QVT gin is made in Provence, France and this edition from Craft Gin Club features rosé wine extract as a botanical.
Price: ~ £35
Rosé wine extract
Justin and Anna-Carin Kandimaa Matterson are the husband and wife pair behind April’s offering from Craft Gin Club. Though neither of them are French, each of them had spent time in Provence in their youth, and after a decades long and winding journey found themselves back there, looking to settle down. Justin was born in the UK, but spent much of his life in Africa, having moved there for a 3-month contract. He travelled voraciously, creating safari lodges, as well as working for the UN and US State Department. It was while in Zambia that he first met Anna, and the two formed a bond strong enough to see them travel across the continent and eventually have two daughters who joined them on their adventures. As the girls reached school age, they decided it was time to put down some roots, and their search led them back to Provence.
It was the surprising lack of gin on offer that ignited the idea to make their own, and Justin spent five years studying distilling before purchasing a custom-made German still that would provide the flexibility he was looking for. While it was being built he developed the recipe, based on the bountiful botanicals on offer in Provence, including a rosé wine extract, which is made by distilling concentrated wine to about 87% ABV. QVT gin was eventually born, and is so named as the letters stand for Quatre-Vingt-Trois (83) which is the area code of the distillery.
For the Édition CGC, the pair wanted to give the gin a taste more in tune with Spring which is when they knew it would be sent out to members. This was done by adding a little more citrus, while toning down some of the stronger herbal and floral notes.
The bottle is a ridiculously tall, narrow cylinder with a long neck and dark wood stopper that will not fit on any of my shelves. Harumph. The shape is a nod to wine bottles, but be warned of the height! The glass is a pale blush in colour, reflecting the rosé wine featured within, and the name of the gin appears in bright, reflective copper script. Around the bottle from the middle down are sweeping lines of copper, reflecting the copper of the still in which the gin is made. Towards the bottom the volume and ABV sit above Justin’s signature. On the back, the address of the distillery sits beneath the CGC logo amongst others. That’s it. No blurb about the distillery, or the gin. It’s minimal, with clean lines and pleasant colours. I like it, other than its height.
Juniper sits front and centre on the nose, dry, bright, and crisp but with notes of fleshy citrus around the edges. It’s nice and fresh, and there’s a definite hint of viscous wine along with a soft floral tone. Dip beneath all those bright notes though and there’s a touch of earth too, providing a welcome balance and added body with rosemary peeking through nicely. For me there’s an excellent blend of aromas and it all seems really well balanced. Nothing overpowers, giving the impression everything is working together. Overall I find it very pleasant, though fairly short lived.
Neat, I get huge notes of herbs and florals, which is interesting as these are the elements that have been pared back in this edition. The mouthfeel is luscious, warming and soft but with a nice kick of flavour. It’s definitely more potent on the palate than the nose, and it feels like there’s quite a lot to unpick. For me though, the herbal notes of rosemary and thyme are intricately paired with lavender and rose, so much so that they seem inseperable. The herbs definitely come first, quite strong and earthy, very green and fresh, but as that fades the floral elements come more as a vapour that diffuses throughout the mouth. It’s an interesting flavour profile for sure, but based on this I’m not sure how much I’d like the original if it is more intense. Having looked up the polypody fern, I feel this is a definite contributor to the flavour, again very green but with a hint of sweetness. I only really get citrus as an aftertaste, as though the lemon and grapefruit are a binding agent, the canvas on which, along with coriander, the other flavours are able to express themselves. It’s got a stronger kick than might be expected for 40%.
Water lightens the flavour considerably, but for me it is still very herbal. I get a little cardamom now, and the rose is a little more defined. In fact I would say the water does a wonderful job of separating out all those elements and softening the intensity overall, creating a much more enjoyable experience. It feels a little more relaxed, allowing different flavours to come and go and bringing the juniper back to the fore, along with more citrus. I am definitely enjoying this more now, though for my tastes it is quite a dry and bitter gin. That said there are some really nice flavours I’m not as used to that I can sense are getting better and better.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic with a dried orange wheel and rose buds to garnish). The result is a lovely, dry gin and tonic (I’m glad I went for a tonic water I know is fairly sweet!) with a very interesting twist. Here, I feel as though the rosé wine extract really shines through. There is a definite tang of wine flavour now, adding a delicious element of bitterness and a touch of sour tannin. I’d consider adding a little more gin in future (or a little less tonic) but this makes a very refreshing and still fairly classic but definitely a little different G&T.
This review has been quite a journey for me. When I first get my CGC box, I always crack it open right away and take a little sip neat, to get an indea of what I can expect. For me that first sip was on the bitter, herbal side which isn’t where my tastes tend to favour. Though I thought the nose was nice, albeit transient, that didn’t really change when I sipped it neat. However as I hope has been evident, the gin has only improved for me, first with water then in a G&T, and I feel I can finish by saying that I really think this is a gin that’s going to grow on me, and one which I look forward to trying in a variety of drinks. I don’t currently know whether this edition will be available to all further down the line, but based on my understanding of the recipe behind this being very close to the original, I would say that if you’re a fan of dry gins with very prominent herbal notes, the original is probably worth checking out.
Remove up to one feather if you are not a fan of herbal flavours, or have a sweet tooth.
QVT CGC Edition is available only through Craft Gin Club. Their original is available online.
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.