- Food & Drink
The year is young, my intentions are good and there is gin to be drunk. My first gin of 2014 is one I was sent by a PR last year and I meant to drink it before Christmas. But, due to all the other things I drank, I didn’t entirely get round to it. However, a fortnight of New Year sobriety means I’m ready to embrace my gin closet once more. So I’m scampering over the border and raising a glass of Caorunn Small Batch Scottish Gin to January.
Day or night gin? It’s 41.8%, so not merely a night gin but one that would suit being splashed into glasses at midnight when you’ve run out of tonic and aren’t 100% certain there’s any ice left, either.
What does it smell of? At first sniff I wondered if I’d actually poured anything into the glass at all. The scent was barely there. A little hint of ozone, like a flat sea on a calm day. Then a bite of lemon flesh. After a few more seconds of desperate sniffing and worrying that the first of my senses had evacuated my body, the juniper kicked in. Reminiscent of hairspray coating a Scandinavian forest floor, it’s a smell I can best sum up as freshly washed Hobbit’s foot.
What does it taste of? Caorunn may be shy on the nose, but it’s all fists flying in the mouth. A crisp wash of citrus forms the first wave of attack, swiftly followed by spice. If someone were to rub lemons in your eyes while grinding pepper into your mouth, you’d get a similar effect. After that initial flavour assault, a greenness that reminds me of bitter herbs beds down and grows like weeds. It tastes of sorrel, savory and rue all wrapped up together, like a vagabond bride’s bouquet. This punchy herbaceousness is down to the Scottish botanicals Caorunn uses: rowan berries, bog myrtle, heather, coul blush apple and dandelion leaf.
Buy it? Caorunn is around £25–27 for 70cl and is available from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s Scotland and the usual suspects, like Masters of Malt. This is one of the first gins in a long time that has made me haul myself back up onto my seat in surprise. In a G&T, I’d add a wedge of grapefruit, and I wonder if it’d make a nice long drink with grapefuit juice, Campari and soda. If your tongue lollops towards bitter greens, then this could be the gin for you.