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Review

Geranium Gin

Distillery

Henrik Hammer of Hammer & Son Ltd., Frederiksberg (a district but separate town of Copenhagen), Denmark and made by Langley Distillery, Birmigham, England, UK.

Website

Geranium Gin.

History

Danish born Henrik Hammer is a Gin aficionado (his mother used to run a tapas bar in Copenhagen which became famous for its Gin), an accredited Gin judge (IWSC: International Wine & Spirit Competition) and runs tastings and seminars about Gin. Perhaps not too strangely, Henrik discovered things about Geranium (a flowering plant) and the famous mixed drink: Gin & Tonic.

On a basic approach, Henrik believes the leaves of the Geranium have a similar aroma to a G&T. Upon closer inspection, the oils from the leaves were found to contain: citronelol, geraniol, geraniol formate, linalool and rose oxide. For those of us not chemically inclined these are all commonly found in fruit, vegetables and spices and thus found in many of the botanicals used in the production of Gin. Henrik concluded with the help of his chemist father Hans, this would prove a good botanical to use in Gin, and should go well with a large variety of drink mixers. Henrik and Hans (who had worked in the perfume (and food) industry for decades) set about extracting the natural oils from Geranium’s into a spirit, using a 5-liter copper pot still. This took several months working during the evenings before they discovered the best method to prepare, steep and distil the Geranium leaves.

Having the basic formula for their Gin they brought in the skills of the Master Distiller Rob Dorsett at Langley Distillery in Birmingham, England. Finally ready for production, it is sad to report Hans did not live to see their first commercial version of the Gin come off the bottling line (hence the use of Hammer & Son Ltd. label, in memory of their work together). The Gin was launched in the fall of 2009 in Denmark, followed by many other European countries in the following 12-18 months. It was released in the USA and Canada during 2011 and is slowly beginning to break into these markets.

Production

Henrik Hammer harvests the Geraniums personally in Denmark because there are wide variations in oil concentration, depending upon the conditions: type of soil used, age of the plants and the season. He carefully monitors the growing and processing before sending the Geranium to the distillery in England each year (usually around July).

The base spirit is made using English wheat grain and the 10 botanicals are steeped for 48 hours in No. 6 still before being distilled. This small 3,000-Liter 100-year-old John Dore pot still is affectionately called Constance, after Rob Dorsett’s late mother.

The Gin is presented in a clear rectangular bottle with simple but elegant black screen-printed writing.

Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

44% (88 Proof).

Price Range

$$$ - $$$$. Not readily available in the USA but try Market View Liquor or Zachys both based in New York.

Botanicals

10 botanicals are used including: angelica root, cassia bark, coriander, geranium, juniper berries, lemon peel, liquorice, orange peel and orris root (plus one undisclosed).

Name

Named after the key botanical used.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is light juniper (pine), citrus (lemon) and floral (geranium) notes. On the palate this smoothly soft, full-bodied and lightly sweet (liquorice and orange) spirit has strong crisp juniper and citrus (coriander and lemon) with spicy herbal aromatic floral (geranium) notes. In the close the juniper, citrus and floral notes continue with a long fresh bitter and light peppery dry finish. This is a well-balanced and nicely made Gin, giving the impression of being simple whilst being complex (some of us picked up hints of bergamot (earl grey tea), nutmeg, rose and violets).

Whilst this has floral notes (some may be concerned and even turned off by the name alone), it is first and foremost a traditional London Dry Gin – and is certainly true to the creators’ intentions, where the geranium adds rather than distracts. In a Gin & Tonic despite the softness it is not overpowered by the bitter tonic and the Gin still shines through beautifully, we haven’t found any tonic water it doesn’t go well with (even the ubiquitous Schweppes). When it comes to a Martini a similar story unfolds, the Gin excels mixing with the Vermouth like they were made for each other – and we tried a few different Vermouths! Hammer & Son expected it to mix well and it does so with aplomb, we particularly like Aviation, Martinez, Pink Gin and Tom Collins cocktails – this is a truly multifaceted Gin.

As you can tell, we liked Geranium Gin and whilst those who do not like floral Gins might differ they should still give this one a try. It is certainly in our top 20, maybe even our top 10 and can only conclude by saying do not be put off by the seemingly low level of awards, it is very highly recommended.

Awards & Accolades

Gold Medal, World Spirits Award, 2010.

Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2010.

Bronze Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2010.



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