Mon. Apr 6th, 2020

We help you to find a French Gin suitable to your taste!

17 min read

For a long time, relegated at a second role, notably behind Vodka and Rum, the Gin spirit meets a rebirth with a strong success, since the late 80s. To a large extent, dedicated to the universe of cocktails and particularly of mixology, providing much inspiration, as proves this floral creation (pictured nearby), realized by For Cocktail Sake. Comparing to vintage methods, from the producers’ side, the distillers nowadays use new aromatics and spices. With the constant goal to innovate new flavored elixirs, in order to make this legendary beverage great again and then, meet the demands of a more and more educated and sophisticated clientele (cover picture: Elephant Gin).

Among this new trend, we have the pleasure to discover that French players are really involved in this revival. Most of them are honored and proud to fall back on as much flavored grain or simply molasses distillate. For sure, this flavoring can be naturally carried out, by infusion or maceration of alcohol with spices, herbs and fruits, or even artificially, by the addition of natural or artificial essences. As a prerequisite, the Juniper Berry is the compulsory component of the Gin DNA. For your information, in Europe, the minimum required degree for a Gin is 37.5%, then the distillery may adjust, at their discretion, the taste and appearance, while for example adding sugar and coloring.

Although, the vast majority of Gins are made from a neutral grain alcohol or molasses. In the case of grain alcohol, their wort is often composed of a mixture of cereals, such as mostly corn, barley and other types of cereals (10%), including rye. By Alex Plato


We find it important to introduce the main production methods.

The usual method to produce the common distilled gin is recognized for its guarantee of quality. The distillation is often processed through batches, frequently conferred in traditional stills. Those alambics are heated with the help of a steam, using a resistance, placed at the bottom of the boiler. This boiler receives neutral alcohol, reduced to around 45-60%. Once the alcohol is brought to a boil, the emanating vapors then absorb the aromas, composed of berries and aromatics. The less pure distillation heads and tails are recycled and then redistilled while the heating core is sent to the bottling center for dilution and bottling (photo credits: Cheers To Happy Hour).

The other alternative is the flavoring by maceration, this principle consists in macerating juniper berries, herbs and spices, directly in a neutral alcohol (usually at a level of 45%), by letting them soak altogether in alcohol or also by placing this ensemble, for 2 days approximately, inside sachets. Some distilleries filter the mixture before distillation, to separate the aromatics from the alcohol. Others distill all the ensemble, de facto producing an alcohol, particularly loaded with aromas (photo credits: Loft 14 Berlin).

Furthermore, the method of flavoring by infusion consists in hanging a cotton bag containing all the aromatics, including juniper berries and spices in the alambic, or placing those ingredients in a perforated chamber, installed in the bottom level of a still neck. Therefore, upon contact, the alcohol vapors infuse and soak up the essences, released by the herbs (photo credits: The Amazing Jules).

Last but not least, the compound gin relies on a technique, based on the mixture of a neutral alcohol (usually molasses). Thus, involving a concentrate of Gin aroma (cold compounding) or the same artificial essences of juniper berries, spices and aromatics (gasoline compound). This method does not involve any redistillation, since it is mainly used for the production of mass consumption Gin.


We start our exploration with a collaboration between the Vinet Delpech Distillery and the Dream Of Spirits. This first one has been able to respond to the original request for constituting a quality Gin project.

Whether in terms of container or content, this Distillery is intimately pleased to offer their beverage expertise, distillation infrastructure (3 bottling lines) and their network of suppliers, to support any kind of innovative projects, matching potential customers’ expectations. Your adventure is already in place, thanks to their capacity of different bottles and decanters of all sizes, stoppers, capsules, labels, serigraphs and many other facilities, available for all the components of any one’s future distillate.

In this case, the Dream Of Spirits has been seduced by this all-in-one structure, to help them to make their spirit dream come true and to give birth to the Hold Up Gin. Thus, this one is the result of a collaboration between the expertise of Vinet Delpech Distillery and the imagination of a writer, keen on crime novels….

Therefore, as an epicurean, the guilty of this suspense initiative, had a precise vision of the recipe of his singular project, deeply inspired by a detective story, from the name to the packaging (starring a barrel-shaped stopper). Thereafter, the founder of this project, Dream Of Spirits imagined a whole thematics around a police investigation to hold up this Gin!

The aftermath of this Hold Up Gin is an artisanal Gin distilled in a tradition copper alambic, located in the Cognac region, producing an achieved and balanced marriage of flavors, combining a pleasant and robust perfume, hopefully fulfilling you many gustatory sensations (photo credits: Dream Of Spirits).

