herno gins sloe gin fizz

Hernö gins

Jon Hillgren, owner and distiller of Hernö gins headed off for London in the late ’90s to become a bartender. It was while learning his craft that he fell in love with gin and returned to Sweden with dreams of opening a gin distillery. Supported by friends and family he realised this dream in 2011 when Hernö Distillery became the first gin distillery in Sweden. It’s a real family affair. Both Jon’s parents work at the distillery (up until recently, his mum used to number each bottle by hand) as does his twin sister Elin.

Since launching, Jon has created a range of gins that are some of the most awarded in the World, paving paved the way for other Scandinavian gins using local botanicals like lingo berries, caraway and dill. What sets Hernö apart is that all the botanicals used are certified organic.

These include (naturally), juniper berries, coriander, fresh lemon peel, lingon berries, meadowsweet, black pepper, cassia and vanilla.

lingonberries
Lingon berries

All the gins are produced using a one-shot method on a copper still and cut with water from Hernö distillery’s own well.

Hernö gins still
The Hernö gins still

Hernö gin

hernö gins gin and tonic
Gin and Tonic

I tried this gin nearly three years ago now,  and fell in love with it straightaway. It’s easy to see why it’s the most awarded gin in Europe (2013–2017) and the World’s best Gin 2017. It’s a traditional London dry style with plenty of juniper and citrus. Fresh and bright, it has a subtle sweetness on the finish. A cracking gin and tonic gin!

Hernö Navy Strength

Hernö Navy Strength gimlet

Hernö Navy Strength in uses the same base at the original gin but is only diluted down to 57.7% ABV. Rich and bold, but not overwhelming, it’s superb in a gimlet.

Hernö Old Tom

Vying for one of my favourite labels,  Hernö Old Tom is a wonderful interpretation of this style of gin. Using the original Hernö gin as a base, Jon sweetens it with meadowsweet and honey, creating a deliciously well-balanced Old Tom. I love the honey notes on the finish. Try it in a Martinez.

herno gins martinez
Martinez

Hernö Juniper Cask gin

Long-time readers will know I am extremely picky about barrel-aged gins. Much of the juniper character than I love so much is lost through aging. Jon’s unique method of using small juniper casks (39.25 liters) and only ‘resting the gin for 30 days, retains and deepens the juniper flavour while adding warmth and spice. Enjoy over ice or enjoy in an Old-Fashioned.

a Hernö juniper cask

 

hernö gins old fashioned
Old Fashioned

Hernö Sloe gin

Charlie-Chaplin-Cocktail
Charlie Chaplin Cocktail

Organic sloe berries are macerated in original Hernö gin for three months before sugar is added. It’s not as sickly or cloying as some sloe gins can be and retains fresh fruit flavours. Sip neat over ice or in a Sloe Gin Fizz or Charlie Chaplin cocktail.

There are also couple of limited edition Hernö gins but the batches are too small to get any here in Australia. Hernö Blackcurrant is a fruity, jammy sensation but my favourite is the High Coast Terroir gin which changes recipe every year. All the botanicals are hand-picked by Jon in the UNESCO World Heritage Area of the High Coast, Sweden. Only 400 bottles were made last year so it sold out super quickly. Fortunately Jon brought some with him when he came to Australia for Junipalooza Melbourne and I had a taste then. It was incredible!

Hernö gins scream quality, whichever style you choose. If you want to check out the full list of awards, check out the awards page on their website! Jon’s care and attention to detail is obvious and it’s no accident that he has been the recipient of the Gin producer of the Year award by the IWSC ~ he’s also a great guy! The Hernö stand was very popular at Junipalooza Melbourne 2017 – the team completely sold out of stock in two days – so I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll see him again this year!

Jon and I at Junipalooza London 2017

You can follow Hernö on Facebook and Instagram

For stockists contact Vanguard Luxury Brands.

herno-gin-and-tonic

Hernö Gin

Hernö Gin hails from Sweden, better known for its vodka and brännvin (literally burnt wine). However, as you need a good spirit base, i.e. vodka to make gin, it’s not surprising that the Swedes have turned their hand to the juniper spirit!

Founder and master distiller, Jon Hillgren, discovered a passion for gin while working as a bartender in London in the late 1990s. He spent the next 12 years travelling the globe tasting gin, studying to become a distiller and visiting other distilleries, before opening his own in 2011.

Between his two copper stills, Kerstin and Marit, Jon produces four different gin styles: this one (a dry gin), Navy Strength, Old Tom and Juniper Cask (barrel-aged).

The Botanicals

Hernö Gin is made with juniper, coriander, lemon peel, lingonberries, meadowsweet, black pepper, cassia bark and vanilla. All of the botanicals used are certified organic.

lingonberries
Lingonberries

I like the fact that Hernö have used Lingonberries (a red berry native to Sweden, Canada and Alaska) among the more traditional gin botanicals. Lingonberries are related to blueberries but closer to cranberries in flavour, although less tart.

Aroma and Flavour

On the nose Hernö Gin is green and fresh with a slightly floral aroma. It has a light, fresh flavour with a delicate floral sweetness. This slight sweetness is balanced out by spicier notes from the coriander and black pepper. It’s a testament to the skill of the distiller that none of the botanicals overpower one another.

Hernö Gin is perfect for those who prefer their gin with a lighter juniper flavour. The number of awards it has won tells you that this is a quality gin and I’ll certainly be seeking out the other styles to try.

Country of Origin: Sweden

ABV: 40.5%

Price: High