, Bathtub Er Gin uses another “protected type of lemon.” The limone de sorrento grows along the Southern coasts of Italy and is renowned for its particularly oily peel. Because of this, the limone de sorrento is an important ingredient in limoncello from the region— which is made similar to bathtub gin. As both require the lemon’s skin to be macerated in alcohol, Bathtub Er Gin might call to mind American Temple Distilling who made a Limoncello/Gin hybrid.
Er Gin calls to mind an amaro with juniper more than it does a bathtub style gin, at least on first nosing. A robust cocoa and root packed sweetness with tart citrus back notes and some herbal components that remind me just a bit of Amaro Montenegro— Er Gin is unusual to say the least. I might not have expected a gin.
Given that it’s bottled at 40% ABV, Er Gin definitely comes in at a higher proof than most amaro. That is evident on the palate. which is botanically driven and not as sweet as an amaro.
Chocolate covered orange rinds come on early. The mid-palate is herbal with hints of artemisia and lemon leaves. Towards the finish, Er Gin becomes more camphorous. A glowing coolness emerges from the back of the palate, similar to the radiant glow after biting into a black peppercorn. The finish is exceptionally long and lasting— bitter cacao nibs, astringent and resiny pine bark, and a bit more wormwood. Er Gin is complex, but rather light on the juniper element.
Despite that fans of amaro may quite enjoy Er Gin. In fact I do find the flavor improved by a modicum of sugar.
Most bathtub gins are a bear to mix with. Bathtub Er Gin is unwieldy to say the least. The color is unattractive when paired with soda or tonic water. The brown hue doesn’t improve when the drink is made longer. Er Gin is intensely bitter already, so I’d avoid the Gin and Tonic and maybe try an Er Gin and Soda. Even a dash of sugar stirred in and a lemon garnish brightens and adds freshness to it.
Alternatively, I’d suggest embrace to amaro-comparisons and just add a bit of sugar to your glass, as if you’re making an Old Fashioned.
Overall, Bathtub Gin
Macerating without distilling can be a difficult technique to apply in creating a gin. Firstly, many gin botanicals taste different when distilled as opposed to how they taste after a straight maceration. You can’t come to Er Gin with the expectations derived from distilled gins. Secondly, it can be hard to balance the bitter components with the sweet components— unless you have separate macerations that you then blend.
Er Gin is successful as a gin amaro, but challenging as both a bathtub gin and a gin in its own right. It’s aggressive and assertive with incredibly bold botanical profiles. Fans of amaro might want to seek it out and explore the middle ground between the categories, but others should be cautious. Er Gin is best just sipped on its own as it is.