Gin Botanical: Thyme
Thyme is one of the few plants that I seem to be able to keep alive in the overgrown patch of weeds that I generously call the ‘herb garden’. It’s always there, looking healthy, no matter how much I brutalise it for sprigs.
As a botanical in gin, thyme isn’t exactly common but it seems to be making an appearance here and there; notably Gin Mare and The Botanist.
- The main constituents of thyme oil is Thymol, which is strongly antiseptic and anti-fungal. Thyme has been used in the treatment of wounds for centuries, if not millennia. Part of its efficacy lays in the fact that is makes antibiotics and anti-fungal agents more effective, by making microbes more susceptible to them. Today, thymol is commonly used as an ingredient in mouthwash, where this synergistic behaviour sees it paired with chlorohexidine.
- The Greeks burned thyme as incense in temples as they thought it a source of courage. This association persisted right into the Middle Ages, in Europe, when ladies would make gifts of thyme-sprigs to knights, in order to bring them courage.
- There are about 350 species of thyme, of which the most common is Thymus vulgaris. Some varieties have very distinctive aroma profiles, including lemon, orange, lime and caraway thyme.
On the nose, thyme seems to add a subtle tangy, herbaceous note to the aroma of the gin. Given the pungency of the herb, I was expecting a lot more in the olfactory-department.
Thyme has a similar effect in the mouth as the citrus peels; it brings a heat. Unlike citrus peels, thyme lacks any fresh, breezy zestiness, instead bringing a sharp, savoury herbal note. It’s a very nose-resident botanical, which is sweet in the attack and dry in the finish.