Just over a year ago we were on the approach to the Glasgow Gin To My Tonic festival.
Twitter and Instagram starting filling up with the announcements and, subsequent to that, the announced brands and distillers started creating posts around their products and what they’d be offering on the day.
A post that stood out to me, in particular, was a photograph from the Hrafn gents. It was showcasing their version of a Bramble. I’d never had a Bramble at this point… Reading their description I remember being quite taken by it… I mentioned this to them… We got to chatting… If I told you it went in an odd direction would you believe me? If you’ve seen my social media you probably would, in fairness… Thing is though… This one went down a particularly odd route and, quite honestly, I have no idea how it went from Bramble chat to stockings and suspenders and references to Rocky Horror… But it did. It was in those moments that I realised that the Hrafn gents were different to most other distillers on social media… They were relaxed, good fun and liked a bit of banter and back and forth… Right up my street.
The day of the festival rolled around and I finally met the guys… I could’ve chatted to them for ages… But they were very busy… And rightfully so… Their gins are phenomenal.
During our chat that day they made mention of a stronger, sipping gin they were in the final stages of putting together and said they’d email me with more info nearer the time.
A few months later they did just that and offered to send out a bottle for review… I, of course, accepted. This was quite a while ago and I can only apologise to them for the delay in reviewing… The tail end of 2019 was tough so reviews and the blog took a bit of a break as I couldn’t give them the “quality” they deserved and were entitled to… Now I can.
But before I do… Let me tell you a little about the Raven Gents and what they’ve created.
Hrafn was started by brothers Peter and Callum Sim to answer a very simple question… How would you go about making a gin with the depth and finish of a Single Malt?
The name comes from Callum’s love of Norse mythology and the fact that a raven landed near to Callum while he was at the distillery which sparked the question which sparked the desire to create a gin…. Incidentally Hrafn means Raven in old Norse… Maybe shoulda opened with that…. Live and learn… Moving on…
Part of what makes the Hrafn gins so unique is their inclusion of mandarin… Then we have the slow distillation… This long process allows the botanicals to slowly release their goods into the spirit which helps with the extended flavour we experience when drinking a Hrafn Gin.
THEN the gin is left to “rest and marry” after distillation for at least four weeks… These are the secrets to Hrafn Gin and why it’s so smooth and stands up to whatever you mix it with… If anything at all.
The Hrafn nest is in Aberdeenshire… Incase you were wondering.
The branding on the label features Huginn and Muninn, the two ravens of Odin and is by US artist Larry Vienneau.
- Cassia Bark
- Cubeb Pepper
- Orris Root
ABV – 49%
SIZE – 70cl
RRP – £44.00
On the nose the juniper from this is ridiculous… It… Is… HUGE. There’s a wonderful sweetness coming through. The whole thing feels strong but gentle which surprises me given the strength of the liquid. The nose finishes up with a warming, peppery spice.
Going in to try this neat and, similarly to the nose, the juniper is up front and demanding attention. There’s a savoury note to it, a spicy kick – but not too much. Citrus hints at the back of the throat with a very slight cinnamon tickle every now and again – Likely the cassia bark. The sweetness I picked up on the nose is here too… It’s very very subtle but quite wonderful and very welcome. This moves off allowing the spice to linger for a good while.
With a little water the sweetness comes initially alongside the juniper which is still heavily prevalent. There is still a lovely citrus kick that hits about midway through the sip. That spice is still lingering but is slightly reduced.
Adding in some tonic and I was surprised how strong the juniper still is, however the citrus moves up and is now giving it a run for its money. This is gentle, light and extremely refreshing.
The only downside is that I feel the spice becomes a little bit too subtle… However it’s important to remember that this gin is designed for sipping neat.
I served the G&T with equal parts gin to tonic and garnished it with an expressed orange peel.
In my humble opinion if you were to dilute this any further it would be criminal.
Cocktail-wise for this gin there was only one way to go… The king of cocktails… The Martini… Now, cards on the table… I’m an equal parts gin to vermouth kinda gal when it comes to my Martini… However I felt that this gin deserved to be served in the 5:1 gin to vermouth Martini.
50ml Hrafn Valhalla Gin
10ml Dry Vermouth
Add both ingredients to a stirring cup with plenty of ice;
Stir until chilled – DO NOT SHAKE
Strain into a chilled glass.
Garnish with an expressed orange peel
Maybe a little tangy… Maybe;
Heavier feeling than the G&T;
Citrus wash at the end;
Is it woody?
Oooooh man its good whatever it is;
The perfect way to extend your drinking time with this gin;
Floral-ish vibe… Pine maybe?
So… You might still (somehow) be wondering if I enjoyed Valhalla… The short answer is that yes, I absolutely did. It stands up well to the tonic, went wonderfully in the Martini and was a delight simply over ice with a wee peel.
There is literally no reason for you not to make Hrafn Valhalla your gin purchase this payday… Use the link above and go treat yourself… Honestly you’ll be glad you did.
Thanks for reading… I hope you enjoyed my review… Once again thank you to the wonderful Ravens for sending out this bottle for me to review.
For the best chat on the internet follow my social media;
Have you tried Valhalla? What did you think? Have you tried any of the other Hrafn Gins?
Catch my previous Hrafn review here – Hrafn Winter Gin Review
Till next month troops