While today, we rarely think about eating pine trees. Historically, these trees were consumed by the native people’s of the region. Pine Needles were one of the most important sources of Vitamin C for indigenous peoples and were brewed into something similar to a tea. The Nordic Food Lab [makers of the infamous Anty Gin] recently did an exploration of pine tree bark as flour. During dire times, it was used to make bread. And finally we come to drinking culture. Spruce shoot beer was somewhat popular in Scandinavia up until the late 19th century. The same folks who made Scandinavian Spruce Beer in 2014 in turned their eyes to making a gin from those same fresh-harvested spruce shoots.
Scandinavian Spruce Gin also incorporates honey for sweetness in their formula as well.
Delicate notes of Douglas Fir and sweet pine come to mind immediately. Juniper is present as well, in addition to hints of orange blossom. It’s very green and very literal. It’s much more literal forest than Hedgetrimmer Gin or Herbalist Gin. I find it reminds me a hint more of what I like about Hepple Gin to reach for a comparison from other gins— in that it’s a bit more piney but not as classic gin like as the underlying notes of Fillier’s Pine Blossom Gin.
The palate is robust especially early. Scandinavian Spruce Gin leads with a sweet honey kissed pine bough. It’s very slightly sweet and piney— that’s almost an unusual pairing— but it works really well here and sets the stage for the long, spruce-forward palate that continues on. I’d say it’s sort of like a pine needle jam. (Right here it reminds me of Clear Creek’s Douglas Fir Eau de Vie)
Mid-palate, juniper is the star of the show. It’s very resiny in its expression here. There’s an earthy hint of birch bark and a slight floral musk redolent or orange blossom or even Neroli.
The finish of Scandinavian Spruce Gin is long and tenacious with thick, resiny notes of mature spruce forest and birch. Despite this, it’s still quite smooth. The honey’s impact is rather subtle, but it does add a pleasant viscosity and an only subtle sweetness. This is honey as a subtle touch— Scandinavian Spruce Gin is not a spruce old tom.
This gin is heavy on the spruce. The Gin and Tonic was a bit too heavy on the pine for me. I much preferred Scandinavian Spruce (other than neat) as a cocktail ingredient, especially nice when paired with fresh citrus. It makes a nice Gin Sour, even more decadent if you put in the egg white.
Furthermore, you can dial the pine up to 11 and make the In the Trees Cocktail (recipe over at Autumn Makes and Does) for a cocktail that is equal parts fall harvest and Christmas.
But finally, my favorite cocktail with Scandinavian Spruce Gin may well be a simple 7:2 Martini with a twist.
Overall, Scandinavian Spruce Gin
For lovers of pine and juniper— Scandinavian Spruce Gin is downright fun. It’s heavy on the spruce, and ultimately because of that interaction of the spruce and juniper, it’s tough to classify. I’d say it has more in common with contemporary gins simply because juniper is not the star— spruce is— but fans of classic style gins will find a lot to like here.