Scotland seems to be no longer content to be simply known to gin geeks as the “place where some of the biggest gins in the world are distilled.” NB Gin stands out among its Scottish gin peers for not trying too hard to be Scottish. You might be thinking of some of those other guys that have tried using a Scottish base spirit as a gimmick, or trying to use a whole slew of exotic Scottish countryside herbs. But not NB Gin. It takes a more traditional road towards being a good gin.
The Muirs, husband and wife, have teamed up to create this latest Scottish gin. Their attention to detail is evident in their choice of facilities. A traditional copper pot still? Manual controls? Although the latter is shared with most small gins, the mission statement is clear: NB Gin is small batch and has been given close attention at every step. Like a master craftsman, they call out no stops in their botanical choice. Working with eight of the most common ingredients in gin (see below), the end result is more a result of close attention to the nuance of the ingredients than any exotic note the botanicals might bring. We agree, and think the attention to detail has produced an excellent product.
The nose of NB Gin was interesting and unexpected. A touch of rosemary with some herbs. Sour citrus, then some acidic tangy lemon. Basil in the mids, a touch of juniper, revealing a brothy low note with warm hints of spice, Surprisingly complex, and not at all what I was expecting.
The palate though is where you see this gin revert to form. There’s a slight tinge of herbal notes at the forefront, but juniper and lemon quickly give way. It’s here where the gin really begins to take form. The spiced notes start to come through giving a unique complexity and brightness albeit a common botanical selection. Grains of paradise and a touch of angelica lend a warm bright spiciness; low earthy notes reveal a touch of indistinct herbal vegetal character, turning green and bright juniper in quick succession.
The quality of NB’s base spirit is excellent with a warm rich mouthfeel that coats the palate richly imparting a complex and long lasting flavor. The finish is warm, a touch baking spice, a touch juniper, but always smooth and not lingering. Quite nice, and highly recommended.
We mixed it up in a Gimlet with NB Gin and were quite impressed. Nicely balanced, bright and smooth. We had written down “Key lime pie” due to the way that the sweet lime of the lime cordial mixes with the spiced notes of NB Gin. Bright, sweet citrus, warm spice with cinnamon and a little earthiness coming through. The finish is a little restrained in terms of the juniper; however, that doesn’t take away a single bit from what is an otherwise outstanding Gimlet. We quite liked it, highly recommended.
We then went for a summer day cocktail/blasphemy*: The Martini on the Rocks. Warm spice up front, grains of paradise and cinnamon again imparting a brightness and lift. The mid palate reveals faint tones of juniper. The finish is acidic, but surprisingly mild with herbs and a faint lemon note lingering. Quite nice as well, and I must say that the ice helps amplify the herbal notes from the spirit. Quite nice, and perhaps a touch less complex than the regular Martini might be, we found it to be refreshing and bright, well worth the price of admission.
Overall, NB Gin
A classic style gin which emphasizes its spice side. Warm and inviting, NB Gin has enough juniper to pull in lovers of all styles. We quite enjoyed it, and think that you will too.
* Depends on who you ask.