Cousin Vera’s Gin

During my review of Santamanìa gin, I mentioned a unique collaboration between the Madrid distillery and our own, Four Pillars Gin, and here it is; Cousin Vera’s Gin.

The Australian-Spanish gin project started life as a conversation on twitter between the two distilleries, with Santamanìa remarking on the similarities between Wilma, Four Pillars Carl still, and their own still, Vera. Fast forward a year and while planning a trip through Europe, Cameron Mackenzie, Master Distiller at Four Pillars, saw the opportunity to create a gin with Santamanìa. The Spanish distillers were very enthusiastic and the plan was set in motion.

Santamanía Distillery

Botanicals

Cousin Vera’s gin, like Santamanìa uses neutral grape-based spirit made with Tempranillo grapes. The Spanish botanicals are Cornicabra olive, almond, fresh rosemary, white pepper, and Seville orange peel. The Australian native botanicals are; lemon myrtle, anise myrtle, Tasmanian pepper leaf and coriander. All of the botanicals, not forgetting juniper, were added to Vera and left to macerate overnight, before 5 hours of distillation.

The result is amazing. On the nose there is lots of juniper and rosemary with a hint of coriander. On the palate it has a wonderful fresh to start, with bright citrus notes leading on to savoury flavours from the olive and rosemary. It has a warm peppery finish with an incredible creamy mouthfeel.

I used Cousin Vera’s gin to make a Spanish martini made with Fino Sherry, garnished with Mount Zero olives from Victoria and Jamòn Ibèrico. Perfection! I would certainly recommend this in a Dirty Martini too.

Spanish martini
Spanish martini made with Fino sherry and garnished with Jamòn Ibèrico and Mount Zero olives.

Naturally, Cousin Vera’s gin makes a great G&T, but I also made a Rosemary Collins which was lovely.

rosemary collins
Rosemary Collins

Cousin Vera’s gin is an incredible achievement, highlighting the skills of Cam from Four Pillars and Javier, Victor and Ramon at Santamanìa. The gin is available at both distilleries in their own unique packaging. This is an extremely limited edition and definitely worth seeking out.

Country of Origin: Spain and Australia

ABV: 42.8%

Price: Medium

Santamanía Gin

Spain consumes the most gin in the world (not counting the Philipines, who make a local version of “gin”) and has been the main driver of the gin boom with their passion for ‘Gin Tonica’. It was surprising to learn that there are so few micro-distilleries, Santamanía is the first urban distillery in Spain and is located in Madrid.

Santamanía Distillery

You might recognise a couple of things from the above image, firstly, they use a Carl still (named Vera) and secondly that the dude in the brown T-shirt with his back to the camera is Cameron Mackenzie, Master Distiller at Four Pillars Gin. More on the reason why he’s in the photo later!

Santamanía gin is made using grape-based spirit (other gins using grape based spirit include Melbourne Gin Company and G’Vine), from Tempranillo grapes, known as Spain’s ‘noble grape’ that have been growing in the Iberian Peninsula since the mid 800s BC. Grape-based spirit gives gin a different, smoother mouth-feel than grain-based, in my opinion, but some think that grape conflicts with the other botanical ingredients.Using the traditional one-shot distillation method, they produce the gin in VERY small batches at a time – no more than 800 bottles at a time.

The botanicals

Juniper, coriander, Spanish lemon and lime, liquorice, angelica and orris roots, pistachio nuts, cinnamon, white pepper, dry ginger, rosemary and fresh raspberries. Some interesting ones in there!

On the nose, there is soft citrus. On the palate the citrus notes leads on to herbaceous flavours including juniper, before some spice and warmth from the pepper, coriander and cardamon. The finish is long with a tiny hint of sweetness (from the raspberries perhaps?) and it has a very smooth mouthfeel.

Santamanía gin works very well in a G&T (I garnished mine with lime and black pepper) as expected from a Spanish gin! In a martini it might have benefitted from a different vermouth, as although it was a decent drink, it didn’t have the juniper oomph I like in my martinis.

Santamanía gin martini
Santamanía gin martini
Santamania and Cousin Vera gins
Santamanía and Cousin Vera gins

If you are expecting a bold juniper forward Spanish style gin then don’t, and don’t be disappointed! This is a beautifully balanced contemporary gin. I love what Santamanía have achieved with their gin and admire their passion for collaborations with other distillers. The most recent, on with Four Pillars gin where together they have created ‘Cousin Vera’ gin (review to follow). This distillery is certainly one to watch.

Country of Origin: Spain

ABV: 41%

Price: High

You can follow Santamanía Distillery on Facebook, instagram and twitter.