Esmé Gin is labeled as a “Gin with botanical notes.” This seems a new way to refer to the techniques used by gins such as Conniption American Dry Gin, Martin Miller’s which add an infused flavor after distillation. Perhaps the most apt comparison is Hendrick’s as Esmé Gin infuses both rose and cucumber to a distilled wheat base gin.
Aroma: Floral and warm, with herbaceous juniper undertones and hints of candied lime. As it warms, more citrus begins to emerge, but it does with a candied edge.
Flavor: Candied citrus peel at first, especially limes. Mid-palate, there’s a surprisingly bold green juniper flavor. The floral notes becomes most pronounced on the back half of the palate, where they emerge from the back of the throat in a warm haze. Hints of musky rose and neroli oil contribute primarily. The palate has a subtle sweetness to it.
Finish: Bitter cucumber flavor, with pithy lime peel and hints of rose.
Esmé Gin presents best when mixed. It probably works best in a gin and tonic, whereas gin and soda showcases some of the bitter cucumber notes on the finish. It pairs well with almost any other flavored mixer, contributing primarily juniper and citrus notes.
As for cocktails, it depends on the focus. I found it could hold its own in a Negroni whereas some of the candied citrus pushes an Aviation too far towards the cloying, candied violet side of the drink.
Overall, Esmé Gin
An okay mixing gin. While the botanical bill and process might lead you to believe that Esmé Gin is a substitute for Hendrick’s, flavor-wise it’s truly its own thing.
It’s a good gateway into gin for drinkers of flavored vodka— in large part because while much of the citrus notes remind me of that category— the juniper is present and unmissable mid-palate.
Ultimately, Esmé Gin presents best in mixed drinks. On its own, its a bit unbalanced with candied citrus dominating and the floral notes seemingly un-integrated into the botanical bill. While a good value for its price, overall it comes up short when appealing to fans of traditional London Dry and classic style gins, and it comes up short when appealing to fans of modern, contemporary gins.