- Food & Drink
When is a gin not a gin? When it has an ABV of less than 37.5%. The 2008 EU Spirit Drinks Regulations (surely everyone’s favourite European Regulation) defines gin as a drink that has a predominately juniper flavour and a retail ABV of 37.5%. They actually list three types of gin. There’s Gin, which I probably knew as GIN when I was a student and which can be drunk or used to de-ice a car; Distilled Gin, the staple of a basic night out; and London Gin, which is nice and deserves to be stored in a globe-shaped bar, ready for an evening of cocktails and Twiglets.
And then there is Minus 33. Minus 33 is a juniper spirit with an ABV of 33%. The side effect of this low ABV is that Minus 33 is lower in calories than gin – 46 calories per serving compared to 56-70 calories in a shot of gin. As I stare mournfully at my party clothes and know that yes, this year, I will have to go to the office christmas party in sweat pants and an XXXL t-shirt, I’m thinking that saving 10-24 calories per round could be exactly what I need. It’s the healthy choice that will help me get back into hot pants.
But will I like it? There is only one way to find out: sit on my sofa in sweat pants and drink enough Minus 33 till I have formed a solid opinion and then forgotten it.
Day or night gin? It’s 33%. I’m thinking it. You’re thinking it. We’re all thinking it: breakfast gin. Or, breakfast gin-like spirit.
What does it smell of? A subtle, chill waft of juniper and lemon emerges from the glass. My first thought was that it smelled like unboxing a frozen lemon meringue pie. The Sara Lee kind that we used to heat up for parties in the 1980s. The smell of artic fluffiness, sharp-sweet citrus and, weirdly, feet. I loved those pies.
What does it taste of? There is a prickle to this gin-like spirit. A chew of pine, a powdery dose of talc (I think this is the lavender and elderflower, which also accounts for the foot smell) and then a spritzy sherbet dib dab at the end. But not a plain dip dab. No, a mix of lemon sherbet with a liquorice pipe for dunking.
They recommend making it into a G&T with light tonic, a slice of orange and a sprinkle of hibiscus flowers (there was a bag of dried hibiscus flowers in the box, which was helpful). I would rather all my teeth fall out than drink diet tonic, so I made mine with full fat Fever-Tree. The hibiscus is a clever addition because it gives the drink a sweet, jammy flavour with a touch of sourness at the edges. It would help make up for the awfulness of diet tonic. And it dyes the drink pink, too, which is nice. As a G&T it is troublingly easy to drink. The low ABV might turn out not to guarantee a hangover-free day after all.
Buy it? I don’t normally talk about packaging, but Loca Labs have nailed it. I love the cardboard tube, the chunky bottle and the hipster laboratory label. I think it is gorgeous and it would make a great Christmas present for the gin fiend / alcoholic dieter in your family. You can buy it directly from Loca Labs for £33, or The Drink Shop has it for between £24-29 (depending on sales).