It’s not every day you get to taste a rare gin based on an original recipe written over 500 years ago.
The limited edition Gin 1495 was unveiled in Sydney at Juniper House in Paddington in conjunction with World Gin Day.
Philip Duff at Juniper Hall
The recipe was discovered by visiting spirits educator Philip Duff who took guests on a historical journey which led to the development of Gin 1495, a project that took over two years in the making.
Duff found the recipe in an out-of-print book on Jenever, written in Dutch that tells of the use of grapes for gin, details the distillation method and includes the recipe. Although at the time gin was primarily used for medicinal purposes, the book specifically references the spirit for recreational use and is believed to be the oldest recreational recipe for gin.
Gin 1495 is the product of a collaboration of spirit and cocktails experts and historians, namely Philip Duff and David Wondrich along with Dave Broom, Gaz Regan and Jean-Sébastien Robicquet, founder of EWG Spirits & Wine which produce G’Vine Gin.
Jenever & Gin 1495
Quoting and translating the recipe, Duff explained,
“Take a pot (20 litres) of wine or mother of wine,” (this was believed to be wine lees or mas which is used to make grappa so they added Marc de Cognac). “Thin it with clean water or beer, stir until it has the consistency of buttermilk, start to cook and stir until it begins to simmer. Put the pot on. Distil it twice, mix it warm with the botanicals.”
The recipe specifies 12 nutmegs, 4 pounds each of ginger, galangal, seeds of paradise, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom and the distillate has to be only from wine. “If you want it really good, distil it again with four pounds of crushed nutmeg, 2 handfuls of sage, a pound of cloves and a handful of juniper”. A ratio of nine parts wine distillate to one part botanicals is to be used.
What makes this gin rather unique is that at the time, there was no spice trade in Europe, no citrus or pepper, and the only sweetness was derived from honey and liquorice root. Juniper was also considered exotic so the gin would have been very expensive to produce.
Two expressions of Gin 1495 were released by EWG Wine and Spirits. As the name implies, Verbatim is a recreation that is as close to the original recipe as possible. The Interpretatio is a modern interpretation based on the original recipe with the inclusion of citrus aurantium or bitter orange and a tweaking of four of the botanicals.
Gin 1495 Verbatim
On the nose, Gin 1495 Verbatim (45.0% ABV) abounds in dry spices, with strong aromas of nutmeg at first, followed by cinnamon and lots of clove.
Spice notes explode on the palate, bold and dry with a load of cloves, cardamom and nutmeg followed by woody and earthy notes. The juniper is very subdued and is somewhat lost among the Christmasy notes of the gin. The depth of flavour is to be applauded and the finish is remarkably long and lingering, earthy, warming and dry. This is a gin that keeps on giving.
Verbatim is unlike any other gin or spirit. The combination of spice notes give it an almost digestif quality. For its ABV, it is very easy to sip and savour neat.
Gin 1495 Interpretatio
Gin 1495 Interpretatio (45.0% ABV) contains more juniper with the bitter orange botanical added. On the nose, it is more juniper and citrus pronounced and echoes modern day gins. The palate starts with a combination of juniper and citrus and progresses into the medley of spice with mainly cloves, ginger and cardamom along with a funkiness from the Marc de Cognac. The finish is long and complex but not as lingering as Verbatim.
Interpretatio is close to the more recent styles of gin, not as earthy in character and more refined on the palate than Verbatim.
Gin 1495 Presentation Box
Gin 1495 comes as a set of Verbatim and Interpretatio in 200 ml beautifully packaged in an old book style presentation box containing the rare gins. Only 100 sets were produced but they won’t be on sale. Many are being donated to spirits museums and gin distilleries around the world. The rest will be auctioned with all the proceeds going to charity. One set will be auctioned in Australia over the next month.
“It’s our gift back to the category and to donate a little bit of our time and expertise to charity,” Duff explained.
L-R: Yves Le Boulengé, Abe Marrett, Andy Harris, Rossco Charman, Philip Duff, Andy Gaunt, Jake Hauville
Gin 1495 was unveiled in Sydney to an intimate group of media and industry professionals. The evening began with G’Vine Gin & Tonics, mainly G’Vine Floraison with Fever-Tree Indian Tonic water and fresh grapes, and G’Vine Nouaison with Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic water garnished with cinnamon quill and orange zest.
After the official tasting, cocktails included Jean Sebastien Robiquet’s Royal Negroni, made with La Quintinye Royal Vermouth Rouge and Extra Dry with G’Vine Nouaison and Campari. Another standout cocktail was created by the Juniper Society, made with G’Vine Nouaison, La Quintinye Royal Vermouth Extra Dry, Brothie and orange bitters.
The food served at the event was meticulously selected and executed in harmony with the theme. Chef Jean Salet of Restaurant Le Pelican in Surry Hills delighted guests with a delicious array of canapes, each using botanicals found in Gin 1495. The standout canapes included Northern Queensland spanner crab, corn and sage grissini, Bonaccordo duck glazed with La Quintinye Royal Vermouth Rouge, and Mandangery Creek venison crusted in juniper berry, clove and grains of paradise.
Desserts by Chef John Ralley of the soon to open Boulangerie-Patisserie Textbook in Alexandria were delectable works of art. The Spiced Winter Mousse was made with Valrhona chocolate, La Quintinye Royal Vermouth Rouge and cardamom mousse with spice crunch. Textures of Grape with G’Vine consisted of a white chocolate “grape” filled with grape mousse and compote with a G’Vine gel and sugar vine leaf.
Gin 1495 was unveiled in Sydney at Juniper Hall on Sunday 14 June 2015 by HMH Beverages.
**UPDATE 31 July 2015**
The auction for Gin 1495 was held on 31 July 2015 at Archie Rose distillery with the rare gin fetching $2500 AUD. Proceeds are going to Wine to Water charity, providing water for those in need.
Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.
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