Bottle watchers, rejoice. LE TRIBUTE Gin is on the way and it is arguably one of the most beautiful things we’ve ever seen.
Two years of hard graft went into producing LE TRIBUTE Gin, with as much time and consideration put into the packaging as it was into the liquid. The bottle – designed to look like an old medicine container– is sonnet worthy. It’s a light green, tapered rectangular shape, formed of crimped glass and topped off with a square, copper screw cap. It is worthy of worship; a bottle to store at the front of your gin cabinet, evocative of ancient, perfumed tinctures.
LE TRIBUTE Gin is the freshest release to pour from the stills of Destilierias MG, a family run distillery in Vilanova, a quaint fishing village based around 50km from Barcelona. The distillery, established by the Giro family in 1835, is one of the oldest in Spain. LE TRIBUTE’s branding is no doubt inspired by the distillery’s history, as it spent its first hundred years creating syrups and medicines.
While the distillery’s industry may have changed, the family behind it remains the same. Five generations of Giros have stood behind the stills at Destilierias MG, transferring their distilling knowledge from father to son, on and on.
Back in 1940, then Master Distiller Manuel Giro created Gin MG, which remains to this day one of Spain’s best selling domestically made spirits. Manuel Sr’s grandsons, Marc and Manuel Jr, are now at the helm, and while they could happily have ridden the Gin MG train for years to come they were keen to get involved in the modern gin wave, specifically placing a focus on the super premium market. Their first foray into high end was a resounding success, with the fantastically transporting Gin Mare making a huge splash when it was released in 2007.
Almost a decade on, with the gin wave still in full surge, the brothers decided it was time for another product – this time with a matching tonic to boot. LE TRIBUTE Gin (a tribute, by the way, to the pioneers, processes and heritage behind spirits – the LE stands for liquid experience) was born.
From the off, the gin was designed to take distilling down an adventurous new path, especially when it came to the recipe. “It wasn’t a matter of picking ingredients,” marketing manager Gonzalo Zalbidea explains. “We wanted to challenge ourselves to always be more different, but without denying the essence of our products, our traditions as gin producers and our values as a family company.”
The recipe is a complicated one, with seven distillations in total making up LE TRIBUTE Gin’s final bottling. The first is juniper, the second is lime, the third is kumquat, the fourth is lemon, pink grapefruit and green grapefruit, the fifth is tangerine, the sixth is cardamom, bitter and sweet oranges and lemons and the seventh is lemongrass. All distillations, bar the latter, take place in wheat spirit, but the lemongrass is a hydrosol – with water used in place of spirit to maintain its freshness. All distillates are blended, then cut down to bottling strength of 43% ABV.
LE TRIBUTE Gin to taste…
LE TRIBUTE Gin has an incredibly bright, citrus nose. It’s fleshy and fruity, with the lime, lemon, grapefruit and orange all contributing, while the tangerine in particular bringing a deliciously decadent boiled sweet smell to the fore.
Juniper and lemongrass conspire to form a green, grassy and herbal bed upon which the citruses lay. The fruits are never present in their individual form, rather they’ve combined and mutated into a hulk-sized monster – something huge, loud and aggressive. It fills the senses – if James and the Giant Peach was about a lemongrass and tangerine hybrid, sipping this is as close as you’ll ever feel to being the titular character. The juniper is forced into the background as a result but it still plays a palpable role in anchoring the overall flavour profile.
With tonic, a rich grapefruit smell remains, though the rest of the citrus is slightly muted. This translates to the taste, too; when diluted, the spirit seems to expand sideways, allowing the juniper and lemongrass to bob up to the surface and make brief, but welcome, appearances. It’s really quite delicious – one to quaff in the garden on a warm summers day.
Zalbidea suggests serving the a LE TRIBUTE Gin and Tonic with a grapefruit twist, but in our opinion, the citrus needs no help expressing itself. We’d go for buckets of ice and a handful of juniper berries to highlight the subtle classic elements, or a sprig of mint to take the gin in a cooling summer-time sipper direction.
The light use of juniper is interesting here, and very intentional. Zalbidea explains why they chose to use just a teasing amount of the botanical: “We do not want to renounce juniper as other new ‘gins’ are doing, but we do want to achieve a liquid that can surprise the experienced gin drinker and that is easy enough to drink for a person who is just entering the category.”
This is probably the most pertinent point to make about LE TRIBUTE Gin. It’s not a classic gin, but its not entirely bonkers either and the bottle is desirable enough to make anyone give it a go. It’s a non-gin drinkers gin as much as it is a gin-drinkers gin and would make for a great gift regardless of the liquid inside. The liquid, happily, is a citric, sherbet treat.
In our opinion, the tour de force with the gin is not just the fresh zesty nature of the overall profile, nor from a flavour perspective is it a story about another progressive gin that hasn’t strayed too far. It is the way that the lemongrass has been surrounded by citrus. So often distillers counter lemongrass or sharp citrus with heavy lashings of spice, whereas in LE TRIBUTE Gin, the team have managed to balance the two against each other and in doing so have created something quite unique.
The LE TRIBUTE range also has a Mezcal (in a twin purple bottle) and a tonic, the latter of which was designed in parallel with the gin. (The lemongrass distillate used in the spirit also features in the mixer, which gives both a port point at which they can connect and combine.)
Destilierias MG is currently seeking UK distribution and we’re pretty confident when we say it won’t take long for them to find it. In the age of Instagram, this is up there with Isle of Harris Gin as amongst the most photogenic gins on the market. People will spot it on a back bar and they’ll display it proudly in their homes. Just remember not to simply covet it and actually drink it if you do get hold of a bottle, because it’s damn fine liquid!
For more information about LE TRIBUTE visit the website: www.letribute.com
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