Thursday, September 24, 2015

I see you too ... the London Dry Gin reimagined as a Spaniard

A crisis of identity? 

I happily drowned in a sea of gin tonics during my time in Spain. Budgeting for a healthy stock of gins and tonic waters meant meals were often reduced to eggs, lettuce, and rice, but we have to make sacrifices for what we love, don't we. And thus went my education - or rather, obsession - with the gin tonic. This one, Gin Sea, a London Dry Gin-styled gin distilled in Galicia, Spain by a well-known sommelier, Manuel Barrientos. Bright, fresh, with a slight herbal bitterness on the finish - makes a gin tonic that's incredibly clean, with enough complexity to keep things interesting. Garnish with a lime wheel and sprigs of fresh thyme.

What does it mean, for a drink to be from somewhere? Is it the provenance of the ingredients that decide its origin? The production method/traditions? In the end, what we don't give enough credit to is simply the tastes and preferences of the distiller - the creator, if you will. Alcohol, in particular, is not natural, despite what the marketers want you to believe. No, it's a product that is the result of human intervention and manipulation, to create a drink that fits a certain taste. Hopefully, we would want that taste to be good ... to be a representation of what the creator (distiller, winemaker, etc.) thinks is of high quality ... before we assign labels to it. The romantic old world notion of a drink's origin actually meaning anything is gone. Dead and gone, let's get that clear right now. We are now in the world of creators, who create drinks in their image first.

Of course, there are those who remain champions of the old ways, those peasants in Burgundy, the country gentlemen (and women) of the Moselle ... but what a minority. What a dying breed of heroes. Few now are cut from that cloth, and you know what? Consumers have a responsibility in this masse rejection of tradition in favour of 'commercial' products. Products with mainstream appeal. Dead, soulless, meaningless drinks that tease you with promises of profundity, but eventually reveal themselves to be cheap distractions. And consumers eat that shit up. They want wines and spirits that are easy to drink - that horrible, horrible phrase born of the mass commercialization of alcohol beverages. And the traditionalists, the old-timers? They trudge on, supported by an increasingly smaller group of enthusiasts who may not have profound knowledge, but certainly possess great appreciation for the drink. How do we reverse all this?

I like Gin Sea a lot. I like this project a lot, and as I've said before, idealism counts for naught if what you're producing tastes like shit. And this gin is delicious. So maybe to answer this question of identity, that's really all we have to consider for now - that someone is doing something unique and of high quality.

The rest, well ... we'll leave discussions about what origin means to the marketers.


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