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Saffron Gin (Gabriel Boudier)

Review: Saffron Gin (Gabriel Boudier) 84.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Published on May 03, 2016

Saffron Gin is produced in Dijon, France by micro-distiller Gabriel Boudier. It is apparently made from a 19th century colonial India recipe which includes nine botanicals seven of which are listed on the back label of my sample bottle: Juniper, Coriander, Lemon, Orange Peel, Angelica Seeds, Iris, and Fennel. In addition to the botanicals, the gin is flavoured with Saffron which is a spice derived from the orange stamen of the Crocus Sativa, more commonly known as the “saffron crocus”.

The use of saffron as a botanical/spice can be traced back almost 3000 years to the 7th century BC where its use is referenced in the library of Assyrian King Ashurbanipal. And in fact, its use actually predates written history itself, as Saffron-based pigments which date as far back as 50,0000 BC have been found in prehistoric Mesopotamia.

Saffron Gin is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Safrron Gin SAM_2496_1In the Bottle 4.5/5

The flavoured gin from Gabriel Boudier is bottled in the cylindrical medium tall bottle shown to the left. The bottle is clear which showcases the brilliant orange gin. The simplistic beige label is actually a cunningly crafted metal label which gives the bottle a nostalgic look and feel. The back label is where all the useful information is including the listing of botanicals and some additional interesting information about the Gabriel Boudier micro-distillery which was apparently founded in 1874.

The only detraction for me is the metallic screw cap. It does match up well with the metallic front label, but I still would have preferred a nice synthetic cork to top everything off.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When I poured a bit of the orange coloured gin into my glencairn glass, the aroma of saffron was immediately apparent, as was a light but firm scent of orange liqueur. I lifted my glass and tilted it, then gave it a slow twirl. The resulting sheen of gin on the inside of my glass was slightly thickened and the crest which formed at the top of the sheen was quite reluctant before dropping some medium-sized droplets down the inside of the glass. A scent of orange liqueur and the stubborn crest lead me to believe we will encounter some sweetness in the taste profile.

I allowed the glass to sit for just a little while and the dominant combination of saffron and orange liqueur remained in the breezes. It takes a little while but juniper does struggle upwards as does a light licorice-like scent of fennel and angelica. There was only a trace of coriander spice in the breezes while the lemon and iris botanicals remained buried.

I like the overall effect, as the light orange-liqueur like sweetness seems to work very well with the saffron. Just enough piny juniper pushes through to give me the sense that this spirit does indeed have its roots firmly placed within the spirit we call gin.

In the Mouth 51/60

When sipping the spirit, it is definitely the saffron which takes center stage. For those unfamiliar with saffron, its taste is quite unusual. It has a bit of a the flavour of dry grass coupled with a lightly bitter aromatic quality. The combination actually bears a passing resemblance to insect repellent (DEET). This is a passing resemblance only, and my intent here is to try to give you a description which fits the botanical, not to dissuade you from sampling the gin. There is a firm underlying accent of juniper and licorice-like fennel as well as a lightly bitter backdrop of angelica. Orange is not as apparent in the flavour as it was upon the nose; but as I sip the spirit I begin to see that this is because the orange citrus has melded almost completely into the saffron.

Both the back label of the bottle, and the media sheets I was given suggest that the Saffron Gin may be enjoyed on the rocks or in tonic. I am going to disagree on both fronts. The Saffron flavour is very aggressive and does not lend itself very well to my palate whether served on ice or with my favourite tonic water. What does work for me though, and spectacularly so, is mixing the Saffron gin in a gimlet-style using lemon juice instead of lime. The combination of saffron, lemon and the underlying orange flavour with the gin is fantastic (see recipe below)!

In the Throat 13/15

The exit is quite smooth featuring a lingering bitterness of saffron and angelica. Spicy coriander finally pushes through bring some welcome zing to the finish, and this probably adds a nice zing to my lemon based cocktail as well.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

Flavoured spirits are very hard to review, especially one such as this Saffron Gin which to be honest does not appeal to me at all as a sipping spirit. However, the spirit is exactly what it purports to be, a Saffron Gin. The saffron is front and center, and the other botanicals within the spirit serve to support the saffron flavour without diminishing it. There is just enough piny juniper lying in behind to keep the spirit on track as a gin based spirit as well.

And … and this is the important part, and I found a cocktail that I can make with the Saffron Gin that really rocks. I rather like a gin which I can enjoy thoroughly in a cocktail, and sometimes this is preferred to one which can only be sipped. When I served the Saffron Gin to my tasting friends, they had the same reaction as I did, and I was forced to make more than a few of those cocktails for each to enjoy.

You may read some of my other Gin Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

Mad about Saffron SAM_2505Mad about Saffron

2 oz Saffron Gin (Gabriel Boudier)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1)
Lemon Twist

Combine ingredients into a metal shaker with ice.
Shake until the metal shaker chills.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a twist of Lemon

Please remember the aim is not to drink more it is to drink better!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


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)

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