While gin must be made with juniper, it can include anything else with it and some distillers have used very unusual gin ingredients.
We all know that gin is made using juniper berries and is distilled and flavoured with various botanicals. Most of these we’ve heard of; coriander seeds, fennel, orange peel, etc. Even botanicals that would be unusual in the gin world such as raspberry, elderflower, or thyme (not all in the same bottle) still sound like they’d work in gin. But what about seaweed, lobsters or ants!
The November Gin Explorer box featured probably the most unique gin we’ve ever had. Thompson’s Bordelais Grape Gin is made from a distilled grape base (which is already unusual) and includes caviar as a botanical. Fortunately, it doesn’t taste fishy! The caviar adds a richness that brings the other flavours in the gin together.
Following on from the fish theme is Lobstar gin which does, in fact, contain almost 200 grams of real lobster per bottle. The brainchild of Michelin starred chef Kristof Marrannes from restaurant Ter Leepe, this gin does taste of its namesake but not in the way you’d expect. Lobster bisque is present on the nose and the lobster adds a sweetness to the gin which marries beautifully with the other botanicals, like lemongrass and parsley.
If lobster isn’t your thing, but you do wish your gin contained more of the sea then Da Mhile Seaweed Gin might be for you. Pronounced Da Vee Lay, this gin is produced in Wales and with aromas of lemon and fennel, is the perfect accompaniment to seafood.
Creepy crawlies find their way into the Cambridge Distillery’s Anty Gin. This is produced using Formica rufa, the red wood ant, and each bottle contains the essence of approximately 62 little ants. Why ants? Each ant produces formic acid (a very reactive substance, particularly in alcohol) and combining it with botanicals such as nettles, alexander’s seed and wood avens releases aromas that would not normally come through in the distilling process.
Keeping on the ‘Planet Earth’ theme, how about a gin made with beef? Butchers Gin was created by Belgian butcher’s De Laet & Van Haver. For many years they have been selling a dish consisting of raw beef marinated in gin and spices. Taking inspiration from this, they wanted to see if they could do the reverse, a gin spiced and flavoured with beef. Butcher’s gin is very spicy and should be served with lemon juice, some pink pepper, a whiff of black pepper and some fresh basil.
From cows you get milk…and from milk you get Bertha’s Revenge! This gin takes its base spirit from whey and its name from a legendary cow – Big Bertha who lived to the grand age of 48 and was Mummy Cow to 39 calves. This gin is distilled at Ballyvolane House Spirits and is a tribute to both her longevity and her maternal instincts.
In the slightly less ‘wacky’ bracket we have:
Cucumber gin which is produced by the same company that bought us the Qcumber tonic in this month’s box. Cucumber gin received the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) Silver Award 2016. Essence of an English summer is what we imagine with this gin. And in these cold months we could all do with some summer memories.
This is just a sample of some of the unusual flavours of gin on the market – there’s definitely more to gin than just some juniper berries.