Hrafn: Winter Gin 2019 Review

Sometimes you just click with folk…  There’s something about they way they chat to you and their general approach that you just get…  That’s how I feel about the wonderful gents from Hrafn.

Not only are these two guys some of the nicest people I’ve come across in gin but they create some absolutely wonderful gins.

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WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

I’m not going to give you the full history of the brand in this review as I really want to get it out quickly given its seasonal appeal…  The full story will come in the early new year with my review of their Valhalla Gin.

What I will do here is give you some story on this particular gin.

Originally launched in November 2018 it was the Raven’s first flight into something other than a traditional London Dry.  

“Winter” takes over double the distilling time of most gins and uses a wheat base spirit, has the finest botanicals and is cut to 43%.

The Ravens take their core gin – Thought & Memory – and add two key winter botanicals:

Omani Myrrh and Royal Green Hojari Frankincense.  This gives Hrafn Winter a truly distinctive flavour that you’d be hard pushed to find elsewhere.

What I like about Hrafn is that the branding for all their gins is, essentially, the same…  The only difference is the colouring on the label to distinguish them from each other – Thought & Memory is white, Valhalla is blue and the Winter is purple…  That level of consistency appeals to my OCD and I can imagine the full collection looking pretty sweet on a shelf… My two little beauties certainly do!!

 

BOTANICALS

  • Juniper
  • Angelica
  • Coriander
  • Cassia Bark
  • Cubeb Pepper
  • Orris Root
  • Mandarin
  • Royal Green Hojari Frankincense
  • Omani Myrrh

 

PARTICULARS

ABV – 43%
SIZE – 70cl
PRICE – £39.00

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MY REVIEW

To get started I take a sniff of the gin neat I get a smack of juniper that is quickly followed by some spice.  I get the warmth from it as I sniff and slowly some sweetness pops through.

Before we go any further I think it’s important to note that I have absolutely no idea what some of the botanicals will taste or smell like!!!  But, in my defence, I think most people would be in the same boat here.

I take my first sip and its unbelievably floral with a smashing warmth that I wasn’t expecting.  The juniper is solid in this… It lingers through all the other botanicals. Everything comes at me in waves but the juniper keeps coming back…  Wonderful.

The second sip brings in some spice – straight to the back of my throat…  And it stays there. That floral kick is there and I’d describe it as a less sweet lavender.  I referenced the guide Hrafn sent with the gin after completing the tasting and the tasting note says violet…  It absolutely is.

There is a sweetness that hangs about at the front of the tongue with the spice staying to the back of the throat…  Its a bizzarre sensation but its incredibly pleasant! This sweetness feelts like a combo platter of floral sweetness with some of the mandarin for good measure.

Adding some water really brings out the sweetness in this…  That floral taste is the dominant flavour… It always has been but, somehow, the water brings it to life EVEN MORE!  The mandarin comes to life as well here… Where there was a citrus kick in the neat tasting adding the water really pulls this more front and centre.

Ok…  So what about it in a classic G&T?

I find with the Hrafn gins you don’t TEND to need to add as much tonic…  Is this one the same?

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In short…  For me, yes.  I added about a 2:1 ratio of tonic to gin and I honestly don’t you’d need any more…  I’d even go so far as to say that you MAY get away with equal parts. The gin is so full of flavour – in a subtle, not “flavoured gin” way- that you really don’t want to dilute it…  To dilute this too much would be criminal and defeat the purpose of the lovely balance of flavours.

I served it with some lovely big ice cubes and an orange twist squeezed right into the gin.

Splendid.

 

SUGGESTED SERVE

The ravens recommend serving this up with some prosecco…  I can only imagine how tough it is to pop a cork with their little raven wings so I expect this serving suggestion to be absolutely awesome.

Obviously I tried it…  These are two clever ravens so if they say prosecco then I go get me some prosecco…  Stick it in the fridge, wait several hours for it to chill then… THEN I try it like they say…  A “Raven French 75” they cry it… They tell me its good… I’ll be the judge of that!

  • 25ml Lemon Juice
  • 25ml Sugar Syrup
  • 50ml Hrafn Gin “ Winter”
  • 100ml Prosecco

Add the lemon juice, sugar syrup and gin to a shaker with ice;
Shake with all your might;
Strain into a Champagne flute;
Top with the prosecco;
Garnish with a twist of lemon.

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Let me tell you something about this “signature serve”…  It’s absolutely phenomenal. I’ve never had a French 75 before but, I’ll tell you something, this one won’t be my last.  I dished this up to the family on Christmas Day and it went down a treat… Even my booze hating mother adored it… And trust me when I tell you she hates everything that doesn’t taste like mixer, you know?

Finally, serve wise, can I throw this into the ring for your consideration as well?  I recently did my 12 Gins Of Christmas (blog here) and featured Hrafn Winter Gin in a cocktail…  A Negroni Prosecco Cocktail to be exact… Like a take on a Bucks Fizz (recommended by Pam from Sipping and Styling – Pam’s Instagram).

  • 25ml Hrafn Winter Gin
  • 25ml Campari
  • 25ml Vermouth (I used Cocchi)
  • 50ml Orange Juice
  • 100-150ml Prosecco

This is super easy…  

Add your gin, Campari, vermouth and OJ to a glass (I used a large wine glass);
Carefully add the prosecco;
Give it a super gentle little stir;
Serve.

I garnished it with a slightly overdone, dehydrated orange slice!

CONCLUSION

So, to sum up, this gin is really quite something.  It’s definitely one of a kind and has this sweet spice that, like I said, is really odd but extremely enjoyable.  The flavour profiles in here are quite incredible and the very fact that it has some strong flavours but they all stand both independently of each other but also harmoniously working together to bring you a gin that is slightly “flavoured” (for want of a better way of putting it) but that is still, packed with juniper.

As I said, I love Christmas, and when I get a seasonal gin (I have about 5 or 6 now) I only have them during the winter/festive period as it makes them special…  To me. This is one I’ll look forward to dipping into for the next month or so and one I’ll be excited to revisit for the festivities next year.

It’s only made in small batches (I think there’s only 1000 made this year) so best get moving and get yours before it’s too late.

Thanks to the Ravens for sending me this bottle…  What a delight. Forever grateful to you guys and the support you always give me…  I was privileged to be in a position to share this with my family on Christmas… One of the things I’m forever grateful for with writing and chatting about gins is the opportunity to share new and very special gins with people I love.

As always thanks for joining me for my thoughts.  If you enjoyed the review, let me know and tell your pals.  

If you didn’t enjoy it… You clicked the link…  You brought it upon yourself.

Either way, allow me to inject myself further into your life by following my social media via the links below…  Special mention to my new Facebook… Give it a wee like as it’s just a baby and feels left out!

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I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and are all sorted for the New Year!

Keep your eyes peeled for my rundown of my top gins of 2019 coming to your eyeholes soon.

Cheers

Nic x

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