This month’s gin is a pretty new contender: Granite North, from the North East of Scotland.
We first encountered this gin at The Gin Fayre St. Andrews Christmas Special which was their first major event. Head Distiller and Founder, Sandy Matheson, treated us to a taster and it was love at first taste. We discovered the gin’s origins in the Granite City - Aberdeen and how he took inspiration from the rugged highland landscape and local tales of Highlanders distilling their own spirits using botanicals found in the surrounding hills.
Recently, on our own journey into gin exploration, we have found that there are a lot of good gins - but not necessarily ones that are unique enough to be memorable. Granite North, however, is definitely impressive and distinguished. Alongside traditional gin botanicals including the humble juniper berry, the prominent botanicals featured are grapefruit, lemon, bay leaf and the unusual addition of Grand Fir needles.
On the nose, the gin is very fresh and zesty. You are immediately hit by the natural aromas from the fir needles alongside the juniper. There’s a smooth hit of citrus from the grapefruit and a bang from the lemon: it must be the bay leaf and fir needles that give the balance to all the citrus-goodness with that depth and slight savoury note. Basically, it’s like if you’ve been walking through the forest or up a hill and you take a smug Instagram photo, feeling accomplished and proud, but you’re not quite ready to walk back yet. As former residents of Aberdeenshire and novice hill-climbers, it’s what we would’ve wanted!
Granite North is smooth enough to drink on the rocks - bear this in mind when adding tonic. At 41.9% ABV, some may think that it would be difficult to fully appreciate all the flavours of the gin neat, without it being too harsh. Granite North contradicts this by providing a smooth and intense drink, perfect with just ice and a slice. Similarly you could enjoy it with equal parts gin to a light tonic. Something a little different would be a Fentimans Herbal Tonic which brings out more of the forest notes. Pink grapefruit is a complimentary garnish, or if you’re trying the Herbal tonic, maybe experiment with a sprig of rosemary!
Overall, it’s a new contender for our favourite gin. The unique fresh and zesty taste, versatility and the story that it had eighty test distillations to get it perfect have all the essentials of a great gin that “captures the essence of the Highlands”. This is apparent from first glance of the bottle, it’s simple, elegant and straightforward. The label brings in the rugged outdoors aspect with the contour lines and coordinates - some could argue the perfect gin for any geographers!
We struggle to find fault with the gin and only expect bigger and better things from Granite North... hey Sandy, no pressure!