When is gin not a gin?

Gerry Calabrese last night unveiled the finished version of Hoxton Gin  – which features overwhelming flavours of coconut and grapefruit at the fore. The unusual spirit got the drinks business wondering whether the product should actually be classed as a “gin” at all.

hoxtonbottle.jpgCalabrese, owner of trendy London bar The Hoxton Pony, has spent three years devising and refining the product.

The six botanicals involved are coconut, grapefruit, ginger, tarragon, juniper and iris and the product, in Calabrese’s words, is designed to “introduce new people to gin”.

The botanicals are macerated for five days before a single distillation in a 150-year-old copper pot still and are then blended with the grain spirit. The gin is then reduced to 43% abv, filtered and then rested for two months in steel tanks.

As a standalone product – indeed, the signature serve is neat in a Martini glass with a twist of lemon peel – it stands up as a relatively refreshing, sweet drink that holds plenty of appeal as a drink on its own.

Calabrese told db: “My missus hates normal gin, but she loves this.”

All well and good – but is this really introducing new people to gin, or giving them something so far removed from the traditional product that it is essentially a whole new type of drink?

EU regulations clearly state that “gin” must feature a predominant juniper flavour – this is certainly not the case with Hoxton Gin.

Interestingly, however, upon mixing the overpowering tropical flavours of coconut and grapefruit give way to more recognisable gin-like flavours.

Regardless of the debate, the drink is set to cause quite a stir, with Harrods set to feature it as its Spirit of the Month throughout May.

Calabrese told db he has already secured over 40 listings in UK bars and aims to reach the 100 mark over the next couple of months, while he has also secured listings with the likes of Coe Vintners and The Whisky Exchange.

“We will also be rolling out in Italy, the US, Russia and Spain,” Calabrese told db.

“I just wanted to put a totally new twist on a drink that had lost its appeal to a lot of younger drinkers,” he added. “I just woke up one day with coconut and graprefuit in my head and took it from there.

“It’s been a long process, but I believe we’ve come up with something totally unique and exciting – the first time we’ve been able to say that about gin for a long time.”

Hoxton Gin’s RRP in the off-trade will be between £24-27, with Harrods selling it for £29 during May.

Alan Lodge, 27.04.2011

No Responses to “When is gin not a gin?”

  1. The Cocktail Lovers says:

    It worked really well in a daiquiri, not so sure as a naked martini but we like the fact Gerry Calabrese is trying to capture the vibrant and non-conventional spirit of Hoxton in a bottle.

  2. chris says:

    Sounds more like a flavored vodka to me.

  3. Jamie says:

    For centuries Gin has been an integral part of British drinking culture, and so should it! It is an amazing category and it happens to be my favourite, this is why I stock an impressive 52 different kinds at The Pony.

    With the emergence of club culture, so called “premium vodkas” and quick fixes; Gin has become less and less relevant to younger generations of drinkers… My customers, who are largely youthful, trendy cats, had little interest or no interest in my selection and this is what compelled me to create a gin for modern times.

    Hoxton Gin has been the result of two and a half years hard work, which has seen guidance from independent Gin experts and has resulted in a product made with real integrity using only the finest ingredients. My intent was never to detract from the category but to add to it, and the starting point was always a bedrock of Juniper as a base for the recipe; well over 50%. We then introduced the unusual botanicals which are commented on, for the purpose of their easy drinking and their ability to mix with. This is a fun product with real appeal to a younger drinking palette, Hoxton Gin is meant as an introduction to a fabulous spirits category.

    Hoxton Gin is not a rebel without cause but a rebel with a very clear purpose. In fact I do not believe we are rebellious at all, as I think there are other products already on the market for sometime which have introduced “new age” botanical flavours. This is a continuation of the botanical movement, and in my opinion this is a very good thing for Gin.

    Gerry Calabrese

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