Do you like lemon? Until the ginaissance got fully underway, a slice of lemon was the most popular form of garnish to dress a gin and tonic with. Nowadays, if you order a “fancy” G&T in a bar, it is likely to be presented to you with a wider range of garnish, especially co-ordinated, at least so they say, to compliment the flavours of the gin of you choice. Call me a philistine, but it is an unnecessary addition to the drink and can distract from the underlying taste of the gin. I prefer mine just with a decent tonic and a bit of ice, not too much as that dilutes the gin too.
If you are looking for a hit of lemon in your gin without having to go to the trouble of slicing the fruit up, then Malfy Gin con limone may just be right up your strada. The clue, of course, is in the name. Welcome to lemon overload. I have reviewed their grapefruit offering already but the lemon gin is the original and, still, the Vergnano family’s signature offering. They use two types of lemon, Sicilian and ones grown on the Amalfi Coast. The latter are renowned for their aromatic qualities and have more oil glands than other varieties. To reduce the high oil content in the spirit and to eliminate the possibility of louching, after distillation the spirit is chill filtered.
Malfy continue the local theme with a base spirit made from Italian wheat and junipers grown in Tuscany. Grapefruit and orange are also included in the mix. Distilled at Torino Distillati distillery it has an ABV of 41%, strong enough to make its presence known but not too strong that it spoils an evening’s drinking.
The bottle is striking in an understated sort of way. With a squat and cylindrical body leading to a short neck and a wide wooden top with a pale blue artificial stopper, it uses the circular shape of lemons to good effect in its design. The labelling is a mix of lemon yellow for the edging and the name of the gin with a vibrantly pale blue background. The colour combination is aesthetically pleasing. At the rear of the bottle there is a description of the product in white, but the typeface is too small for my rheumy eyes to decipher with ease. Alas, other than lemon there is no indication what has gone into the mix.
So, what is it like?
On removing the stopper, the sensation was overwhelmingly one of lemon, but more subtler aromas started to make their presence known, a more bitter orangey smell and just a hint of the juniper. In the mouth the crystal-clear spirit was incredibly lemony, a crispy, zesty sensation as though the rind had been freshly squeezed just for your drink. The lemon, though, does not get it all its own way. There are hints of juniper and liquorice to give it a more rounded gin taste and while the aftertaste is predominantly one of lemon, there is detectable some elements of spice and pepper.
It can only be described as a heavily lemon-led gin, but, interestingly, once I moved from tasting it neat to adding a tonic, the lemon dial seemed to go down a notch or two and the other elements were given more room to breathe. It made for a refreshing and interesting drink, a contemporary, flavoured gin that, if you like lemon, will be hard to top. Perhaps it is the quintessential summer gin.
Until the next time, cheers!