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Xorigeur Gin


Xoriguer Ditillery (Destilerias Xoriguer), Port of Maó-Mahón, Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain.


Xorigeur and Xorigeur Gin.


Maó-Mahón (previously called Mahón) is the capital city of Menorca (also called Minorca), an island situated in the Mediterranean Sea, found some way off the coast of Barcelona, Spain. The port is one of the largest natural harbors in the world, and as such has always proved to be of great importance, from a naval and military perspective. For this reason it has often found itself occupied by the forces from other nations at one time or another including: Greeks, Romans, Vikings, Arabs, Byzantines, Moors and…the British.

During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701 – 1714) a joint force of Dutch and British captured Menorca from the Spanish in 1708. The British were quick to understand the importance of the port in Mahón for it’s navy and, under the Treaty of Utrecht, gained permanent control of Menorca in 1713. Now, a large British naval garrison stationed on the island requires a large quantity of alcohol to keep them happy – it was a part of their agreed daily pay and rations – not to mention the need to resupply other members of the Royal Navy as they passed by. So, with a Gin craze that was sweeping across England at that time, it meant a large amount of Gin had to be imported to Menorca. It didn’t take long for resident Menorcans to realize a business opportunity when they saw it, and many local distilleries arose to supply the sailors with Gin.

Among the locals to take advantage of the situation was the Pons family who owned a flour mill (powered by a windmill). They set up a distillery and used, with the exception of juniper berries that had to be imported, local ingredients to make Gin. This bustling and booming cottage industry continued, except for a short hiatus when France gained control of the island from 1756 to 1763, up until 1802. At this point in time, Under the Treaty of Amiens Menorca was returned back to Spanish control and, the British Navy departed resulting in the need for Gin production dropping significantly. Although a few distilleries managed to continue operating, many closed down, including the one run by the Pons family.

In 1945 Miquel Pons Justo decided, using the family Gin recipe that had been handed down through the generations, to reestablish the family distillery. Using his home he started making Gin in bulk (stored in trash cans or so we understand!) and before long moved into warehousing space near the harbor to meet growing market demand. By 1963, due to imposed regulations, the distillery changed to bottling their Gin using the recognizable containers as found today.

In 1981, the founder Miquel Pons Justo died, leaving the business to his three daughters. Since this time the company has bought out other distillers in the city, Petit in 1981 and Beltran in 1985, to become the only Gin distillery left operating in Mahón. Today they employ around 30 people and produce about half a million bottles per year, 60% for the local market in the Balearic Islands, with the remaining 40% going to Spain and other countries. Operating distillery tours and sampling from their huge range of flavored spirits, if you find yourself on the island it is worth visiting and enjoying Xorigeur Gin, the official drink of Menorca.


The base spirit is made from grapes sourced from the Penedès region of Spain, specifically Parellada and Xarel-lo varietals, two (out of the three) traditionally used in the production of the Spanish sparkling wine Cava. A combination of this wine alcohol, wine and Mahón water is added to a traditional copper alembic still and results in an almost not existent need to dilute with water to bottling strength post distillation. This combination also allows the juniper to be absorbed in a different way than using grain and creates a Gin smoother and less dry than a traditional London Gin.

The stills are wood-fired; using surplus wood gathered from the systematic maintenance process of the Menorcan forests. The botanicals are vapor-infused with the vapor passing through them numerous times before it is condensed, using cool seawater. Using only natural products, with no additives, each batch takes around 10 hours to complete. The finished distillate is rested for short time in American white oak barrels, where it picks up some flavor but very little color, before being bottled.

The Gin is presented in emerald green colored glass bottles with a distinctive finger loop on the side, at the top. It sports a large yellow colored rectangular label with green and red accents and text plus an image of a windmill. Several other containers are used, primarily on the island, one in a brown shrink-wrapped plastic cover called a “Canet”, and the another in a real stoneware jug, referred to as a “Caneca”.

Please forgive the seasonal music in the following video, unless you are viewing this around Christmas, but it has some good shots of the distillery in operation:


Mahón Gin or Gin de Mahón (previously known as Gin De Menorca or Menorca Gin).

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

38% (76 Proof), and a 41% (82 proof) export version.

Price Range

$$$$. Available in the USA since Fall 2014 and may be found online at: Binny’s Beverage Depot; Astor Wines; K&L Wines or Beltramo’s. International shipping is available from Master of Malt in the UK.


Unknown and are a closely guarded secret, handed down from generation to generation of the Pons family. We believe all the botanicals – except the juniper berries – are sourced locally, from native plants of the island.

The distillery imports over 10 tons of Spanish juniper berries each year, harvested from the wild in the southern Pyrenees Mountains and the areas of Montseny Massif and Teruel. The berries are picked from bushes growing at a height of 2,500 to 3,250 ft (750 – 1,000 meters) above sea level, as these are believed to impart a stronger flavor and aroma. Perhaps unusual in the industry, the distillery ages the berries for 2 years where they shrivel and harden in the salt air from the harbor, creating an intensified aroma and flavor (with just a hint of saline).


Xoriguer, pronounced sho-ri-gair, is the name where the Pons family originally had their flour mill and pays further tribute to this history by using images of the windmill too. This brand name has always appeared on the bottle but in recent years the term Mahón has started to be included. Today “Mahón” has taken center stage to “Xoriguer” and is no doubt in direct relation to the gaining of GI status back in 2010 and increasing public awareness and interest. It may also have been undertaken as part of a longer-term strategy to make the name of their Gin synonymous to the Gin category, just like Plymouth Gin.

Tasting Notes

On the nose are strong floral notes with citrus and juniper plus a hint of liquorice. On the palate the medium bodied grape base is noticeable and has juniper, orange and lemon citrus, sweet spice and a background of floral and herbal nuances (plus saline notes if you can find them!). The finish lingers with floral juniper and citrus plus light peppery notes in the close. An interesting Gin showing excellent craft and degrees of complexity.

Neither velvet smooth nor violently harsh this Gin has some roughness and some smoothness and is a reasonable choice to drink neat. Indeed, local Menorcans can be seen drinking this neat with a separate glass of iced water. This is good in a Gin & Tonic – suggest Fever Tree tonic water - served with a lemon or line garnish, or in a very dry Martini (with an olive garnish) where it dances. However, we are strong believers in following the locals and they have a particular way in which they use Xorigeur – Gin and Lemonade. Called Pomada and believed to have been invented in 1967, they use 1 part Gin to 2 parts real (sparkling) lemonade (although this can be substituted with Lemon Fanta, 7-up, Sprite or any other lemon/lime carbonated drink). A taste of this and you can be transported back to the Mediterranean Island of Menorca anytime you wish.

This Gin has presence and character, it may not be of the highest class but it doesn’t betray it’s obvious workmanship. This has uniqueness in its juniper, managing to be strong but floral rather than bitter, and is highly recommended.

Awards & Accolades

90 Points, Beverage Testing Institute.

Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2015.

Gold Medal, Beverage World’s Awards, 2015.

Triple Gold Medal, Microliquor Spirits Awards, 2014.

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