Dead King Gin is inspired by the Egyptian embalming process. Because embalming took many days [and dead bodies, even at their best are wont to smell], it’s no surprise that a culture as steeped in perfume would use similar ingredients when preserving kings.
This gin was part of a line of “olfactory” gins developed by That Boutique-y Gin Company in fall 2018. Many— Dead King Gin included— embrace the less traditional side of gin botanicals, even marrying together the musks and earthy scents of perfumes and aroma that we don’t often drink.
Funky and a touch off at first. Musky rose, marzipan and a mild salicylate aroma. There’s an herbal, natural apothecary sort of aroma lying underneath it. Dead King Gin’s aroma occupies an unusual space. It’s intentionally asking the drinker to think, about death, decay and preservation. This is not the stuff of drinking— usually. These aromas are much more common in perfumes and their ilk.
The palate though does away with the thinking part of the equation. Dead King Gin is honeyed at first, with myrrh and cinnamon coming through. Is Dead King Gin attempting to replicate in taste, the aroma of the sacred Kyphi perfume/incense of ancient egypt? That rose note makes me think it’s a touch of Rhodinium with those rose-like notes.
Though any of these ancient Egyptian perfumes would have made a compelling story (especially Kyphi which included juniper berries among its ingredients), Dead King Gin isn’t a literal single perfume as much as borrowing heavily from the aromatic tradition of the Egyptian people.
The finish of the gin is slightly creamy with a mild sweetness. Honey colors the flavor, but the ending is a bit more spicy with notes of licorice root and star anise.
Given that this line of gins is designed to be enjoyed in an olfactory sense, it would be a shame to mix Dead King Gin in cocktails where you couldn’t get the nose. Try it in a Martini with a heavy gin:vermouth ratio. Or alternatively, sip it neat on the couch.
Overall, Dead King Gin
Surprisingly, for a gin referencing death— Dead King Gin is bright and rather lively. More a celebration of life, with subtle honey notes highlighting deep spices. It’s perhaps the most accessible of the olfactory line of gins I’ve had so far. Whereas, Fresh Rain Gin challenged with an unusual combination of aqua and petrichor; the Carnival inspired Big Dipper Gin challenged you by combining the dirt of the carnival with lively confectioneries— Dead King Gin would work even without the concept, on the palate at least. The nose is a bit inscrutable, and seems a bit divorced from the flavor of the gin.
However, for taste alone— Dead King Gin is very much alive.