I first tried Iceberg Gin three years ago at the Distill Drinks Show in London. I also tried the vodka and the rum made by the same company, but it was the gin that interested me: it was so smooth. Sadly, I didn’t hear much about this intriguing gin for a long time, until now. Iceberg Gin has been available at a limited number of specialist off-licences for a few months, but in September it will be launched in the UK at the London Boutique Bar Show.
I recently had a trans-Atlantic conversation with David Hood of Iceberg and he filled me in on some details on their gin. It’s safe to say that Iceberg Gin is all about the water, or the purity of the water. The water source for the gin comes from icebergs in the North Atlantic, off of Newfoundland. David told me that the water in the ice was up to 15,000 times purer than usual spirit water sources, with fewer pollutants and contaminates, leading to a better blend of flavours and a smoother taste.
Before you start thinking that someone is smashing up icebergs for ice, I’d like to reassure you that the ice actually comes from small pieces that have broken off from the main bergs. These pieces soon melt into the sea and are in what are called “death throws”.
The gin spirit base is 100% corn (meaning it is gluten-free) and I am told that a single 25ml serving of the gin contains only 67 calories.
What about the botanicals?
Juniper Berry (Canada)
Angelica Root (Northern Europe)
Orris Root from Central USA
During my conversation with David Hood, I asked him how he likes his Gin & Tonics and, given the emphasis of the water supply for the gin, what ice cubes did he use? He then told me about a recipe that his wife uses, where she keeps the gin and the glass in the freezer and the tonic and lemon well chilled, thus negating the need for ice.* This inspired me to try a range of drinks, all well-chilled without ice.
Light and dry on the nose, with notes of juniper, citrus and a little earthiness. Very soft and smooth, with juniper, a touch of floral, earthy flavours and hints of angelica and orris.
From the freezer, the neat gin is even smoother than at room temperature and became slightly viscous. There were some hints of the botanicals and a little residual warmth; in this form, it starts to bridge the gap between gin and vodka.
Delicious and ice-cold (even with no ice). Pure, clean & fresh. Some juniper and citrus, and a touch of bitterness. This is one of the best Gin & Tonics that I’ve had and is easily the best since I tried Xoriguer with tonic. The flavours of the gin came through well, with some floral and herbal notes. It was very easy to drink.
Quickly finished, this was rather brilliant, and it’s not often that I get a surprise from a G&T.
For this Martini, I used a rinse of Dolin Dry Vermouth. The resultant cocktail was very smooth, clean, crisp and clear. There was a little juniper, but not too much. It was enjoyable and quite a lot like the vodka-based version; it sits neatly between vodka and gin martinis.
Delicious, penetratingly cold, with a well-mixed flavour. There was a light, creamy sweetness followed by bitter herbal flavours. This was an absolutely top notch Negroni and very easy to drink.
The following drinks were served with ice.
Quite soft & fresh, but the gin is a little overpowered by the lime cordial. This isn’t a bad drink, but isn’t a good example of a Gimlet and definitely not the best way to enjoy the gin.
Lots of flavour but not too sweet. A very refreshing drink but the gin is a little hidden beneath the other flavours. Still, a tasty drink.
Postmaster (gin & ginger ale)
Really nice citrus and juniper from the gin and sweet ginger from the ginger ale. Very refreshing and surprisingly lemony.
I think Iceberg is a very fine, smooth gin and whilst it may not be as botanically intense as some of it’s contemporaries it is still and excellent gin. For me it really came into it’s own for the super-chilled or “frozen” drinks I tried.
Without a shadow of a doubt the best drink was the Gin & Tonic. If there was a second place it would be awarded to the Negroni.
Special thanks to David, Goran & Darren of Iceberg for their help
* My guess (and that’s all this is) is that the coriander comes from Russia. Plymouth source their coriander from here; it is smaller than the seeds typically used in cooking and has a more citrus, rather than spicy, taste.
** David did tell me that he once used chips from the iceberg he harvests for his water supply in a Gin & Tonic; he thought this produced a superb drink. As the ice melts, carbon dioxide and oxygen are released, which help to keep the drink cool and softens the gin even further.