One thing that I’m sorry to say that I’ve neglected so far on SummerFruitCup is Spanish Gin. Spain is one of the biggest markets for Gin in the world and, possibly, the biggest for Gin & Tonic (“Gin Tonica”). As a result, there is a great amount of innovation coming from our mediterranean cousins and so I think it’s time to give their gins a closer look.
A lot of the gins currently available in Spain are actually made in UK distilleries, although – typically – they are less readily available in their country of origin. Increasingly, however, gins for the Spanish market are being made in Spain and two of these are the focus for today’s review.
This is going to be a two-part article featuring two gins under the Port of Dragon’s brand from the Destileria Premium. In addition, they also make a 100% Malt Gin, which is designed to be drunk like a single malt whisky: on its own or on the rocks.
PORT OF DRAGONS 100% PURE
Tastes are changing in the worldwide Gin market, with a growing popularity for gins that incorporate new flavours and taste balances to the spirits’ profile. But, despite the rise of this contemporary style of Gin, the market for the classic or traditional styles, full of piney juniper, coriander and citrus, is still strong.
Luckily, Port of Dragons produces gin for both palettes or either occasion. First of all, we will be looking at their classic style of gin: 100% Pure. This uses production techniques that go back to the 18th Century. The spirit is distilled four times through a copper still.
They use malt barley as the base spirit and a list of botanicals is given below. The Juniper comes from a rural area of the Pyrenees and all botanicals have a Guarantee of Origin and Quality “(Denominación de Origen” in Spanish).
Nose: Very herbal, with cardamom, lavender and basil, and also perfumed, floral notes alongside orange, pine and a touch of citrus.
Taste: Soft, with a slight citrus element, followed by herbal notes and a hint of coconut, cardamom. There was some warmth at the end, along with a mix of citrus, tree sap and pine. The finish was medium in length.
#2) Gin & Tonic
Quite bitter, very floral and intense. This is a gin that is actually a bit strong (flavour-wise) for a 2:1 ratio; I found that up-ing it to 3:1 meant that the drink became a lot more balanced. Crisp and refreshing, I thought this would work well with a cardamom distillate.
#3) Dry Martini
Smooth and soft, but nonetheless very flavourful. Floral and herbal, there were substantial green, piney juniper notes, followed by the now familiar cardamom. Whilst this wasn’t a classic Martini, it was still very good and works well with a lemon twist.
This is quite a herbal and floral Negroni with a long finish of piney, sappy juniper. There’s a good bump of cardamom, too. The gin really stood up well to the Campari and Vermouth. Overall, this was an intense and flavourful Negroni; great.
#5) Gin Tonica
This was very enjoyable. The gin seemed more lively and the tonic more crisp than in a normal Gin & Tonic. The high volume of ice helped considerably, too. The cardamom was still there, but more balanced with additional zing. Very good, indeed.
#6) Gin Collins
Initial bursts of cardamom are followed by fresh citrus and some juniper. More floral and herbal than many Gin Collins’, with a distinct hint of rosemary, this was different, but delicious.
#7) Sweet Martini
The sweet vermouth mellows out the high floral elements of the gin, making this a dark and flavourful drink; perfect as an aperitif.
#8) Gin Buck
I mixed this up a little by creating it using the Gin Tonica style in an ice-filled balloon glass. This was a refreshing drink, with the extra citrus and juniper working well alongside the gin. This would be superb to drink outside on a hot, sunny evening.
#9) Pink Gin
Packed full of flavour: floral notes, cardamom and coriander, plus some of the sweeter, spicier botanicals. This was wonderfully complex, with a hint of bitterness at the end.
#10) Gin Old Fashioned
A good way to enjoy the gin. The finer points of the spirit’s character came through more than in the previous drinks: the earthy herbs, spicy cardamon, piney juniper and the higher floral notes. Complex and perfumed.
Thus ends the first part of our feature of Port of Dragons Gin – click here for Part II, 100% Floral.