HRAFN Cranachan Review

I’m not about to sit here today and give you background on Hrafn or why I love them so much or how I came to start getting to know them…  Those stories are in my previous reviews for them which you can find here:

Hrafn Winter Review

Hrafn Valhalla Review

I think with this review we’ll just cut to the chase and get chatting about and reviewing this gin!!!

So…  A few months ago I got an email from the Ravens asking if I fancied an adventure…  They emailed to say a few people had been selected to partake, promises of bespoke caskets and new products…   They called us the “Ravenettes” which I enjoyed.

All I had to do to accept the invite was to reply to the email…   Which I did.

Over the course of a few weeks we were treated to the Raven’s usual unique brand of shenanigans.  It struck me that a good bit of time had went into this so I became increasingly curious as to what was at the end of this adventure.

We were treated to a story involving some Ravens, some mystery and videos…  It was a lot of fun.

About mid-way through they announced the launch of Valkyrie but still teased at something more.  The adventure culminated in the reveal of a secret gin…  One where we were all sworn to secrecy…  That is the gin we will be looking at today – The Cranachan.

Not to be mistaken for the giant squiddy guy whose name is really nothing like cranachan…   Cranachan is a Scottish pudding involving oats, raspberries and honey…  This should give you an idea of whats going on here.

So not too long later the Golden Casket arrived…  Inside, beautifully presented, were both the Valkyrie and Cranachan gins…  I couldn’t believe my luck.

The first thing I noticed about the Cranachan was its colour…  I can only describe it as “neon”…  Honestly I wasn’t a fan and felt that a lot of people with a similar gin mindset to myself would probably be put off by it.  I emailed Peter to ask him about it because it seemed out of character for them to put this colour out there.  I asked him if it was natural colouring and why it was so incredibly bright…  He told me:

When Cranachan was being developed Callum and I purchased and tasted well over ten different Pink Gins – from Herno through to Beefeater.  As soon as Callum took them out of the box I operated them, by eye, into natural and non-natural colourings.  Callum asked how I knew, the answer is easy.  Naturally coloured gins are not pink but a reddish brown.  Natural red colours oxidise and precipitate out to a brownish tinge.

Market research shows that these are not desirable to consumers who see them as ‘pained’ or ‘slightly off’”

Peter told me they’d hunted high and low for natural colourings that would allow them to have a pink gin that would remain pink and pass their quality standards, however, were unsuccessful.  Eventually they found a colouring that they liked, that suited the gin and that passed their quality control.

In respect of the colour of the liquid in my bottle (and those of the other lucky recipients) Peter told me that they had slightly misjudged the amount of colouring for such a small batch (they literally made a special batch for us) and were planning to lower the amount used by 0.006g to whatever volume of liquid it was.  This might seem like a tiny amount – and it absolutely is – but having seen photos of the released gin it looks amazing.

BOTANICALS

  • Juniper
  • Jara Zest
  • Corriander Seed
  • Cassia Bark
  • Cubeb Pepper
  • Angelica Root
  • Orris Root
  • Local Raspberries
  • Heather Honey
  • Scottish Oats
  • New Make Malt Spirit

PATRICULARS

ABV – 40%

SIZE – 70cl

RRP – £35.00

Website – https://www.hrafngin.com/

Social Media – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

REVIEW

First of all lets look at the two elephants in the gin here – Jara Zest and New Make Malt Spirit.

I’ll cover the Jara in a bit more detail when we chat about Valkyrie because its a bit more prominent I think so makes sense to me to cover it then.

Most of you will know what New Make is, or have heard of it at least.  For those that don’t it’s a product of whisky making (generally), is very strong in terms of alcohol (about 68%) and is what comes off the still while producing the spirit.  At this stage in its life its completely clear in colour and its this that gets barrelled and left to age to become the whisky that people love.  I have tried it and its really unpleasant in my humble opinion but it appears there is a market for it as people are after bottles of the stuff.

Given New Makes connections to whisky it doesn’t surprise me to find the Raven Gents using it…  To merge their love of whisky and gin together seems to make sense and is a nice nod to their other passion.

