Principe de los Apostoles Mate gin is distilled at a primarily Grappa distillery in Argentina. Sol de los Andes was founded in 2000 and specializes in grape spirit; however their Mate Gin actually uses a wheat base. Each botanical is macerated and distilled seperately in a 200 liter copper still , before being blended together to create Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin.
If you just do a simple google translation, Google will tell you that one of the botanicals used is “Peppermint.” However, this would be to miss out on one of the most unique Andean botanicals in this gin.
The Botanist is In
The species that Sol de los Andes uses is Minthostachys verticillata. But Argentinians call it Peperina for short. It’s native to the Argentinian Andes and has been collected extensively for centuries due to its essential oil content and aromatic properties.
Though popularly described as a single species under the name Peperina, recent studies suggest that there may actually be three different chemotypes based on essential oil content. This means that distillers working with Peperina should be diligent about where they source from, on a batch-to-batch basis. Some populations have high quantities of thymol (found in Thyme); whereas others feature Carvone strongly (found in peppermint, dill, and caraway). This means if there’s a high Carvone content, we might expect there to be a tasting note of Aquavit.
The nose smells of red grapefruit pith, spicy coriander seed, with a bit of mint notes for good measure.
The palate is loudly flavored— Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin is certainly bold. A hint of citrus and coriander at the first, it builds towards juniper, pine bark and gentian on the mid-palate. Mentholated notes begin rushing in from all sides. At first, it’s a bit vegetal with suggestions of chive and scallion, Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin quickly becomes heavy with eucalyptus and straight up peppermint on the back of the palate.
Long, cool, minty finish. Mate Gin lasts on the palate for up to a minute or more when sipped neat. At the very end of this long cooling effect, you get some of the herbal bitterness from the Mate. I don’t consider myself a Mate expert— and wouldn’t deign to compete with a Mate connoisseur in terms of Mate tasting notes— but here you get some Dry Vermouth notes like wormwood, wet leaves still on the tree, and a bit of hay.
The cooling minty flavor of Mate Gin carries through in most cocktails. I think that complex blend of bitterness and mint best works in a cocktail like The Southside, where it seems the fresh mint and complex bitter herbal notes from Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin recombine to make a complex summer sipper. Recommended.
However, I do find that Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin can be overwhelmingly mint-forward in a Gin and Tonic. Eucalyptus takes over in some mixed drinks; however, skilled bartenders and mixologists who are looking to play with that affect will likely find a lot to like about Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin.
Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin is a complex and unusual gin from Sol de los Andes. It combines bitterness, cooling mintiness, and just the right hint of juniper. Overall, It’s nicely balanced and worth a closer look. Especially if you’re looking to see how new and unusual gin locations create something “local” on the original gin formula.