Its unique recipe highlights at first sight, the quintessence of carefully selected botanicals, including anise and coriander. Deeper in it, you would surely feel the soft notes of a juniper blend, in sweet harmony with the more pronounced notes of tonka bean, elegantly expressed in accordance with a slight hint of lemon. The texture in the mouth offers a certain and round hold, all in length. The complex and very aromatic whole would appeal to any Gin enthusiast, whether it is simply mixed in a classic Gin Tonic, accompanied by a Negroni or in any other cocktail of which it will make a base more than convincing. 

That’s not a surprise if this artwork won a well deserved Silver Medal for French Contemporary Style Gin at the World Gin Awards

The complex and aromatic whole will appeal to fans of gin, whether it is simply accompanied by a tonic decorated with Timur berries, in Negroni or any other cocktail of which it will be a more than convincing base.

More information on the official website, where you’re invited to explore the entire selection in the online store.


Created by sailors, above the Breton edges from the illustrious Gulf of Morbihan, we take the opportunity to taste the H2B Gin… (photo credits: H2B).
 
Who never dreamed to wet his lips in a glass full of an ocean of wild life? Here, this elixir is fueled by the passion of two founders, shared by Henri and Bertrand, for fine distillation. This ambitious spirituous project gave birth to their first baby boat, this homemade H2B Gin,  after two years of development and research.  
The initial objective was to create a range of fine spirits inspired with the surrounding local maritime identity and thus, mostly inspired by iodine. A sweet ingredient boosted by the benefits, emanating from the marine life.
 
This original production was made possible thanks to a specific process, starting from a committed distillation, offering qualitative and singular spirits. A bunch of aspects respectful of the environment and from the traditional patrimony.  
Indeed, their alcohols are distilled in their Stupfler alambic, which is a copper distillation system, heated with an open flame.

Once you get the bottle, you have to know that this H2B Gin is undoubtedly unique, thanks to a bucket of selected local plants, collected from the Breton coast.
Otherwise, this Gin pursues all the strength of its originality, within its distillation carried out in a traditional way, through a naked heat, inside a high-quality copper still.  
 
After the first sip, you would be surely bewitched by the strong expression of this “new generation” spirit, composed of authentic marine notes. Indeed, this distillate abound in an explosion of those aromatic plants, proud ambassadors of the local moor, such as the juniper berry, fresh thyme, lemon zest, coriander seeds, blackcurrant berries and from the Atlantic Ocean‘s fields, not to mention some sea brass, dulse seaweed.
 
In an other part, this young but inventive factory has more than one bag of tricks… since it also proposes rum (sourced from different regions around the world), vodka (released in July 2018) and would soon add their first whiskeys to maturation.  
  
More information on the official website, and find the closest store.

Still in the West Side of France, but this time in the Loire Valley, we get in touch with the Combier Distillery. This historical factory transmits a certain proper know-how, alive and producing fine spirits since 1834, thanks to the initial keystones developed by its founder and also master distiller, Jean-Baptiste Combier and nowadays succeeded by Franck Choisne (photos credits: Combier).

This authentic Anjou institution, settled in Saumur, close to castles and roses fields, has experienced many evolutions, over the years, in order to keep itself anchored in the French heritage. Through several homemade recipes signatures of liquors, syrups and other kinds of spirits magnify a meticulous selection of fruits and plant aromas, mainly extracted from the ideal position of the Combier Distillery, inside the so-called “Jardin de la France”. A fertile area, rich in natural essences, thanks to a mild climate, baptized the “Douceur Angevine”. Those ideal conditions are conducive to source local products, even emanating from the river traffic, allowed by the Loire river, straight from the port of Nantes, bringing its share of exotic foodstuffs, to compose their ingredients.  

Deeply committed into this incomparable craftsmanship, enabled by the tradition that has built the success of this Combier Distillery, notably conveyed by the imagination of bartenders and baristas. Those players are prone to revisit those distillates and even to explore some affinities with gastronomy. A reference that still encourages the distillery to use the same 19th century copper alambics, shaped in long swan necks. Those are a must in the spirit industry, since they have laid the groundwork for the upcoming refining methods.

Passionately elaborated on those traditional solid foundations, we get in touch with a typical London Dry Gin, still conceived in this beautiful Anjou area, close to Angers. Inseparably named Gin Meridor, in tribute to the illustrious writer Alexandre Dumas. Indeed, this novelist mentioned Françoise de Maridor, lady of honor of Catherine de Medici, in one of his books, the La Dame De Montsoreau, then becoming the character of Diane de Meridor. 
 
