If you’ve ever had Maraschino Liqueur, you’re familiar with the incredible flavor of the Marasca cherry. Unusual for its dark flesh and bitter, tannic flavor it wasn’t ideal for eating on its own. In its native range on the Dalmatian coast of modern day Croatia, the people there did what nearly all people did with bitter, but still potable fruit (you think Johnny Appleseed was planting fresh Washington Apples to keep the doctor away? Those were rank, mealy-fleshed cider apples, but I digress). They distilled them.
By definition, the Marasca cherry is the only ingredient in Maraschino liqueur, though most modern “Maraschinos” use an accord of multiple cherries. Gin drinkers know how good Cherry goes with gin if they’ve ever had an Aviation.
Cherry Gin isn’t unique to That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Introductory Line. Canadian Dillon’s Distillers make an excellent Cherry Gin (which we gave a gold medal to back in 2015). Although Cherry Gin, Batch 1 is intended to be made in “the finest sloe gin tradition,” it’s bottled at a very non-sloe-gin tradition 42.6%.
Deep purple, red with a slight brown undertone. It strikes me as being almost in color to bottled Concord Grape juice. Darker and clearly more cherry than Sloe just in terms of color.
Cherry Gin to the nose has creamy notes of marzipan, almonds, and pomegranate— it has this thick luscious grenadine syrup not about it. Hints of traditional gin and spice hover in the background, but juniper seems conspicuously absent.
The palate is rich and thick. It coats the tongue like a gin liqueur. Cherry Gin is fairly sweet in texture. Early on there’s rich black cherries soaked in heavy syrup— but then it takes a left field turn— heavy blocks of 70% dark chocolate and chocolate covered pomegranate seeds.
There’s very few gins which go with cola, but don’t shy away from trying the Cherry Gin & Cola. It tastes less like a literal cherry cola and more like Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper owing to the spice. I think Coke is a more natural mixer than tonic in a Gin and Tonic, which I don’t think quite works here. Bartenders take note, at 84 proof this isn’t a “weak” drink. This is more of a “Whiskey and Coke” than a “Midori Sour,” but it is easy to drink and nearly as sweet as the latter. This could be a completely new opportunity for gin behind the bar.
It’s sweet and more like a very strong bottled Sloe Gin, so I suggested treating it like one. Although not a Sloe Gin, the Sloe Gin Fizz formula, with that addition of lemon juice makes for a delicious and crowd pleasing drink.
It’s a beautiful combination of cherry and gin. I really enjoy the flavor and appreciate the strength and relative lack of literal sweetness. It’s a spirit more than a liqueur and for that alone, I definitely recommend it.
As for balance, the Cherry seems at times not completely integrated into the flavor profile of the gin— they sometimes seem at odds with one another as if the Cherry was not part of the original plan.
But how can I quibble with something this delicious. If this is indeed an experiment, then let Dillon’s Cherry Gin and That Boutique-y Gin Company’s Cherry Gin be evidence that Cherry Gin may well be the next great evolution of Sloe Gin. I wish I had more and I wish more distillers were doing things quite like this.
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