Spain is one of the biggest consumers of gin in the world – and whilst they’re a little ahead of us in terms of global ranking of volume drunk – their boom in the spirit mirrors our own.
It’s growing and it keeps growing.
They started the craze for the balloon glass, and the exploration of garnishes, though the majority of their gins are produced domestically. Meaning that for you and I, there are yet more gins to explore.
Lunya gave us the perfect opportunity last week, with a Spanish Gin Tasting – five gins, tonics, garnishes and tapas to keep us steady. With two gins on the list new to my palate, I was just as excited as my date to take my seat upstairs in the restaurant.
For the uninitiated, Lunya is in the stunning Barton Arcade – a stunning building built in 1871, which now houses a number of popular sites, from Lunya itself, to PKB, Be At One, to Barber Barber. Specialising in tapas, it not only has a great wine list (white Rioja for the win) but also a beautifully selective gin menu – not only from Spain, but also from a little closer to home, including Zymurgorium and Manchester Three Rivers.
But I digress. Today was all about Spain.
With platters of tapas to get us started on the table, our first gin made it’s way to the table, Larios. Larios is to Spain, as Gordon’s or Tanqueray is to the UK. It’s ubiquitous, plentiful, and very reasonably priced. From a flavour perspective, it’s a good straightforward gin, with a strong, but not dominant juniper backbone, and lots of crisp citrus. It was a great place to start – something that many of us will have tried on holiday, and it’s a good gin for sipping with food, nothing overly dominant to contrast too harshly with our boards of Iberica ham, and bowls of olives.
Our second gin, was the Siderit Ginger Lime, the first that sat on my ‘to try’ list. Made in Northern Spain the founders of the Siderit distillery wanted to produce high quality spirits, with the highest quality ingredients. This version uses the same 12 botanicals that are found in their London Dry Gin, with the addition of ginger and lime. Along with the rye base they use for their gin, it’s a little stunner. Lots of sherbet notes, an earthiness sits in the background. Perfect with a splash of light tonic, just to open out the flavours.
Our third gin is the distinctive Sikkim Fraise Gin. Sikkim have a range of gins that are just that little bit special. In addition to the expected botanicals. they use a Tibetan red tea as a base botanical and in this version balance it with lots of strawberries and red cranberries. It’s not the little sweetie that you might expect from the bottle, with a bite of bitter orange and the lemony notes of coriander at play.
Our third gin was another on my hit list and, in the end, my favourite of the night. Gin Bellota Acorn.
Yes, this stunner uses acorns it it’s production and the result is a nutty, buttery, delicious gin that I need a bottle of for personal use. If you like vanilla, hazelnuts and cinnamon, this gin is for you. I added tonic and pretty much immediately regretted it. This deserves to be sipped neat and enjoyed for what it is. Just delicious.
Soon we were at the bottom of the list. But we were still ending on a high. Gin Nordes is a stunner. Fruity, soft, gently sweet, it uses Albarino grapes in the distillation of the base spirit, whilst the botanicals include ecualyptus, ginger and hibiscus. It’s deliciously layered, and easily sipped neat, but works well with a splash of tonic too.
The next gin tasting at Lunya is in April and a bit of a bargain. Five gins and a selection of tonics, a tutored tasting, and plenty of nibbles to keep you well fed throughout, all for £30.
And with 10% off a bottle of gin at the end, you too might just find something new for your gin shelf.