Gin de Mahón

Let's talk about styles of gin. Most whiskey drinkers know what "straight" whiskey means by now, as they also know the difference between a single malt and a blend, thanks to the plethora of data on the internet. But do you gin drinkers know about the various styles of gin, beyond Old Tom and genever? London Dry, for example. Much like Bourbon doesn't have to be made in Kentucky, did you know that London Dry gins don't have to be made in London? The term originates from the era of the first column stills, back when sweeter Old Tom style gins were still the norm, to help differentiate the cleaner, fresher, drier gins from the pack. The term London Dry does carry a few rules and regulations as well: it must be made with all natural botanicals and it prohibits added flavorings after the gin has been distilled. You can make it anywhere though.

Did you know that Plymouth isn't just the name of a famous gin, it's also both a style of gin and for many years an actual appellation? Up until 2015, Plymouth gin could only be made in Plymouth and it the water had to come from Dartmoor. The brand itself decided to pull out of the geographical indication for various logistical reasons, but there are still other examples of regionally-specific gin like this; gin de Mahón, for example. Gin de Mahón must be made in the city of Mahón on the Spanish island of Minorca, of which the most well-known brand is Xoriguer. How did this little piece of land become a gin haven, you ask? It dates back to the 1700s, when the island was used by both the British and Dutch navy who wanted gin to consume while stationed abroad. That fad only lasted as long as the militaries remained, and by the 20th century there were no distilleries left. 

Xoriguer was started by a man named Miguel Gusto, who built the distillery in 1910 from salvaged equipment from its predecessors. Today, it's still going strong almost 100 years later using much of the same equipment (Tristan Stephenson notes that one of the stills is supposed to be more than 200 years old), powered by wood fire. The recipe uses pretty much juniper and that's it, sourced exclusively from the Pyrenees, but the American version we get here apparently has traces of coriander, citrus, and angelica. The spirit itself is quite oily and almost piney, with a heaping dose of fresh juniper on the finish. The Spanish love Xoriguer in gin and tonics, and if you didn't know, they drink a LOT of gin and tonics in Spain.

Xoriguer Mahon Spanish Gin 1L $44.99 - enjoy the liter size!

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll