Micil Spiced Orange Gin is a special release for Craft Gin Club, featuring foraged botanicals from Galway, Ireland, as well as citrus and spices from around the world.
Price: ~ £39
Micil distillery opened its doors in 2016, and was the first legal distillery in Galway since 1911 when Persses Whisky closed. Co-founders Pádraic and Jamín Ó Griallais come from a family that has been distilling in Galway for 170 years, and it is actually their great-great-great-grandfather, Micil Mac Chearra after whom the distillery and its products are named. The brothers joined up with Ross Tobin and began making Poitín from the old family recipe and eventually the team moved on to making gin.
Micil gin uses a unique mix of ingredients local to Galway and Connemara, as well as classic London Dry botanicals, but for this Craft Gin Club edition the team wanted to add a twist. Celebrating Galway’s history as a major port, they decided to add some of the citrus and spices that would have flowed through the area, and so ‘Spiced Orange’ was the result.
The bottle is a square shape with rounded corners and shoulder, leading to a short neck with orange collar label, and topped with a nicely embossed wooden stopper. The glass is antique green, so looks almost black when not lit. The label covers the front and most of each side, with nothing on the back, and is printed on nice textured paper. On the front of the name of the gin and distillery, below the logo of the top half of a man holding what looks like wheat in gold leaf. In the middle is the edition (in this case ‘spiced orange’) and a proud statement of its Irish origins and a brief description of botanicals included. Around the bottom section of the front is a nicely sweeping illustration of leaves, flowers, and oranges, taking in a banner that tells us the gin has been ‘carefully distilled in Galway, Ireland’. On the left side is the usual info, and on the right an introduction to the gin’s origin and inspiration. It’s nicely designed and the bottle is lovely.
First off is a wave of relief that despite the description and indication, this is not a spiced orange flavoured gin. Right away the aroma is evocative and full of herbs, spices, and rich orange notes. It’s a really interesting combination of fresh, aromatic citrus notes with those more powdered tones from the spices and also for me the hawthorn. On the nose at least, it seems a little odd to me to specify this as a ‘spiced orange’ version, but perhaps those are the key differences between this and the original. For me it’s definitely spiced, but there’s far more going on than just orange too. It’s very inviting, and even after several minutes is still providing plenty of complex tones to keep me interested.
Neat, the spices are definitely the heavy hitters here, with cinnamon, cardamom, and clove taking centre stage. So much so that I get a definite tingling on the tongue. Still, those three alone would not make for a very full experience, and for me this is where the citrus peel, coriander, and angelica come through. It’s absolutely bursting with flavour, with the dry and bitter spices pushing further ahead the more I sip until I am left a little overwhelmed. Despite it being one of my favourite flavours, the cardamom is really starting to overpower and the cinnamon has been replaced with caraway, which adds a bitterness for me.
Water does little to tame the cardamom, although it’s a little less physically harsh on the tongue. Beyond that, I can sense the ghosts of flavours past but they are fading memories at this point and I’m not really enjoying it any more. It’s like I’ve accidentally bitten into a cardamom pod and it’s become stuck in my teeth. I think the clove may be playing more of a part here actually because the sensation is reminiscent of the numbing effect cloves can have.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Ridge Valley Indian Tonic with a slice of dried orange to garnish). The result is nice, with a good orange flavour and some earthy spice, but I can still taste the cardamom and clove fighting to remain dominant. They give a good bitterness, but with each sip, for me at least, they really do become stronger and stronger. After a little while the bitterness and spice begins to overpower again and I am left not enjoying it as much as when I began.
On the nose I thought I was going to really like this gin, and even after the first couple of neat sips I remained confident that it was up my street in terms of flavour, with orange and cardamom being two of my favourites. Alas the more time I spent with this gin the less I liked it and for me the spices, particularly the cardamom, caraway, and (not so much the flavour as the medicinal effects) clove, are totally overpowering and obliterate most of the other flavours I was getting initially. For me, it’s a gin to put in cocktails that are either meant to be bitter, or are sweetened. Perhaps a Negroni or a Bee’s Knees.
Add half a feather if you love cardamom more than life itself. Remove half if you don’t like it.
Micil Spice Orange is currently only available via the Craft Gin Club
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.