Spanish Gin Bottles Bursting with Regional FlavorBy Stephanie Moreno
If you’ve been served a Gin & Tonic, perhaps you’ve wondered why it’s served in a giant wine goblet—known as a copa—rather than a traditional Collins glass. You can thank Spain for that. Indeed gin is hugely popular in the country. Spanish gin drinkers have taken a special shine to the classic cocktail, which they call GinTonica. Here, the garnish is truly the third ingredient—moving way beyond a simple lemon or lime wedge. As a result, you can expect to see berries, herbs, spices, flowers and more included in the glass.
If you’d like to take your GinTonica to the next level, you might want to see what gins the Spaniards are creating. Spanish gin brands will often feature a range of Mediterranean ingredients such as citrus, olives and other botanicals from the area. Furthermore, grapes rather than grains are often the base of the gin, which makes sense given the landscape. Here are a few Spanish gin bottles that we think are deserving of your attention.
Produced in the Spanish Mediterranean, Gin Mare begins with a barley-based neutral spirit. The botanicals, which include Arbequina olives, thyme, basil and rosemary, are steeped in the spirit and distilled individually. Finally, they are blended together where water and more neutral spirit is added. Bottled at 42.7% ABV.
Gin de Mahón is a style of gin limited to the Spanish island of Menorca. Xoriguer, pronounced “sho-ri-gar,” means “windmill”, which the founder named for his family’s windmill. Production of the gin includes a direct-fire copper pot still and juniper berries which “age” for 2 years near the harbor. The base of the Spanish gin is made from wine using parellada and xarel-lo grapes from the Penedès region, known for its cava. However, other production details and ingredients remain a closely guarded family secret. Before bottling, Xoriguer Gin de Mahón matures in American oak barrels.
The name of this gin was inspired by the northern Atlantic wind, known in Spain as the Nordés. Distilled from locally grown albariño grapes, Nordés Atlantic Galician Gin seeks to differentiate itself from the more common, grain-based gins. Botanicals used include juniper, cardamom, ginger, hibiscus, quinine, ginger and licorice.
La Mallorquina is the traditional olive variety in the Spanish island of Mallorca. However, only a few producers make oil from it, as the trees are centuries old and grow between mountain rocks. GIN EVA uses the olives as a signature botanical, harking back to the long tradition olives have as a cocktail garnish.
Alkkemist Gin is reportedly distilled just 12 times a year when there is a full moon. Using a grain alcohol base, 21 botanicals are included on its fourth distillation. Notably, samphire and muscat grapes are utilized. Other botanicals include fennel, sage, mint, rose petals, rock tea, verbena, and two types of chamomile.
This Spanish gin was created in collaboration with a chef, a mixologist, a sommelier, and a master parfumeur, along with its two founders. It is made using two different distillation methods. The first uses a wheat-base and juniper berries and distillation occurs in a copper pot still. The second involves a Rotaval which uses low-temperature distillation.
Two sets of ingredients are used in the latter method: Mediterranean botanicals which include lemon peel, citron peel, and laurel leaves; and exotic botanicals which include kaffir lime leaves, black cardamom, and coriander seeds. These two sets of botanicals macerate in the distillate before being individually distilled. Then the resulting distillates are blended and bottled at 42.3% ABV.
Gin Volcànic is a gin meant to exemplify La Garrotxa region in northern Spain. Its production is complex, but it involves three macerations including one of green walnuts which remains in alcohol for a year. The other two include a wide range of botanicals such as mint, lemon verbena, sage, cumin, St. John’s wort, orange-flavored hops, venetian lilies, nutmeg and juniper, just to name a few. Interestingly, volcanic stones from the region are added to the still before distillation.
Housed in a striking bottle, this Spanish gin is made using a host of citrus fruits and botanicals. These include juniper berries from eastern Spain, two types of Valencia oranges, Seville lemons, grapefruits, kumquat, mandarine, lime and lemongrass. All are macerated in a base of wheat and barley except the lemongrass which is macerated with water. Then they are distilled in groups and blended.