We visit Black Pig Distillery in Portugal’s Alentejo region to find out more about these unusual distillers and pig farmers. Following an incredible and truly unique distillery tour, we get to tasting their gins, rum (Portugal’s second ever), and “fire water” fruit brandy.
Black Pig Montado Alentejano Gin
“Montado Alentejano” translates to mean “mounted Alentejo” and essentially speaks of the rural, agrosylvopastoral system and cultural landscape of the surrounding area. This gin showcases the botanicals of this region. Gina the pig stands proudly on the bottle, bedecked with pearls and with snout raised high, to show the black pig’s rich stature within local history.
A very distinctive smell! Spiced but fragrant with a rounded nuttiness.
The sweet, chocolate-y carob works with the nut mix of almonds, acorns, walnuts and chestnuts to produce a deep and earthy character, that truly comes to life with the cinnamon in the signature serve (see below). The base spirit, coupled with the small batch pot still distillation imparts an incredibly creamy and smooth mouthfeel that supports these flavours and gives them the time needed to develop on the tongue. Background spice and warm depth celebrate the Montado Alentejano’s unique ecosystem and rural identity, making this a truly local gin.
- Break a cinnamon stick in half and put these into a chilled glass filled with ice cubes. Add juniper berries
- Pick up a sprig of fresh rosemary and tap it to release the aromas.
- Add one 50ml jigger Black Pig Montado Alentejano Gin
- Place bar spoon over the glass and pour Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water slowly over the back of the spoon. This ensures the bubbles are not lost and means the drink retains a lightness
- Give the drink one swirl with the spoon
- Garnish with fresh rosemary and serve
This is a genuinely unique product that is well-worth a try.
Black Pig Costa Alentejana London Dry Gin
Whilst the first gin celebrates the flavours of the Montado, the London Dry is all about the Alentejo coast.
Bright citrus, juniper, herbal rosemary and floral lavender waft through, recalling the freshness of the warm breeze sweeping over coastal cliffs.
Much lighter and fresher than the Montado Alentejano. The sweetness of the orange in the suggested serve (see below) dances with the gin’s lemon zestiness, with the other botanicals echoing in the background. This is a bright and clean expression that would be most welcome in the hot Summer months!
- Take freshly cut orange peel between two tongs and work to release the essential oils
- Add juniper berries and 50ml of Black Pig Costa Alentejana London Dry Gin
- Add ice cubes and freshly squeeze orange juice
- Pour Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water or another neutral tonic water slowly over the bar spoon
- Tap a fresh sprig of rosemary to release the aromas. Trace around rim and stem of glass, before adding as a garnish
This is a wonderfully fresh, hot weather gin.
Black Pig Rum Ilha do Pessegueiro
This rum is inspired by the legends and pirate stories of Peach Island (a real place off the coast of Alentejo’s Porto Covo). The spirit’s profile is influenced by the spices originally obtained in the old trade routes by historical Portuguese navigators that explored remote parts of Africa and Asia and botanicals from the Alentejo. It is the first rum from the region and Portugal’s second rum.
Very light with hints of vanilla adding to the fruity peach
The peaches give a decided sweetness that is regulated by darker notes of coffee and tobacco. Still, it is a very easy rum and one that is best drunk in a cocktail.
Try it in a Passion-fruit Mojito, or another such fruity twist on a classic cocktail.
This is a rum for those who like their highballs.
Black Pig Medronho Aguardente
Made from handpicked madrone (strawberry tree fruit) that is twice distilled after four-five months of fermentation, this fruit brandy is what Ricardo calls “fire water”.
An unusual smell that is at once fruity and warming.
Unexpectedly smooth due to the small still production and natural fermentation. The taste is of the fruit and it is surprisingly easy-drinking.
Ricardo tells us that this is that famers and hunters used to have with breakfast on a cold morning, and we can certainly see how it would warm you up! Whilst we can’t entirely condone frequent breakfast drinking, this is certainly a spirit to drink neat and to be savoured.
If you’ve never tried Medronho before, definitely five this one a go. Do not be put off by the Portuguese calling it “fire water” it does not burn, only slowly warms you and leaves you feeling quite merry.