gin entropia

Entropia Gin: lift your spirits with a little ginseng and guarana

Entropia Gin is back in my life. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Looking back, it was probably always inevitable that I would fall in love with gin and tonic. I was born in post-colonial Malaysia, where G&Ts were sipped on whitewashed verandahs by men in Panama hats and linen suits. Later on, as a child in Calcutta, I have vivid memories of my Dad downing a few well-made G&Ts at the legendary 220 year old Tollygunge Club – a throwback to the days of the Raj and a place that was just wreaking of atmosphere.  

A fall from grace

Later in life, I discovered that back home, the traditional English G&T had fallen so far from grace that it had been relegated to the ranks of old ladies. In America, however, it had been elevated to include upscale brands such as Tanqueray, that were barely known in the land of Gordons. Gin in the States was poured in large measures, into large glasses and served with lots of ice.

Reinventing gin

But it wasn’t until I moved to Barcelona that I finally got it. In those in between years, the humble G&T had been completely reinvented. The industry was starting to spawn a legion of new, artisan craft gin distilleries.  These new gin makers were not afraid to challenge preconceptions and to apply creativity and natural ingredients to their gins. It was here that the love affair really began.

Rediscovering an old friend

Today, I stumbled across one of the first gins that I bought after moving to Barcelona, Entropia Gin.  It caught my attention all those years ago because of its distinctive bottle and it’s hero ingredients – guarana and ginseng.  Up until then, this gin was about as far removed from a traditional Gordons and tonic as I could imagine. I was intrigued. These two unusual ingredients were most commonly seen marked up on the outside of a can of Red Bull, so I was curious to find out more. Where was it made? What did it taste like? What on earth did guarana and ginseng bring to the party? And here’s what I found out…

A wild gin from rugged Galicia

Entropia Gin is made with a wheat grain base in the wild region of Galicia in Northern Spain.  It’s triple distilled in small batches using artisan techniques in Allariz, Ourense. This is where the unique botanicals and spices are sourced and distilled to create this complex and unusual Spanish gin. And then, at the end of the process, it is triple filtered to protect the pure essence of the gins complex aromas and clear golden colour.

Tall, round and handsome

The first thing you notice is the bottle. Tall, with a short neck and a round black top, this bottle stands out from the crowd.  And the second thing you notice is the pale golden colour of the gin within. This is not due to  subtle infusion of saffron or years of ageing within an oak soaked whiskey barrel.  Instead, this is a result of the post-distilling infusion of the guarana and ginseng that give this gin its distinctive flavour.

Standing out from the crowd

So, what is it about  these two ingredients that separates Entropia Gin from other gins? Well, let’s start with the guarana. I first discovered guarana in its soft drink form while travelling through Bolivia many years ago.  It was a sweet, golden carbonated drink with plenty of sugar and a unique flavour profile that was hard to define, but delicious.  It kept me going when my energy and enthusiasm dipped. I’ve been a fan ever since.

Brazilian caffeine?

Some people describe guarana as Brazilian caffeine, due to its energy giving properties and it kept me going on many a long, bumpy bus ride as we crossed Bolivia’s Altiplano. It definitely helped to give me energy when I hit a dip. And it’s been associated with other health giving benefits ranging from an appetite suppressant to a diet cure and from sharpening up your mind to improving your staying power between the sheets.

Better sex?

And then there’s the ginseng. It shares some of the same properties including (apparently) improving your sex drive, sharpening your mental awareness and even boosting your immune system.  So, imagine what might happen if both of those ingredients were added to gin?  I knew there was only one way to find out for sure.

So, what did this little beauty actually taste like and did it really have the magic qualities claimed?

On the nose…

I thought I’d start off our acquaintance with a classic taste test – a standard G&T, garnished with a twist of lemon zest. But first, what’s it like on the nose?  There’s an earthy, woody aroma that keeps this gin on the spicy side.  But there’s also a lot of sweetness, possibly from the ginseng and guarana. There’s also a distinctive, fiery alcohol taste which is offset by a complex aroma of tobacco. And somewhere in there is a little citrus and cinnamon to keep you on your toes.

