The Isle of Hven (usually seen spelled as Ven in modern times) is in a strait between Denmark and Sweden. The Spirit of Hven distillery is on the aforementioned isle, and was among the first pot still distilleries in Sweden.
They are conspicuously aiming at “luxury brand” status with their marketing and approach, but even yet the process does have some interesting details:
Firstly, as mentioned, Spirit of Hven Gin begins as grain in their unique copper pot still with a “long graceful neck.” The botanicals are macerated for a full 24 hours before distillation. And finally, before bottling and the final distillation pass, Spirit of Hven rests in an oak barrel. Because it’s distilled afterwards, the spirit is clear. But some of the flavor adds color to Spirit of Hven Gin as if the wood was just another botanical.
The nose has some wet juniper, bitter citrus rind with an intriguing suggestion of petitgrain.
Sipped, Spirit of Hven Gin has some interesting hints that it has been in a barrel. A slight touch of vanilla creaminess on the tip of the tongue at first. The flavor evolves with lemon and then peppery cubeb and grains of paradise notes. It’s lively on the palate with a fair hit of warmth as well. The back of the palate has gentle hints of wood and grain. Juniper berries accompany a long black peppercorn dominated finish that has the slightest hint of anise and licorice.
If you ponder the finish for a long time, you’ll find that Spirit of Hven Gin is extraordinarily astringent with an intense drying effect. What is left though is an interesting slightly peppery and green herbaceous and resin note, with a slight hint of carrot.
While Spirit of Hven Gin makes a nice Gin and Tonic, It’s perhaps aiming a bit higher. While neat it was okay, I thought that it worked well in some less sweet citrus based cocktails. The Tom Collins and Gin Sour come to mind. Spirit of Hven’s spicy approach complements lemon really nicely.
Another use for Spirit of Hven Gin that could be excellent is to cook with it. The astringency effect combined with the stickiness of those green, peppery notes on the finish make it an ideal choice for a slow infusion as in Kate’s recipe for Gravlax.
I much prefer the Spirit of Hven 40% ABV version to the 57% ABV Navy Strength Version. Spirit of Hven Gin has an intensity that punches above its proof, and additionally, the botanicals have a tenacity that makes it a good mixing gin. But I think that overall, Spirit of Hven Gin feels somewhat unpolished. Pepper is too much the star here, and rather then meshing with the juniper, the grain and vanillin notes accentuate the pepperiness.
Fans of spice-forward contemporary gins will find plenty to like here, while classic gin fans will probably want to look for something with a better texture and a bit more juniper.