Interestingly enough, although Swedish brand Explorer Gin seems custom made for the European market (bottled at the much lower 37.5% ABV, which doesn’t meet the 40% ABV minimum for gin in the United States), the brand originated stateside. It was a failed vodka brand at first. It launched in 1958 to little fanfare stateside.
In Sweden however, the explorer brand gained traction. Launched in 1961, the brand has since expanded to include Explorer Gin.
The all-organic botanicals are added via an overnight maceration before being distilled and diluted. Explorer Gin is part of one of Sweden’s best selling brands.
Surprisingly bold on the nose for a gin at this lower ABV. Coriander and citrus at first, but it begins to open up with a touch of intriguing apple pie spice notes as well. It is both bolder and more complex than I expected based on the plastic bottle.
The palate begins with juniper and is followed quickly by sweet orange and lemon zest. Mid-palate there’s some of those apple pie and spice notes; dried ginger and cinnamon sugar.
The finish is long as well. I get notes of green juniper accompanied by a pleasant heat. Explorer Gin ties things up with a slight note of sourness and a moderate astringency.
As Explorer Gin is only 37.5% ABV, you should expect it to not pack the flavor punch that gins at higher ABVs will. However, among gins at this ABV, Explorer Gin is one of the best. I find that the smoothness and moderate complexity acquits Explorer Gin well in a very dry Martini. Like really dry, you could go up to 12:1 or higher. I suggest that drier might be better as a stronger Vermouth could overpower the gin. I also find that Explorer Gin works nicely in a Gin and Tonic. I don’t even have to add caveats, it’s really an ideal highball gin that brings enough flavor to stand out.
Explorer Gin is a nice, inexpensive gin. For gin drinkers in Sweden— a nation which might I add has a bounty of excellent home distilled gins—it may not be the classiest gin, it remains a widely available gin that is better than the plastic bottle and low ABV could lead you to believe.
Like I said, I normally prefer gins with a bit more strength to them; however, Explorer Gin challenged my preconceptions. It was better than expected on its own, and much more noticeable in cocktails than I had expected. Strong flavor and a simple, but well executed botanical bill suit it— at this price point, Explorer Gin remains a good buy in Sweden, and would be in other markets as well if it were available there.