This connection gave birth to a flavorful achievement, fruit of a single distillation of all the ingredients in the historic stills of the Combier Distillery. The original recipe was developed by the actual manager Franck Choisne, after more than two years of research. Purposely suited to this kind of spirit, the ancestral home long swan neck alambics are qualified to extract, for a crystalline transparence, a maximum of fragrances, from the carefully selected ingredients.
 
Thus, you would appreciate in this Gin Meridor a subtle spicy floral nose, that captivates many of the regional senses, from the sweetness of rose petals and elderflower, revived by a final touch of peppery notes. Both elegant and characterful, we bet that this is a Gin wouldn’t leave you indifferent, either for a single tasting or through an association with other compatible juices, like shows the example pictured above. 
 
More information on the official website, where you may explore some associated cocktail recipes, in the online store.

Unless its name sound very British, this Thompson’s spirits structure is really French! At the beginning, the founder of this unique adventure, an “English Man in Bordeaux” noticed that many French regions had developed at least their own brandy. In another way, he has always been surprised that his native famous region of Bordeaux was deprived of this asset (photo credits: Thompson’s).

Thus, during one of his several walks in those local wineries, Simon Thompson had the chance and the opportunity to discover all the possibilities allowed by the Fine Bordeaux appellation.

Inspired by the heritage of the region and the quality of its grape varieties, such as Ugni blanc and Colombard, distilled twice and then maturing many years in traditional copper stills, plus in Limousin oak barrels, Simon Thompson decided to create in 2010 his own range of spirits, composed of Fine Bordeaux, Vodka, Brandy and Gin, and only made from Bordeaux grapes.

The result is a subtle alliance between an ancestral local know-how in wine production and a contemporary brand identity, developed by this Thompson’s spirit revealing the multiple rich historic ties, uniting Aquitaine and England.

For instance, the entity proposes two sorts of Gins, the first is simply baptized Thompson’s Gin, made from the maceration of fifteen natural ingredients, including Aquitaine Caviar, peaches and of course the unmistakable grape distillation. This distilled floral and aromatic Gin includes lemony notes doubled with a notable presence of juniper, exactly suiting for any kind of cocktails, such as the classic Gin Tonic.

The second item is considered as the Gin du Sommelier, matured in specific barrels from the Château Labouade, located in Sauternes. Packed in numbered bottles, surmounted by a gracious glass stopper, bringing the light inside the solution, this round but intense distillate offers structured herbal and tasty notes. Furthermore, this spirit is described as “elegant and intense, with a silky texture, its complex spice notes bring originality and length, whether tasted pure, in a cocktail or in my Gin & Tonic prefer”, by Andreas Larsson, the Best Sommelier of the World.

More information on the official website, where you may explore the entire selection in the online store.


We stay in Bordeaux, exploring another distillery, the Moon Harbour. Based in a former German WWII bunker. This recent project, refers to the famous crescent moon drawing the Garonne river, at the entrance of the city. This shape is so emblematic, that it also appears on its coat of arms!

It’s a proper way to remind you that in the past times, on the cobblestone docks of the aptly named Port de la Lune, the Bordeaux berths waited to be loaded at night, on departing ships (photo credits: Moon Harbour).

The Moon Harbour adventure started with the help of a recognized craftsman from Bordeaux, Jean-Louis Stupfler, designer of his homonym alambics, also used by many distillers above; as well as plenty of famous local winehouses, notably specialists in Sauternes. A collective work which proves that in terms of human skills, good assemblies also count.

For instance, their own Gin has been developed Moon Gin, while using the famous London Dry Gin technique. You have to know that the ingredients employed in their Gin slowly infuse, within a sluggish distillation, which dominates the impression of bitterness of the juniper berries. The final touch is slightly spicy, accompanied by the lemongrass flavors, enhanced all of their aromas.

A unique recipe that brings freshness and intensity to their homemade spirit, composed for sure of combava citrus from Reunion Island, coriander and goji berries mainly in Chinatimut or grapefruit pepper, straight from Nepal, moreover Espelette pepper, native of the French Basque region. So we advise you to try this cosmopolitan combination and tell us your feedback!

As you know, this premium distillate would unequivocally surprise you for sure… As you know, this Gin can also be enjoyed alone with ice, accompanied by mint leaves, or in a cocktail, like the famous Gin Tonic, neutral in aroma… A good recommendation, in order to avoid inhibiting the sincere aromas of this Moon Gin.

