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.
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.
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.
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