AAHHH, springtime has finally come, and my thoughts naturally turn to Gin and the coming spirits of summer. What were you expecting? At my age, sex comes in a strong second, right behind booze and money, and no I haven’t forgotten how to count to two; there are just many more manic numbers contained in my ever increasing madness. In my world, Gin is a summer drink best enjoyed in deep shade on a hot sunny day, either pool side or ocean side, but definitely includes some sort of massive body of water, and a woman in a bikini without a massive body and that’s all I’ll say about that before I get in trouble.

You gotta love the French and the Italians; they have such a way with the humble little grape. If they weren’t the first to coax all sorts of flavor and alcohol out of this fruiting berry then they just might have been the best to ever do it (yes, I’ve heard of a place called Napa). I believe today’s offerings just might show off that skill set.

Let me start by making a rather profound if not offensive statement; Gin actually starts out as vodka and then is flavored with all sorts of botanicals in order to turn it into Gin. In the first place, you have to take any fermentable plant product such as grain or in the case of G’vine, grapes and distill it to produce neutral spirits which of course describes vodka to a “T”. Then you add juniper and all sorts of other botanicals in one way, shape form or another, to give it that unique gin like flavor. Depending on how you go about all this science and magic, it produces one of 4 different styles of gin: Juniper-flavored spirit drinks, Gin, Distilled Gin and London Gin. And you thought Gin was just Gin, HA!

G'Vine Floraison-1

To prove my point, G’vine gin is made in France using 10 botanicals: the rare vine flower, juniper berries, of course, nutmeg, licorice, ginger roots, cubeb berries, lime, coriander, cassia bark and green cardamom.

Averna Amaro Siciliano Liqueur (that’s a mouthful even of itself) is a liqueur made from a secret recipe dating back to 1866, and I’m willing to bet you probably has just as many ingredients as G’vine gin if not more. After all, even KFC has 11 secret herbs and spices.

OK, so let’s get down to the tasting as all this information and mis-information has made me very curious and very thirsty.

First, the G’vine gin – it comes in a plain transparent bottle with green and black accents and has a rather classic look. The nose of this straight up gin has an overall menthol aroma highlighted by the juniper and quickly followed by the licorice, the coriander, and the lime. If I had a chest cold, I would rub this stuff all over my chest. This nose is very strong and very spicy smelling and quite sharp. You can almost detect all the essential oils combining into one robust aroma. The palate is oily and sharp, highlighted by the flavors of licorice and juniper, and quite complex overall. The finish is piquant but not spicy and overall smooth and lasts quite a while leaving a tingling sensation. There is really quite a lot of flavor going on here that is very strong and could easily accommodate any type of mix. It is almost too flavorful to sip straight up.

On the rocks, everything settles down and plays nicely together with all the flavors mingling and complimenting each other. Also, it is not quite as sharp and the menthol effect has subsided. It leaves a pleasant astringent aftertaste in the finish. It really holds its own with tonic water and that just might be the way I would recommend this gin.

Averna 70 NEW PACK - alta

The Averna Amaro Siciliano is next and comes in a clear tall bottle that shows off the dark brown spirit within. The label is reminiscent of old world Italian design and is predominately red and gold. The nose is inexplicably mild and fruity for what one would normally consider a bitter. It even has highlights of chocolate and lemon and I could swear a touch of Absinthe. As hard as the nose is to peg, it sorts itself out on the palate and begins with bittersweet notes followed by the taste of true bitters but done in such a way as to be very interesting and even semi-sweet but finally ends in a true bitter finish that is less bitter and more better. This is a very complex bitter and one of the best I have tasted, and again, this is strong stuff, so a little bit will go a long way.

Now, let’s see what kind of trouble I can get myself into. A Negroni is normally a cocktail made of equal parts of Gin, Campari and Red Vermouth. Well, I would love to try this with the G’vine gin since it is so flavorful and substitute the Averna for the Campari, and of course, I will use the bottle of red vermouth I bought 40 years ago that has seen duty in nearly 467 drinks during that time. As you might surmise, I am not a big fan of vermouth, and in my mind, I believe that merely passing the unopened bottle near the intended cocktail constitutes fair usage. Well, my, my, this makes for one hell of a cocktail. The Averna is perfect in this combination and after pouring the second drink and adjusting the G’vine gin back a bit I get a very nice, very complex summer sipper. I guarantee you that this drink will not disappoint.

G’Vine (80 proof) can be had for around $29.97 per 750 ML bottle while Averna (58 proof) is available for about the same price, $30.00 per 750 ML bottle.

By George Brozowski