Back in 2016, inspired by his Dutch heritage and family’s work branding spirits such as Bacardi, Johnnie Walker and Bombay Sapphire, London-based Michael Claessens created Barentsz gin. The chosen moniker was a salutation to Willem Barentsz, the 16th-century Artic explorer, with his quest for a Northeastern trading route to China by sea celebrated in the gin’s use of Chinese jasmine flowers alongside classic gin botanicals.
Since then, Barentsz has released of a brand new expression – Barentsz Mandarin & Jasmine – that pairs the subtle floral notes of jasmine with the peels of aromatic mandarin for “a distinctively smooth and fresh taste”.
Barentsz Mandarin & Jasmine Gin
The gin’s base is a blend of two different grain spirits – winter wheat neutral alcohol from the UK and a golden rye spirit from Central Europe. Wheat brings out the sweeter notes of the gin whilst the creamy texture associated with rye gives the gin a long, smooth and rounded finish.
This base blend is infused for 24-hours with jasmine flowers (a note that features in the original gin but which has been dialled up a couple of notches in this expression) and mandarin peels as well as eight other botanicals: juniper, orange peel, coriander seeds, almonds, liquorice, angelica root, cassia bark and orris root. The spirit is then pot distilled in small batches at London’s Thames Distillers.
Tasting Notes – Barentsz Mandarin & Jasmine Gin
Unsurprisingly, mandarin is the first thing that greets the nose. However, it is not an excessively sweet and juicy note, more like someone peeling the skin off a fresh piece of fruit next to you. Zest and bittersweet citrus oils bounce off a faint aroma of floral jasmine, ending with a whisper of cinnamon.
The first sip is aromatic and fresh with a bright but controlled sweetness giving way to handfuls of fragrant jasmine. The tarter, zesty orange notes come through, supported by the nutty-sweetness of an angelica, liquorice, almond combo. The mandarin is certainly the main feature, with juniper nudging it along happily from the rear. However, thankfully neither the mandarin or jasmine are overpowering, with the citrus singing out beautifully when tonic is added.
A fresh and fruity Summer G&T, garnished with an orange twist.
£36.95. Buy it from Master of Malt.