Gin de Mahón

photo via: http://www.pviglobal.com/mahon/

Here’s a question for those “in the know” when it comes to distilled spirits: Name a IGP Gin from Spain! It’s a tough question – but the answer is: Gin de Mahón, produced on the island of Menorca (one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea, off the east coast of Spain).

The production of gin began on the island of Menorca during the island’s occupation by the British in the 18th century (1712-1802). This time in history coincided with London’s Gin Craze, and the British soldiers on Menorca would ask for gin during their visits to the local taverns. The island, at the time, didn’t have gin – or any similar spirit – so the locals found a way to re-create (and, most likely, improve upon what was at the time) the London style of gin.

Using a brandy base made from wines of the region (remember, this is Mediterranean Spain and grapes and wine abound), the spirit was produced in wood-fired copper pot stills, re-distilled with juniper berries (grown wild on the island) and lemon zest, and aged in American oak barrels. This created a unique, earthy style of gin with the distinct botanical-piney-resiny aroma and flavor of juniper, along with a hint of bitter citrus, a smoky, earthy undertone, and a clean finish.

After the British left the island, the locals continued to produce and enjoy their unique style of local gin. By the 20th century, several brands began to emerge and the gin became an international commercial success.  One particular brand – Xoriguer – was started by Miguel Pons Justo, a member of a family with a long history of craftsmanship. Xoriguer was (and continues to be) the name of their family business, and the picture on the bottles  is of a windmill built on the family estate in 1784. Xoriguer – which appears to be the only producer of Gin de Mahón left – is still a family business and produces a range of spirits and liqueurs.

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Gin de Mahón is produced using a base ferment of the local wines of the region, distilled in wood-fired copper stills, flavored with local juniper, and aged in American oak before bottling.

References:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

About bubblyprof
Wine Writer and Educator...a 20-year journey from Bristol Hotels to Le Cordon Bleu Schools and the Society of Wine Educators

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