Many people have recommended that I try Gin Mare. This culminated in a three recommendations in one week followed by finding that Waitrose had it on sale with £6 off – it must have been providence.
Gin Mare is distilled in a former chapel in the Spanish fishing village of Vilanova i la Geltrú, which is located on the Costa Dourada in the province of Tarragona.
The bottle is a stout, tapered, round affair that is somewhat difficult to grip safely, especially with wet hands; it seems to want to just slip out. The blue/white colour scheme is supposed to represent the sea and the sky. The bottle-top is a tall, monolith-like, screw cap which has four ridges which represent the four Mediterranean botanicals; these really dig into the hand when you do the top a little too tight. All-in-all, while pretty, it isn’t the most ergonomic of bottles.
There is a Latin motto on Gin Mare’s bottle which reads ”Mundus appellatur caelum, terra et mare” and translates (according to Google Translate) as “the world is called heaven, earth, and the sea”. One little note of the pronunciation: it isn’t mare, as in a female horse or nightmare, it is “mar-ray”, as in the Latin for sea.
Gin Mare differentiates itself through the use of some unusual botanicals…
- Bitter Orange
- Sweet Orange
- Arbequina Olive
Look, no roots! I am struggling with this; I do wonder if I have missed a few as there is no mention of orris, angelica or liquorice. The roots are traditionally used as a fixative, to stabilise the flavour, and I wonder if this means that Gin Mare will lose flavour quickly in the glass, or even a half-empty bottle. However, at the risk of a little foreshadowing, I doubt it will hang around that long.
The three citrus botanicals are macerated together for a year before being distilled. Each of the other botanicals are distilled separately after being macerated for 36 hours. This is, in part, due to the varying batch-to-batch intensity of the olive distillate and allows these individual elements to be blended to make a consistent finished product, which is bottled at 42.7%.
Opening the bottle and giving it a good sniffing revealed a good backbone of juniper and some really herbal undertones. There was a late-arriving alcohol tingle in the nose as well.
Sampling neat gave a nice, sweet juniper attack which quickly gave way to a dry, savoury roller-coaster of mixed herbs. The finish is lingering and dry. Adding water didn’t really change this a great deal.
In a G&T, Gin Mare really shone. Mixing at 3:1 with Fever-Tree rewarded me with a glorious drink. It was crisp, dry fresh and mouthwatering. That inherent savouriness of the neat spirit is emphasised by the tonic water, becoming almost an umami-hit and those mixed herbs resolve clearly into thyme and rosemary. There is also a hint of that resinous smell of tomato plants, which could be a combination of basil and olive but I could just be projecting that. The finish lingers for ages and has a slight bitterness that I associate with eating olives. Others report that the taste of olive is fairly obvious but I didn’t really get that.
Gin Mare has a companion tonic called 1724 Tonic Water, so I hunted some down to see what it was like. The underlying flavours were very good – it seemed to bring out more of the herbal notes of the gin but there was an underlying taste of post-mix lemonade (which utterly ruined it for me) and the tonic was practically flat in comparison to the Fever-Tree. I was a little let-down by this, expecting, as I was, something a lot more special.
Overall, Gin Mare is a really good premium gin. Mind you, you do pay for it; at around £35 a bottle (give or take) it’s certainly a once-in-a-while treat. The savouriness makes the G&T a good tipple for dinner-time (unlike many gins) but it isn’t too savoury to be enjoyed at other times. This definitely makes it into my top-five list of non-classical gins.
One last note: to all those that demanded I try this, thank you.