The gin category, once maligned and forgotten, has been expanding at an incredible rate lately. Thanks to the persistence of classic brands like Beefeater and Tanqueray, as well as clever marketing from relative newcomers like Hendrick’s and strong support from the bartending community, gin is cool once more and a torrent of brands are rushing to take advantage of the renewed demand for the classic juniper elixir.
I hope to cover some of the exciting new gins coming out of gin’s home, London, as well as some issues raised by the raft of newer gins that are straying away from the juniper-led flavour profile traditionally associated with gin, over the next few weeks but tonight I’ll be reviewing a gin I was sent that has impressed me more than most I’ve tried recently – Geranium Gin.
Geranium is the creation of Henrik Hammer, an accredited gin judge who had been pondering the use of geranium in gin for years, knowing that it is regularly combined with ingredients like juniper and angelica in the therapeutic world. Together with his chemist father they chemically analysed geranium and found that the significant oils were those like geraniol formate, rose oxide and citronelol which are present in most fruits, vegetables and spices – therefore theoretically making it a good mixer. The challenge was how to get the oils out of the geranium and in to the gin, but luckily Henrik’s father had worked with essential oils for the perfume and food industry in decades.
Using a small 5 litre still they set about experimenting with using geranium in the botanical mix. Having found the best ways to process and distill the geranium they turned to the Langley Distillery in Birmingham, England, who produce a number of famous gins including Martin Miller’s, to fine tune the recipe for full scale production. The final product is distilled using pure wheat grain alcohol and ten botanicals including juniper, geranium (which is harvested from Denmark and used fresh), lemon, coriander, cassia, orris root, angelica and liquorice which are steeped for 48 hours prior to distillation.
The nose of Geranium is a soft mix of juniper and floral notes, clear but not overly intense with no suggestion of alcoholic heat, which finishes on a subtle hint of citrus. In the mouth a strong juniper flavour is followed by rose and violet with a touch of sweetness. Juniper emerges once more at the finish along with some citrus and floral notes plus a pleasant hint of bitterness as the over flavours fade. Overall a complex, interesting yet balanced flavour profile, and happily whereas some gins trying to introduce new botanicals move too far away from the usual juniper base, Geranium is unmistakably a true London dry gin. The additional flavour components add to the traditional flavour profile, rather than overwhelming it.
The first drink I try almost every new gin in is the Gin & Tonic, and Geranium didn’t disappoint with the strong juniper backbone creating a punchy G&T that had added dimension thanks to the floral notes from the geranium. A Martini was similarly impressive with a wonderful smoothness, and I found it paired particularly well with the Dolin dry vermouth. The final drink I tried it in was the Aviation – brought to mind because of the violet notes I picked up on when tasting straight. The result was impressive and reminded me why I love the Aviation, though with many more crème de violettes to hand now I really do need to do a recipe comparison at some point.
As you might be able to tell, I really enjoyed Geranium Gin. It plays to my preference for traditionally styled gins while at the same time adding something new and different, and balances the two aspects very well. It’s easy to loose track of all the new gins appearing at the moment but Geranium is one of a handful that really stand out above the noise. Highly recommended.
Note: In the interests of full disclosure, a sample bottle of Geranium gin was supplied to me for review.
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