Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin
Review: Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin 83/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on April 07, 2013
Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin is a French spirit imported into North America by Crillon Importers Ltd. The gin is named to pay homage to Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer whose expeditions on behalf of King Charles I of Spain, led to the first circumnavigation of the globe.
Magellan’s travels were in search of a westward route to the Spice Islands (also known as the Maluka Islands of Indonesia). The key here of course is Magellan’s search for the Spice. Magellan’s Expedition around the world brought back three barrels of cloves (although Ferdinand Magellan died before the trip was completed), and apparently cloves are an important ingredient in the overall flavour profile of the Magellan Gin.
Of course there is much more than cloves in the botanical mixture of this blue gin. In all eleven botanicals are listed on the Magellan Gin website: cloves, Iris root and flower, juniper berries, cinnamon, cassia, orange peel, coriander, licorice, grains of paradise, cardamom, and nutmeg.
The gin itself is produced from a wheat based neutral spirit which was generated from a three column still. The botanicals (except for the Iris flower) are wrapped in a special cloth and added to the neutral spirit which is then distilled for a fourth time in small batches upon a small artisanal copper pot still. After this fourth distillation, the gin is infused with Iris Root and Flower. The Iris flower imparts the lovely blue colour to the gin during this process.
(Note: I was provided the bottle for this review by Crillon Importers Ltd.)
In the Bottle 5/5
The Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin arrives in the tall slender bottle pictured to the right. It is a clear bottle which showcases the light tincture of the blue gin. The label is printed right upon the glass, and the bottle is decorated by Iris flowers with an oval window which displays one of Magellan’s sailing ships through the opening. The presentation is completed with a nice synthetic topper. I quite like what I see as the bottle stands out nicely on my gin shelf.
In the Glass 8.5/10
In the glass the gin showcases its lovely colouration. I have read that the blue colour is supposed to remind you of the sea and Magellan’s great voyages upon it. The aroma from the glass is rather fascinating. I notice the floral character of the gin immediately. This must be the iris flower, although for me the scent is very similar to hyacinth especially with its perfume-like intensity. Under that rich floral aroma, I can discern a light but firm juniper, a hint of lemon balsam, and the vague spiciness of cloves and cinnamon. There is also a light but persistent effervescence which is similar to orange zest.
The overall impact of the breezes above the glass is quite pleasant and inviting. There is however, a light warning in those breezes. The hyacinth like intensity of the floral notes cause me to be cautious as I take my first sip.
In the Mouth 49.5/60
The iris flower seems to be adding much more than colour as the blue gin enters the mouth with strong floral flavours which have an almost perfume-like intensity. This impression is followed very quickly by an equally intense spiciness which heat heats up the palate as you sip. These strong impressions of flower and spice seem to almost overwhelm the more familiar gin flavours of juniper and citrus. The floral character again reminds me of hyacinths and lilacs, and the spiciness is similar to ginger and cloves with perhaps a hint of cinnamon. The combination is perhaps just a little too intense for me to sip comfortably. The perfume-like quality of the gin in particular becomes cloying rather quickly. I decide that it would be best to try a few typical gin cocktails to see how this intense flavour plays out.
I began my explorations with a simple Gin Gimlet (made with lime juice and simple syrup instead of with lime cordial). Unfortunately that perfume-like intensity of the Iris defeated me. That perfume-like quality carried into the cocktail tainting it in a manner which was not to my liking. I added soda and ice to the gimlet and converted it into a Lime Fizz. Now I felt I was on the right track. In fact, I liked the Lime Fizz so much I immediately made another. I tried a few more cocktails over the next couple of days and found that as long as I was making tall cocktails with lots of soda, I really liked the Magellan Gin, quite a lot actually. But when I went in the direction of more refined cocktails like the Darby, or a Gin Martini, I was defeated by the perfume-like intensity of the iris flower and root.
In the throat 12/15
In the exit the flavour of cloves is most fully revealed. Cardamom, and to a lesser extent cinnamon, also leaves a spicy imprint upon the throat. Glimmers of juniper, orange zest and lemon balsam (most probably the coriander) seem to leave ghostly trails as well. This glow of spice bodes well for tall cocktails like the gin and tonic. Although the finish is spicy, even here the intensity of the iris cannot be ignored.
The Afterburn 8/10
I like the Magellan Gin, and I suspect the majority of those who read my review will like it too. Tall cocktails with soda are definitely enhanced by its iris flavour; however, short cocktails like martinis and gimlets are perhaps overwhelmed by that same characteristic. Because I like tall cocktails like the Gin Fizz (and because the Magellan Gin makes such a great Gin fizz), I have scored the Magellan quite well at 83/100, despite my perception that the gin is perhaps limited in its application.
You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
Here is a Fizz-like recipe which tastes absolutely great with the Magellan Gin.
The Long Darby
1 1/2 oz Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Pink Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1 tsp Sugar Syrup
Pour the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker are frosted
Strain into a suitable glass filled with ice
Complete with soda
Please remember to enjoy my cocktail suggestions responsibly!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)