Much like in our day-to-day lives, we have a certain expectation of gin and what it is, how it tastes, whats in it etc… However… At this exact moment we are living during a time where nothing is as we expect it to be… People have been prevented from going to work… The bars, restaurants and gyms have all closed down… We can’t visit any family or friends that don’t stay within our household… We have to queue to get into the shops and can’t buy baking stuff! These are unique times…
Step in Zeiver – Pronounced Zay-Ver.
Zeiver’s tagline is;
“A GIN. UNIQUE”
Images used with permission from Zeiver official photographs
And as we discuss it… You’ll see why…
Turn back your clocks to a time when life was as we remember it… Freedom of movement, going out for drinks, hugging family and going to the gym… I opened up my email (I actually was out at the time… In fact I was at a gin festival in the days just before the lockdown came into effect.
The email was from Zeiver. The email subject was making reference to the fact that this was a unique gin… I don’t think I’d be the only one that, on seeing this, narrowed their eyes with a quiet “hmmmm” before then trying to figure out how to pronounce the gin’s name (hence why I’ve stuck the pronunciation early on in the review!).
The email contained a “brochure” of sorts which gives a bit of background and also hits you with the list of botanicals… It was on seeing these that I realised why this gin confidently tells you its unique… But we’ll talk about them in a moment.
Having seen the list of botanicals I really couldn’t resist getting involved with Zeiver… It was so outrageous that I didn’t quite know what to think.
Within a few days my lovely bottle had arrived and my first thought was that I really enjoyed the branding. The contrast between the black and white, the simplicity but also the very very clear message they are sending with it.
The other thing that struck me as quite unique was the lovely note that came with the gin. Often when brands send out bottles of gin they include a wee note to say hello and thank you for getting involved etc but this note was different… It was an entire letter that beams with pride about the product as well as providing a warmth and personal touch that is so often overlooked but is absolutely always welcome… I will never not enjoy that! I find a note in my delivery is a bit like when you were a kid and started getting mail for the first time… Something about it makes me giddy with anticipation and I always read it prior to checking out the gin or, if the note is at the top, prior to even pulling the gin from the box.
I also enjoyed receiving instructions on how to wiggle the glass stopper free from the bottle… More uniqueness and it made me chuckle… it was handy though as that stopper is a good fit!!
It struck me that literally everything about this gin was unique… And I hadn’t even tried it yet.
- Aloe Vera
Images used with permission from Zeiver official photographs
ABV – 47%
SIZE – 70cl
RRP – £41.95
Website – Zeiver.com
Shop – The Gin Stall
Zeiver is the result of a year’s hard work from co-founders James Bilson and Clayton Paterson in conjunction with Oxford PHD Biochemist Dr John Walters.
These lads decided to create a gin for a few reasons:
- They were fed up doing the jobs they were doing;
- The desire for change;
- To share their love of gin with the world
Nice and simple.
The name is from a Dutch word (Zuiver) which (according to Google translate) means “Pure”… I know what you’re thinking… “Nic you’ve spelled it wrong… Have you learned nothing from your multiple Twitter spelling mistakes and are still not proof reading?!”… Well smarty pants… Zuiver IS the correct spelling, ok? The guys changed the spelling to Zeiver for balance and to bring the uniqueness into the name… Ok? So simmer down.
I asked the guys why they chose the botanicals they did as they are a bit out there. They told me:
“This is the major aspect of our gin. We wanted to make our gin in a way that would actually stand out from the hundreds of other gins on the market. We felt there were enough fine gins that used corriander, angelica root and other conventional botanicals, but few that were bold enough to fully venture into uncharted territory. We wanted to be unique but with botanicals that actually worked and were not just a novelty of different for different’s sake”
I think what you need to read into that is a desire to stand out but with a calculated assessment of how to go about it.
The gin took just shy of a year to pull together between the lads learning about botanicals, flavours, distillation etc then the trial and error of the creation process and experimentation. With a goal in mind they kept plodding along until they got the final product.
With this last point there I think it shows the guys you’re dealing with here. I worded the question to them as “how long did it take to perfect?” or something along those lines but their response was that the gin isn’t perfect but as close to perfect as possible before ending the response with:
“Progress, not perfection”
I have a lot of respect for those that are humble in what they do.
Through the experimentation and creation process they made some truly terrible prototypes and discovered that burdock is best saved for rice and chicken and left out of gin… Which is probably fair. Similarly a little ginger goes a long way… My mum would agree as she’s quite proud of me (ha).
They also said a little nutmeg goes a long way too but it messed up my joke.
I asked if they had considered other names… I was told they had and were intending to use some in the future (I’ll be honest this response will require further questioning from me because I’m now unbelievably curious!)… I was then asked what I thought of Steakeater, Tankerhey, Bendricks and Brockpersons… I like Tankerhey to be fair… Sounds fun.
The label appears to be the result of compromise. James preferred the white on black, Clayton the black on white… Now we have both… Compromise.
Zeiver is the result of loads of hard work, inspiration from the UK, Japan and Europe, a truly special list of botanicals and, on top of all this, co-founders that I can’t wait to share a drink with.
Zeiver uses a polished rice base sourced from Niigata, Japan known for it’s high quality… This base contributes to the wonderful mouthfeel.
Fun Fact; the water they use to make Zeiver is filtered through reverse osmosis (#science) and is 3 times purer than Evian.
