All of the botanicals in Port of Dragons are of “certified origin,” which basically indicates that they come from a specific place and are of a certain quality. For example, the juniper berries come from the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains range. Port of Dragons are certainly in what I might describe as one of the biggest trends of the last few years in liquor by paying so much attention to the origin of the juniper.
The gin is distilled four times distilled in a classic fashion, using a copper still. It has all of the markings of a “premium gin,” but the proof isn’t in the process or the origins, its actually in the taste.
The nose has hints of something vegetable and floral, as well as the distinct aroma of ethanol. I think I can pick out a bit of Hibiscus on some deeper inhales, with a complimentary smell of orange. There’s a lot going on here, but I’m not altogether convinced with the nose.
There some distinct notes of juniper on the taste, but not as strong as I would expect from Port of Dragon’s juniper-heavy offering (we’ll be reviewing 100% floral later this month). There’s a bit of earthy bitterness, but the flavor of the alcohol seems to come through still. It doesn’t have exactly the flavor profile that I would expect from a premium gin. The taste is smooth, never too sharp, and the finish does have a slight drying character. You can pick out a nutty almost chai like character in the tail, hazelnut and cardamom coming through with more of an ambiguous citrus (lime, lemon, and/or orange).
As it has been said that the explosion of gin in Spain is due to their “elevation of the gin and tonic to an art form” I thought that was the best way to try this gin. I found that the sweetness of the tonic helped offset the notes in the Port of Dragons 100% Pure that I thought were a little off of type, primarily the alcohol taste. It helped emphasize the floral notes, tasting even more like a contemporary style gin than it did neat.
As for thoughts in other cocktails, I think this is a gin which might work best in a complex cocktail. Not convinced it would make a good Martini nor a gimlet. I think that it holds it own flavor wise, but I’m just not convinced that flavor wise that it compares to some of the other offerings out there.
Port of Dragons definitely has its own point of view, and a distinct flavor owing to the 14 botanicals present. It definitely sits squarely in the contemporary gin camp, and although it does some interesting things, I’m not sure that I think the flavor combination is altogether successful. It feels a little unbalanced, and in need of one of the botanicals to really assert itself here. But by all means, this is a gin that boasts a unique profile, and will find definite fans among gin drinkers in search of something smooth and novel.
International Gin Exchange 2012 >>>
Thanks to David over at Summer Fruit Cup for helping make this tasting possible.