When moving forward in wine studies, while it depends greatly on the program, you’re often asked to learn about other spirits as well. It helps to not only be able to discuss wine pairings, but also cocktails and after-dinner drinks.
Let’s face it — not everyone likes wine. So, a good wine specialist has available options for those not willing to partake. While I have no interest in working in the restaurant business (did that for several years, no more please), the knowledge may still prove useful.
Thus and therefore, I’m often on the lookout for new and interesting spirits. A current project of mine is compiling a list of women-made spirits or women-run distilleries, including women of color and womxn. (This review is not of one of them, sadly.)
Should anyone have a suggestion of something along those lines that I should try, drop me a message or let me know in the comments!
Gin and I have gotten along well over the years, though I rarely partake in it. Generally, I don’t go for cocktails, and the juniper flavors often found in gin can be a huge turn-off. However, I am a fan of truffles. So when a local sales rep mentioned this little gin gem to me — a South African gin made from distilled grape spirits and infused with black truffle?
Oh yes. There remained no question as to whether or not I’d try this one.
While the tech sheet mentions the use of juniper and other botanicals, the Kalahari black truffle seemed to take the stage in all descriptions and existing reviews. Of a rather distinctive scent, truffles are easily recognizable in any dish; I have a somewhat annoying (or wonderful, depending on who you ask) habit of using truffle salt or oil rather often in dishes that could use a bit of that tangy, earthy aroma as an enhancer.
Can’t say I’ve ever tried this variety, though. I didn’t realize that truffles even grew in South Africa.
According to The Culture Trip, Kalahari truffles thrives in desert conditions but must be handled as carefully as European species when harvested. Despite this and their relative rarity, they are often much cheaper to purchase. You might see them used in soups, sauces, butters, and even ice cream. Once COVID-19 blows over, I have to try this for myself. Truffle ice cream?! Excuse me while I die of delicious food overload.
Produced by KWV in South Africa, a company founded in 1918 and better known for its wine production, the Cruxland Gin with Kalahari Truffles (there’s also another Black Winter Truffle version) comes in at 43% abv and is infused with the mushrooms post-distillation. The tech sheet provided also mentions cold filtration to add additional smoothness to the finish.
Cruxland London Dry Gin
with Kalahari Truffles
Region: South Africa
Style: London Dry Gin
Spirit Details: 100% grape spirits with coriander, juniper, aniseed, cardamom, rooibos, honeybush, lemon, and almond; infused with Kalahari truffles
The gin is completely clear and colorless.
Immediate aromas include lemon and juniper, while the spices take a bit of a back seat, grounding out the aromas. Don’t really sense the remaining botanicals offhand. A bit muddled together, this definitely doesn’t smell like your average gin, but nether does it completely set itself apart. With the caveat that I’ve never experienced Kalahari truffles, I’m not sure if it’s there or not.
A-ha! There’s the truffle, swirling up to the surface just as I take a small sip. Lemon again, and the cardamom and aniseed become more prominent. Thankfully, the juniper doesn’t punch me in the tongue; quite a few people don’t like gin simply for those notes of tell-tale evergreen, so they’d be pleased by that, in my opinion.
Finish on this is long, lingering in both spice and sweetness. Because the flavors are pretty delicate as a whole, I’d veer away from doing more than mixing this gin with more than some tonic and squeeze of lemon. It could be easily enjoyed both neat and chilled over some ice.
Overall, I liked the gin, though it didn’t seem to reached the hyped up the expectations of the producer and tech sheets. It does sip rather smoothly and has good flavors, but I wish that a couple of them — juniper excluded — had a bit more punch.