Sipping on Faroese & Finn Ginns
by Miquel Hudin | 12-04-2021
And now for something different… Gin.
Right, everyone talks about Gin these days so it’s not really that different and thus one has to go out of their way to justify mentioning a bit about Gin, don’t they? In this case, being from the Faroe Islands and Finland, these Gins come from north of the 60º latitude. And, if that wasn’t novel enough, they were also all purchased in the respective airports of these countries, saving a great deal on those pesky alcohol taxes that Nordic countries love slapping on.
More than likely these aren’t brands you’ve heard of. I know I hadn’t until I was standing there in Duty Free with them in my face. You may have heard of Kyrö if you’re a serious Gin fan as they’ve garnered a bit of praise and admittedly have a the slickest website of the lot. Also helping is that they found some distribution in the UK.
Why did I choose these Gins? I have to admit that it was purely for the novelty but in the end I was thankfully surprised at their quality. I mean, there’s no reason for me to bring Gin back home as we’re not lacking in good, homespun Gins these days in Spain and whenever I’m up in London, I have more than my fill of it. But I was mildly curious to see if it really made any difference to produce a Gin that far north and the answer is a resounding… maybe?
The Baraldur is “a very distinctive and unique Dry Gin”. Great. Oddly, despite “baraldur” meaning “juniper” in Faroese, it’s not as juniper forward in its profile as the Einar’s and it had the lowest alcohol of all these Gins at a rather curious 37.5%. I assume this must see it fall within another tax bracket? There’s no note on whether the juniper is home grown or imported as the Faroes are in the unenviable position of having to import a great deal to their gorgeous, yet very small islands in the middle of the Atlantic. There’s definitely a bit more heat to this Gin in terms of profile and if you like that more burly edge in your Gin & Tonic, this is for you.
Einar’s boasts of the “finest Faroese flavor” which I’m not sure as to what that means but they do make use of Faroese Angelica which is a Nordic herb that’s been used in medicinal and in turn, distilled spirits for centuries. This Gin is probably the smoothest of the lot. If you like a bit more bite to your Gin, this probably isn’t for you, but this bottle got polished off quite quickly in the house as for when it comes to certain cocktails like an Aviation, it’s really excellent.
Then we come to Kyrö. You can read their whole crazy story, but essentially a group of friends was sitting around in a sauna drinking rye whiskey and decided that they should try making one of their own in Finland. Clearly, being drunk and sitting in a scalding hot room, naked with your friends is where all the best ideas come from.
They set out and built the whole operation from scratch and have gone about things in a different manner in terms of profile. Both the Napue and the Koskue (which apparently aren’t called this anymore and instead are just Gin and Dark Gin) make me feel that I can’t recall ever having a Gin with this much flavor depth while at the same time, not being an overwhelming sweat sock of herbs like a certain Spanish Gin that shall not be mentioned. Both the standard Gin and the “Dark” one distilled from Rye and then oak-aged for 3-12 months in American oak barrels are sublime and nuanced. It’s one of the very rare instances where I actually want to drink Gin straight but at the same time, the standard Gin would make a hell of a Gin & Tonic or “lightly-vermouthed” Martini and the Dark could possible make for a lighter-profiled Manhattan as long as it was paired with a delicate Vermouth as well.
I would add that neither of these from Kyrö are cheap, especially as they’re just sold in half liter bottles, but you do get what you pay for!
Please find some tasting notes and usage suggestions below, but note that my preferred taste profile for Gin runs a touch smoother than what you find in a standard bathtub-y London Dry Gin such as Beefeater so your kilometerage may vary.
Baraldur Turt Gin
Lighter juniper notes, more tar and medicinal spice, lemon peel, caraway seed, and a general citrus lilt to it on top of alcoholic bits. Much more citrus leaning on the palate. Bright and crisp with good fruit peel definition and some black peppercorn notes. Shorter finish. Much more a blending drink.
37.5% ABV 16€ 70cl
Very pronounced juniper notes, bit of eucalyptus, rosemary, very, green forest herbs, alcohol quite present aromatically. Juniper and minty on the palate with a crisp, toasted anise note, some underlying blue fruit and an overall smooth palate feel to it although with just enough edge for blending.
43% ABV 17€ 70cl
Kyrö (Napue) Gin
Juniper like you just picked it, rosemary, thyme, black peppercorn, lemon and some bitter orange peel, sea salt, and light dried green apple. Wonderfully fruity on the palate with citrus notes coming through even more and the orange peel dominates with the juniper playing more of a supporting role as the peppery aspects pop more and give it a great deal of persistent. Overall quite intense and deliciously opulent on all points.
46.3% ABV 35€ 50cl
Kyrö (Koskue) Dark Rye Gin
Juniper notes on the nose, great deal of botanical herbal notes as well that start to take over like bay leaf, rosemary, bit of moss, wet forest herbs. Light touch of butterscotch and toffee but all quite balanced. Exceptionally smooth on the palate, glycerin notes takes over for a very round, soft mouthfeel but the toffee, orange peel, and caramel of the oak is most definitely prevalent yet again, balance. Finish goes on for days. Could potentially be aged longer in barrel as the composition is a bit young and jumpy but that’s also a great deal of the appeal. For Scotch drinkers who don’t need the peat and Gin Drinkers who just want something different. Like the deepest Negroni you never bothered to mix as the oak has really rounded this out to take it straight.
42.6% ABV 42€ 50cl