Stranger & Songs comes all the way from Goa, India, and is Craft Gin Club’s September gin.
Price: ~ £35
Indian black pepper
Indian citrus peel mix
The wonderfully named Third Eye Distilley, founded by Sakshi Saigal, her husband Rahul Mehra, and cousin Vindur Gupta, is India’s first to focus on producing gin. Surprising given the wealth of potential botanicals the country holds, and that’s just what they wanted to convey in their gin; the sheer variety of flavours that India holds in its traditions and ingenuity.
Located in the stunning state of Goa, the three set about building their distillery with the aim of using as many local botanicals, and indeed a number of their spices come from a neighbour. Sustainability and being conscious of environmental and societal impact is also something they work hard at, ensuring there is as little waste as possible. Water that cannot be recycled is used to water the botanical garden, and flesh from the citrus fruits is used to make cordials and pickles.
Finally, for information, the citrus peel mix comprises four fruits: Gondhoraj Limes, Indian Oranges, Mausambi Limes, and Nimbu Limes. Each bring their own distinct flavour to the gin.
The bottle is a round antique brown glass, with the body tapering out to a lovely rounded shoulder that then sweeps up into a tapered neck, topped with a dark wooden stopper. The large label on the front is full of goreous artwork in fine detail below and around the name of the gin in bold lettering. The main emblem of the gin is the mythical, three-eyed, two-tailed tiger-esque creature which stands at the bottom of the label. This is the creature that visited the family one night under a full moon, and gifted them the recipe for their gin. There are also emblems of the sun and the moon in gold as well as a lovely lined border with english and what I assume is sanskrit (though forgive me if it has another more relevant name) down each side. The back label is black with gold writing and gives the story of the gin and its botanicals. All in all is a really cool, well designed bottle and label and I think it looks super-premium. I love it.
Right out of the glass, there’s a great burst of citrus and exotic, aromatic spice. It’s lovely and fresh with bold but light, earthy tones. The nutmeg is prominent for me, as are the cassia and liquorice which give it a warm, but sharp aroma. The citrus is a lovely mild blend, rather than particularly one way or another, but the more I let it develop, the more I feel the pepper and cassia make a pact to lead the way. Juniper is present, along with a hint of coriander, but they’re not dominant. That’s not a complaint though, I think this smells wonderful.
Neat it is the mace, nutmeg, and cassia that power to the fore for me, though they strike a balance. It’s wonderfully spiced, hugely aromatic, warming, but with a kick. Beneath that the citrus swims around creating a fruity backdrop for the spice to lay into, giving the aromatics a sense of depth and body. It’s got a heck of a lot of flavour, but it’s extremely well blended. The sour notes are not too sour, the pepper is not too harsh, none of the spices run away with themselves. It a really great sipper.
Water brings out those spices even more, they just grow and grow, but again it’s all balanced, with the possible exception of the pepper which does come through with a little more kick! Still, I’m almost amazed that the addition of water seems to increase the level of flavour! Even to the point of intensifying the spices so that they have a real heat to them. It’s a touch more sour, but the sheer amount of flavour here is seriously impressive.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic, with dried lemon and green peppercorns to garnish). The result is absolutely wonderful. I admit that I had concerns that the level of aromatic spices in thie gin might make the G&T a little on the odd side, but this works a treat. The citrus really comes alive here, playing off the sweeter elements of the spices perfectly to create a delicious blend. This is an amazing G&T.
For my tastes, Stranger & Songs is a fantastic gin. Yes, it’s well into the contemporary end of the spectrum, but if you’re like me and you’re a fan of those aromatic spices, you’ll love it. The founders set out to showcase the variety and boundless life that makes up the huge country of India, and to show that despite all that there are elements of balance, and in my book they’ve utterly succeeded. This gin takes what it has, in abundance, and balances it perfectly. It’s incredibly flavoursome, and exceptionally well made. I’m a huge fan and would highly recommend it.
Add half a feather if you like the look of the botanicals and aren’t fussed that juniper doesn’t play a leading role.
Remove a feather if you prefer less spice and more juniper.
Stranger & Sons is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.