More information on the official website, where you may explore the entire selection in the online store.


Have you ever tried a Gin made with apples? We have previously seen that the Gin galaxy is fulfilled by its complexity and by original and even some antagonistic perfumes (photo credits: Drouin).

The Gin range developed by the famous Normandy based, Christian Drouin distillery, contains more than 30 varieties of apples. Since three generations, famous for its Calvados and its Ciders, this family affair masters the art of blending premium eaux-de-vie. Pursuing this spirit, a trio of artisanal Gins were homemade imagined by Guillaume Drouin. Thus, it’s been a few years now that the use of Calvados has been developing in cocktail bars and its related universe appeared as a real inspiration, especially for launching innovative sensorial spirit experiences.

For your information, the production process of the house flagship item, baptized Le Gin, comes from the distillation in small stills, with Ciders naturally from Normandy, as well as from the distillation of the inevitable juniper, completed by seven other regional typical herbs.

Indeed, the starting point for Le Gin (launched in 2015) was to look for any flavorings that could complement and enhance the compatible heavy and high balance between juniper and cider apple, really crunchily explicit in the smell and of course in the taste! After having distilled those different aromatics separately, a final selection of eight plants, representative of the Calvados soul, have been married to prepare a flavorful blend. For instance, you could imagine a real work on proportions, to adjust this patchwork to the original Gin recipe, since the plant-by-plant distillation protocol requires a case-by-case attention before a general batch communion. 

Once got your precious elixir, you may admire the sky blue packaging of the bottle, a mix between anchored tradition and an aerial personality. After your first sip, you would feel this singular result, as an osmosis between ginger, vanilla, cinnamon and almond offering a slight touch, along rose and lemon bringing their vision of finesse, strengthened by the power of spicy and round notes of cardamom and cinnamon.

Furthermore, you may also explore the other Gin reference. The Calvados Cask Finish Gin benefits from the mature house spirit aging know-how. That’s why, the Christian Drouin tribe decided to raise a limited volume of their Gin. Just a bunch of old 225 liter Calvados barrels have been selected to age some Gin, during six months, and to give birth to a more complex juice, reinforced with apple aromas.

An other alternative would be the Gin Carmina, a blend dedicated to red fruits, where Guillaume Drouin continues to explore new flavor associations.

The distillery recommends to appreciate its product, either pure or on ice, a good way to feel the subtlety of its aromas. Otherwise, the second option would be within the traditional Gin Tonic, better in a large balloon glass, adorned with ice and two thin slices of freshly cut apples, innately macerated in a little Calvados liquor bath.

Two other cocktail recipes are also proposed:

  • The legendary Gin Fizz, with the following contents to mix with a shaker: Gin: 6cl, lemon juice: 4cl, sugar syrup: 2cl, sparkling water: 12cl.
  • The Angel Face cocktail, from a 1928 recipe, a Roaring Twenties creation in homage to the French actress Annabella:, starring: Gin: 3cl, Calvados: 3cl, Apricot liquor: 3cl.

More information on the official website, where you may explore the entire selection in the online store.


Satisfied with a rich experience into the rum galaxy, two associates Thibault de la Fournière et Christian Vergier launched in 2015 a new Gin section for their Ôdevie Creative Spirits, thus anticipating the strong development of this spirits category nowadays (photo credits: Ôdevie Creative Spirits).

The original idea was to create a French Gin, fueled by fine aromatic fragrances, composed of carefully selected natural ingredients. A way to show the generosity of Mother Nature… That’s why this nectar, evolved (once again) in the region of Cognac, has logically been baptized Generous Gin, offering two distinct expressions dedicated to all kind of tastes, still depending on the way you usually savor this beverage.

Furthermore, in any store, you couldn’t miss their innovative packaging, a porcelain flask, fully adorned by inspired by a vegetal wall of flowers and leaves. This initial ideal for this design was to reconstitute a traditional botanist bottle,  one starring black patterns for the Original Gin and green for the Organic Gin, both interspersed through an opal immaculate white background and surmounted by an elegant wooden stopper.

