Caorunn Highland Strength Gin, Speyside, Scotland
This is a serious gin. For three reasons. First because the aroma immediately envelopes you in another time and place: a fantasy of being out on a Scottish hillside. Second, because the spirit is so lively, enticing and balanced, you might want to drink it straight. And third, watch out, it’s 108 proof, or 54% abv.
The producers claim this spirit was developed for use in cocktails, but I disagree.
The spices, herbs and flowers that aromatize this spirit are so well interwoven that this gin does not cry out for the addition of tonic water. A splash of elderflower or lime, depending on your preference. But do remember to add plenty of ice or water if you don’t want to find yourself under the table in short order. (Though you will have had a wonderful time sliding down there.) The newest Caorunn Gin is labeled “Highland Strength” so that should give you a clue.
A veritable product of the land, this spirit is actually produced in a national park in Scotland; master distiller Simon Buley makes it at the 200-year-old Balmenach distillery in Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands.
Locally foraged plants used include rowan berry [carounn in Gaelic] for bitter notes; dandelion for sharpness; the Coul Blush dessert apple for acidity and sweetness; bog myrtle (aka sweet gale) for soft and sweet aromatics; and Scottish heather for its honeyed perfume.
In addition to specializing in local botanicals, don’t worry, the traditional juniper is in there too. It’s just that it is extremely well integrated so that’s not the first thing you notice.
Distilled slowly in small batches, the gin is made in “the world’s only working Copper Berry Chamber, first created to extract oils for the perfume industry in the 1920s.”
WHO: Caorunn Gin
WHAT: Highland strength gin
WHERE: Scottish Highlands, UK
HOW MUCH: $40