As far as I know, this review is a Gin is In exclusive. It also marks the first time I’ve had a gin from New Zealand.
New Zealand has a thriving distillers’ culture. It is the the only nation, which as of right, allows citizens to distill for their own personal use. Distillers who wish to sell, have to go through a permitting process. But if you’ve ever wanted to just experiment with distilling, New Zealand is the place for you.
It’s in this thriving culture that Vaiŏne’s origins lie. The gin here was originally a home distilled product from John Sexton [the gin’s website graciously provides newspaper clippings]. The Sexton family has taken their home distilled gin to the big leagues, and John’s award winning home distilled gin is now produced by him and his son Anthony, and is available in stores.
Vaiŏne does embody the sense of place: among the botanicals are locally grown New Zealand/South Pacific limes.
The nose is a little strong, a bit of heat, some citrus, orange and lemony notes, with some juniper and a faint touch of spice on the finish. The taste begins quite classic in style: lemon, juniper, creamy vanilla and almond, at first, a tad rush of heat with the citrus building, and the finish is bright orange and lime. Very strong and vividly colored, the citrus punch at the end hits you hard. There’s a faint bitterness accompanying a long lingering hint of sourness that tastes brightly of lime. Undoubtedly a citrus forward gin, that despite its somewhat traditional botanical selection, it’s hard to characterize this as classic style. But in saying that, fans of the classic style won’t find anything here which seems unfamiliar to fans of the style, just a certain loudness and emphasis in aspects that aren’t usually so amplified. I’d say it reminds me faintly of the style characterized by Bluecoat () and Pinckney Bend ((), but more skewed towards lime and with a touch less heat.
The Gin and Tonic is one of my favorites right off the bat. Citrusy, mellow, lime flavor without the fruit, but I actually think that the fresh fruit really amplifies the things this gin does well, rather than take away from it. If anything it makes the lime notes taste fuller and rounder.
I also really enjoyed the martini, creamy richness on the front, bright citrus on the finish. I would have liked a little bit more juniper to show through here. A little heavy on the citrus, but rich creaminess intimating key lime meringue pie, and orange sherbet just subtly shining here. Quite nice.
I mixed up a gimlet, but the lime notes in the gin seemed overpowered by a vast margin. This just didn’t seem to work, I didn’t get a whole lot from the gin, struggling to pick it out over the lime at times. I felt it had very much the same issue in the Negroni. Just didn’t stand out.
I mixed it up in an Aviation as well, and thought it came across nicely, although not as vividly as I would have hoped. A nice citrusy creaminess and a hint of juniper, but I felt you had to be looking for it to pick it over the violet and the lemon.
Other recommended drinks include the Tom Collins and the Gin Fizz. Both really had a nice lift from the lime in the spirit. It was in the Corpse Revivers, 20th Century and other more complex cocktails that I just found it hard to taste the gin.
It’s a bit quiet in mixing. In drinks where gin is the unquestioned star, it comes across quite nicely. In drinks where the ingredients are loud, Vaione kind of fades into the background. It seems the citrus notes in Vaione just blend nicely with other citrus ingredients in a drink, where you might expect a juniper punch [if you are], you are left wanting.
Rating: The citrus- especially the lime notes, are strong with this one. Neat and in gin leading cocktails, a nice peppery juniper note is present, and it mixes quite well. It seems too quiet in some more complex cocktails, but that doesn’t detract from what it does well. A recommended citrus-forward gin.
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