How Botanical Trends Will Impact Your Next Gin Martini

Posted January 22, 2019 by Keith Seiz

In the December issue of Prepared Foods magazine, “botanicals” were pegged as a top trend. It makes sense. Consumers are trying to eat healthier, and for years, healthy food has been branded, rightly or wrongly, as flavorless. Unlike sugar, botanicals have the ability to bring flavor to food while still maintaining a clean label.

Thanks to my introduction to “gin buckets” during my junior year of college roughly 22 years ago, I’ve been “interested” in botanicals. For years, gin was the only distilled spirit I imbibed, and I became quite familiar with the use of botanicals to provide complex flavors to neutral spirits. My fascination with the botanicals in gin has expanded considerably since then as craft spirit producers conceive botanical recipes that would have once been considered sacrilegious just 10 years ago.

For example, Proof.com recognized Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin as the best gin of the year in 2018. Guess what the 47 stands for? You got it, the number of botanicals in the spirit. That’s crazy, and also crazy complex if pulled off correctly. And, the distillery definitely pulls it off, even using ingredients such as sweet and sour cranberries.

Contrast that with Barr Hill Gin, a highly-recognized and awarded gin which just happens to be one of my favorites. This spirt contains only two botanicals: honey and juniper. However, it’s just as complex and unique as products with laundry lists of spices, herbs, seeds and fruits.

I love that distillers are creeping out of traditional botanical lanes in the development of new-word gins. In addition to inventive and creative new botanical recipes, check out these other botanical trends surely to impact the gin you’ll be drinking in 2019.

Juni-what?
I know, gin will never be gin without juniper berries. However, their heavy-handed nature in determining the flavor profile in gin has evolved recently. In some gins, you can barely detect a hint of juniper, and I’m ok with that. Boulder Gin is the perfect example of this. Described as a “New Western Style Gin,” the distillery’s use of lavender, hibiscus, citrus and tea elevates the product’s flavor beyond the traditional juniper and coriander notes.

Cooking Techniques
In 2019, I expect to see the continued infiltration of cooking techniques into the treatment of gin botanicals before they go into the gin bag. It’s unbelievable how flavors evolve when certain botanicals are roasted, toasted or smoked. Distillers can create completely unique tastes out of the same botanicals if they simply apply different cooking techniques to the ingredients.

Ticket to Flavortown
The thought of “flavored” gin kind of makes my skin crawl. Remember cotton candy vodka? I don’t want that garbage infiltrating the gin category. And to date, it hasn’t. Instead, flavored gins are maintaining balance by using nuance rather than brute force. For example, Warner Edwards Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin imparts a sweet and tangy rhubarb flavor without overpowering more traditional gin flavor notes.

Postscript
All of this gin talk has me thirsty. So, here is my favorite gin cocktail recipe. Go make it now!

Pegu Club

Shake it, strain it into a martini glass.

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