As far as I know, Ginebra San Miguel (Saint Michael’s Gin) might be the only gin in the world to also be the name of a basketball team. Well since the Gordon’s Gin Boars and Gilbey’s Gin Gimlets changed names. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel plays in the Philippine Basketball Association. And the gin they’re named after is the best-selling gin in the world. Unless you’re a gin geek, its understandable that you’ve never heard of it. As a nation the Philippines drinks the most gin per capita, and the great majority of that is Ginebra San Miguel. It is also very uncommon among gins in that it’s base spirit is cane [like rum].
Ginebra San Miguel is available in several versions, including a slightly more upscale “Premium” version.
Special Thanks for David T. Smith for sharing his bottle with me when I visited London last month.
The nose of Ginebra San Miguel has recognizable juniper with a harsh edge. Low notes with a little bit of spice, pepper, coriander, acetone and salt. The palate is initially quiet, with sweet straw, a slight pine-forward edge to the juniper, but a little bit flat with an acrid, chemical after taste. The overall quality of the spirit is itself a little rough and thin. Aftertaste is chemical sweet straw, reminiscent of inexpensive vodka.
Overall, on its own, its a pretty rough drink. I didn’t mix up any cocktails with it, though I’d wager mixing might be an absolute necessity with Ginebra San Miguel to cover up the chemical notes. It’s a rather rough drink and hard to recommend as a gin based on the glass I sampled.
Though it is rather inexpensive, so it has that going for it.
Overall, Ginebra San Miguel
A novelty for gin collectors with a curious streak more than anything. Ginebra San Miguel is a rough gin, and what it does to distinguish itself from other inexpensive gins, it doesn’t do for the better.