Italy is considered to be the birthplace of gin, courtesy of some monks on the Salerno coast who came up with the idea in the 11th century. It is probably to my eternal shame since I started my exploration of the ginaissance that I had not, at least as far as my alcohol-sozzled brain will allow me to recollect, sampled the Italian twist of my favourite spirit. The opportunity to redress this glaring omission came this Christmas with a gift of a bottle of Malfy Gin Rosa.
Malfy Gin is made by Torino Distillati which, as its name suggests, is based on the outskirts of Turin in an area better known for its production of quality liqueurs such as vermouth. Founded in 1906 the distillery was acquired by Seagrams in the 1960s but regained its independence after a management buy-out organised by the current owner and brains behind the operation, Carlo Vergnano.
This offering is their take on the current craze for flavoured and coloured gins. Regular readers of these posts will realise by now that I’m not the world’s greatest fan of flavoured gins, preferring my gins to be distinctly juniper-led. However, I am always willing for my prejudices to be challenged and, perhaps, overturned. So, I was keen to see what I would make of it.
First things first, the bottle. It is distinctive with frosted glass, a stubby base, leading to a short nose and a cork stopper. The distinctive blue colouration of the Malfy labelling is bordered with a pinky-orange, denoting the Sicilian pink grapefruit which is a primary constituent of the gin. The front label is round containing the brand’s name and the initials G.Q.D.I which the circular logo informs me stands for “Gin Qualita Distillato Italia”. Nice to know as well as the fact that its ABV is a pleasing 41% and that it is gluten free, according to the square label at the back.
As for the botanicals, there is juniper, Sicilian Pink Grapefruit, a variety that has a deep pink colour and is ripened in the low temperatures of an Italian winter, Italian rhubarb, angelica root, lemon peel, coriander and orris root. The grapefruit and rhubarb are infused in the spirit for 36 hours, time enough to give the drink a distinctive rosy pink hue.
Removing the cork stopper, despite appearances the internal stopper is synthetic but with a nice twist, bearing the trademark Malfy blue colour, the immediate impression is a hit of grapefruit followed by citrus and, eventually, a hint of juniper. I began to fear that the juniper was going to be a distinct also-ran in this concoction. In the mouth I was in for a bit of a surprise. The immediate hit was that of grapefruit, but the taste was not as astringent as I had anticipated, toned down by the sweetness of the rhubarb, I imagine. Then the more traditional elements of a gin began to make a fight-back, with the end result, by way of the aftertaste, that there was a slightly bitter, crisp, lingering, not in an unpleasant sense, finish.
What surprised me was the transformation that came about with the introduction of a tonic, Fever-Tree Mediterranean, since you ask, which seemed rather appropriate. The overall impression was that the spirit became a tad sweeter and that the juniper and more traditional elements in the mix were given that extra boost to make their presence felt.
I found it a crisp, summery drink, one that was complemented by a premium tonic and one that would probably make a good base for a cocktail. It has not changed my overall opinion on pink and flavoured gins but in its particular sector of the gin market, this was a class act.
Until the next time, cheers!