Cocktails with… Le Tribute Gin

Le Tribute is produced by Destilierias MG, which is a family-run distillery that was founded in 1835. The distillery is located in Vilanova, a village in Catalonia around 30 miles west of Barcelona.

The gin, bottled at 43% ABV, is made by individually distilling botanicals and blending the distillates together.

The following botanicals are distilled with wheat spirit:

Juniper
Lime
Kumquat
Pink & Green Grapefruit
Tangerine
Cardamom
Sweet & Bitter Oranges

Also lemongrass, which is usually distilled with water, rather than alcohol. This is because the flavours and aromas are soluble in water; water also helps to keep the fresh character of the botanical.

Le Tribute Gin Bottle FINAL

On its own
Nose: A wide array of citrus notes: lime, lemon, orange and then the blossom of tangerine or mandarin intermingled with a touch of vanilla.
Taste: A clean and smooth spirit with a finely tuned character and delightful citrus notes: this has a complex symphony of flavours, but the citrus does not overpower the other botanical notes such as juniper, coriander or angelica. This is a superb example of how a gin can be taken in a new, contemporary direction without losing the core of what gin is about.

Le Tribute Gin with Le Tribute Tonic
So vibrant, so fresh, so citrusy – this drink is so bright and exciting that there is really no need for a garnish at all. It is as if the gin has a “built in garnish”, it is that flavoursome. A succulent and refreshing Gin & Tonic with subtle spiced notes and no cloying finish at the end. Simply sublime!

Gin & Tonic
This makes a zesty and crisp Gin & Tonic, even when paired with a more basic tonic water than the one specifically designed for the gin. This pairing is not as a good as the bespoke one, but is nonetheless very good, with lots of lingering, but refreshing citrus notes.

Le Tribute GinTonic FINAL

Martini
A beautifully fresh and zesty Martini: crisp and invigorating flavours of lemon, lime and orange, before a lightly floral note of pine blossom with a hint of plum-like jamminess at the end. Rich, intriguing and rather yummy.

Negroni
A delightful Negroni: the complex array of flavours in the gin really lifts the drink, giving it a real liveliness, whilst the sweet, floral jammy notes like those of kumquat and tangerine add a fruitiness that takes the edge off of the bitter Campari. A lovely drink to sip on a terrace before dinner.

With Cola
This is one of the best Gin & Colas that I have ever had: the bright citrus notes are brought forward, giving the drink a beautiful vibrancy, full of lively zesty notes and a crisp, clean finish. Exceptionally refreshing – a must try!

Le Tribute Tonic Bottle FINAL

The Le Tribute tonic water bottles, just as attractive as the gin bottle.

In general we don’t talk too much about packaging on here, but with Le Tribute, the beauty of the bottle has to mentioned, although it largely speaks for itself. It might sound bizarre, but it’s a real joy to pour from this bottle and have it beside you as you sip. Everything is high quality, especially the copper-look cap. What is really exciting, though, is that the quality of the spirit inside the bottle is as good as the quality of the bottle.

In Conclusion
I think that La Tribute is superb gin – one of the best I’ve tried in the last 12 months. It has a great brightness and zest; whilst being packed full of citrus is remains balanced enough to be easily discernible as a gin. All of the drinks were superb, but I think the Gin & Tonic was my favourite.

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The Gin & Tonic of… THE FUTURE!

A fair bit has been written about the history of the Gin & Tonic and I’ve written previously on its variations, but what you see less of in blind speculation is regarding its future! So I’ve peaked at the tea leaves and carefully analysed the shapes formed by the condensation on my cocktail shaker to provide some suggestions.What follows is a list of three tonic innovations behind which I have noticed have a growing following.
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Pioneers: 6 O'Clock Gin and its Companion Tonic Water

Pioneers: 6 O'Clock Gin and its Companion Tonic Water

1) Companion Tonics

This is where a gin producer also creates a tonic water that has been specially designed to harmonise and be the perfect partner to their juniper spirit.I first heard about this from Michael of Bramley & Gage with his 6 O’Clock Gin and I’m pleased to have been one of the first to write about it on this very site. That was a year ago and since then the popularity of the drink and the concept, as well as its availability, has increased. There have been a few enhancements of the packaging and the tonic is now available in a handy four-pack of individual bottle serves.

When combined, 6 O’Clock Gin and 6 O’Clock Tonic create a soft, yet flavourful drink, which is probably one of the most relaxing Gin & Tonics I have ever had. That is not to say that it doesn’t have much flavour, as there is, without a doubt, a distinctive mix of juniper and quinine. It really is very good.

