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The best craft gins to concoct a mean G&T this Chinese New Year

Craft gins come to the rescue in “the heat of the moment”. 

This time of the year is typified by unbearably warm and parched weather. It’s customary to simmer down with a copious consumption of ice-cold beer. Why not? It is oftentimes chilled in the fridge and readily available when the urge sets in.  

However, an alternative just as effective at busting the heat that you should consider is gin and tonic. A tad more potent (or shall I say more relaxing?) thanks to its higher ABV – you can always keep to a single shot mix – and just as effortless to make as any two-part cocktails, gin and tonic can be adjusted to taste, through a careful selection of gins and mixers. 

More so these days where artisanal gins are de rigueur. Not keen on the divisive piquancy exuded by juniper berries? Get a gin that is infused less with this requisite botanical. Prefer something mellower? Look for a gin that has been aged in barrels – wine, whisky, you name it. Like it sweeter? Go for a lower ABV sloe gin. Gone are the days when gin was by default London Dry. Today, craft gins come in unique expressions across a broad spectrum.  

The best craft gins you can buy now in Malaysia for your G&T fix:

Caorunn 

Caorunn Gin

Pronounced Ka-roon, Caorunn is a Scottish small-batch gin meticulously handcrafted and quadruple distilled by Scotch makers. With botanicals deliberately foraged from the distillery’s immediate surroundings, the Gaelic-inspired spirit is infused with rowan berry, bog myrtle, heather, Coul Blush apple and dandelion leaf to impart a distinctiveness while still honouring the elements characteristic of a well-loved traditional gin – juniper berry, coriander seed, orange peel, lemon peel, cassia bark and angelica root.  

Another specialty exclusive to Caorunn is the copper berry chamber dated back to 1920s but has been reengineered from extracting essential oils in perfumery to now entrusted with a 4-hour-long vapour infusion, a process that harmoniously imbuing the eventual gin with aromatics of the botanical bouquet.  

It’s a contemporary London Dry crafted in Speyside. Expect earthy sweetness with notes of heather, orange blossom, juniper, and an herbaceous finish. If stacking plenty of ice cubes in a G&T is of your preference, opt for the Highland Strength expression bottled at 54% ABV. 

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Sorgin 

Sorgin Yellow Gin

So velvety you could give tonic a miss, Sorgin is crafted by winemakers François Lurton and Sabine Jaren, whose family possesses numerous vineyards worldwide, from a grape varietal they know best – Sauvignon Blanc. While a Sauvignon Blanc white wine is celebrated for its grassy, herbaceous notes, Sorgin is none of those, courtesy of a selection of citrusy botanicals such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, violet, broom and blackcurrant buds.  

A bewitching gin, evocative of its Basque name which translates to sorcerer, Sorgin comes in 3 expressions. Apart from the signature, the acclaimed Yellow Gin is matured for 6 months in ex-Sauvignon Blanc wine barrels to gradually impart a vinous note, while the newer Yellow Chateau Rochemorin Bordeaux Gin is a limited edition that takes it a step further by ageing the Yellow Gin for another 3 months in ex-Chateau Rochemorin Bordeaux wine casks. The eventuality is a stupendously rounded rose-tinted spirit bearing whiffs of cinnamon, plum, and red berries, upon a faint spiced finish.  

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Peddlers Gin Co 

Peddlers gin  

From the bustling, mazy streets of Shanghai birthed a spirit rooted in Chinese culinary traditions thanks to its infusion of local herbs and botanicals. Distilled in the metropolis, Peddlers Gin is further fortified with rare botanicals such as Buddha’s hand, Sichuan pepper and lotus flower. Decidedly spicy yet wonderfully balanced, the gin can also be found in a barrel-aged version, which is rested in ex-Napa Valley Pinot Noir French oak barrels for as much as 3 months. The aged gin is smokier than the original expression while also manifesting flavours of Pinot Noir and fresh stone fruits.  

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Ki No Bi 

KI NO BI gin

While a typical gin is composed of a base spirit that is further infused with botanicals through steeping, vaporisation or a co-ed (combining both methods), Ki No Bi is orchestrated from a fastidious blending process that demands an acute judgement. Distilled, blended and bottled in Kyoto, Ki No Bi is accented with elements of Japanese culture. In addition to a base spirit originating from rice, the gin is created with indigenous botanicals such as yellow yuzu, hinoki wood chip (Japanese cypress), bamboo, gyokuro tea, and green sanshō (Japanese peppercorn) berry.  

They are sorted into 6 categories – base, citrus, tea, herbal, spice, and fruity and floral – before they are blended into the finished gin, in accordance to the desired taste the master blender aims to achieve. No other gins possess the unusual juxtaposition of Ki No Tea, a sweet, delicate and complex gin inspired by white chocolate and roast green tea. 

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Hernö Gin 

Hernö Blackcurrant Gin

Incepted in 2011 as Sweden’s first-ever gin distillery, in a blink of a decade, Hernö is now the most-awarded craft gin brand. Numerous expressions have propagated from founder Jon Hillgren’s affinity for the juniper-forward spirit. They include the Juniper Cask Gin, which is the world’s first to mature in juniper wood casks culminating in a woody, grassy and peppery symphony; and the Blackcurrant Gin Liqueur, which is steeped with whole berries, pressed and sweetened with local honey, for a deliciously bright, bold and slightly tart gin liqueur best paired with East Imperial Burma Tonic. 

For fans of Islay Scotch, go for the Herno Sipping Gin #1.3 ex Ardbeg instead. The 49.1% ABV expression is aged in casks that previously stored Ardbeg whisky, with only 1,904 bottles produced. A sipping gin with a creamy head, peaty heart and saline finish bound together in a juniper-forward body.  

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All images by respective brands

 

 

Justin Ng
Digital Content Director, Kuala Lumpur
Often think of myself as a journalist and so I delve deeper into a range of topics. Talk to me about current affairs, watches, travel, drinks, new experiences and more importantly, the business, economics and dynamics behind it.
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