I’ve been talking about Spain as the “other frontier” of the contemporary gin movement [the United States being the primary one]. If you’ve been staying tuned in to us, you’ve seen a couple reviews of gins from Spain in the last month. And a couples things have become clear. The Spanish distillers love experimentation and are not afraid to use something completely novel. And these gins are custom made for Gin Tonica.
With the focus seemingly on making this one drink [and making it well] gin distillers have set their sights on making a great gin which compliments tonic water [that will explain at least one of the unusual botanicals in No. 0]. But this bottle doesn’t stop there. It aims to provide “premium” gin at a lower price point than other brands. I’d say this is one trend that is very present in discussion of Spanish gins which I’d posit isn’t even a trend in the American market. Most “premium” or ‘craft gins’ come in at around $30. Number Zero’s point of difference isn’t just flavor, but that at 17 Euros [$22] it’s cheaper than many other similar offerings out there. We’ve previously found some great gins among the handful of craft distilleries which have $15-$20 gin offerings, so by no means should one be prejudiced against a gin on price alone. But based on conversations I’ve had, and things I’ve read, it seems like there is a lot of competition in the “Lower Cost Premium” category among Spanish distillers. In fact, I know the term “premium” has been hotly contested among brands vying for attention in the crowded market.
Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s get down to the taste of Number Zero.
The nose reminds me of the nose of Creme De Violette. Wildly heavy on a subtle violet aroma. Almost a one-note-nose. While it smells nice, it does not smell very “gin-like.”
The taste is smooth and mild. The gin’s potency never rises above a gentle feel. It’s so mild it’s only faintly recognizable as an alcoholic beverage. Floral at first, lavender and iris. A warm earthy middle comes on, with cassia on the edges and a faint but distinct note of juniper. The finish is long, but not particularly flavorful. The floral and earthy notes quickly depart leaving a long final note of quinine. Just like tonic water, with a mildly spicy, palate cleansing bitterness.
I have to say from taste to finish it’s quite an interesting gin. The taste has three distinct parts: floral intro, earthy middle where the juniper comes through, long bitter finish. It feels a bit disjointed as if all of the flavors are isolated. Not quite working together. But I can’t shake the urge to have another sip. It’s incredibly interesting and unique. I’m not sure how it gets away with calling itself “London Dry Gin” because I’m not sure how far you can get from the ideal that is often associated with that title. But still, I would have never guessed that this was a lower-price-point gin. It does not taste “cheap,” although I think with a little bit of recalibration the flavors in here could really make for an outstanding contemporary gin.
Mixing and Cocktailing
Well wouldn’t you figure this is just a perfect gin for Aviation? I think it works. though in anything other than a gin and tonic you’re going to want to be cautious about how that final bitter quinine note performs. Despite the smooth taste and floral profile, that final note makes it somewhat dependent on whether or not you enjoy tonic water. Because that note never quite goes away when mixed. I think it makes a nice gin and tonic. A really nice Gin and Tonic actually, and that final Quinine note does a lot to enhance and drag out the flavor of your Tonic Water. The violet comes out in just the right way, leaving a really nice lavender note, and violet Candy sensation on the palette. Extremely drinkable though, the alcohol is almost undetectable. On a warm summer day, I could kick back one after one of these.
Best consumed: Gin and Tonics. That quinine note doesn’t quite work in all situations. But this is one gin that I might buy just for G&Ts.
Rating: I’m a little hesitant to give high reviews to gins which don’t have a wide range of applications. But this is an exceptional gin for gin and tonics. Fans of Tonic will undoubtedly love what it adds to an Aviation or Moonlight Cocktail, but some might not like the tonic style note that it adds.
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