Dry Gins for Summer
Before you wince at the very idea of ‘seasonal ginning’ let us just state that we hear you when you say that any good gin is a year round love affair. We get it. If a distiller has made a beautiful, juniper forward gin that transitions through flavours and balances botanicals alongside one another, it’ll be a treat no matter when you serve it.
That said, there’s something nice about changing it up from season to season, to try something different and be a little more adventurous than usual without tipping too far into the one-time-only kind of fare. With this in mind, we thought we’d put together a list of gins that taste delicious 365 days a year, but which really come into their own over the summer months.
Pink, but definitely still gin.
Pink Gins don’t necessarily mean uni-flavoured and sickly sweet. There’s now a whole range of gins that lean into the fruit, have a pink hue and that are filled with lighter botanicals while also being clearly being GIN.
If this sounds like the kind of gimmick free pink gin you like, our advice is to seek out two things in particular on the label; full strength 40% ABV or more, no added sugar. With those two cornerstones, you are in with a chance of discovering gins that have a clear flavour journey, more than one lead note and that allows the spirit to subside into a dry finish.
If you are looking for some suggestions (there are many that fit the bill) try Mirabeau Gin with its touch of rose and jasmine balanced by herbs and a splash of their rosé wine, Salcombe Rosé Sainte Marie which combines lighter floral blossom notes with strawberry & Pinkster Gin with its raspberry and herbal duo. They are three pink beauties that do manage to balance fruit, colour and underlying gin particularly well.
Some alternative suggestions
If a pink coloured gin is a shade too far for your glass and you prefer to have 100% of the flavours distilled into the spirit, rather than infused after, here’s three really unique gins that absolutely shine a this time of year.
Hernö Pink Bottle Gin takes the idea of the fruity pink gins and matches strawberry and rose with a good dose of black pepper and a resinous juniper lead. It’s a fantastic dry gin irrespective of the season, but when garnished with some fresh strawberries – it’s a stellar combination for garden sipping.
Porter’s Tropical Old Tom uses passion fruit, guava and white tea with superb effect to bring a sense of exoticism into your glass. Try it with some pineapple as a garnish in a G&T, or in classic cocktails for a tropical twist.
Harder to find but worth seeking out from specialists is Komasa Sakurajima Komikan Gin. It’s a Japanese gin made from a rise base (prominent in the overall flavour) and three botanicals. Juniper and coriander form the heart but it’s heavily leaned towards a tiny citrus – a local mandarin orange called the Sakurajima komikan. They are only 4 to 5 centimetre when at full size but they pack a huge fragrance. It’s an unusual citrus to come across and with the rice base and coriander seed also big flavours, makes for an unconventional profile that delivers a refreshing hit over the hotter months. Serve it with soda for the full effect.
Escapism in a glass
It’s a good thing that flavours can be transportive given the lockdown and quarantine restrictions affecting so many.
If you want to pretend you are somewhere else or just reminisce about the times abroad with a sensory cue in front of you, have a look at serving up gins like Gin Mare or Gin Eva’s La Mallorquina to bring the Mediterranean to you.
They are so filled with herbaceous savoury deliciousness (think rosemary, olives and thyme) that you can’t help but feel like you are there. Both are exceptional in Negroni’s alongside a platter of olives and cured meat – surely the ultimate aperitivo time combination over the Summer to… If it’s still not working for you and need a little bit more of a visceral hit to transport you to location, charge yourself €18 euros for the privilege for your own drink and it’ll be like being on the coast in no time!
How about for those who spend the warmer month in colder climes instead?
Well, the British coast is easily found in gins, especially via Dà Mhìle Seaweed or Isle of Harris with their use of seaweed (turbo charged in the likes of An Dúlamán who use several varieties in theirs). Accentuate them with a dash of saline solution in a G&T or go briny with your Martinis to amp up the impact.
If you don’t want to change the gin, you can just change the tonic!
If you’re not in the market for a new gin, don’t worry, you can still tilt your evening tipple towards a summary mix. Cabinet essentials with booming classic flavours are the perfect choice here, so pick up the Beefeater’s, Botanists’ and Tanqueray’s of the world and simply change the tonic to a flavoured alternative.
Not only is it the cheapest way to experiment with summer flavours, it also gives you the most variety to pick from too, as there’s now a range of mixers that are sold by the bottle.
Several brands have an elderflower, a yuzu or a grapefruit tonic – ideal for a refreshing drink on a hot day, but there’s also and a huge spectrum of sodas and unique mixers can pack a lot of seasonal flavours in your glass. Try Fever-Tree’s White Grape and Apricot Soda or Sekford’s raspberry tinged gin mixer for starters.
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