La República is the world’s first gin made with Amazonian botanicals, and is distilled at 3500m above sea level.
Price: ~ £??
All the way from La Paz, Bolivia, La República was Craft Gin Club’s Janurary 2019 offering. Unfortunately there’s not a great deal of information available about the gin, as I don’t think it’s widely available in the UK, or possibly even Europe. ‘Amazonica’ is actually the sister product to ‘Andina’ the original gin from Daniel and Joan, the two men behind the product, and one I am very interested in getting my hands on!
The unusual botanicals in ‘Amaźonica’ are harvested by local people direct from the ‘Lungs of the Earth’, the Amazon rainforest, which serves as the inspiration for the gin. These, added to the altitude, which reduces the boiling point of the alcohol, which allows the gin to be made more like a slow-cooker, so it really is quite unique!
The bottle is tall and round with straight sides and a nice diamond-like pattern embossed in the glass, which is a very faint murky green/grey colour. The label wraps around the full circumference and on the front features the name and a crest which I am not sure is unique to the gin, or of some relevance to La Paz/Bolivia. It’s plain and simple, but my favourite part is on the side where all the botanicals are listed along with diagrams of what they look like. A very nice touch.
On the nose, it immediately becomes clear that this gin is very different. I will say I can’t really sense juniper there, but what I do get is a wonderful body of thick, creamy, earthy tones that really transport you to another place. It has a hint of ‘otherness’ about it, by which I mean it gives a sense of being a unique spirit in its own right (think local spirits around the world, Arrack, Feni etc.), but mostly to me it has that familiar sort of butter-mint aroma I’ve loved in other gins. It’s warm, light, and slightly spicy but also very green.
Neat, there’s an incredible amount of flavour to take in. First and foremost I’m hit with more sour, slightly citrus, creamy tones than on the nose. It’s incredibly fresh tasting, but not in a way I think most gin drinkers would be used to. I feel like there are lots of things about this gin that are a contradiction: it’s fresh and light, but also earthy and full-bodied. I can picture the heavy air of the rainforest, but also feel the fresh liveliness it sustains. As for actual flavours, well there are a lot in here that I am wholly unfamiliar with so it’s difficult. There’s a fleshy, warm spice with hints of citrus. It’s earthy but sweet and is unlike anything I’ve had before. Personally, I can’t taste juniper at all, but I don’t mind because I love it.
With water, the spices come alive. My goodness there’s still so much flavour that I’m just not used to, but all of it is good. The creamier tones have taken on the cacao much more heavily, but everything else has spread out into an absolute panopoly of flavour ranging from herbal, leafy green tones to warm, brown spices, along with citrus and finally a hint of coriander. It’s not gin as I know it, but it’s a wonderful drink.
Finally, I tried it in a G&T (3:1 Light Indian Tonic) with a wedge of orange. The results are very pleasant indeed. The gin holds up incredibly well, losing nothing of the flavours I was getting with water. There’s an expansion of the citrus, but not in a tart way, instead it’s a heady warmth that joins with all the strange and wonderful flavours I’ve been riding since it first touched my lips. Oh! Right at the end! Wow. Chocolate. Actual, genuine dark chocolate. Amazing. It’s not like any G&T I’ve had before, but I just love the flavours in this spirit.
Now, did you notice I ended with the word ‘spirit’ there instead of ‘gin’? That’s because it is almost, almost, unrecognisable as a gin. But frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn, because whatever you want to call it, I think this is an amazing drink. I can of course understand anyone who disagrees. It is, after all, a very different and distinct taste that no doubt will not please everyone, but it pleases me greatly. If you can get hold of a bottle, or find it to try, I highly recommend you do, though you may have to visit Bolivia to do it! It’s a real experience.
Half a feather deducted for being difficult to get hold of, and another for not really being a gin!
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.