South Africa is home to several gin distilleries. It is one of the places to watch for new, creative gin distilling in the 2020’s. Could it be the next Australia? Perhaps that is premature. Similar to Australia, many South African distillers experiment with the bevy of local and native botanicals that only grow there. However, Empire Gin does a little bit of the opposite. It plays with an underlying botanical blend and set of ingredients that were brought to South Africa through Colonialism.
Distilled from neutral grain, it features cucumber, angelica, citrus and others. Pineaar and Son Distillery is a father and son operation stationed in Cape Town, South Africa.
Aroma: Subtle, quiet nose with herbal facets. Hints of mint, celery hearts, lemon balm and green juniper. As it sits, jammy citrus and fruit begins to emerge. Highly complex, albeit very low in intensity.
Flavor: Soft citrus at the fore. Lemon at first, becoming a bit more lemongrass and lime leaves mid-palate. Pine-accented juniper hits mid-palate, with a strong angelica counter-note. Late, things become a bit greener and more resinous. Hints of celery leaves and basil add depth.
Finish: Moderately warm, long and somewhat green. Complex and well integrated, there’s intimations of citrus, herbs and juniper without anyone quite sticking out. Only a slight astringency.
Empire Gin is an amiable mixer because of its balanced flavor profile. Highlight the herbs in a South Side or 50:50 Martini. Go against them and bring out the citrus in a Tom Collins or Gin and Lemonade.
While Empire Gin can be a bit pushed to the background in a Negroni, the flavor is there— though you might lose some of the nuance in the botanical expressions.
Overall, Empire Gin
I’m not sure I would say that Empire Gin is the gin of the British Empire that colonized South Africa. Instead it’s a thoughtful re-imagining through the lens of that historical botanical blend.
It’s not a classic style gin. But fans of that style will pick up on all of the botanicals and techniques that come from that style.