What do Downtown Abbey, James Bond and The Apprentice all have in common? You guessed it. Gin! Gin is THE drink of the moment. Everyone I know, everyone you know, is drinking variations with gin. This global trend has not gone unnoticed in Belgium either. Brussels has its own gin centric bar. 43% of Belgians* own over 10 different types of gin (wow!).
Gin & Tonic wins hands down as the preferred going out cocktail. 2016 is practically the year of gin!
So … what better gift to give this Christmas than a bottle of Belgian gin? A bit different than the usual box of chocolates and selection of craft beers, plus so much on trend. There are plenty of Belgian gins, but here we tasted and settled on 5 different craft Belgian gins which not only look slick and trendy, but also have that special extra to make a perfect Christmas gift. In alphabetical order, here we go.
What? Belgin Fresh Hop gin by Belgin Gin.
Why? When you get the best of Belgium (hops) with the best of Belgium (distillation) in one bottle, it is hard to resist. Simply having fresh hops on the label already won me over. Is it beer? Nope, it’s gin. Then we tasted the gin as well and although I didn’t ‘get’ all the 17 botanicals present, I loved the flowery and soft taste of this hoppy gin. Plus, on their website Belgin Gin also proposes a ‘Belgian Submarine’ cocktail – a shot of gin with a glass of beer. Hel-lo!
Other gins which sound just as great: the Belgin Speciale (17 botanicals), the Belgin St Cruyt, the world’s first abbey gin (50 botanicals), as well as two flavoured gins with wild berry and elderflower.
What? Thesis & Antithesis by Distillerie de Biercee.
Why? Travelling across the country to Wallonia, you find the Distellerie de Bierce. Active since 1946, this distillery is very much specialised in Belgian traditional eau de vie (life water) and liqueurs. This was all true till 2014, when they also introduced two very slick looking gins – Thesis & Antithesis and Less is More. We tried the former, which surprisingly leaves a little aniseed flavour in the mouth. Unexpected at first, this fennel taste works really well for gin though.
We still have to try their proposed cocktail combining the Thesis & Antithesis gin, Premium Tonic and fennel!
Where? Thesis & Antithesis gin can be found in all good alcohol retailers or online (ginsonline.be)
What? Bishop’s Gin by Ponet Spirits.
Why? Wait, what? The label says distilled in England. True … but it also says crafted in Belgium. Going beyond the label, Bishop’s Gin is born in Belgium, from a collaboration between Thierry Ponet and Matthieu Chaumont. Who? One is tracing his origins back to Hasselt in the 1700s (closely linked to Ponet distillery), the other is putting cocktails firmly back on the map in Brussels (Hortense).
Naturally with this pedigree, the Bishop’s Gin is made for mixers – a bit spicy, a bit floral, 9 ingredients and you have one great (and whimsical) gin. Just look at the label!
Where? Bishop’s Gin can be can be found in all good alcohol retailers or online.
What? Colonel Gin by Indi BVBA.
Why? For those of you familiar with current season of The Apprentice you will agree that the ‘history’ of Colonel Gin sounds a bit too familiar. Although the bottle states 1917, I am pretty taken by the fact that Colonel Gin is a Belgian passionate start-up from 2016. The bottle is minimalistic in design, but a gorgeous dark green (perfect for Christmas!) and the gin is a great mix of herbs. For me pepper and juniper mostly stood out but you might be surprised by thyme or basil as well. A great and unusual gin.
Where? Colonel Gin can be can ordered directly on their website.
What? Blind Tiger by Deluxe Distillery.
Why? Just look at that fierce bottle! But if that is not enough convincing, then the background of the Deluxe Distillery should. The couple behind this gin created in 2014 their first gin, Bonnie & Clyde , which I understand has now reached connoisseurs status (and also seems to be pretty rare!). They then branched out and created 3 more gins, all Blind Tigers: Imperial Secrets, Piper Cubeba, and Liquid Gold.
The Piper Cubeba is the type of gin I am sure James bond would approve of – neat and with just the necessary complexity to make it sexy.
Where? Tiger Gin can be found in all good alcohol retailers or online (gintonicshop.be)
Any other Belgian gins we should try? And as it’s Christmas soon all I can suggest is hurry up to buy your speciality Belgian gin. Because gin is having a hell of a moment. And it’s not likely to fade out in 2017!
*data taken from a recent survey done by The Belgian Gin Club in association with the German Elephant Gin brand.
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