Heather Rose gin from Strathearn distillery is a bold experiment on the traditional gin flavours we know and love.
Price: ~ £30
Purple heather flowers
Heather Rose is a bold gin that moves away from traditional flavours and into the space between ‘gin’ and ‘flavored gin’, though it was around a long time before we were inundated with the latter. It’s marketed as a ‘celebration gin’ with a flavour profile likened to prosseco. I tried it a while ago on a trip to Edinburgh (when my gin collection was significantly smaller than it is now) and it piqued my interest enough to buy a bottle (yes, this is how long some bottles have been in my collection!)
The original design of my bottle is, well compared to a lot on the market today, it’s a mess. The shape is pleasant, and the labelling is minimal to give the gin a chance to show its colour, but beyond that there’s really nothing that stands out in a good way.
The new bottle however is pretty cool, though I’ve yet to see one in person! I especially like the way everything dilates out from the bird logo. It’s clear, bold and smart. I really like it. Kudos for the redesign!
Image taken from Strathearn Distillery website
Heather Rose gin has, to no one’s surprise, a strong, very pungent aroma of rose. It is not the perfume smell you might imagine, but a more sour, earthy rose smell. It becomes more delicate the longer you spend with it, but at first there’s quite a sour note to the whole gin. Beneath that you have hints of the heather, but there’s not really any juniper there, nor much else that is discernible. You’d be forgiven for thinking this wasn’t actually a gin, though it smells pleasant enough
Sipped neat, there’s a lot more than just rose on the tongue, though for me that is still the runaway flavour profile. At the tip of the tongue there are definitely some pine notes from the juniper, as well as some strong hints of citrus. Around the sides and towards the back of the tongue, there’s actually a very pleasant burnt, fruity caramel flavour that finishes with an almost sweet spiciness. It’s bold and full of flavour, but everything is hitching a ride on those rose petals, which are pungent and bittersweet. This to me is very much a flavoured gin, not a gin with stand out botanicals (albeit nowhere near on par with many truly flavoured gins).
Add a little water and everything has room to breathe. The rose becomes much less dominant and those spicy notes start to come out on their own. I get hints of coriander and the liquorice begins to really shine, plus there’s a nice little kick of citrus under the tongue. It’s much more enjoyable.
Finally, I poured myself another G&T! The recommendation is for mediterranean tonic without garnish, but unfortunately I only have indian. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d read this was supposed to change to a pinkish hue when mixed with tonic? Didn’t happen for me! But it does make a nice G&T. The rose is nicely muted by the tonic and turns almost malty, but I can’t say many of the other flavours get much of a look in. There’s an added fruitiness to the whole drink, but it’s on the sour, bitter side. Probably quite refreshing on a hot day, though if I were having it with indian tonic again I’d probably add a slice of orange.
It’s a good drink, but I’m not sure I could really call it a gin. There’s not a great deal to it beyond that pungent rose flavour so in that sense it might be quite hit or miss for a lot of people. It’s certainly interesting though, and worth trying if you get the chance!
Remove 1 feather if you prefer traditional juniper gins, or don’t like rose flavours!
Heather Rose gin is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.