Review – Sylvius Gin
If there was a patron saint of gin, it must surely be a certain Franciscus de le Boë Sylvius. Legend has it (although questionably so) that way back in the 17th Century the chap was the first to register a juniper distillate named Genievre. Skip forward a few centuries and the Onder de Boompjes distillery in Schiedam has produced a gin named in homage to this great man. Juniper, lemon peel, orange peel, cinnamon, angelica, coriander seed, fresh lemon, caraway, and liquorice are macerated in neutral wheat spirit for four days prior to distillation. The distillate is blended with neutral spirit and water from the Anl’eau well in Hunzedal.
Neat: An unusual palate, most noticeably on account of the delicate malt flavours which juxtapose with lots of cinnamon spice. With plenty of lemon and mere touches of anise, liquorice and lavender, this is an all or nothing gin which goes all out on some botanicals and reigns in others. The juniper gets a little hidden in amongst the malt and adds an almost sweet character to the gin which finishes very dry indeed.
Mixing: You know you’re onto a winner when the cocktails mixed with a spirit alternate between ‘good’ and ‘excellent’. The spicy cinnamon together with the generous lemon flavour ensure this gin shines in drinks making use of other flavoursome ingredients, but they are not so dominant as to prevent the more subtle and sophisticated underlying flavours from showing their presence in the more gin-forward libations. A Negroni for instance is good, but probably no more good than many other gins. The signature Forbidden Fruit (recipe below) is too a perfectly serviceable drink, but one that does’t put Sylvius atop the podium. Take a creamy and luscious base, with the cinnamon spice and high notes of aromatic lemon, and fill in the gaps with some herbal Chartreuse and vermouth that is the Puritan Cocktail, and you’ve a real treat on your hands. Even in the humble G+T Sylvius delivers the goods, offering a surprising fruity character that is unusual, without straying too far from ‘usual’. Real clever mixing however, doesn’t just fill in the blanks, it reveals the hidden. The absinthe of a Corpse Reviver No 2 for example brings out the lavender, anise and liquorice that until now were content with their supporting role. the result is immensely lemony without being too sour, and balanced by a cacophony of flavours that are all identifiable as individuals but which work together exceptionally well.
Signature Cocktail – Forbidden Fruit
2oz Sylvius Gin,handful strawberries and raspberries, cranberry juice.
Muddle fruit in base ofshaker then add gin and shake with ice. Strain into an ince-filled highball glass and top with cranberry juice. Garnish with fruit.
Sylvius Gin is an interesting spirit that is unusual, without being challengingly so. It has bucket loads of lemon and cinnamon, but these are balanced by an altogether more subtle approach with the rest of the botanicals meaning that it remains versatile and much fun to mix with.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.