My story with Hernö gin started back in January 2012, before their distillery was built and not even the merest drop of this juniper spirit had been tasted. At the end of November 2012, two bottles arrived on my doorstep (one for me and one to be shared by the Modern Madame of Juniper and the Queen of Gin at the Juniper Society).
Hernö Gin is made in small village of Dala, just outside the City of Härnösand in the Northern part of Sweden, making it the world’s northernmost gin distillery. The gin is made using organic spirit in “Kierstin”, a 250 litre, hand-beaten copper still from Germany. It’s bottled at 40.5%ABV and is made using a mix of 8 botanicals:
#1) On its own
Nose: Juniper and lemon verbena; piney and perfumed.
Taste: Juniper to start and then a full, zesty, jammy and floral combination of orange-coriander, followed by some orange and lemon blossom mixed with lemon balm and verbena. The finish is long and lingering, with plenty of citrus. The citrus and floral notes give this gin a contemporary character, but it’s backed up by plenty of pine. Very enjoyable and a fine gin to enjoy on the rocks.
#2) Gin & Tonic
Really flavourful and very tasty: fresh, crisp, sappy pine and plenty of coriander, as well as some lighter herbal and floral notes. This is crisp and refreshing and reminds me of when I tired Hendricks for the first time – simply superb.
Taste: Lovely – cool and crisp with both some zesty citrus notes and a deep flavour of coriander; the other herbal botanicals stop it from becoming too zesty. There’s also lots of pine on the finish. There are a lot of classic elements to this Martini: it’s clean, cool and crisp, and gives you that Martini woosh! At the same time, it’s a little twist away from a traditional Martini.
Quite sweet, but with lots going on. There’s a hint of lemon balm and lemon verbena, along with low herbal and high floral notes and a fair bit of coriander. Not too bitter, but the familiar Negroni finish is there (although perhaps more dry than bitter). I really like this, a treat to drink.
Floral and herbal notes make this quite unusual. There’s lots of coriander and piney juniper, but, despite the mix, I think that it works surprisingly well; you might do a double-take after the first sip, though.
#6) French ‘75
A rather odd French ‘75: the heavy citrus and coriander combine with the Champagne to create both a very dry and very citrusy drink. This cocktail actually appeals to me quite a bit and, as the sugar cube dissolves, the drink does improve.
Hernö Gin is a great example of how craft gin distilling is moving out across the world, after a concentration in the US and some parts of Europe. It is a gin with a distinctive character and one that reflects the individuality of the distillery and distiller.
Despite the heavier citrus and coriander notes, there is something about the deeper herbal flavours in this gin that sets it apart from the “coriander monsters” of the USA. It makes some unconventional cocktails that some people will think are superb (the Gin & Tonic and Negroni did it for me) and also has a lot of potential for bartenders to experiment with. A great gin with which to launch another year of gin reviews.