When in Rome, do as the Romans do – a piece of advice that dates back to at least 390CE and St Augustine. So, naturally, when I was in Spain a little while back, in order to extend my exploration of the ginaissance, I drank Larios, a local hooch, but part of the Beam Suntory stable. I tried two – Larios London Dry Gin and Larios 12 Premium Gin.
Whether it is the Brexit effect, I know not, but the London Gin has been rebranded and now goes under the sobriquet of Larios Ginebra Mediterranea, a welcome indicator of its land of origin. The bottle boasts a rather splendid label which is a riot of yellow and orange colours, informing us that Larios was established in 1866 and that the hooch was double distilled. The label at the back of the stubby, rectangular bottle confirms that it is London Dry Gin. The cap is a rather incongruous purple screwcap. At 37.5% ABV it as the weaker end of the gin spectrum but as I picked up a bottle for a very acceptable €8 at the local Aldi in Benijofar, I couldn’t complain.
As you might suspect from the labelling, citrus plays a key part in the flavour, the six botanicals used being juniper, lemon, bitter oranges, coriander, cinnamon and almonds. To the smell it is rather disappointing with the aroma of alcohol overpowering what hints of juniper and citrus can be detected. The clear spirit is quite harsh and the juniper has to fight hard to establish its presence, dominated by the citrus. Adding a tonic to it just provokes the citrus to overwhelm the drink to such an extent that it is difficult to consider it a London Dry Gin where juniper should take the lead. Perhaps that is why it has been rebranded and the spices may as well not have been there as they made little impact on my palate.
It wasn’t an unpleasant drink and one of the better budget gins I have tasted. But I suppose you get what you pay for.
Larios 12 comes in a tall blue bottle with an orange screwcap. The labelling is more subdued, using a white script with orange highlights. At least at the back the botanicals are listed, twelve in all which go through five distillations – orange, mandarin, coriander, tangerine, lemon, angelica root, lime, orange blossom, grapefruit, nutmeg, clementine and, oh yes, juniper. This gin has no pretensions to being a London Dry Gin and is firmly in the contemporary gin camp, where the juniper takes a very definite back seat.
To the smell there is a very distinctive orange feel to it with, perhaps, a hint of spice. The clear spirit, which is 40% ABV, provides a refreshing taste of citrus to the mouth but as I played with it in my mouth I began to detect the juniper struggling to make its presence felt, only to be overwhelmed by the more tart grapefruit in the aftertaste. On the whole I was a tad disappointed because the taste was a bit one-dimensional – not unsurprising given the heady cocktail of citrus. It is a perfectly acceptable gin but I think if you are looking for a contemporary gin, there are much better, even if they are more than twice the price.
Often I find that booze that was acceptable to swill when on holiday tastes awful when you get it home. I have to say that was not the case with either of the Larios hooches. If you are interested, they also seem to do a Rose gin, although a drop has not passed my lips (yet!).