 

Regarding the Original Generous Gin, this elixir exudes a subtle and floral perfume, at first glance. This was made possible thanks to a balanced wedding between a dominant base of juniper, softened by a slew of white flowers’ petals, such as elderberry and jasmine, among other secret contents…

Deeper in your mouth, you would undoubtedly feel the various notes of tangerine and lemon, giving birth to a fruity and floral aromatic explosion. The final notes are considered as long as enriched, due to persistent notes of red pepper, citrus and spices providing a fresh wind to this distilled Gin, suitable for being combined into a Gin Tonic (decorated with some pink berries and a basil leaf), or simply “On the rocks” and even associated with a whole plate of fresh oysters. 

Available online, 44 ° for a 70cl edition.

 

Regarding the Organic Generous Gin, the same secret base notes have been kept, with the adding of new organic shades. However here, you would be seduced by different nuances of fresh exotic lemon, still set on an even fresher and delicate juniper seat, delivering fruity notes of combava and coriander. Those two botanicals bring a reasonable balance, and likewise a bit of acidity, pursued with a slight bitterness, sensitive from attack to final mouthing. A couple of attributes that would surely delight any fans of Dry Martini

Indeed, the constant alcohol degree of 44 °, has been specifically studied to fulfill the countless expectations regarding the mixology science, and thus attribute the full expression of a lively and universal Gin, fitted with a light and shiny texture, open to all!

With the help of those benefits, the Organic Generous Gin is recommended to be appreciated in a pure way or just lengthened with a very good Tonic Water.

Available online, 44 ° for a 70cl edition.

More information on the official website, where you may explore the entire selection in the online store.


The last player here is German, but very committed into humanitarian actions… Indeed, since 2015, Elephant Gin has been supporting the exemplary work of different wildlife associations. For instance, 15 % of proceeds, from every large bottle of Elephant Gin, are donated to two philanthropic African foundations, committed to save the African elephant species from extinction, Big Life Foundation and Space For Elephants Foundation. In another hand, 15% of profits from their miniature bottles go towards Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an elephant orphanage, located near Nairobi. This especially in order to support various direct associated costs including round-the-clock specialist care, proper nutrition, veterinary care & treatment, medications, keepers’ salaries and a well-constructed and maintained stockade for housing (photo credits: Elephant Gin).

This laudable action wouldn’t be possible without focusing on the quality of the three distillates proposed by the factory. In 2013, they developed the award-winning Elephant London Dry Gin (45%) that uses 14 rare African botanicals combining rare African ingredients, with an undertone of mountain pine plus other herbaceous notes, and fresh apples and focuses on resolutely artisan production methods. 

In addition to this, each bottle is custom-made and embossed with a crest in the shape of the typical tribal shield. Indeed, Elephant Gin’s labels are hand-written by a calligrapher and carry the name of a past great tusker or elephant that its partner foundations currently help to protect.

Furthermore, since December 2015, the company has complemented its portfolio with an aromatic Elephant Sloe Gin (35%) and in 2017, Elephant Strength Gin (57%). In both cases, releasing a strictly limited small batch edition of each handcrafted Elephant Gin bottle. Combining the taste of the award-winning Elephant London Dry Gin, with the classic flavor of fresh sloes, those wild berries are added in a richly rounded, lightly sweet and exquisitely fruity bouquet, as well as a typical warm red color.

Compared to other sloe gins, Elephant Sloe Gin has a relatively low sugar content, paired with a higher alcohol volume of 35 percent. This makes it ideally suited to mixing in cocktails as well as enjoying neat. All of their Elephant Sloe Gin bottles are adorned with beautiful traditional beads, handmade by three Maasai tribe members from Kenya.

Otherwise, the Elephant Strength Gin encompasses twice the quantity of botanicals and a focus on the extraordinary African buchu, sweet orange peel and herbaceous mountain pine. This powerful Gin, like the elephants, is intense and full-bodied, rich in fresh aroma and a higher viscosity than the original; really dedicated for cocktails or to decorate your boat, since their bottles’ design takes inspiration from its naval origins, illustrated with navy blue accents and an inviting map of the ocean, conjuring far-flung exploration and the spirit of adventure anchored at the heart of this responsible brand.

One last key point, after a long back-and-forth struggle with strict packaging regulations, Elephant Gin (also branded Satao Gin in Benelux) has managed to replace the standard PEC/PET plastic shrink, usually present on bottle caps, by fully-biodegradable shrink sleeves. Thus, thanks to polylactic acid, many of their packagings are 100% plastic free, moreover filled with those characteristics:
– Made out of recyclable glass
– Closed airtight with natural cork
– Sealed with a biodegradable shrink sleeve
– Adorned with a glass-bead string
– Secured with carton instead of bubble wrap

More information on the official website, where you may explore the entire selection in the online store.

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