As far as epic distilleries go, Gin Mare has smashed it. It’s made just outside of Barcelona in a beautiful little chapel that goes way back to the 18th Century when it was a monks’ beach retreat in a small fishing town Vilanova i la Geltrú on the Costa Dorada (“the gold coast” to you and I).
The sandy beach started attracting Barcelona city types and the Mayor that the chapel had to go, so the monks were sent packing. They reconstructed the chapel stone by stone on the spot it is now in, not far from its original location.
In the 1950s the monks were out and the booze was in when the Giro Ribot family got their hands on it. This family are pros when it comes to booze; they’d been making wine since 1835, brandy and whisky since the 1900s and after Manuel Giro noticed juniper bushes growing nearby they got their gin on and made Gin MG in 1940 (now one of the best-selling gins in Spain).
Fast-forward to 2007 and it’s the grandsons of Manuel Giro who are the brains behind Gin Mare, the first authentic Mediterranean gin. These guys represent the fourth generation of this family of booze hounds and after seeing the success of their parents and grandparents (hard act to follow) they wanted to get on board with their own product.
With the production skills on point they joined forces with Vanguard to help market Gin Mare and started a joint venture to develop this innovative new gin. (Plus, with them making it in an ancient chapel God was basically on their side too.)
Gin Mare hit the scene in 2010 after 3 years of research; creating a Mediterranean gin that fuses different cultures and uses the finest botanicals from Mediterranean shores doesn't happen overnight.
HOW IT’S MADE
The Mediterranean Botanicals:
Choosing the right botanicals took a hell of a lot of experimenting and when it comes to local produce this place is spoilt for choice. They began distilling over 100 different local botanicals (aka. anything they could get their hands on) and tried a load of different variations before they found their perfect combination:
It takes roughly 16 days to make just one batch of Gin Mare in their 250lt Florentine still (roughly 7,000 bottles per batch); but hey, love takes time. This level of precision and dedication means that the end result is AWESOME, so why rush?
Distilling gin ain’t no easy feat. All the botanicals are macerated (or softened to you and me) individually for around 36hrs in neutral grain alcohol, before being individually distilled in a copper pot still. The Arbequina olives have such low yield when juiced (aka. don’t give out much) that they get through 15kgs per batch!
The citrus vibe is a mix of sweet oranges from Seville, lemons from Lleida and bitter oranges from Valencia. The skins of these fruits are macerated for 11 months in a neutral spirit before being blended together and distilled (distilling, for those who don’t know, is when it’s heated up so that it vaporizes, then cooled, condensing the vapour and collecting the resulting liquid).
Only once each individual botanical has been distilled separately can the hand blending process begin - this creates the harmony of flavours. Sure distilling each botanical separately seems kinda slow, but the olive distillate varies a lot in heaviness and flavour, so they do it this way to get it all under control. The result? Perfect balance and consistency; bottle all that goodness up at 42.7% ABV and you’re good to go.
The rosemary is most dominant on the nose, but the ginny juniper is still very prominent and shines through. The other Mediterranean flavours - sweet citrus and earthy olive then creep in. Take a sip and the refreshing herbal notes are joined by the undertone of the olives and thyme.
Basically this gin has a savoury edge; it’s unique and exciting - the real deal.
HOW TO ENJOY IT
Gin Mare is so unique and versatile that mix it up in a G&T and you’ll feel like you’re sipping on something new (NB. heavy on the ice, 1724 tonic and garnish with a sprig of rosemary or thyme.)
Fancy something stronger? The depth of the complex flavours in Gin Mare means you can really get creative when coming up with cocktails. Check these signature serves to try out on your mates at home (bottles available at Waitrose and Oddbins):
25ml Gin Mare
25ml Green Chartreuse
25ml Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
25ml lime juice
1 sprig rosemary sprayed with mezcal for garnish.
Method: Muddle a rosemary sprig with a dash of mezcal in a cocktail shaker, add all the other ingredients and shake. Double strain into a coupette and garnish with the rosemary sprig sprayed with mezcal.
SEA AND SAND
40ml Gin Mare
10ml lime juice
20ml agave syrup
5 basil leaves
100ml almond milk
Method: Add all ingredients into a blender until creamy. Serve in a tall tea cup.
50ml Gin Mare
25ml homemade rosemary, thyme and basil syrup
10ml Vermouth Bianco
20ml lime juice
2 dashes of lavender bitters
Method: Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, shake and double strain into a flute.
50ml Gin Mare
A wedge of ripe mango
200ml 1724 Tonic Water
1 grind of black pepper
Method: Build into a balloon glass over ice, stir and garnish with mango and black pepper.