“Inspired by a man and his garden,” Uncle Val’s namesake— Valerio Cecchetti— known to brand founder August Sabastiani as Zio Valerio, was an avid Italian gardener and cook. Therein lies the inspiration for Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin. The side of the bottle describes the process as “Distilled 5x and infused with Uncle Val’s favorite botanicals.”
Infused suggests a less-traditional process. Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin botanical tea bags to infuse the spirit with the botanicals. While,”distilled gib” by definition permits the addition of both essences and other ingredients after distillation (for example, Hendrick’s infuses its distilled gin with rose and cucumber). Uncle Val’s is perfectly clear, suggesting some sort of post-infusion distillation. Though that vibrant, fresh cucumber note reminds me of other gins which add a cucumber note after distillation (as distilled cucumber often is a bit heavier and more vegetal). Process-wise there isn’t a ton of detail available, so some of this is educated speculation.
Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin has an incredibly vivid nose. It’s exceptionally bright with fresh cut cucumber in water, with a slight hint of sweet pickles; lots of citrus. Tangerine, Amalfi Lemon with a lemon verbena edge slightly suggestive of lemon window cleaner. Mentholic, slightly cooling juniper is present as only an afterthought on the nose; receding into the background behind a bold and aggressive cucumber and lemon note.
In terms of texture, Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin is deceptively smooth. With a gentle, moderately viscous mouthfeel, Uncle Val’s coats the tongue and produces a long-lasting flavor.
Gentle cucumber at first, the lemon is fresh and herbal. Cooling notes of Melissa and Neroli oil mid-palate, with floral hints of geranium, orange cream, and a hint of French Lavender. Juniper is present from the mid-palate on, but it comes through most clearly on the finish. Long and slightly piney, the juniper note hovers for quite a long time; however, by the time you do get that juniper note, you’re likely to have already thought you’ve had perhaps one of the most contemporary gins on the market over the last ten years. Widely available since 2012, Uncle Val’s pushed boundaries from the get-go and still is. Although not the only cucumber and lemon bomb out there, the vibrancy of the botanical notes suggests something altogether more memorable.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin is in a Martini. Nicely complimented by Vermouth, it’s best served up with a twist.
The Gin and Tonic is incredibly sweet and lemon-forward. If you’re a fan of Hendrick’s or Martin Miller’s Gin, this G&T will appeal to you. Though if you pair it with a sweet tonic water, it may almost be cloying.
The cucumber and lemon notes are also a wonderful compliment in a Ramos Gin Fizz. Despite Uncle Val’s bold flavor, it’s a fantastic mixing gin with a bold perspective that meshes well with so many other ingredients.
Highly recommended to fans of gins like Hendrick’s, Martin Miller’s or Malfy Gin. If you want to be a process snob, you might be able to find things about Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin not to like. But strictly from a taste and mixing perspective, Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin is quite wonderful. It has a beautiful flavor, a great mouthfeel and it might be one of the most dangerous gins I’ve ever tasted. It’s so easy to sip Neat.