We’re on week 10 of the Around the World in 80 Drams adventure, and we’ve made it to mainland Spain to enjoy some very exciting gin! Last week I left you a clue that grapes play a pivotal part in this gin’s production – we’re going to be tasting Santamanía London Dry Gin, which is produced in Madrid!
I also said the it would take 7.2 hours to travel from Menorca to Madrid if I was riding a Pronghorn Antelope. I have since discovered that Pronghorn Antelopes are not even Antelopes at all! They’re artiodactyls – but honestly, you could probably just get away with calling them pointy-quick-deers if you wanted to. However, they are one of the fastest land animals, second only to the Cheetah, so don’t say that too loud unless you want a pair of pretty dangerous horns charging at you at 34 miles per hour.
Anyway, Santamanía! It was launched by Javier Domínguez, Ramón Morillo and Victor Fraile in 2014, though they had actually been planning it since 2011 – it took them quite a while to get up and running, what with being the first micro-distillery in Madrid and having to go through plenty of rigmarole with Spanish authorities and whatnot. A lot of time was spent on coming up with the recipe too, (which is created using their Carl still called Vera) and when you look at what goes to making Santamanía, you can kind of understand why.
For a start, Santamanía uses a base spirit made using Tempranillo grapes – not something you see every day. There’s definitely a subtle, almost luxurious grape-quality to the gin, which I reckon has to be down to the base spirit. As for botanicals, the distillers use plenty of classics, including juniper, lime peel, lemon peel, angelica, coriander, liquorice root, cinnamon, ginger root and rosemary. They also use some rather intriguing botanicals that might raise a few eyebrows (in a good way) – white pepper, Spanish pistachio and raspberry.
Consider my eyebrow raised…
They allow the botanicals to macerate in the spirit for up to 24 hours before distilling it, as well as including some botanicals in the vapour chamber as well. It’s then brought down to 41% ABV (though when it was first launched, they bottled it at 37.5% ABV) and presented in a rather striking bottle covered in symbols and shapes. Quite a lot of work went into creating this ace Spanish gin, and as such, the name seems very apt – it comes from a Spanish term for a painstaking process. It does sound like a phrase we could use to describe how busy the MoM Towers warehouse gets during the holiday season…
So, how does it taste then? Well…
10. Madrid, Spain – Santamanía London Dry Gin
Nose: Sherbet lemons and white grapes. The white pepper also stands out rather prominently too. Soon becomes a little sweeter and creamier – notes of lemon cheesecake with a raspberry coulis start to appear!
Palate: Very enjoyable mouthfeel, rich and clean. Spicy cinnamon and coriander come through first, though swiftly develops a sweet fruitiness again. A touch grassy, too, in an almost funky-rhum-agricole way.
Finish: There’s a surprising woodiness to the finish, with intense juniper and a whisper of pistachio. Continued spiciness tingles afterwards.
And with that, we leave Spain and head south. Way south. Over 5,000 miles south. Of course, I course wouldn’t ride any animal that distance (many of them would just tell me to sod off), so if I ran it from Santamanía to the next distillery, it would take me 984 hours and 37 minutes. This is based on the speed at which I ran a half-marathon recently, and if I could actually make it. I wouldn’t have a hope in hell of actually doing that, but it’s nice to dream.