We inevitably associate gin with the British Empire and a monocle-wearing aristocrat in India enjoying it with a splash of tonic water. However, the invention of this alcohol is Continental, specifically Dutch, and is attributed to doctor Franciscus Sylvius, a German by birth, who invented ‘jenever’ (Dutch for gin) as a medical/chemical process in the 16th century.
B. Font/ ARS | MC
The English first adopted gin when William III of Orange prohibited its importation in 1669 and it began being produced in England on a massive scale. It originates from the distillation of unmalted barley, to which juniper berries were added and it was ten aromatised with cardamom, orange peel and herbs.
Gin and tonic is a popular way of drinking gin, which on its own is a bit too strong. The tonic was created at the end of the 19th century with the support of a certain Mr Schweppe, who mixed quinine with carbonated mineral water and invented the famous tonic water that we know today. The drink quickly became popular among the British troops based in India thanks to its medicinal properties for combating malaria, and in our times has become the perfect tipple on a night out and at get-togethers around the globe.
Gin has gone through different phases of popularity in Spain, but nothing compared to the last decade where it has held the top position ahead of rum, brandy, whisky, vodka and other spirits. We have moved on from the two most well known brands – Gordons and Larios – to almost a thousand different qualities and prices.
Naturally, the gin boom has also been experienced in the Balearic Islands. Mahon Gin, Xoriguer, has been around for a long time, inherited from the English. Now Mallorca is seeing the production and consumption of 100% Mallorcan gins.
Here we showcase three of them from the dozen or so brands on our islands.
Onze is produced by winery Can Vidalet in the municipality of Pollença, in the enviable setting of the Tramuntana Mountains. Onze (which is Spanish for eleven) is a London Dry Gin, whose name refers to the eleven botanical extracts used to create it.
The oenologist responsible for its preparation is Elisabeth Fuentes, who emphasises the artisan character of this Mallorcan gin. Grain alcohol is used to make it to which the eleven botanical extracts are added and left to macerate for five to seven days. They include juniper, tarongí, rosemary, lavender and oranges from Sóller, in fact from the Can Vidalet estate itself.
Next the alcohol and the botanicals are distilled in the still at Can Vidalet, which is worthy of mention as not all gin producers in Mallorca have their own on-site still.
The distillation is carried out in small batches. The result of the distillation, or improvement of the resulting distillation, is separated out into three parts; heads, hearts and tails. At Can Vidalet, only the heart is taken to produce Onze. There are two key factors for obtaining a good quality gin: temperature control and a passion for a job well done.
The result is a dry, aromatic gin, with notes of rosemary, lavender and citrus fruits obtained with an artisan distillation system.
Can Vidalet also produces orujo (pomace brandy) at the same distillery, which is then sold at its shop in Pollença, as well as a large selection of wines
Janine Bucher, Miquel Capó and Jürgen Bucher are the founders of the company Esperit de Mallorca, the spirit-producing firm responsible for the Mallorcan gin Cabraboc.
Their beginnings in the business are a little unusual. The three partners are design and marketing professionals with a trajectory spanning more than three decades at Foravila Design. Through their company located in Sóller, they have created many design and packaging concepts, particularly within the food sector. In 2012 they decided to innovate and merge their two passions of creativity and spirits to establish Esperit de Mallorca and with it their first gin, with a notable collaboration, the spirit producing company Limsa, a leading name on the island. Thus Cabraboc was formed. The name is inspired by the wild goats of the Tramuntana Mountains, where Sóller is located.
The gin is produced by making micro-distillations of each botanical, followed by a single coupage of each distillation. They currently produce three gins: Cabraboc: this is a gin with an anise-type taste, thanks to the botanicals used, predominantly fennel, orange peel, lemon leaf and lemon verbena. The result is a fresh gin, with 40º citrus notes, and with a certain smoothness thanks to the vinous origin of a large part of the alcohol distilled. Cabraboc Gin Taronja: this is a special, limited edition gin, prepared with different botanicals from Sóller including orange, lemon and clementine. The end result is a dry gin (44º), with clear notes of citrus. Cabraboc Gin Blau: a dry gin (44º). This special, limited edition is produced with cereal based alcohol and typical Mediterranean botanicals such as basil, rosemary, thyme and lavender, resulting in a very aromatic gin.
There is a story behind every product made with love. This is the case with Amber and Byron, a British couple who fell in love with Mallorca over eight years ago, and where they moved to three years ago. When they arrived they saw that gin and tonic was very fashionable, but noticed that there were not many gins actually produced on the island, so they set up Mallorca Distillery and launched their very own Palma Gin.
Palma Gin is produced with local foraged botanicals such as Mallorcan juniper berries, orange and lemon peel, orange leaves, vine tomatoes, lavender and almond flower. The taste is a fresh, dry, citrus infused gin with a perfectly smooth finish.
The design of the bottle is inspired by Mallorcan ceramic tiles and the logo is based on the rose window on the east façade of Mallorca Cathedral, La Seu, Palma’s most iconic landmark. Moreover, the labels are printed with organic ink, making them completely recyclable.
They offer tasting sessions at their distillery with 30 different distillations to choose from, they also hosts events where visitors can create their own gin; a complete experience which they aim to build on with their next product, Palma Vodka.