Today’s gin hails from Finland; the Ägräs gin distillery is in Fiskars Village, an old ironworks village 88km west of Helsinki. The distillery takes it’s name from the ancient Finnish god of vegetation, and they use just four botanicals (juniper, red clover, angelica and lemon peel) sourced from the forests of Finland. The distillery is the first crowdfunded distillery in Finland, with over 500 shareholders and now make their gin, an Akvavit, and the limited edition Abloom gin which takes their standard gin mixed with hibiscus flowers and honey.
When I was at Junipalooza, I got chatting to the team at Helsinki Dry Gin and they kindly gave me some samples to bring home for the blog. The Helsinki Distilling Company come from, you guessed it, Helsinki (that’s Finland for those of you not very good at geography). The distillery, that has formally been a power plant, a meatball factory and an architect’s office amongst others, produces a whole range of products. Winning the Spirit of the Year award in 2016 AND 2017 is the Helsinki Dry Gin. Distilled with Finnish lingonberries, Balkan juniper berries, fennel and rose petals, the gin is a traditional 47% volume to achieve a smoother feel. They also make an Akvavit (a Finnish schnapps), Applejack (a 43% strength apple spirit), the pink grapefruit Long Drink, some gin liqueurs and Tyrnipontikka. I have no idea what the last one is or how to pronounce it. So we’ll move quickly on.
Not going to lie – I’ve never heard of today’s gin. After a bit of research, it turns out Napue Gin is a small batch gin from the Finnish Kyro Distillery Company using rye grain as the base spirit. This gin won the inaugural IWSC Gin & Tonic trophy, so fingers crossed it’s good! (Side note: I was telling boy about this gin and pronouncing it in a variety of ways, then it appeared on Sunday Brunch and is apparently pronounced “Nap-we”. So there we go.)
The bottling notes say it is “nose rich in meadow sweet, citrus, cumin and juniper” – hinting at a tangy and spicy flavour. Combined with the rye base, I’m expecting an earthy tone to the gin. Giving it a good sniff, it certainly smells earthy. Deep and cinnamon-y, it smells very nice.
It’s tangy on the front of the tongue, with a smokey taste lingering in your mouth. It’s ever so slightly sweeter than I thought it would be. Mixed with tonic the sweetness comes out a bit more. It’s quite drying, but this simply means you need another mouthful. Oh what a shame. This is a treat. It’s slightly more special than your standard gin, but ‘normal’ enough to have an evening of it. Plus a bit. Not too shabby for day 11.
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