2020 did a great job of disrupting everyone’s plans – including mine to write up this review. Distraction upon distraction (aka work and life) means that this is coming to your eyes at the end of 2020 instead of earlier. However I couldn’t not tell you about this gin. Yes it was gifted as part of their campaign to get the word out, but it is totally worth raving about! Read on to find out why:
*Full disclosure, in case you missed it Zeiver gifted me this bottle in order to review and share with my followers – all opinions are my own*
An untraditional, traditional tasting gin
The background to Zeiver Gin
Founders James Bilson and Clayton Patterson decided to create a gin after realising their shared passion for a gin and tonic and wanting to create something to make others love gin as much as they do. Now I don’t know about you, but we’ve all had *that* conversation in the pub after a few drinks, but James and Clayton actually did something about it!
In Dutch Zuiver (pronounced Zay-ver) means pure and this was the inspiration for the name Zeiver. They wanted to bring a pure drink with no additives and they drew inspiration from their time in Japan for the smooth base spirit, as well as from gins around the world for the overall flavours and botanicals.
With distiller Dr John Walters – a Ph.D biochemist – they finally created and launched Zeiver gin in 2020. Whilst the year hasn’t panned out quite as they expected I’m sure they are happy with the reception of Zeiver from the industry.
How Zeiver Gin is made
This isn’t just about the method of distillation – this is where I start to introduce you to the untraditional side of Zeiver. They use polished rice as the alcohol base for their gin – pretty unique, and normally used in the Sake making process. I don’t know a lot about Japanese gins, but I think this will be unusual outside Japan.
The untraditional continues in the botanicals that are used to make the gin. The only traditional (& required) one is juniper. The rest I think I’ve seen in various gins, but never in this combination! And boy what a combination it is….
- Aloe Vera
None of the ‘traditional’ gin botanicals, like cassia, orris, coriander or angelica are used.
Created with the bespoke rice spirit base, sourced from Niigata, the gin is distilled in a 200l copper pot and cut with pristine water to keep it pure. They extract 3 parts from the heart of the distillation and blend these together to get the particular taste they want. The process is done slowly to allow the spirit to combine before it gets bottled – which I believe assists the smoothness of the end product.
Tasting Zeiver Gin
Now we get to the important part.
OK maybe you need to know more than that….for more detail:
Aroma – I get lovely fresh green juniper and some zest from the lime and at the end fruity notes and a little spice. As we know there are no added spices, this is really quite clever.
Taste neat – firstly, very smooth, especially for 47%, but also lovely and light in the mouth. The promise of the aromas comes through with fresh juniper and citrus, followed by more complex flavours that add depth and also spiced/pepper notes at the end. The flavour also lingers with juniper the backbone at all levels. The nuts I think are adding to the mouthfeel and whilst I can’t quite pick out the fruit and aloe vera, they are doing an amazing supporting role, adding sweetness that balances and makes this gin so good neat.
Taste with ice – the ice cools and dilutes the gin, making it more ethereal. By this I mean the coolness takes the edge of the spice/alcohol bite, the dilution allows the more delicate flavours to open up, almost coming out a little more savoury. This is why the gin makes a fabulous martini (see below).
Zeiver gin and tonic
Served with FeverTree Mediterranean tonic this is a fresh and light gin and tonic and I went with a 50:50 ratio, you could go as far as 1:2 gin to tonic, but I wouldn’t empty a bottle of tonic in. James suggests garnishing with apple or apricot, and I found that an apple nicely added sweetness, without overpowering the gins’s flavours.
Their perfect serve Z&T includes a splash of grenadine to add colour and a complementary taste. Clayton also suggests a G&T with equal parts gin, tonic and grapefruit juice, which sounds lovely! They also mention that it would work with ginger ale as a Mule or with apple juice, should you not like tonic.
I also used Zeiver in the Summer to add juniper punch to a spritz gin and tonic, where it stood up to the orange flavours of Starlino aperitif:
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A martini is my favourite serve for Zeiver gin. The mouthfeel and juniper flavour balanced with the softer botanicals make for a perfect clean dry martini. Immensely satisfying, and it’s been given the Martini Club seal of approval also:
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My martini I made using the direct method:
- Frozen gin, frozen glass.
- Rinse the glass with dry vermouth and throw away (well I drank it!)
- Pour frozen gin into the glass
- Garnish by expressing lemon peel over it and serving with a twist
I had to try Zeiver in my favourite gin cocktail, the negroni. Having played around with a few combinations I can safely say that it works as both a white negroni (using Suze as the bitters – but not equal parts!) or as a classic negroni with Campari and sweet red vermouth.
The white negroni was 2 parts gin, 2 parts vermouth and 1 part Suze; the red negroni was equal parts vermouth, gin and Campari (although I mixed my vermouths using a blend of Cocchi and Put e Mes).
Zeiver gin bottle design
I couldn’t finish an article about this gin without mentioning the cool black and white label design. Apparently this came about from the two options that it was narrowed down to. Founders James and Clayton couldn’t decide which was the best (they each preferred a different colour) so in the end they went with both! The result is lots of photos where you have one side white and one black, so of course I joined that bandwagon.
The label is also very pleasing in how it highlights the Z in Zeiver in the design – it’s the little touches like this and the glass stopper that add to the quality feel.
The verdict on Zeiver gin
If you like juniper forward, smooth gins, then buy a bottle immediately! This one is a classic and works so well in the serves I’ve highlighted above that it’s literally made for any self respecting gin lover with a curated collection.
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