In the mouth…

But the proof of the pudding is in the drinking, so what’s it like? Well the first thing you notice as you take that first sip is that this is a complex gin. That woody spiciness carries on into the palate where it mixes seamlessly with the sweetness of bergamot and cinnamon and the warm heat of ginger and nutmeg. If you look hard enough, you might even notice a spicy chai taste that you might recognise.  

The finish…

And then, on the finish, there’s a smooth warmth with floral notes of hibiscus and the warm spices of nutmeg and cinnamon combining well with the softer, creamier flavour of vanilla.  In fact, this is packed full of seasonal flavours and is not a bad gin to drink at Christmas.  All in all, this is a great gin, well worth trying. At 40% ABV and less than 20 euros a bottle, it’s not expensive and it stands out on your shelf with its striking bottle and golden colour. It could be the perfect stocking stuffer for the festivities ahead.

Entropia Gin. The perfect serve:

Entropia Gin ginseng & guarana would work well with a classic gin cocktail such as a Negroni.  But we think it also makes a very unusual and worthwhile G&T. We garnished ours with a twist of lemon rind and served it with a premium tonic water over lots of ice.  A gentle stir released the flavours nicely and there’s no doubt that this is distinctly different from a standard G&T.

Leave your expectations at the door…

But if you leave your traditional expectations at the door, you might be pleasantly surprised. That spicy taste takes over from the traditional juniper and once you get our head around that, it all begins to make sense. The premium tonic releases the flavours within and brings out the juniper.  And the finish is complex and long and leaves you tasting the citrus notes before being rounded off with a smooth vanilla and cinnamon taste that will linger long after your final sip. 

Fill your stocking: the 5 gins of Christmas

Well, it’s almost here. The festive lights have been strung out across the streets of Barcelona. London is bedecked in all its Christmas splendour. Cities, towns and villages across the world are about to celebrate Christmas in what are the strangest of circumstances.
Who would have thought this time last year, that an unknown virus would turn our world upside down. Hopefully, most of us will find a way of spending these precious days with the ones we love the most. But many of us won’t be able to.
The thing about Christmas is that it goes on, whatever the circumstances and wherever you are. The festive spirit cannot be beaten and (in one way or another), I’m sure we’ll all be raising a glass of Christmas cheer. Whether it’s toasting the ones closest to us, or raising a glass to absent friends, nothing will stop us from celebrating the best festival of the year.
If you’re a gin lover, you’ll probably be looking for something a bit out of the ordinary. Something different. Something seasonal. So, we thought we’d make it easy for you by sharing some of the festive gins that we think might add a little Christmas sparkle to your celebrations. Check our 5 gins of Christmas out and let us know what you think.

M&S Snow Globe: 20% ABV

The M&S Snow Globe is fast becoming a Christmas classic. This gorgeous bottle contains a blizzard of 23 karat gold leaf flakes which fall gently through the gin to give the effect of falling snow. But this year, they’ve given their globe an upgrade – it’s now illuminated. Yes, that’s correct. The team at M&S have added an LED light which brings the scene to life in the most delightful way.

So, we know the packaging is going to knock you out, but what does it taste like? Well there are two types available this year. We’ve tried the clementine version, which comes in at a modest 20% ABV, (typical for a gin liqueur) and it’s pretty good. Sweet, thick and syrupy, it has a subtle warmth from the alcohol and a lovely, sweet orange flavour. It’s not just fancy packaging – this liqueur is surprisingly nice. It could be the perfect tipple for the Christmas season.

The perfect pour:

  1. Serve neat in a liqueur glass or pour straight over ice in a brandy snifter.
  2. Alternatively, try it long with ice and premium tonic and a slice of orange or cinnamon.
  3. For the full festive treatment, pour just a little into a champagne flute and top up with some delicious Christmas cava.
5 gins of Christmas

Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger: 43% ABV

This gorgeous, winter gin will give you a glow that’s warmer than a log fire. The sweetness of the rhubarb combines with the pepperiness of the ginger to create a gorgeous drink which will make you smile on even the coldest winter day. When those logs are crackling in the grate and it’s dark outside, this is the perfect way to beat those winter blues. Comforting, warm, sweet, fruity and spicy all in one go, Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger (paid link) gin is definitely one you want safely stored in your gin bar to be taken out and enjoyed when the time is right. Some people find this a bit sweet for their tastes, but I love it – especially with lashings of ginger beer to top it up. The guys at Whitley Neil don’t usually get it wrong. This is truly the spirit of Christmas.

