Rosemary is a woody, perennial herb with needle-like leaves and small blue flowers. Its Latin name, Rosmarinus, translates to “dew of the sea,” a tribute to its Mediterranean origins.
The history of rosemary is somewhat varied, with tales of fairies, witches, death and weddings in its past. Medicinal uses of rosemary have ranged from the logical (rosemary contains an ingredient, carnosic acid, that can combat free radical damage in the brain) to the bizarre (it is one of four components of an elixir used by French thieves during the outbreak of the bubonic plague. They’d douse themselves in an herbal vinegar and plunder the homes of victims with no fear of catching the disease themselves).
Rosemary is a divine smelling herb that is incredibly easy to grow yourself. It’s piney and fresh with a savoury feel, though there is an underlying, perfume-like sweetness. Its use in gin is usually quite understated as it can be a little medicinal, but when it is used well it adds an increased sweetness and a long finish to a gin.
As it tends to dominate, many distillers opt to place it in the vapour chamber (if they have one) during distillation – or use it in such small quantities that proportionately, it is in a smaller dose than other pervasive flavours such as orange peel and even in this low amount, still has a big effect on the end outcome.
Gins where Rosemary is noticeable to taste:
…As a G&T garnish. The herb is a most often distilled with subtlety, so a fresh sprig will really help to bring out the flavour in a herbal gin, but also works perfectly as a garnish to balance particularly orangey gins too.
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