It’s no exaggeration to say that there’s a new gin being launched here every week. We look at 10 new gins in Singapore that a gin lover may want to check out.
The world is in love with gin. The past decade has seen the gin category explode in popularity, thanks to the proliferation of quality gins made in every corner of the world – including ours – as well as the growth of cocktail culture. It’s the same here in Singapore; we’ve seen a staggering number of gin brands enter the market in the past five years, not to mention the number of gin-focused bars that have sprung up over the same period of time, including the likes of ATLAS, beGIN, and CIN CIN.
We look at ten different gins that have entered the Singapore market in the past couple of months, including a number that’s been barrel-aged, some that are inspired by winemaking, and even one made by monks with foraged ingredients from the Finnish wilderness. And with Christmas and East Imperial Gin Jubilee 2019 right round the corner, we reckon it’s the perfect time to chase down some of these gins to try for the festive season.
Ferdinand’s Saar Dry Gin.
One for oenophiles, Ferdinand’s Gin is a range of craft gins by Avadis distillery from the Saar-Mosel winemaking region of Germany famous for making some of the world’s best Riesling. The Ferdinand’s Saar Dry Gin, for example, are made with a blend of locally grown vineyard botanicals including thyme and rosehip, but is then splashed with a healthy dose of top-quality Grand Cru Riesling from the nearby Zilliken Estate, named one of Germany’s best winemakers back in 2016.
The juniper in the gin takes a back seat here, while lively summer garden notes of lavender, thyme and fresh citrus – especially lime and lemon – dominate the nose and palate. The Riesling adds a touch of fruitiness and sweet spice, and helps round out the overall flavour. We can see a delicious Gin and Tonic in this.
If you want to try something different, also in the range is the Ferdinand’s Saar Quince Gin, its take on a sloe gin that uses fresh quince from trees behind the distillery and combined with the fine Saar Dry Gin.
Ferdinand’s Gin is available from Malt & Wine Asia.
Another wine-inspired gin to have recently entered the Singapore market is French brand Sorgin. The folks behind it – husband-and-wife team François and Sabine Lurton – actually hail from a great Bordeaux winemaking family that’s been making wine in the Entre-Deux-Mers region since 1897, but has sought to also resurrect the family distilling legacy’s by making gin. The result is Sorgin, designed to be a link between its wine and spirits tradition.
In particular Sorgin is inspired by Sauvignon Blanc, one of the key grape varietals commonly used in the making of Bordeaux white wine. The base of the gin is neutral grape spirit, which is then infused with juniper berries like a traditional gin but also with Sauvignon Blanc grapes along with botanicals such as lemon, lime zest, violet and blackcurrant buds.
What you get is an elegant, sweeter and fruit-forward gin with a soft, rounded juniper profile. We can see totally see this gin used in a French 75.
Sorgin is distributed by Gain Brands.
Monkey 47 Barrel Cut Gin.
Barrel aging looks to be the next big thing in gin, with a number of brands releasing expressions that have seen the insides of a wooden barrel. But the new limited-edition Monkey 47 Barrel Cut Gin from German gin brand Monkey 47 sets itself apart by using barrels made from mulberry rather than the usual oak.
Here it takes the regular Monkey 47 Dry Gin – made with 47 different botanicals sourced from the Black Forest – and sticks that into lightly toasted mulberry wood barrels for 180 days. What results is nothing like the original, London Dry-style gin; it’s closer to a sloe gin, but even that’s not quite accurate. The wood gives the gin a mahogany colour, but also imparts piney, woody notes with a touch of sweet citrus; in fact the initial mouthfeel is fruity sweet, but thankfully ends with a dry finish.
We’d recommend the Monkey 47 Barrel Cut Gin in a Gin and Tonic or a Gimlet, especially if you like your drinks more rounded and fruiter.
Monkey 47 Barrel Cut Gin is carried by Pernod Ricard, and can be found at leading cocktail bars around Singapore as well as online at Drinks & Co.
Tanglin Barrel Aged Gin.
Closer to home, Singapore’s first gin distillery Tanglin Gin – makers of the Orchid Gin – has launched a couple of brand-new gin variants. There’s the Black Powder Gin which clocks in at a punchy 58% ABV, and the other is the Tanglin Barrel Aged Gin following that barrel-aging trend.
But Tanglin Gin follows the more traditional aging regime of employing used American oak for its first-ever aged product; it rolls its Orchid Gin in Garrison Brothers Bourbon barrels continuously for months to impart a touch of colour and notes of sweet baking spices and woody oak to the gin. The original floral and juniper notes of the Orchid Gin is almost masked here; in fact this tastes a very delicate whisky, which is probably why the brand describes the Tanglin Barrel Aged Gin as “a gin at its heart, a bourbon on the tip of your tongue”.
We reckon the Tanglin Barrel Aged Gin will work rather well as a sipping gin, but if you need to make a cocktail out of it a Negroni would be your best bet.
Orientalist Spirits Gunpowder Gin.
Singapore-based spirits company Orientalist Spirits may be relative new to the market, but the independent bottler and blender has a range of rather interesting spirits that are sourced from across Asia and then blended into unique expressions.
For example, the Orientalist Gunpowder Gin is a small-batch, handcrafted gin incorporating ingredients from all over Asia – you’re looking at the likes of Taiwanese gunpowder tea, Siberian ginseng, Korean omija berries, Kampot peppercorns, Malaysian torch ginger, and Chinese osmanthus, all of which are ethically and sustainably sourced. The result is then proofed with soft Japanese spring water from Kagoshima to help round out and integrate the flavours while retaining the purity of each ingredient.
This is a very floral and spice-driven gin, so we can totally see this in a Martini or an Aviation.