The perfect pour:

  1. Fill a large copa glass with large ice cubes.
  2. Pour in a decent measure of gin and fill it to the top with Fever Tree Ginger Beer.
  3. Garnish it with a slice of lemon or a sprig of rosemary.
  4. Throw another log on the fire, sit back and sip.
5 gins of Christmas

Sacred Christmas Pudding gin: 40% ABV

We know everyone has their own tastes and preferences and that’s good – each to their own. We certainly aren’t here to judge. But we’ll go on the record by saying that we’re not big fans of confectionery based gins. That’s why you won’t see many reviews of Candy Cane gin, Chocolate Orange gin, Kola Kubes gin or other crazy, sweet gin-based concoctions.

But we are big fans of truly creative combinations that stand on their own two feet without being diminished with Tizer top-ups or cans of cream soda. We put Sacred Christmas gin (paid link) firmly into that category. Over the years, the guys at Sacred have built a solid reputation for unusual, well priced creative gin styles and we can highly recommend them at any time of year. So, this Christmas, why not treat yourself to a bottle of Sacred Christmas Pudding gin.

Made from distilling real Christmas Puddings steamed for 8 hours according to Great Aunt Nellie’s Victorian recipe (yes, really!) this gin is brimming with familiar Christmas smells. Think raisins, candied peel and a cake-like feel that will take you right back to Christmas lunch, whenever you drink it. This rich and unusual drink works best on its own but also combines well with a G&T, Martini or a Negroni.

The perfect pour:

  1. Best served in a small glass, straight out of the freezer after a meal. Seemples!
5 gins of Christmas

Two Birds Winter Fruits: 37.5% ABV

Sweet, fruity and built around the aromas of winter, this is a beautifully unusual Christmas gin, made with style and panache by the guys at Two Birds. In addition to those lovely Christmas notes on the nose, there’s also plenty of juniper to be found here, reminding you that this is a real gin, not simply a sweet gin liqueur. With its natural sweetness balanced by the warming spices, this is most definitely one for pouring in front of a warm fire, while settling back in your favourite chair.

The perfect pour:

  1. Pour 50ml of Two Birds Winter Fruits gin into a highball glass.
  2. Fill the glass up with large ice cubes, an orange slice and a cinnamon stick to bring out those winter aromas.
  3. Top it up with ginger ale for an extra blast of warmth and you’ve got the perfect fireplace drink.
5 gins of Christmas

Haysmith’s Spiced Plum and Clementine: 37.5% ABV

Haysmith’s Spiced Plum and Clementine gin is one of my personal favourites and the gin buyers at Aldi rarely let us down.

This full strength gin is packed with winter flavours such as plum and clementine.

The result, a gorgeous mixing gin, clean, refreshing and with a warm, rich fruitiness. The ripe plum flavour shines right through this intriguing blend of warm winter spice before succumbing to a seasonal blast of fresh clementine. This gin is delicious at any time of year, but fits the winter season nicely. A full strength gin, in a really pretty bottle, this clocks in at 37.5% ABV. But the good news is that you can check out with one from Aldi for less than £15.

Definitely stick one of these of your Santa’s list this year – it goes perfectly with his favourite mince pies. Don’t give any to Rudolph though – he’s driving!

The perfect pour:

  1. Serve in a copa glass, filled with large ice cubes
  2. Fill to the rim with Fevertree Indian Tonic Water
  3. Or if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, pair it with ginger beer or Fevertree Clementine tonic water
  4. Garnish with a slice of orange or a cinnamon stick and you’re all set to get into the Christmas spirit.
5 gins of Christmas

Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

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