Port of Barcelona Gin
Review: Port of Barcelona Gin 85/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on March 15, 2012
I was going to start this review by letting everyone know that the Port of Barcelona Gin is a Spanish gin distilled at the Esmeralda Distillery in the Catalan City of Lleida, Spain at the base of the Pyrenees Mountains (where in fact they are more well-known for their Obsello Absinthe Verte distillations than for their gin).
However, I have found out that changes are as they say, afoot, with respect to the Port Of Barcelona Gin. The producers have relocated from Spain to the US and are going to be producing their absinthe and gin in the USA rather than in Spain. The company is planning to begin production in the United States later this year. I do not know if the new gin will be called Port of Barcelona Gin anymore, or whether the new gin is even likely to be the similar. And, of course, means that whatever stocks of Port of Barcelona Gin which are in the retail stores now, are likely the last of the original Spanish Stocks.
What I can say is that the Spanish spirit which I am reviewing is three times distilled and made from 100 % malted barley. Ripened juniper, and 13 other botanicals are used to produce the gin flavour, and the final distillation is actually completed on a ‘seasoned’ copper absinthe still, which also imparts the flavor of the Obsello Absinthe Verte into the final distillate. The product is being brought into my home market of Alberta by local Importer PB Beverages who arranged for me to receive a sample bottle of this unique gin to review here on my website, and who assure me that stocks of the Original Port of Barcelona Gin will not run out in my locale any time soon.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
The spirit arrives in a small squat bottle (pictured to the left). It has a corked enclosure with a wide flattened mouth for easy pouring. The label on the bottle is clean and perhaps a little minimalistic; but there was a nice little pamphlet hanging on the neck of my bottle which provided more information about the gin and served to entice me into wanting to taste what a 100 % malted barley gin (which carries flavours of absinthe) has to offer.
In the Glass 8.5/10
The Port of Barcelona Gin is clear in the glass and expresses a fragrant nose. Initially, I smell a mild piny scent that has a different sort of flair than I am used to. I suspect I am sensing the anise-like imprint of absinthe upon the gin. I also notice a sort of penetrating sweetness which is rather firm and unrelenting, as well there is some mild citrus scents running through the breezes which remind me of an orange liqueur. The floral accents above the glass are reminiscent of fresh lilacs and there seems to be a little heather in the breeze as well.
In the Mouth 51/60
Sipping the Port of Barcelona Gin is a very different experience. There is a lot of different flavour sensations which come to the fore and seem to compete for my attention. That, (for lack of a better description), absinthe flair I noted on the nose seems to lead out even ahead of the piny juniper flavour. The gin is also full of floral characteristics remind me of heather, balsam, and a lightly sweet lemony citrus.
As I sit back and study the flavour, I begin to notice that it has an underlying quality that of reminds me of Genever. I suspect it is the malted barley I am tasting here, although with 13 botanicals in the mix I cannot be sure. I am enjoying sipping the gin neat, although I am somewhat concerned that these expressive flavours may be very difficult to reconcile in my favourite gin cocktails.
The only thing to do is to mix a few of these cocktails and see what happens.
The first cocktail I mixed was a Lime Gimlet. I decided to stick with tradition and made it with Roses Lime rather than fresh squeezed limes. The result was a different sort of cocktail which I quite enjoyed. All of those expressive floral flavours seemed to mix well with the lime cordial. Next, I made a Lime Fizz (this time with real lime juice) which again carried the unique floral character of the gin through the cocktail in a manner which was quite enjoyable. I tried a Gin Martini. This was less of a hit with me as it seemed that the Vermouth and the Gin were at odds with each other. Finally I made a Gin and Tonic which was I found kind of interesting, but with a flavour that seemed maybe too aggressive for my taste. It seems that when I stick with lime the gin is much more to my liking in the cocktail format.
In the Throat 12.5/15
Things are perhaps just a little too sweet in the exit as the gin begins to remind me just a bit of a liqueur rather than a gin. (I think perhaps this is the reason the Martini didn’t work out so well.)
The Afterburn 8.5/10
The Port of Barcelona Gin is a product that is going to divide people into two camps. It carries a non-traditional flavour profile forward, and this will displease those who want their cocktails to taste a certain, I’ll say, traditional way. However, for those who want to walk on the wilder side of the Gin Cocktail experience, the Port of Barcelona will be exactly the type of Gin they will want to explore.
For the first group of people my overall score will seem rather high, and they might be shaking their heads. For the second group of people my score will seem a maybe a little on the low side. But only a little low, as I am perhaps closer to the camp of exploring the wilder side of cocktails, than I am to the traditionalist camp.
You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews
Here is a classic cocktail that tastes great with the added funk of Port of Barcelona Gin.
2 oz Port of Barcelona Gin
1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
2/3 oz Sugar Syrup
Lemon slice for Garnish
Add the first three ingredients into a tall glass with ice
Top with soda
Garnish with a Lemon Slice (if desired)
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)