If you're reading this blog then you're aware and hopefully enjoying the juniper led bandwagon that is the current ginaissance! In response to this seemingly insatiable desire for gin, it would have been irresponsible of me as a purveyor of fine wine and spirits, not to have guzzled a boatload of the stuff on your behalf. It's another of my duties here at Whitmore & White that I file under 'it's a tough job, but someone has to do it'.
Unfortunately, far too much of the gin I sample gets filed in another category, that of 'just another gin'. So when I taste a gin that is both unique and of undoubted quality; I get rather excited. Reid + Reid from New Zealand, is the gin that has got me the most excited in the last 12 months.
In its simplest definition, gin is a base spirit (essentially an unfiltered vodka) that is redistilled with juniper and other botanicals. It follows that what you use for your base spirit and the recipe of your botanicals goes a long way to defining the character of your gin. On both these counts Reid + Reid are innovative in their approach and choices.
Firstly, they use a dairy based spirit. The curds and whey are separated and then a particular yeast is used to ferment the whey. Don't worry, the gin doesn't taste of milk, but there is a creamy viscosity that seems to envelop all the complex array of flavours that come courtesy of the unique botanical recipe.
Many of the botanicals used are traditional, with orange peel, cardamom and cassia bark to the fore. The flavour profile is then augmented with three ingredients indigenous to New Zealand, lending some beautiful local character.
Kawakawa leaf is sacred to the Maori and adds a fresh green note as well as some spice. Manuka flowers will be more familiar to you for the delicious honey made by the bees that pollinate them. Here, the floral sweetness and gingery warmth just adds to the bonhomie before the Horopito peppers add a touch of spice to stop things getting too easy listening.
Reid + Reid achieves the noble feat of being complex and yet accessible. I've shown it at many gin tastings this year and it's almost always the favourite of the evening. Many guests comment that it's super smooth texture, make it one of the few gins they could drink neat. As a G&T I always recommend no garnish, there's more than enough characters to investigate, so no further plot twists (particularly of the lemon variety!) are necessary. Unlike that joke, it's not cheap, but it is worth it.