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The Sipsmith Blog

Around the World in 80 Gins: Portuguese Gin

in Articles March 9, 2015
Portuguese gin

Next on our globetrotting gin guide, we’re heading off to uncover the burgeoning world of Portuguese gin.

Love gin? Good news if you live in or frequent the Iberian Peninsula: gin here is no small trifle. There’s already been a good deal of publicity about the fact that Spain is one of the best places in the world to be a juniper devotee, but neighbouring Portugal is quickly moving up the ranks as another ginful destination. Read on to learn more about Portuguese gin.

History

Of course, it’s all been quite a recent phenomenon: let’s just say that Portuguese gin history doesn’t exactly stretch back centuries. It certainly doesn’t rival port, for instance: the national drink of Portugal has been produced and copiously enjoyed here for centuries. It’s no wonder, given that grape vines have been grown on Portuguese soil for millennia; the rise of port specifically can be pinned to the 18th century, when the country began exporting its alcohol overseas in greater quantities and fortifying it with brandy or other spirits to keep it from spoiling during the journey. Later, producers found that fortifying the wine during the fermentation process resulted in a sweeter, more popular tipple – and port eventually grew to be internationally beloved.

Port has long been, and remains to be, popular in Portugal, and rightly so – in fact, you can still find plenty of port and tonics (P&Ts?) on your travels throughout the country. However, Portuguese gin has also experienced an encouraging Renaissance of late, taking its lead from nearby Spain.

During the past five years, Portugal has witnessed nothing less than a total transformation in gin serves and offerings: a flowering of gin bars across the country, the arrival of a handful of new, artisanal distilleries and a growing interest in cocktail culture are all testament to the fact that Portuguese gin is on the up.

What Do They Drink

While big brands are certainly well represented here, a number of small, up-and-coming Portuguese distilleries have lately blossomed. One of the first of the new wave is Big Boss Gin, while the newly arrived Sharish Gin has drawn acclaim. Templus is one more of the recent generation, and may well be the country’s first organic gin.

How Do They Drink It

No surprise that the gin and tonic is king: inspired by Spain, you’ll find bars filled with glittering balloon glasses. Gin and tonics are far from simple here, and each features different fruit, spices, and other add-ons and botanicals that complement the character of whichever gin is being used.

Recipe

Red Fruits Gin and Tonic

Inspired by a Big Boss recipe, this Red Fruits Gin and Tonic puts a Portuguese spin on the classic cocktail serve.

5 cl gin

1 thinly sliced strawberry

1 mulberry

Dried hibiscus flowers

20 cl premium tonic water

Fill a balloon glass with very cold ice. Add the gin and botanicals and stir gently until chilled and well mixed. Top with tonic and stir gently, serve.

Feature images © neirfy/iStock/Thinkstock, martiapunts/iStock/Thinkstock

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