“Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries.”
You can attribute that to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and chalk it up as one of the stranger insults we’ve heard. But apparently, some people find the smell of elderberries offensive–though to be fair, in this case, the insult was probably just a clever way to call a man drunk, as elderberries were commonly made into wine. The point of all this: elderberries are one of the botanicals you’ll find in Zephyr Gin.
A relative newcomer to the market, Zephyr Gin is distilled in Birmingham, England in the UK’s oldest-working copper pot still. The distillate is wheat, and in addition to elderberry, botanicals include coriander, angelica root, lemon peel and juniper.
Pour yourself a glass, and you can tell straight away that this isn’t a traditional London dry gin. The nose is very floral, with notes of violets, lavender, sweet berries and mild citrus. The familiar aroma of juniper is present, but here it takes a backseat. Take a sip, and the gin is very soft. It’s medium-bodied and light on the tongue with flavors of berry, spicy ginger, lemon and cooling herbs. The finish is dry and pleasant.
On its own, Zephyr Gin is easy to drink and packs plenty of flavor. It’s a real departure from classics in the category, but offers enough juniper to keep things recognizable. But since most people don’t drink their gin straight (and at room temperature), we mixed Zephyr with some Fever Tree Tonic to good effect. In a martini, the results were less positive, as the floral gin didn’t provide enough bracing structure to hold its own against the dry vermouth. Instead, we got an interesting gin cocktail, but not something we’d reach for when craving a classic martini.
Zephyr Gin is new school all the way. If you’re a stalwart supporter of Beefeater and Tanqueray, this one might not be for you. But if you like a little something different in your gins, and the prospect of rich berries and perfume-y floral notes sound enticing, then you might find a lot to like.
Zephyr Gin is currently available in Dallas and San Francisco (their website has specifics), and will eventually expand into more cities. If you score a bottle, the heavy decanter and compass-adorned topper make for a handsome addition to your home bar.
— 40% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★