Crows Gin is billed as the Philippines’ “first small batch craft gin.” While much has changed in the gin world— one thing remains constant. The Philippines are the largest gin drinkers per capita in the world. Most of that gin is local brand Ginebra San Miguel. However, that is now changing. Filipino drinkers are turning more and more to new gins from abroad— and now locally as well.
Josemari Cuervo founded Crows Craft Brewery in 2013. While at first he was dedicated to creating beer, by 2016 his love of spirits led to the creation of Crows Gin. It features 23 botanicals. That number alone puts Crows Gin in rarefied territory with The Botanist and Monkey 47 among those boasting expansive botanical bills. Among those 23, a full 9 are sourced locally. Moreover, a handful of those are important local foods in Filipino cuisine.
For example, Pandan is rare in gin but is a common ingredient in Filipino cooking. Steeped in coconut milk, they have facets of rose, almond, vanilla and Bison grass.
The Calamansi is sometimes referred to as a “Philippine Lime” outside of the Philippines. It’s a hybrid of a kumquat and a mandarin orange. Small and green, it turns a vivid orange when ripe. It’s best said to resemble a cross between a bitter orange and super sweet lime. There’s really no other citrus fruit with a flavor quite like it.
Other local ingredients include lemongrass, orange, grapefruit, ginger, lemon, anise and a kind of native chili pepper.
Crows Gin has a rather sweet nose with lots of citrus. Kumquat, tangelo, sweet lemon, and candied lime peel give it an almost intense citrus character. There’s floral undertones and a touch of herbaceous green juniper as well. Crows Gin is very citrus forward contemporary at first smell.
The palate is rather smooth, especially on entry. Early, there’s lemon, orange, fiery ginger and galangal, with a slight perky spice.
Mid-palate, intense flavors of Makrut lime leaf begin to take over. Facets of coumarin begin to emerge, suggesting woodruff and bison grass.
Green bell pepper, makrut lime and cardamom characterize the last phase of the palate.
Crows Gin has a long citrus-forward finish. While still overwhelmingly with lime leaves, hints of white grapefruit and lemongrass add depth.
The spirit itself is pleasant and quite smooth. It has a mild richness to it that helps lend Crows Gin the botanical intensity and longevity it has.
Crows Gin is an easy mixing gin. It has an accessible citrus-forward flavor profile that makes it a great gateway gin for those who are moving over from citrus-flavored vodkas, or for those who are fans of other citrus forward gins on the market (such as New Amsterdam).
It works as well in a Gin and Tonic, Martini and any citrus-featured mixed drink such as Tom Collins or Gimlet. The makrut lime note is an intense lift that could add real citrus character to a gimlet with Rose’s Lime Juice.
Further, the sweetness and bright character lends itself nicely to dessert cocktails like the Ramos Gin Fizz.
Overall, Crows Gin
Crows Gin is a beautiful citrus-forward contemporary style gin. While it’s admittedly a little light on the juniper. In fact, the Juniper is at best a supporting note throughout the palate. However, the combination of everything, juniper included, results in a nicely balanced but unabashedly contemporary style gin.
It’s one of the most exciting citrus-forward gins I’ve had in some time. Beautiful and balanced, Crows Gin is Highly Recommended in its category.