By Michael W. Harris
Type: Dry Gin
ABV: 41.8% ABV
Base: Grant Neutral Spirit
Botanicals: Juniper, rowan berries, blackthorn, hawthorn, watermint, bramble, sweet cicely, rose, apple, bilberry, elderberry
Distilling Notes: Caorunn is distilled in Speyside in the Scottish Highland, a region more known for their single malt Scotch distilling.
My bottle of Caorunn gin had quite the journey to being opened. Originally purchased for my 37th birthday party in 2017, it went unused that night and eventually made the cross-country trek to Virginia two months later. It remained unopened there and the longer it remained sealed, the more I wanted to save it for a “special” occasion. Thus, it then made the trip all the way to Tennessee with me until I finally reached for it now, at the end of 2018.
Why did I wait so long? I am not sure. At some point it almost became a challenge to see how long I could postpone drinking it. Not to mention I had already tried the gin back in 2017 when I bought a small bottle of it while in England. That bottle also had an interesting journey as I brought it back with me in my carry-on luggage, through security in Manchester and Boston, through customs, before finally drinking it back in Boulder.
It seems like no matter what, my bottles of Caorunn always have to travel great distances with me before I open them.
The nose on Caorunn has some flower/sweet flavors and bite. There is also a fair amount of tanginess, but overall the dominate flavor was that of the sweeter notes. Regardless, it was quite nice. Strangely, though, on the palate there were more spicy flavors. Not bite of the alcohol per se but spice. It was very pleasant to sip, but not at all what I was expecting.
Also unexpected was how forward the alcohol was on a 41.8% gin! It is strange how something like the Hayman’s can so bury the taste of alcohol at 57% while something lower can bring it forward to be on par with the other flavors. The sheer variety in gin continues to astonish me.
On the finish there is a lot of burn and bite, and it drinks a lot more like a Beefeater gin. However, you can still taste the spicy and sweet notes. In the end, Caorunn is off to a good start (12/18).
Gin and Tonic
That good start continued into the Caorunn and tonic, which had good flavor and balance when I tried it (12/17), and the comparisons to Beefeater continues in my mind. Not a bad thing at all! It is a good cocktail, does what it sets out to do, and doesn’t offend or draw attention to itself. It is not too spicy, does not too much bite, and I feel like the juniper flavor is brought out more with the tonic.
On the back end, there isn’t a lot to it. Nothing really lingers. It just washes down and sets you up nicely for the next sip. A solid experience all around.
The good times even continued into the Caorunn Pink Gin, shockingly enough (12/18). While still not a favorite cocktail of mine, it was very drinkable. There is a bit of sharpness from the bitters, but the sweet and spice notes balance well with them and help to create an interesting flavor profile. Going down there is even less bite than most of the pink gins I have tried, and certainly not enough to make me gag like some have in the past (though I admit that I have maybe only recently started to dial in on how to make one properly).
But in the end, I feel like Caorunn is one of the few gins that make for a good pink gin in my limited experience.
Caorunn is a perfectly good gin. I am not sure if it is worth hauling a bottle around the US or packing in a carry-on toiletries bag, but you can certainly do a whole lot worse than it. There is nothing outstanding about it, but also nothing offensive. It is a rock-solid gin and as such sits squarely on my Middle Shelf of gins. If you have never tried it, it is certainly worth checking out if a bottle is easily accessible at your local purveyor of fine, distilled spirits.