The bitter orange is one of the most important plants in all of perfume. All parts of the plant are used: the fruits; the branches and leaves (also known as Petitgrain) and the flowers, whose oil and aroma is referred to as Neroli.
Firstly, the bitter orange itself is extremely common in gin. It’s one of the most common, period. But the blossoms are much less common. In large part because of their price. It’s very costly to press and extract the aroma from the flowers. But also because the gin distilling process itself often struggles to extract delicate aromas such as those obtained from flowers. Heat is the enemy of flower aroma, and as you know, most distillation is done with some degree of heat.
But perhaps that’s why That Boutique-y Gin Company might be well suited to be the company that makes Neroli Gin because their distillation is done in low temperatures under near vacuum conditions. Though it’s not exactly the same as the fat based absolutes used in perfume, it’s as close as a distiller can get.
Neroli is an unusual scent. Fenaroli’s Handbook of Flavor Ingredients describe it as an “intense, suave, flower aroma,” adding that the taste has “woody citrus, tea-like with dry tutti-fruity and herbal nuances.” Fragrantica describes Neroli as “citrusy, light, slightly bitter” with the aroma primarily found in “chypres, ambers, floral bouquets and heavy orientals.” while it also “acts as a natural fixative.”
Neroli Gin is soft and floral. It has the thick, almost all-encompassing musk of jasmine, with dark honey, citrusy and metallic undertones. Neroli Gin also has echoes of petitgrain’s musky, earthy, heady base notes. The nose suggests perfume quite strongly.
Kate suggests that the nose reminds her of “sunscreen and summer…but in a positive way.”
The palate is creamy and incredibly floral. Neroli Gin will call to mind a whole array of potent floral aromas. It starts with citrus notes, with magnolia mid-palate becoming a bit more jasmine, and finishing with Neroli and more magnolia. I’ve never tasted anything quite like this. It really is a floral perfume gin-ified.
There’s a slight hint of juniper in the background, but for the most part juniper is the star.
Neroli Gin is intense and perfumed. It tends to clash in more typical gin cocktail applications. I’d suggest making a Martini out of Neroli Gin or simply sipping it Neat.
To address the elephant in the room, is it a gin?
Neroli Gin may be pushing the boundary as far as it can go. There’s certainly a slight hint of juniper in here— but that’s all. Fans of classic style gin are best advised to look elsewhere.
However, as an experiment and celebration of its namesake botanical— Neroli Gin is truly something special. The aroma and palate are stunning. It’s exciting to drink.
Fans of contemporary style floral gins— check this gin out now. It’s an extraordinarily limited edition gin of only 700 bottles. And while Neroli Gin is a boutique-y experiment of sorts, I hope this gin inspires other distillers to play with these aromas in their gins. Once relegated to the perfume world, Neroli can and should be a part of gin’s future.
Highly Recommended in its category.