One of the interesting by-products of the ginaissance for the seasoned traveller is that the airport duty-free shops are packed full of premium gins. As well as the usual suspects it is possible to stumble across an unusual gin which at the modestly discounted prices on offer is worth a punt.
Wandering through the duty-free shop in Alicante airport my attention was caught by a white, dumpy, ceramic pot – I am a sucker for a ceramic pot – with a grey, pixellated map of the world on the front. The only splash of colour is a red arrow and a red spot on the area that is the north-west coast of Spain. There is no doubting where Nordes Atlantic Galician Gin comes from. The back of the bottle is like a modern-day Rosetta Stone, with descriptions in Spanish, Italian and English. After reading the ingredients – we will come to them in a minute – and as it was the only gin on offer I hadn’t tried, I decided to deploy my last few Euros and buy a litre bottle.
Readers will know by now that our favourite hooch falls broadly into two main camps – the more traditional, juniper heavy, London dry gins and contemporary gins where a whole cocktail of botanicals are thrown into the mix, leaving the juniper as an also-ran rather than the main protagonist in the taste sensation. Nordes is very much in the latter camp – indeed, it is very hard to detect any of the traditional tastes you would associate with a gin in the drink.
For a start, the base spirit is made from Albarino grapes, rather than the usual grain spirit. Wine buffs tell me that Galician vino made from these grapes are the next thing in summer wines – we will see – but for me, they give the foundation of the spirit a rather sweet taste, from which it never recovers. Continuing on the Galician theme, the majority of the botanicals deployed are garnered from the region. So we find verbena, which, it is claimed, is a cure for melancholy, glasswort, hibiscus, lemongrass and peppermint. A touch of exotica is provided by eucalyptus leaves and the ultra-trendy marsh samphire or sea bean, which no self-respecting contemporary gin can be without, it would seem. To complete the cast list we have juniper – at last! – cardamom, ginger, and tea. The spirit has an ABV of 40%.
Unscrewing the dark blue cap, the aroma from the spirit was definitely floral. To the taste, initially, it seemed as though I had ingested some perfume but gradually other flavours, including a hint of juniper, began to come into play. There was the customary warmth coming through at the back of the throat but it was gentle and as I got accustomed to the crystal-clear spirit, I began to appreciate the complexity lurking within. The aftertaste was rather fruity and floral and lingered, leaving a not unpleasant sensation in the mouth. I found that Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic complemented it well.
In summary, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. It wasn’t unpleasant and would work well if you were spending a languid afternoon basking in the heat which the Nordes wind is said to bring to the Galician region. But for me, it confirmed my preference for the more traditional London Dry Gins. As the French say, a chacun son gout.
Until the next time, salud!