The evergreen trees from which cassia bark is stripped originated in southern China and have been widely cultivated across Asia. The trees produce long, beautiful leaves and buds that resemble cloves in appearance.
Cassia is a relative of the true cinnamon of Sri Lanka, and is often mis-sold as “cinnamon” in North America (especially in powder form). For those seeking out a food with strong cassia bark flavour to compare – Big Red chewing gum is the perfect example. According to modern studies, the smell of cinnamon increases cognitive processes, so if you want to remember the following, grab a handful and great inhaling…
The use of cinnamon dates to at least 2700 B.C. It was adopted as a treatment for fever and menstrual problems by Chinese herbalists and was even present in the time of the pharaohs, where it was used as part of the mummification process.
While cassia bark emits a fiery scent, it’s a little sweeter than cinnamon. Gin makers use both spices quite commonly, though they are used sparingly. As a botanical it lends a complex base note and a certain feeling of familiarity. Its hot and spicy smell conjures up images of exotic markets and far-flung destinations, but it has an earthy tone and a sweet finish, reminiscent of liquorice. Typically, the flavour is more noticeable towards the finish when tasting gin, as opposed to on the aroma.
Gins where Cassia Bark is noticeable to taste:
Opihr and Bathtub Navy Strength Gin have a noticeable cassia kick, and while it is more nuanced in Langley’s No.8 Gin, there is a distinct cassia on the finish.
…As a dusting come Christmas time, sprinkled over a hot gin punch. Alternatively, a cassia forward gin would ingratiate itself well to a spicy martini, especially when balanced by a grapefruit peel as a garnish.
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