Gin Mare and 1724 Tonic Water

Gin Mare and 1724 Tonic Water

Since then, the idea has taken of a little, with rumours of other boutique gins following suit. The folks behind Gin Mare have brought out 1724 Tonic and, whilst not designed solely for Gin Mare, its mixability with this gin was a consideration.

Broker’s Gin (who seem to be on a bit of an award-winning roll of late) have a companion tonic water available in Spain. This isn’t actually created/produced by Broker’s, but rather by a third party that decided to do to it on their behalf, with the gin company’s blessing. I’ve yet to try it, but am looking forward to doing so.

Eighteen months ago, there were no companion tonics and now there are at least three, with more in development; this is a trend if ever I saw one.

Broker's Gin, Spanish G&T Goblet and the Tonic Water

Broker's Gin, Spanish G&T Goblet and the Tonic Water


2) Tonic Syrup

A bottle of John's Premium Tonic Water Syrup

A bottle of John's Premium Tonic Water Syrup

This comes in two forms: in-house bar creations and commercial products, but the premise is the same in both instances: you take a quinine tonic syrup and then mix it with soda water to create your tonic water. Various bars create their own now, although I first encountered it in Purl.
There was a limited run of a Battersea Quinine cordial made by Hendricks, which was a similar concept.

But, interestingly enough, it has been in America where this idea has really taken off; I have already reviewed John’s Premium Tonic Water and one by Tomr. I am also aware of one made by The Jacy Rudy Cocktail Co. and there are probably others. One of the advantages of creating these as concentrated syrup is that it is easier, cheaper and greener to ship (250ml will make a litre and half of tonic), but also it means that it can be shipped further without the tonic loosing its fizz.
A third advantage is that you can use the syrup in other drinks such a Purl’s GT Turbo.

All of the various tonic syrups I have tried have been brown in colour, creating an orange-brown tonic water when mixed. They also tend to be more bitter and more herbally intense than other tonic waters, but, as someone with a palette accustomed to the flavour of quinine, I quite like this. Here is my favourite Tonic syrup cocktail.

With a plethora of home-made recipes also available, people have started to make their own non-quinine syrups and as even the Wall Street Journal has picked up on this trend, yet again I feel that this is a development well-worth watching.


3) “Final Touch” Gin & Tonic


An innovation from the gin-drinking country of Spain, this was pioneered using Sacred Gin and distillates; the idea was initially relayed to me by Ian and Hilary of Sacred. The premise is simple: you make a Gin & Tonic (something like a 3:1 ratio, tonic:gin) and then layer 5-10ml of botanical distillate on top of the drink. This results in a double drinking sensation and more intense drink: firstly, you get the nose of the distillate and then, on tasting, you get a burst of that flavour, followed by the usual fresh Gin & Tonic flavours. As the two layers reduce proportionately as you drink, the effect remains until the end.

I made up a Gin & Tonic with Sacred 47%ABV Gin and Waitrose Tonic Water – 1 part gin to 3 parts tonic – and then added 10ml of distillate on top.

i) Grapefruit
Initially, the nose is more subtle, with a hint of extra citrus. In terms of taste, there’s some fresh citrus to start with, followed by strong, clean juniper and a dry bitterness from the tonic. Although the pink grapefruit is there, it seems to accentuate the juniper more than anything.

ii) Cardamon
There’s an initial scent of cardamon; this is repeated at the start of the taste, then the more refreshing Gin & Tonic notes come through; juniper, citrus and quinine flavours are rounded off with a finish of dry juniper and a lingering hint of cardamon. This is my favourite “Final Touch” Gin & Tonic. From speaking to Ian of Sacred the general public seem to share my opinion.

iii) Cassia Bark
Very lightly louched at the top. There’s a warm, creamy earthiness at the start, followed by a more mellow Gin & Tonic. Rather than being a distinct, separate flavour, the cassia flows into the G&T to create a much softer drink.

This is a trend in its infancy, but awareness of it in the UK is growing and both Mrs. B and I think that it’s great; I hope it continues.

UPDATE: Since this article was posted last week lots of folks have mentioned this to me and how much they like it. I know it was tried out at a very consumer-focused tasting with great success. It seems it’s moving along more than I thought.

Large bottles of some of the distillates are now available here.

In Conclusion

These are just three possible future ways that the classic gin drink could progress; there are others, and if you think of any, please let us know, but I wholeheartedly believe that they all have their merits and I’d like to see them all succeed. The future certainly looks bright for this 200 year old drink.