Reid + Reid’s Native Gin celebrates the local botanical tradition of New Zealand. First they macerate all thirteen botanicals in whey spirit. Among them are three endemic botanicals, each of which is hand foraged for.
Mānuka, or the tea tree, is a native flowering plant. It’s part of the Myrtaceae family, which is also home to popular Australian botanicals like lemon myrtle. It’s flowers are also responsible for the famed honey of the same name.
Kawakawa— not to be confused with the closely related kava plant— is a medicinal plant used by the Māori peoples for centuries for its medicinal properties. The berries are the favorite of (one of my personal favorite birds) the kererū, but are also a traditional diuretic with a sweet flavor.
Finally, the last native botanical is the mountain horopito. It’s peppery in flavor and great for toothaches as well.
Piney juniper, bitter orange peel and medicinal angelica root on the nose. At first aroma, Native Gin suggests somewhere halfway around the world— London and the stereotypical London Gin flavor profile.
The palate is a leafy, herbal melange of spice and juniper.
I think you could broadly describe it as ‘green,’ but there’s a lot of complex harmony between the botanicals here. They come together to kind of form some broad impressions.
First, let’s comment on the mouthfeel. Whey/milk spirit is less common in Europe and the U.S. but it is used to great effect here. Nice viscosity and rich mouthfeel, help the botanicals really last on the palate.
Early, hints of lemon verbena, lemon myrtle and a vague impression of “green” segue into a mid-palate of pine-forward juniper, bitter orange peel, and cardamom.
The cardamom and sweet spice notes take on a lingering role. Peppery and ginger-like facets manifest as Native Gin lasts on the palate for quite a long time.
Complex with a warm, juniper and herb led finish.
I found Reid + Reid Native Gin to be a great workhorse mixing gin. While my favorite way to sip it was neat or on the rocks, I loved the herbal depth it showed off with tonic water.
Beyond that, I think it has an intriguing place behind the bar as well. The botanicals are intense and shine in a Negroni while it pairs nicely with citrus for longer or lighter drinks like a Tom Collins or Gin and Lemonade.
The only place I probably wouldn’t use Native Gin would be in a dessert cocktail like the Alexander..
Overall, Reid + Reid Native Gin
Native Gin is a great story about a place that also leads to a great product. Juniper is present, as well are many traditional gin botanicals, but the combination with New Zealand native flora leads to something that is exciting and familiar at the same time.
Delicious and highly recommended.