From vine to barrel via still
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Gin is a spirit traditionally made from grain and flavoured with juniper berries. This spirit originates from the Netherlands, where it was developed in the 17th century before being exported abroad. Of the various alcohols in the gin family, the most notable is ‘genièvre’ in northern France, known as ‘jenever’ in Dutch and ‘peket’ in Walloon, considered to be the ancestor of English-style or London dry gin.
Genièvre is thought to be more rustic and more heavily flavoured with juniper berries, and so is generally drunk as a digestif or in a cocktail.
The English style of gin to which Sorgin gin is related produces finer spirits due to the production process (successive distillations, infusion and maceration methods for extracting the aromas in the juniper berries).
For its part, yellow gin – sometimes called golden gin – is a generic term for gins matured in wood, i.e. in new oak barrels or barrels that have previously been used to mature wines or other spirits.
The origins of yellow gin most likely date back to the invention of gin itself, as the preferred means of transport, storage or distribution at the time was in oak casks.
Contact between the gin and the wood extracts the tannins contained in the wood. The colour can range from pale gold (like the oaked Sorgin) to straw yellow, golden, or even amber for multiple years of maturation. As well as the unique colour of yellow gins, maturation in oak provides a range of more complex aromas with oaked notes (grilled, toasted, dried fruit) as well as spice (clove, ginger) and honey touches.
Building on their experience from the Sorgin recipe, François Lurton and Sabine Jaren had the idea of creating an initial batch of yellow gin from Sorgin by placing the original Sorgin in selected barrels.
The barrels were selected from those that had previously been used to mature Pessac-Léognan whites and Graves. The first batch of this gin was put in six barrels from multiple coopers to develop a varied spectrum of aromas. The barrels were tasted monthly to monitor the development of the oak transfer and the aromas. Blends of the various batches were also tested every month.
After six months of maturation, the decision was made to bottle the first batch. These six months of maturation gave the original Sorgin great complexity, whilst retaining its popular characteristic freshness.
The range of aromas in Sorgin yellow gin makes it fantastic as a digestif, either neat or over ice, as well as in classic gin-based cocktails.
A pale appearance with touches of white gold.
Vanilla and toasted dried fruit aromas initially emerge on the nose, with spicy touches reminiscent of pepper and ginger. Then come the typical gin aromas: juniper berries, pine resin and sandalwood. Fruity Sauvignon notes also join the nose, along with orange peel and ripe quince touches.
The wine is rounded and full in the attack, with spicy, peppery notes on the palate and lingering aromas. Fresh herb notes perfectly round out the finish.
Pairing a gin with a meal might sound like a surprising decision, but northern European or Alsatian cuisine, smoky flavours, spicy juniper dishes and some strong cheeses with a bloomy rind can go beautifully with a glass of yellow gin. For example: warm sauerkraut and seared foie gras salad, gravlax or wood-smoked salmon, Mont d’Or baked in its spruce case with Sorgin, pasty with juniper berries, bloomy rind cheese (Époisses, Maroilles, Stinking Bishop).
By Clément Maës, oenologist at Domaines François Lurton