Oops, I did it again, I had another tipsy Monday at the Graphic Bar in Soho! Can you really blame me, though? The friends at what is soon-to-be my new favorite spot in Central London are gintastic at spoiling their thirsty crowd of gin-connoisseurs with their monthly Socials.
For slightly more than a fiver, an Ambassador talks you through an interesting distillery’s story, you get a G&T, a refreshing cocktail and several sips of neat gin throughout the presentation. Can you see why is it a great deal? If you’re familiar with London and Soho in particular, you should know very well that for the same price you can’t even buy a Gordon’s & Tonic in the area, let alone a premium gin!
For the March Social, the bartenders at the Graphic Bar decided to showcase the Finnish Napue gin and if you liked the Nordes’ gin-story posted a few weeks ago, wait to read this one!
The story of this gin starts like no other: in a sauna in Isokyrö, a tiny city with less than 5000 inhabitants five hours away from Helsinki. Five gentlemen (or Rye gentlemen as they like to call themselves), after a few extra glasses of alcohol, came up with what most of the time would be just a drunken idea: launching their own distillery! The following morning, perhaps still a bit hungover, they started planning what back then was just a dream, but that a few years down the line would bring them to produce what was recognised as the best Gin & Tonic in the world in 2015 and also a single malted whiskey. Not too bad for a group of people that according to rumors had to google “How to distil gin” at the beginning of their journey from their refurbished old dairy factory.
In Rye we trust – Finnish people love their rye as much as they love tattoos. So when the last tattoo parlour shut down in Isokyrö and the city was slowly dying, the Rye gentlemen thought to re-invent the area by using a locally grown product. In fact, Finnish Rye is one of the best in the world and although it comes in a smaller size than the American one, it has a stronger taste with a peppery note.
Distilling gin (and whiskey) sounded like a good idea but it wasn’t easy to start with. At least 4 attempts were made by these tenacious Finnish men before the perfect combination was found as they all tasted too much like whiskey.
Finally, Napue gin was born and due to the four locally (out of sixteen) handpicked summer botanicals used in the distillation process – seabuckthorn, cranberries, birch leaves and meadowsweet – it smells and tastes like a wild Scandinavian landscape with a punchy but still pleasant rye bite at the back of the throat and on the tongue.
I really liked Napue and it is at least in my top 15, but I loved even more its 3 months cask matured “bro” Koskue. I usually don’t drink neat gin but I ended up sipping this spirit without even realising. Not sure if it was its gentle smell of a summer meadow or its smooth, sweet and oaky-warm flavour but this product stunned me and I left the bar determined to buy one bottle at soon as possible.
How it was served
I admit it, I can be quite difficult but with a gin presentation, garnishes and the choice of tonic water I have nothing to argue about this time. Conscious of the intriguing botanical flavour of their gin, the Napue Rye Gentlemen opted for a neutral Fever Tree Premium Indian tonic water for our complimentary G&T. The garnishes included fresh cranberries but most importantly rosemary. Although this herb is not used at any stage of the distillation process, it’s strongly recommended to open up the the selvatic bouquet of botanicals chosen for this premium gin.
Following the delicious gin cocktail crafted by the bartenders less than a month ago, I was waiting impatiently for the new one and the gin-artists of the Graphic Bar didn’t disappoint me. This time, we were served a mix of Napue gin, orange juice and a special cordial prepared with chamomile, fresh sage, sugar, and honey. Needless to say that it went down really well and the pretty presentation was the icing on the cake. Chapeau, again!
(Ph: courtesy of Amy Jane Davies & Suzy Ordish)