In Spain, gin is the third preferred alcoholic beverages, after whiskey and liqueurs, with almost 20% of the total, according to data from the Spanish Spirits Federation for 2019.
Although it seems that the boom of gin and tonics Lately it has peaked –consumption has fallen by around 2% in the last three years–, the truth is that new Spanish gin brands with roots in the field continue to appear.
Gin is a distillate that is flavored with nebrina, the juniper berry. It usually has an alcohol content of between 37.5º to 47º and the base alcohol, which comes from cereals or beets, is distilled in stills, usually made of stainless steel.
Juniper, then, is the essential ingredient that defines a gin, but from there, the rest of the botanicals – plants, fruits, roots – that are infused in the base alcohol will give different and unique aromatic profiles. And this is where “local” gin comes in. Although some carry certain botanicals from remote corners, the choice of ingredients typical of an area are what give the essence of a Spain gin. It may be just a touch or it may be that the entire bottle – design included– exudes its own identity, but the end result is a distillate that ends up becoming a hallmark.
Today it is possible to find a gin made in practically all the autonomous communities of Spain. And there are even some that reflect the character or identity of a city. So much so that the act of ordering a specific gin can be a declaration of belonging, although we are sure that it will never reach the level of adherence enjoyed by the local football team.
Data from the online sales platform Drinks & Co indicate that Nordés gin was the most sold in Spain and in other European countries such as Germany or Italy in 2020. This gin has become a Galician icon, since it uses the mythical Albariña white grape. It is a fresh and smooth gin of which among its eleven botanicals, six are wild of Galician origin: sage, lemon verbena, bay leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus and even a seaweed, salicornia. An Atlantic profile with which its creators, the winemaker Juan Luis Méndez and the sommelier and Nariz de Oro 2004, Xoan Cannas, were looking for a gin “that would remind them of where they are from.” Come on, you can drink Galicia in a gin and tonic.
Xoriguer Mahon Gin
In Menorca, gin has its own unique history. 300 years ago, the island was under British influence. And as is well known, the English are the kings of gin. So they took their favorite drink to Menorca and the islanders knew how to take advantage of it: they created a local variety, with flowers and botanicals from the area, the best known being the one created by the Fornero family, one of the traditional distilleries of the Port of Maó. This heritage is maintained today by Gin Xoriguer, which already in the 20th century began to bottle and commercialize the gin made by Menorcan artisans since the 18th century. In fact, today the Gin of Mahón has its own Geographical Indication seal.
In Menorca, Xoriguer gin “runs” through two channels: English tourists, loyal to their gin & tonic, and Menorcans themselves, who have their national drink in sa Pomada, a classic of popular festivals that combines gin and lemon.
Puerto de Indias
The ‘Puerto de Indias’ distillery is a leader in the pink gin category. Yes, there is such a category. Its Puerto de Indias gin has its most emblematic botanical in strawberry, and it is a sweet and fruity gin with a very Barbie Lover pink color. But in addition to this, at the end of 2019 they launched another gin even more deeply rooted in the land, called Guadalquivir. This flavored gin has peach, orange and elderflower and, according to its creators, “is inspired by the natural wealth of the Guadalquivir valley”. With a citric and fruity profile and an orange hue, Guadalquivir has Sevillian DNA and a bottle inspired by the Torre del Oro.
Ginraw Gastronomic Gin
If we resort to topics, we can define Barcelona as a cosmopolitan, open and avant-garde city. Well, the topics in this case help. A review of the most outstanding gins that have seen the light in the city of Barcelona respond to this definition. Gin Raw is defined as a gastronomic gin “with the essence and fragrance of our city”. Prepared by the perfumer Rosendo Mateu, the chef Xano Saguer, the mixologist Javier Caballero and the sommelier Sergi Figueras, they created it with the intention of transferring the gastronomic and culinary culture of Barcelona to it.
Modernessia, the gin of bartender Alberto Pizarro –’Bobby Gin ‘, Barcelona– is a Mediterranean-style herbal, floral and citrus gin with a label design inspired by the aesthetics of Barcelona. The latest to arrive is Llevant, a London Dry cut gin created by the ‘Corpen’ distillery. It is an artisanal distillery founded in the Poble Nou neighborhood by a Colombian, Pablo Barrera, and an American, Brian Burgess, two lovers of Barcelona who were amazed to see that the city did not have “its own artisan gin.”
NUT London Dry Gin
In the heart of the Empordà, in a small town called Vulpellac, Gin Nut was born: a London Dry-style artisan gin that collects part of the landscape of this fertile and fortunate land between the sea and the Pyrenees. Its hallmarks are the Mediterranean spices that occur in the forests of the area and it even has the essence of olive leaves. Come on, if you can’t go on vacation to the Costa Brava, you can always have a gin and tonic with this soft and aromatic gin.
The most vinous of gins is the work of José Luis Navarro, founder of ‘Basque Moonshiners’, who makes, among other things, the very original Satibasque bitters based on cannabis root. Of course, in this distillery they are not daunted by the challenges, and the latest invention is the gin that they have made for the ‘Astobiza’ winery, with the same name. It is a London Dry-style gin, quite dry and 100% Basque, which last year won the award for the best Spanish London Dry at the World Gin Awards 2020.
The most curious thing is that, to its barley-based alcohol, they add a series of ingredients from the vineyards of Finca Astobiza. Navarro explains that practically everything is used, “from the vine’s leaf and tendril, the green, ripe and raisin grape, to the txakoli itself.” The rest of the botanists are also from the province (lemons, grapefruits, strawberries from Álava and the juniper itself from the Ayala valley). To round off its wine essence, during the txakoli fermentation process, the aroma is extracted and synthesized into a kind of essential oil that is added to the gin before the maceration phase. He does not surprise us, then, that they call it “terroir gin”.
Monti London Dry Gin
Very close to the Sierra de Guadarrama Natural Park is the artisan distillery that produces the Monti gin. This Madrid gin is made with water from the mountains itself –with very low mineralization– and other botanicals from this privileged enclave, and is distilled in small batches in copper stills. Monti’s rise in popularity is more than supported, as he has clinched the silver medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2021, probably the most demanding contest in the world of spirits. We know that people in Madrid wear spectacular teeth thanks to the quality of their water … or is it because of the quality of their gin?