The back story
As many of us celebrate Cinco de Mayo — the day that marks a historic victory by the Mexican army and serves as something of a party occasion in the U.S. — we will naturally turn to beloved south-of-the-border sips, such as tequila and mezcal.
But don’t forget Mexican gin.
Yes, the familiar, juniper-flavored spirit, arguably best known in its London dry style, is being produced in Mexico — and some are predicting the country will become a gin haven.
Gracias a Dios (“Thank God”) is a brand that has been at the fore of the Mexican gin movement, with a history going back to 2013. It’s noteworthy in that it begins with an agave base spirit; agave is the same plant used in the production of tequila and mezcal. And then it is flavored with 32 botanicals. Naturally, juniper leads the list (and it’s a Mexican-sourced juniper). But other flavorings include vanilla (also from Mexico), rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender, hibiscus and coriander.
Why 32 botanicals? Xaime Niembro, director of Gracias a Dios, explains that it refers to Mexico’s 32 states. The goal of the gin, he says, is to reflect the “mystical, contemporary, authentic and artisanal spirit of Mexico.”
Niembro says the company has doubled production and sales of its gins in the past two years, and expects to keep growing on a 100% annual basis going forward.
What we think about it
This is a light-bodied, contemporary-style gin that nevertheless packs plenty of herbaceous flavor. I get distinct bitter notes and an anise undercurrent. The juniper is there, but not as pronounced as it is in more classic gins. Niembro says the finish is “sprinkled with black pepper and cardamom.”
In all, an intriguing sip — and worth trying if you like to expand your gin palate. But traditionalists might not be into it.
How to enjoy it
I tried it neat to get the full, flavorful impact. But Niembro says it especially shines in a gin-and-tonic cocktail. He recommends tonic water that “is not too bitter” to avoid intensifying the spirit’s flavors too much.