“PURE, STRAIGHTFORWARD AND SINCERE. IT’S THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE FOR ALL WE DO.”
Images used with permission from Zeiver official photographs
Before I kick off the tasting I think it’s worth noting that with a lot of gins that I try I generally have an idea of what to expect… I had no idea what I would get tasting this gin… Another way in which this is unique I guess!!!
Anyway… On to the tasting…
The first thing I notice is how the liquid clings to the glass… The best way I’d describe this is its almost syrupy in how it does it… As if the liquid is thicker than it is… Absolutely glorious.
On the nose I find it bursting with pine. This surprises me because, when you look at the botanical list there are a lot of strong players in there and, in circumstances like this, the concern can be that the juniper will go missing… This is definitely not the case. The pine is bold and punchy on the nose. There’s a tickle from the citrus in there but not alot… The nose is DEFINITELY juniper dominant.
To taste neat theres the juniper, which was to be expected… However I then get a huge hit from the lime… Theres a sweetness to it that is not overbearing. What I find quite interesting is there is a spicy feel in the aftermath which probably shouldn’t be there as there is nothing in the botanicals to suggest it… But it is there… And it plays nicely with that earlier sweetness.
Moving on to the water tasting and the juniper still hits you hard which is wonderful after that I get an almost buttery mouthfeel which is very very pleasant… I can only anticipate that the smoothness and the way this stuff feels is down to the nuts… I don’t FEEL I get much flavour from them but I dare say that they add to its “texture” and to mellow out some of the more powerful botanicals in the mix. I felt the grapefruit came out more here and there’s still that lingering spice…
I then moved on to adding in some tonic… I’ve went with a simple 1:1 ratio here which I don’t do very often… I used Fever Tree Light tonic.
In a first for me with reviewing (I think) I’ve also gone garnish-less… I dunno why but this is the route I’ve chosen and it’s my blog.
The first thing you’ll notice is how cloudy this goes once the tonic is added… As I understand this is as a result of the botanical oils being exposed to the colder temperature… And, as you can see from the photo, this is super cloudy… This isn’t really a surprise given how the neat spirit was clinging to the glass.
Anyway to taste with the tonic its light and refreshing. Still high on the juniper scale, slight sweetness with a nod to the citrus we discussed earlier. Its extremely easy to drink and the sample pour I made myself to write this was gone before I even realised.
I played about with this a good bit before committing to the cocktail I’ll discuss below… I wanted something classic for this unique gin but, at the same time, a classic didn’t sit with what I felt the guys were going for… I feel this gin has the underbelly of a classic “ginny gin” with its juniper punch but it also wants to stand out… Be different… Unique.
So I did a martini and it was cracking… I did a negroni and it was brilliant… These are the two cocktails I am generally focussing on at the moment (as some of you will know)… But these are classics… Lets go with a twist on a classic, shall we?
I present to you… The Orange Martini…
25ml Zeiver Gin
25ml Dry Vermouth
10ml Sweet Vermouth
¼ of an orange worth of peel
Add all ingredients to a stirring glass and leave for a couple of hours in the fridge
Strain and serve in a chilled glass of your choice and enjoy
Sweet… But dry
The comfort of a Martini
But not quite
Like if the Martini brought its rogue cousin to the party
The orange really adds another layer to it
Essentially what you have here is a gin that, at first glance, seems like it might be too much… There’s a lot of botanicals in here… Many of them particularly unusual. You also have the bold claim of being unique… Thing is though it absolutely is unique… Everything about this gin is different and helps it to stand out…. And thats before you’ve tasted it.
Luckily the liquid itself easily stands up to the tough market it is stepping into. The balance of the botanicals and the harmony in which they work is quite lovely. I think if you were so inclined you could play about with this and discover some truly wonderful drinks. I tried it in a few drinks, as I said above, and they were all wonderful… Classics and less well publicised drinks alike.
In the simplicity of a G&T it is lovely… Light and refreshing and very easy to enjoy… I reckon this would work with a lovely citrus garnish to compliment that sweetness I was getting as well as something more herbaceous to balance it all out… It’s a gin with so much reach that I don’t think you’d get tired of it.
I honestly believe that if one of your hobbies involves the creation of drinks then this probably would be one you could go a bit nuts with… It strikes me as being incredibly versatile.
I’m not here to tell you how to live your life but I feel your gin collection really should make a space for this guy to slot into…
I wanted to thanks James and Clayton for their generosity in sending out this bottle for review… And I urge you to go buy some.
I have a planned Q&A with the gents coming in the next few months so keep your eyes peeled for that because it should be fun… If you follow my social media you should know by now we do things a little differently round these parts so stay around for that.
If your life is missing something and you don’t follow my social media then heres how you fix it… Links are below… I’m sure anyone who follows me will agree I don’t tend to sit in with the conventional gin social media accounts so come along… Lets have some fun… At the moment we’re paying tribute every week to a brand that is giving back to their community during these strange Covid-riddled times. Have a search for my hashtag #PandemicPraise and go check out the gins, posts and videos for yourself… They’re a lot of fun!
For now though stay home, stay safe and treat yourself to a bottle of Zeiver this payday.
Usage of the word “UNIQUE” throughout the article = 15 total… AKA alot.
*Cover image used with permission from Zeiver Official photos