Canaïma is a small batch gin that aims to make a difference and aid with the conservation of the Amazon rainforest.
It’s not exactly like the world is starved of gins at present, with so many new brands popping up it boggles the mind. So why bother getting excited about a new one? Well, Canaïma is different from any other gin you’re likely to try (and that’s not just marketing speak). Let us tell you why.
Introducing Canaïma Gin
We first came across Canaïma at its London launch late last year. The invite had come by way of our inbox and elicited an initial internalised groan at the prospect of yet another gin on the market. However, our interest was peaked when we read that this new product was being produced by the team behind Diplomático Rum (read about the premium Venezuelan brand here) in collaboration with bartending legend, Simone Caporale. Our attention grabbed, we read on and learned that the new gin was being made with a whole host of botanicals sustainably sourced from the Amazon and that were entirely new to us. Furthermore, 10% of global sales of Canaima was being donated to two foundations crucial to conservation of the Amazon, Tierra Viva Foundation and Saving the Amazon. Needing no further persuasion, we sent a writer along to find out more (read the full Canaïma Launch article here).
Canaïma as a concept was born out of Simone’s trip to the Peruvian Amazon, where witnessing the destruction of the rainforest’s fragile ecology in real-time sparked in him a desire to take action. Dinner with the founder of Diplomático Rum reaffirmed his need to “do something”, and the pair set about thinking how best to self-fund a new product while supporting and sustaining Amazonian communities.
How is Canaïma produced?
Indigenous people experienced in harvesting different Amazonian botanicals in an environmentally respectful source local botanicals from Canaïma National Park – an area covering three million hectares of south-east Venezuela. These include merey (cashew), seje, acai berry, and native fruits like copoazú, uva de palma, and túpiro.
A bit of Botanical Breakdown
Merey – a kidney-shaped fruit that grows on a thick, pear-shaped stem. Each only produces just one cashew nut, which creates a lot of waste if the fruit is not used. Unripe, the flesh is astringent but this evolves to a sweet-sour taste that has notes of mango, orange and persimmon.
Seje – a palm fruit that has oily flesh and a very delicate, chocolate-like flavour.
Açai – this is one of the few that we’d heard of before. Largely considered to be a superfood, açai is used by the indigenous people for its regenerative and energetic properties.
Copoazú – the seeds of this fruit are used to make chocolate and the skin for juices and marmalades. Canaïma utilises the remaining pulp, which has a distinctive sweet-sour taste and creamy feel.
Uva de Palma – “snake fruit” by another name. This unusual looking fruit is often described as a blend of apple, pineapple and banana. It has the sweetness of honey with an acidic finish, leaving a citrusy tingle on the tongue.
Túpiro – also referred to as “la cocona”, it gives off a mild tomato-like aroma, accompanied by a flavour that is somewhat like a tomato with limey acidity.
These native Amazonian botanicals join traditional gin ingredients including grapefruit, orange, passion fruit and juniper, and are then individually treated, macerated and separately distilled in small batches copper pot stills of of 500 litres at DUSA’s distillery, at the foot of the Andes mountains at La Miel. These distillates are then carefully blended together by the Diplomático team to create the final gin.
The gin is bottled and embellished with labels made from previously recycled, fully biodegradable paper. Tierra Viva Foundation has also helped Canaïma to commission hundreds of traditional woven baskets and coasters used by the brand and its followers, each handcrafted by indigenous women.
Tasting Notes – Canaïma Gin
An intriguing nose that flits between the familiar and unknown. Young citrus notes, wet herbs, earthy notes and prickling yet aromatic spices meet the bold juniper with surprising harmony. Something akin to damp moss covered stones creates an evocative backdrop for herbaceous, woody, green and fruit notes to flash across. Bizarre yet intriduing.
The palate does not disappoint. Citrus oils come through first, quickly engulfed by strongly savoury, earthy almost smoky herbs. Juicy orange, pink grapefruit, green papaya, plantain skin, melon, rambutan and other tropical fruits dance around the mouth, imparting flavour without too much sweetness. The finish is spiked with pepper, cassia and bitter herbs, yet somehow manages to remain smooth and balanced. This is a genuinely unique and layered journey that any palate that prefers savoury gins over sweet would be happy to embark on.
World-famous bartender extraordinaire, Simone Caporale, has created a number of phenomenal cocktails using Canaïma, which can be found here. One such is the Amazonian G&G.
40ml Canaïma Gin
150ml Grapefruit Soda
2 lime wedges
Assemble in a highball glass with cubed ice. Garnish with grapefruit zest or slice.