Asian Gins: Capturing the Spirit of Asia
When one thinks of Asia, one can’t help but think of mouthwatering food bursting with flavour and complexity. From the fragrant, hearty curries of India to the sweet, spicy, nutty, carbo-loaded goodness that is pad thai, Asian cuisine is as diverse as it is delicious. You might even imagine washing it down with a refreshing Tiger or Bintang beer, or pairing your meal with a warm sip of Tanduay rum or Hibiki whisky. From beer, rum, vodka, and whisky to even wine, Asia has been producing top-notch selections of all types of alcohol over the past couple decades – it is only in recent years that Asian gin has made its rise.
Out of all the spirits, gin has one of the most nuanced, versatile flavours, making it the perfect medium to infuse Asia’s vast pantry of indigenous botanicals, spices, herbs, tea, and fruits. With thousands of native ingredients at their fingertips, Asia is a powerhouse for contemporary gin. Here are some you definitely need to try.
An Ode to Contemporary India In An Inspired London Dry – Stranger & Sons Gin
Gin & Tonic Fun Fact!
Did you know that it was actually in India that the gin and tonic was invented? In the 1700s, British soldiers stationed there drank quinine-rich tonic so as to ward off malaria. To cover its bitter flavour, they added gin, and eventually lemon and lime, inadvertently creating our beloved cocktail! So it goes without saying that we have to include a gin from India on this list.
Especially since it’s bagged Gold medals at Concours Mondial de Bruxelles – Spirits Selection in 2019, Berlin International Spirits Competition in 2020 – and was one out of only eight spirits to win Gold Outstanding at the International Wine and Spirit Competition. With this many credits to its name, let’s find out what makes Stranger & Sons Gin so special.
What’s in a S&S Gin?
Hoping to showcase the diversity of India to the rest of the world, Stranger & Sons Gin is batch distilled in Goa with nine Indian botanicals (outsourcing only juniper and angelica), and four types of Indian citrus peels – Gondhoraj lemons, Nagpur oranges, Indian bergamot sweet limes, and Goa nimbu (a type of acid lime) – leading to a burst of zesty citrus flavour upon first taste that perfectly complements piney juniper.
The inclusion of black pepper, coriander and mace from farms along the Konkan and Malabar Coasts also allow for an assertive spicy middle, while liquorice, cassia bark and nutmeg finishes the drink warm and spicy-sweet, like mulled wine in winter. This is a beautifully smooth gin that simultaneously highlights its Indian origin yet retains its London Dry style through elevating traditional juniper and angelica botanicals.
Best Enjoyed With
Add tonic water and ginger for a spicy G&T (anti-malaria qualities a bonus!) or try a Strange Gibson: Stranger & Sons Gin plus dry vermouth, and pickled onion brine.
Spice up your collection with the award-winning Stranger & Sons Gin!
Lovingly Handmade With Thai Coconuts & Pineapples – Iron Balls Gin
What Makes Iron Balls Gin?
One of the things about Iron Balls Gin that first strikes gin lovers (well, besides its name) is its base spirit. Where they are usually made from grains such as wheat or barley, the base for Iron Balls Gin is pineapple and coconut, meticulously cracked and chopped by hand before being fermented into a base spirit which is distilled, then re-distilled with botanicals to make gin. The recipe was in work for over three years, and its exact botanicals are shrouded in secrecy, but some known ingredients are juniper berries as well as Thai spices and herbs such as ginger, lemongrass, mace, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, coriander seeds, and even ginseng!
The resulting gin is one of sweet tropical fruit flavours from the get-go, with some spices – ginger, cinnamon, a hint of clove – on the nose, rounding off with some lemongrass and late-arriving juniper. We can see where the creators really tried to turn gin-making on its head, emphasizing the flavours of its Thai heritage over traditional juniper.
Best Enjoyed With
Add tonic water, pineapple, basil leaves and a slice of lime for a Thai-style G&T, or pour a 3:1 ratio of gin to dry vermouth, garnished with lemon peel for a fruity Martini.
As inscribed on the bottle, “You always have options if you have balls” – if you’re in search of something non-traditional, look no further than Iron Balls Gin!
Four Seasons of Japanese Botanicals – Roku Gin
What Makes Roku Gin?
Japanese gin has taken the world by storm, and for good reason. Just take a look at Roku Gin, and its meticulousness from harvest to distillation. ‘Roku’ is Japanese for ‘six’, and it refers to the six Japanese botanicals (out of the 14 botanicals) that go into Roku Gin. These are harvested at different times of the year to ensure the finest quality – sakura flowers and leaves are picked in spring, sencha and gyokuro green tea leaves in summer, sanshō peppers in autumn, and yuzu in winter.
Not only that, the Suntory distillery uses four different types of pot stills, so each ingredient may be appropriately distilled to enhance their natural flavours. For one, yuzu is distilled in a copper still so as to achieve a deeper flavour.
The gin is finally filtered using a bamboo charcoal filtration process, creating a product that is as subtle as it is complex – with notes of cherry blossom, fresh pine, and pepper on first whiff, and a yuzu citrus bomb that is counterbalanced with classic juniper, earthy tea leaves, and some buttery vanilla sweetness on the tongue. Rounding it off is a light spice from sanshō peppers, with a smooth and clean finish.
Best Enjoyed With
Add tonic water, and garnish with lemon zest, raspberries and pink peppercorns for a date night G&T, or stir in dry vermouth with a dash of orange bitters for a fancy Dry Martini.
Experience the harmony of seasonal Japanese flavours with Roku Gin.
Southeast Asian Cuisine In A Bottle – Tarsier Southeast Asian Dry Gin
While the Tarsier Southeast Asian Dry Gin hails from England, its creators were inspired to concoct a gin with Southeast Asian flavours; acting almost as a postcard from faraway lands, reminding them of the excitement of their backpacking adventure across the region. With a blend of calamansi (representing the Philippines), Kampot pepper (Cambodia), Thai sweet basil and galangal (Thailand and Vietnam), as well as seven traditional gin botanicals, the Tarsier Dry Gin was born.
Represented by a primate the size of a tennis ball with paradoxically enormous eyes, the Philippine tarsier reflects the way the brand wants to be seen: as a small batch gin with big flavour and personality. Big flavours indeed: the Tarsier Dry Gin starts fresh, putting calamansi against a backdrop of sweet basil, before juniper rears its head, leading us into a body that is at once woody, earthy, and savoury – courtesy of galangal. Finally, the Kampot pepper packs heat, providing a long spicy finish that lingers on the lips.
Best Enjoyed With
Add tonic water, and a slice of lime and ginger for a G&T perfect for Southeast Asian cuisine.
Transport yourself into the sweltering, smoky food streets of Southeast Asia with Tarsier Southeast Asian Dry Gin!
Asian Gins, Worldwide Hits
Now there’s really no excuse not to try the wildly interesting gins of Asia. Put everything you thought you knew about gin to the test today with our free, same-day alcohol delivery services (for all orders $99 and above). Choose us as your preferred gin delivery service today!