Hendrick’s Gin is best known for its signature cucumber- and rose-infused gin, but the quirky gin brand sometimes comes up with different experimental limited releases that push the boundaries of what a gin is (or can be). The Hendrick’s Orbium is one of those.
First released back in 2017, the Hendrick’s Orbium is essentially a “quininated gin”, i.e. it’s made with the addition of quinine extract, the same ingredient that gives tonic water its bitter flavour. Here the quinine – along with wormwood and blue lotus blossom, in addition to the usual cucumber, rose and 11 botanicals that goes into your regular Hendrick’s – similarly gives the gin a herbaceous bitter aftertaste. This means that you really don’t want to be adding this to regular tonic; Hendrick’s master distiller Lesley Gracie recommends topping up Hendrick’s Orbium with soda water and elderflower cordial instead.
But getting your hand on a bottle may be difficult; it’s only available in ten markets around the world and in very limited quantities here in Singapore. Instead head down to some of our local award-winning cocktail bars – we recommend Gibson, IB HQ, Jigger & Pony, Manhattan, Tippling Club, Nutmeg & Clove, MO Bar and Origin Bar – to try their uniquely unusual Orbium cocktails.
Hendrick’s Gin is carried by William Grant & Sons.
Masahiro Okinawa Gin.
From the southern Japanese island of Okinawa – known as much for its indigenous rice-based awamori spirit as being the site of many a bloody battle during World War II – is Masahiro Okinawa Gin. Masahiro Shuzo has a long history of making awamori, and recently turned to making gin using awamori as a base spirit and botanicals that are distinctive to the tropical island.
In addition to juniper, the Masahiro Okinawa Gin uses another five different botanicals that are locally foraged – shekwasa (a green citrus native to Okinawa), guava leaves, and pipatsu (Japanese long pepper), roselle, and even goya, the anti-aging, cucumber-shaped bitter melon commonly found in Okinawan cooking – in its making. The mellow sweetness of awamori helps to round out its floral and tropical fruit notes makes this gin suitable for being enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or made long into a refreshing Gin and Tonic.
Just be careful when drinking this neat – Masahiro’s Okinawa Gin clocks in at a powerful 47% ABV. Which is unsurprising, if you’re familiar with the drinking fortitude of the Okinawans.
Masahiro Okinawa Gin is distributed by De Majestic Vines and available online at its e-store; it can also be found at Ce La Vi Singapore, Atlas Bar and The Gong by Drinks & Co.
St George ATLAS Orange Gin
As befitting of a venue as grand as lobby bar ATLAS with one of the largest gin collections in the world, it now has a gin to call its own; the expansive lounge just unveiled a gin it’s made in collaboration with California-based artisan distillers St George Spirits called the St George ATLAS Orange Gin.
The St George ATLAS Orange Gin is an attempt by St George and ATLAS to revive a classic style of gin known as ‘orange gin’, mentioned in numerous cocktail books from the Art Deco period such as The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), The Artistry Of Mixing Drinks (1934) and Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1917). As the name implies, it is a veritable celebration of the orange. Made with Seville and Bergamot oranges, along with Valencia orange blossom, this gin is a citrus bomb that’s redolent with juiciness and a touch of savouriness.
The St George ATLAS Orange Gin is exclusively available at ATLAS.
Tënu Gin Forest Blend.
Also newly launched in Singapore is Tënu Gin from Valamo Monastery Distillery based in Heinävesi, Finland. The distillery is probably best known for its single malt whisky – mainly because it’s pretty much the only single malt whisky in the world that’s produced by monks – but they also make a couple of gins that are crafted using ingredients sourced from the Finnish taïga, one of the remaining primitive, untamed forest wilderness in the whole of Europe.
Its signature premium Tënu Gin – Forest Blend is distilled and infused with juniper and lingonberries, artic rose petals, and other rare aromatic roots, all of which are foraged from the taïga. We have no idea what a primeval forest smells or tastes like, but perhaps the “wildness” in this gin can give us a clue; aside from juniper, this woody gin is pine-driven and rife with herbal notes in fennel and sorrel with a touch of blueberries.
While we wouldn’t waste this gin in a Gin and Tonic, we believe an Aviation or a Corpse Reviver #2 may work to bring out those forest aromatics. There’s also the Tënu Gin Le Bon Tikka, its barrel-aged offering that sees the gin aged in medium roasted new American oak barrels for six months.
Tënu Gin is imported and distributed exclusively in Singapore by Tapela Internationale. You can find at selected bars across Singapore, including Alchemist Beer Lab, Monte Carlo Boys, The Cooperage, and Manhattan Bar.
Prohibition Shiraz Barrel Gin.
You may probably know Australian small batch craft gin makers Prohibition Liquor Co for its regular Prohibition Gin, but what’s particularly interesting from them is their Prohibition Shiraz Barrel Gin – after all, Adelaide, South Australia-based Prohibition Liquor is right smack in the middle of winemaking country, in a region most famous for its Shiraz wines.
Here Prohibition takes its signature Prohibition Gin – which is infused with juniper, coriander seed, ginger root, green tea, pink peppercorns, amongst other botanicals – and ages it for six months in an American bourbon cask that has once held Barossa Shiraz. What that imparts is plenty of almost Christmassy flavours of toasted wood spice, and at 60% ABV, comes with a massive punch.
The Prohibition Shiraz Barrel Gin is most likely to show off its characteristics well in a Negroni or a Gin Old Fashioned.
Previously carried by Artisan Selections, Prohibition Gins are now brought in by Burnt End Cellars, and can be found at Butcher Boy, Potato Head, Tippling Club, Meat Smith and Burnt Ends.