Disclaimer: This bottle of Strane was gifted by Highfern (the importer) for review. All opinions are my own.
Strane is a blended gin produced by the Smögen whisky distillery on the Swedish coast.
Price: ~ £39 (50cl)
Named after an old fishing village (which has since merged with a neighbouring village to become Hunnebostrand, the nearest town to the Smögen distillery), Strane is unusual in that it is created by distilling and blending three differently balanced base gins. One junipery, another citrusy, and the last herbal.
The man behind the method is Pär Caldenby, a lawyer and whisky enthusiast turned whisky author turned spirits producer! Made using a 100 litre copper pot still, there are three expressions of Strane gin on offer: the Merchant Strength (which is this bottle), Navy (57.1%) and Uncut (a whopping 76%). In addition to the botanicals listed above, Strane also includes two secret botanicals which I understand to be local to the distillery.
The bottle is a standard 50cl round base and sloped shoulders style, with the label wraping around two thirds of the side. It’s a very clean, minimal label, in white and salmon pink, with the name of the gin front and centre, then the expression, and a brief description. Beneath that in three equal boxes is the volume, ABV, and signature of distiller. Round to the left is a description of the gin and production, and on the other side the address of the distillery. There’s a wooden stopper with the distillery logo (a lighthouse) embossed. And that’s it! It’s simple and thanks to the pleasant fonts I think quite elegant. The bottle itself may not stand out, but the name of the gin is hard to miss given the simplicity of the label.
One note however, and it may just be my bottle, but the cork won’t stay in! After removing the foil and cork, now, every time I replace it, it slowly creeps back up until only the bottom third is still in the bottle. Hopefully it’s just my cork. EDIT: After drinking a little, the cork now stays in! Obviously it was creating enough of a seal that the air pressure forced it back out a little. All good now so if it happens to you, just drink some!
On the nose is a heady, pungent juniper followed by bright citrus and a touch of spice. There’s plenty of aroma here, with lovely buttermint notes and sweet, herbal tones. The juniper leads all the way in this, with hints of the citrus, sage and cinnamon darting around the outside. It’s a lovely smelling gin with no burn and plenty of body. It smells fantastic.
Neat it’s smooth and positively bursting with juniper. Yet again there’s loads of flavour, firing off bright green and blue notes of pine with a lovely woody element that reminds me of the wonderful smell of a fresh sauna. Delving a little deeper, the cinnamon becomes apparent, along with liquorice and a touch of sage. It has a really lovely fresh woodland feel to it, with some bright citrus notes thrown in. The herbs for me are less prominent, but there on the edges, again nice and fresh.
A drop of water brings the brighter notes down a lot, leaving a much more savoury flavour and allowing the herbs and mint to show through a touch more. It’s still very much juniper forward for me, with the lemon taking a step back and allowing lime, and the other elements to come forward.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Lamb & Watt Original Tonic, with dried lemon peel to garnish). The result is absolutely fantastic. A gorgeous juniper flavour, sweetened and complimented by the tonic. It’s full of flavour, well balanced with the citrus notes and is one of the best G&T’s I’ve had in a while.
Strane Merchant Strength is a fantastic gin that is as full of flavour as you could wish. It’s a very classic profile up front with juniper for days, but I get the impression the less prominent botanicals are doing a lot work in the background making the overall profile work so well. There are glimpses of sage, basil, and less so for me, mint at the edges, with the citrus and cinnamon taking up a little more space. The liquorice too shines through occasionally, but this gin is definitely juniper’s show, and the performance is exemplary. There’s a word I’ve been wanting to use the whole time while I’ve been tasting it, and that is ‘chewy’. The juniper is so fresh and full that I almost feel as though if I bite down I might find a berry between my teeth. And that is very much meant as a good thing.
It’s an expensive gin, yes, but to my tastes it’s an absolutely fantastic one. If you get a chance to try it, I can’t recommend it enough.
My thanks to Robert at Highfern Ltd. for sending me this bottle of Strane Merchant Strength gin!
Strane is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.