The bottle is labelled 'Strane - London Dry Gin - Merchant Strength'. For those who don't know, this doesn't mean that it is made in London - in fact this one comes from a small Swedish distillery. Back in the day though, most gin distillers were in London and in the 1700s gin was the drink of choice. Originally used as a medicine, it was cheap, the opium of the masses. People went to great lengths to obtain it; a cattle drover sold his daughter for a gallon of the stuff while a coachman pawned his wife for a quart bottle. Thankfully, no-one would go as far as that to get a bottle of gin these days!
Anyway, to be a 'London Dry', among other stipulations, the gin must be distilled to over 70%. Water is usually then added to reduce the gin to a bottling strength of around 40%. Oh and if you're reading this and calling it 'Strane' , it's actually pronounced 'str-AAH-nEE' or 'Stra-anne'. Got it?
Strane is a handcrafted small batch gin from Swedish distiller Smögen Whisky AB. It is created in a 100 litre pot still with worm tub condensers, at the Smögen Distillery, one of the first distilleries in Sweden to produce Single Malt Whisky.
Twelve botanicals are used in this gin - juniper, basil, mint, coriander, cinnamon, sweet almond, sage, lemon peel, lime, liquorice and two secret ingredients. (I wonder what they are?) These botanicals are used to produce three base gin styles; juniper, citrus and herbal, in batches of 45 litres. The base gins are then blended to produce the three expressions; Merchant, Navy and Uncut.
Strane Merchant, the core expression, is bottled at 47.4% Vol and blended to emphasise the smoothness that the high copper contact in the tiny whisky pot gives the spirit, while at the same time providing enormous depth and strength of character, led by the juniper, coriander seeds and mint.
The Smögen Distillery (above) was designed and built by pioneering distiller Pär Caldenby, ( above with his dog Dante). It is sited on Sweden's west coast north of Gothenburg with every drop of Smögen Whisky and Strane Gin distilled and blended by Pär personally. Commenting on the Strane Gin family, he said, “As a whisky man, it struck me that the art of blending should work very well with gin, as a good gin is about character and also – most importantly – about balance. To create the massive depth of character while retaining balance, the tiny pot still with its worm tub is important, but the blending makes it whole. Eminently sippable and makes an enticing G&T with the likes of Fentiman’s or Fever Tree.”
Gin is the drink of the moment, gaining popularity all the time. Why not do yourself a favour and get yourself a bottle of Strane? When you taste it, you'll be glad you did.
Strane London Dry Gin: Merchant Strength 47.4%, Navy Strength 57.1% and Uncut Strength 76% .... wow, that is strong!
Strane Gin is distilled by Smögen Whisky AB, represented in the UK by Highfern Ltd who supplied my tasting sample.
Besides importing Strane and Smögen, Highfern are the proprietors of Angels’ Nectar Blended Malt Scotch Whisky.
You can buy Strane Gin from lots of places including Drinkfinder, Gauntleys of Nottingham, JL Gill , Nickolls and Perks, Robertson's, shop4whisky.com , Evil Eye, Storehouse, Woodwinters and The Whisky Exchange.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and 12 x author. Words & images in national newspapers / magazines.