On the nose Cranachan delivers with a massive punch of raspberry which is absolutely to be expected.  You also get a bit of the honey on some sniffs and a really strong citrus hit on others.  I couldn’t decide whether I felt the citrus was lemony or limey though because sometimes it felt like one, sometimes the other and sometimes both…  Never having smelled a Jara I can’t say of this is how it should be or if my nose was getting confused.

To try this neat the citrus was still right up there and was, without doubt, the first thing that I picked up when tasting…  Again I couldn’t determine if it was a lemon or lime feel.  Then there was a hint of juniper, not a great deal I didn’t feel but with “flavoured” gins I don’t think there generally is…  I’m glad to see it is there though.  What surprised me was how subtle I personally felt the raspberry was.  There was a nice balance of sweet and tart which is what I’d expect.  I also noted that there was a lovely mouthfeel to the gin which I described as “viscous”…  But essentially it felt a little thicker, creamier and a bit luxurious.

To add in a touch of water I didn’t feel it changed it too much.  The citrus was still the big hitter, the raspberry was still floating about and there was still the tickle from the juniper.  What I did notice with the water added was that I felt the honey came through a little and added a floral feel…  I think it was the honey doing this but I’m not 100% sure…  Either that or the floral flavour and the honey just happened to come through together.

With a G&T I went with Fever Tree Med Tonic at 2:1, ice, no garnish.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and it would be the perfect long drink in the garden during the warmer summer weather.  Light, refreshing and slightly sweet it was amazing.

For this, cocktail-wise, I went with a Mint Smash…  You’ll be amazed to hear that a Mint Smash is like a Basil Smash…  But with mint…  You often see raspberry paired with a mint garnish so I figured….  Why not?

The recipe I used was the Diffords Guide one for a Basil Smash as, it turns out, a mint smash isn’t a popular drink…  Unless its got a different name…  Doesn’t matter this is what I did:

  • 60ml Cranachan Gin
  • 22.5(?)ml Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice – I used 23ml FFS
  • 10ml Sugar Syrup
  • Handful Mint Leaves

Add the mint leaves to your shaker and muddle;

Add ice;

Add everything else;

Shake;

Double strain into your chosen glass and garnish with a lovely little sprig or mint (spanked or unspanked…  Drinker’s choice)

Tasting Notes:

Balanced;

Sour;

Sweet;

Fresh;

Don’t be shy with the mint…  I was a little too shy with it to be honest;

Really tasty;

It’s the after dinner cousin of the Basil Smash I think.

SUMMARY

The long and short of this is I enjoyed this gin.  Being more a London Dry/more traditional gin typa gal I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards anything pink and “fruity”, however, given the chance to try something from a distiller that I trust I always would and don’t recall having been disappointed.  I feel that some “pink gins” are a bit of a cash in on a HUGE market that’s undeniably out there, however, in the right hands it can still be a gin underneath its frills.  This particular character still has juniper lurking and makes a really tasty and refreshing G&T so that gets the thumbs up from me.

This wasn’t as bursting with raspberry as I thought it would be but that’s not a bad thing.  The raspberry in there was giving this sorta overall tartness which balanced nicely with the honey…  I dunno if the oats are meant to add anything “flavour-wise” but I felt they definitely added to the texture and feel of the gin.

I reckon that, in the right hands, this could be an amazing gin to pump into a few cocktails…  The Hrafn cocktail book (free and available on their website – link above) has been updated with suggested cocktails for Cranachan.

However for those lazy days where you don’t wanna be mixing up drinks OR if you want something longer and cooler for sitting out during that glorious week of summer this makes an awesome G&T as well.

The short version of this is that I’d recommend giving this a go…  It’s a bit of a rogue shot for the Raven Gents but, to be honest, I think it’s a worthy addition to their nest.

Thanks for taking the time to sit with me. If you have any ponderings about the gin you can catch up with me on social media:

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

or via the contacty bit up top.

Much love

Nic xxx

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