I must admit I wasn’t planning to do another gin review so soon after the last one, however last weekend was World Gin Day and needed to be celebrated as such. The gin I picked out was one I bought on a recent family trip to Oslo, or more specifically bought with my last few kroner at Oslo airport as I left. The gin I picked up was the Harahorn Norwegian Small Batch Gin produced by Det Norske Brenneri (the Norwegian Distillery). This distillery claims to be “the first private distillery in Norway after more than 80 years of state monopoly“ – the Norwegian State had a monopoly on alcohol production until 2005 and still has on the sale of alcohol. Before we go into the gin, a little word on the Harahorn. The gin is “named after a mountain in Hemsedal, and inspired by a fabled horned hare never yet seen by human eyes“, a bit like a more scary version of the American Jackalope. Enough of the scary animals, let’s talk about the gin.
As you might have guessed a Norwegian gin like the Harahorn is going to focus on the local botanicals. In this case the bottle nicely informs us that it includes: juniper (obviously), blueberries, rhubarb, bladderwrack, angelica root and wild marjoram. If, like me you are unfamiliar with bladderwrack, it’s a common seaweed that, according to many websites, is good for you.
Day or Night Gin ? It ships at 46% ABV, so best anchor your longboat before you start.
What’s it smell of ? I was hoping to say it smelt of the wild Atlantic coast, salt water, seaweed and freshly crushed blueberries. Actually, it smells of gin: juniper, angelica and the marjoram come to mind.
What’s it taste of ? drunk pure (which, for effect, we’ll call Viking style) it’s a bit raw. The juniper is there as is quite a strong dose of angelica root. Personally I’d skip drinking it pure, unless you had a bad day at the battlefield. On the other had, if your inner Viking is a Gin and Tonic sipping one, you are in for a treat. I tried it with the Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water and it turned out fabulous. The bitterness of the gin combined with the sweetness of the tonic. In the more-average Goldberg tonic the effect wasn’t quite as good, but it still delivers a tasty, bitter G&T. Good people, do the right thing and treat yourselves to the expensive tonic water.
Where to Buy it ? Well one alternative is the Oslo duty-free shopping (from 259 Kr/c.€28), where it’s either very expensive, or very cheap, depending on how sentimental you are about your last few kroner. Trivia note: if you buy at Oslo duty-free you are actually north of the 60th parallel, it’s not quite the Arctic Circle ( 66°33′46.7″) but you’re getting close. A more expensive alternative is to buy it retail via Vinmonopolet (the Norwegian state alcohol retailer) for somewhere north of €40(394Kr.). These prices are a bit unfair on the gin, after all everything is expensive in Norway. A cheaper alternative, strangely enough, is the Helgoland Onlineshop where it sells for the more reasonable price of €24. Bear in mind all prices refer to the half-litre bottle.
Overall 4/5 It’s a very good gin that you really should try. As a gin and tonic you need to find your own preferred tonic water, but don’t be cheap. I must admit I’m in two minds as to whether to give this 4 out of 5 or a 5. To get a five it would have to be a gin that I kept permanently in the drinks cabinet and I’m not quite there yet. Anyway, if you’ve tried it please add your thoughts in the comments.
Postscript: Apologies for the excessive Viking references in this review. If you’ve been to Norway you are bombarded with Norway’s Viking heritage (along with trolls (fairy-tale not on-line), Nobel Prizes and Nordic jumpers). Strangely, Norway doesn’t play up it’s electro-pop icons A-Ha.