Red Door is a Scottish Highlands inspired gin from the Benromach distillery.
Price: ~ £27
There’s no doubt about it, Red Door have a strong marketing game. I just kept seeing this gin on twitter and found myself wanting it more and more. Eventually I cracked and ordered myself a bottle.
It’s a classic London Dry, inspired by the natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands and is thus labelled a ‘Highland gin’. Benromach are no strangers to distilling, but having made whisky since 1898, but this is their first foray into gin and, understandably, they wanted to give it a taste of the Highlands.
The bottle is a fairly classic shape with a slightly bulbous base, but obviously it’s the gorgeous deep red colour that makes it stand out. On the front, the label is screen printed with the name displayed in white in a lovely font. Stylised images of the botanicals form a background to the label in deep shades of purple and sand, giving it a simple yet detailed appearance. On the back in white is a little introduction to the gin and the inspiration behind it. Finally around the neck is a paper label showing the red door of the distillery (after which the gin is named) with the lovely little feature of a cat running out. I really like it.
The first thing on the nose is a bright, fresh, citrus pine that’s quickly backed up with a bitter chocolate spice. It’s a clean and clear aroma that’s fairly fleeting, but with lots going on. There’s a slight salty tang to it that’s very pleasant and though it doesn’t have the heady mixture of some gins, it’s still very inviting.
Neat, the gin is light and crisp without the burn you might expect from the ABV given the botanical profile doesn’t really include any of the heavier, earthy or spiced notes that usually help. The first flavours that come to mind are those bitter chocolate notes, but the heather is definitely there too and they make a very interesting combination. After that there are hints of citrus, with the lemon hitting some brighter notes and the bitter orange as more of a background. The juniper is there, but for me it’s not in its usual attire, which is absolutely fine as I think the taste is great.
Water softens the spiciness from before and brings out the more sour notes of the citrus and sea buckthorn, though the flavour doesn’t become sour itself. There are definitely stronger herbal notes now, and that coastal tang provides a lovely counterpoint to the chocolatey notes that remain.
Finally, I served a G&T (2:1 Double Dutch Indial Tonic) with a few raspberries to garnish. Though it’s still very crisp and light, those chocolate notes still manage to come through beautifully and it works really well with the raspberries. There’s a lot more going on in this drink than I had anticipated, and for me some of it is a little conflicting. I’ve got a nice citrus tang, but it feels like it’s working against the warmer notes of the rowan berries. Though the raspberries were a recommendation from Red Door themselves, I think a citrus garnish is the way to go (they do also recomment grapefruit). I can confirm that this gin is great in a Negroni though!
Red Door is a bit of a conundrum for me. It’s unlike anything else I’ve had that I can think of, so in that sense it’s difficult to review based on what I know. It’s a gin, no doubt, but it’s different too. That said, it’s really good. I’m a fan of heavy, rich, lingering flavours and spices, and this doesn’t really have those, but I still really like it. It’s as clear as spring water, and as fresh tasting too, but with plenty of flavour. How they get that strength of chocolate notes from the rowan berries is a mystery, and it’s this that I suspect is why it makes such a great Negroni.
Bottom line, I think it’s great, but I can see others very much not warming to it. It’s definitely worth checking out though!
Remove half a feather if you’re a very classic London Dry fan.
Red Door is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and payed for by the author, unless otherwise stated.