EnGINe is a weird one. Aside from the vanity spelling (get it?) the first thing that sticks out about this Italian-made organic gin is its novelty packaging, which makes it look like… motor oil.
Considering how much gas costs today, that’s perhaps not an ideal association. The new gin, which comes to us from Disaronno, is distilled in the Italian auto manufacturing hub of Langhe, hence the unorthodox packaging and design. It’s vacuum distilled from a base of grain, and includes organic Italian botanicals such as Ligurian sage, lemon, licorice root, and Damask sage.
Its nose is briny and citrusy with olives, lemon peel, rosemary, and juniper spice. Not unlike a bowl of warmed olives with bits of lemon peel and herbs that you might be served at an Italian bar as an aperitivi snack.
It is round and silky yet unctuous on the palate, and warm. It starts on a green, vegetal note that warms to fatty olive at the center, followed by dried lemon peel, savory rosemary, and black pepper at the finish.
These interestingly savory qualities made it a great choice for what I might call a “clean” Dirty Martini, one that had the green, briny notes that would usually be imparted by a couple of olives, only in a clean and more subtle form here. Those same savory notes also proved effective in a Gin & Tonic.
But perhaps most interesting is how EnGINe Gin performed in a Last Word. In a textbook case of how a choice of spirit can radically alter a cocktail, the gin’s savory and vegetal qualities melded deliciously with the sweet herbaceousness of Green Chartreuse, resulting in what might be my favorite-ever iteration of the classic drink.
I wasn’t sure what to make of EnGINe Gin at first, up to and including whether it was indeed potable alcohol and not motor fuel. And while I must admit that the novelty packaging is kind of fun, I fear it could distract from what’s ultimately a phenomenal gin and another great entry into the “Mediterranean” style gin category.
— 42% ABV