Gin Botanical: Lavender

For several years I lived in a rented cottage on the country estate of an Earl. There was a walled garden which had a gravel path leading to it; the path was about 60yds long and each side was lined with a lavender hedge. It was glorious in summer, with hundreds of butterflies and bumblebees milling around in a beautiful floral aromatic haze. It was like something out of a fairy story.

Not a particularly common gin botanical, but cropping up here and there in gins like Aviation, Bulldog, Monkey 47 and Berkeley Square.

Lavender: Facts

  • Lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and was used extensively in hospitals in World War 1.
  • The word ‘lavender’ has two proposed etymological origins. The first is that it comes from the Latin, ‘lavare’ (to wash), reflecting the use of its infusions. The second is from the Latin ‘livere’, meaning “blueish” – slightly unromantic but I can see how it might happen.
  • There is some scientific evidence which suggests that lavender essential oil might be estrogenic, and that is causes early breast development in prepubescent girls and Gynecomastia (development of man-boobs) in prepubescent boys. Various organisations have contested the research, including the Natural Artisan Perfumers Guild – well, they would, wouldn’t they?

Lavender: Nose

The aroma of lavender really compliments juniper; they’re like siblings wafting from the glass. It also balances the gin, providing a more floral counterpoise to the woody, resinous juniper.

Lavender: Taste

The floral notes of lavender are complex and not wholly predictable. There’s what you might expect form lavender (a flavour matching the scent of lavender) but there’s also hints of additional lemon and maybe bergamot – the flavour of these, not the burn associated with them. It maintains a sweetness throughout attack, middle and finish. There’s an oiliness there too, not as pronounced as Saffron or Orris, but definitely there.


2 thoughts on “Lavender”

  1. Dug,

    I can’t help sharing how lavender was once a perfume used almost exclusively by aged spinsters when I was growing up. As a result I really came to dislike the fragrance and the thought of it in Gin abhorred me as an overly feminine addition. However, times change and sometimes people do too. Today, for me, the addition of Lavender in Gin is perfect for my palate – it seems so at home and right paired with juniper. I ardently seek out any Gin with Lavender in it and from your list particularly like Aviation and Berkeley Square. Several others one might include are: Anno (made in Kent UK and launched in autumn 2013) and Spy Hop (made on San Juan Island just off of Washington State in the USA, hard to come by but worth every effort at least as as far as I’m concerned).

    Regards, David Schofield

    1. I almost put something about old-lady’s wardrobes in the facts section, but resisted.
      Juniper and lavender oils have some aromatic compounds in common (e.g., terpineol, pinene & camphene), which might be why the pairing works so well.

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