Distilled in Tel Aviv, Levantine Gin is produced at the city’s first whisky distillery— Milk and Honey.
The gin shares some similarities with their whiskies. It’s base is 100% malted barley. The botanicals are macerated for 48 hours before distillation. Unusual and unique in their botanical bill is Origanum syriacum (sometimes called Hyssop or Lebanese oregano). But most people know it simply as za’atar for it’s importance in the spice mixture of the same name.
Aroma: Resinous juniper, nutty aromas, cinnamon, citrus and a touch of camphorous herbal aromas. A hint of malt/barley gently colors some of the aroma through the lens of genever.
Flavor: Sweet citrus at first, lemon zest segues into a bold resinous juniper led-heart with hints of Italian oregano and camphorous garden herbs. The glowing haze of camphor hovers in the background as some hints of spice emerge, chiefly cinnamon. There’s also a nuttiness of the base spirit that begins to come through here.
Finish: Lemon oil, some hints of barley and a quite long, quite loud radiating warmth.
Loud and complex, Levantine Gin is almost best suited for trying neat. In mixing, I find it pairs well with aged, bold flavors.
Try it in a Negroni. A Martinez plays up the earthier side of thing while adding some citrus brightness. The bitters in a Pink Gin really add depth to some of those spice notes, bringing them to the fore.
For me, the things that make Levantine Gin complex and interesting to sip neat cause it to not work as well in mixed drinks like a Gin and Lemonade or Gin and Soda. Pairing it with tonic water, especially a bold bitter Indian Tonic works well.
Overall, Levantine Gin
Levantine Gin boasts one of the cleanest, crispest 100% barley base gins I’ve had. The quality of the distilling is high– and it’s one of the best things about the spirit.
The botanical blend is all over the place. It is herbal, spicy, juniper-forward and citrus forward all at the same time. If you’re looking for a gin which can be simply described, this is not it. But I find the botanical blend to be a bit unbalanced. The za’atar elements, while inspired seem to conflict with the citrus. The barley spirit adds an earthy, darkness that may not appeal to all gin drinkers.
Overall, it’s the same thing we said when Gilt Gin launched a decade ago. Barley, even when distilled multiple times retains character that needs to be considered as a botanical within the blend. If not, it can sometimes end up at odds with what might otherwise be a beautiful, inspired, bouquet.