There is nowhere we won’t travel for our love of gin. With the craft gin movement starting to emerge in South America, we felt the pull to explore, sample and take notes.
Local gin was a challenge to get our hands on as craft beer is currently right on trend, but gin consumption is rising steadily. But with time we discovered a number of craft gins and they were worth the wait.
Argentina has an emer-gin life. La Licoreria del Mercado is a hip cocktail bar in the bohemian San Thelmo market in Buenos Aires. We initially ordered a classic Gin Tonica, with Gin Mare (pronounced Ma-ray), a Spanish gin very popular in Buenos Aires.
I mentioned my interest in gin which inspired the bartender to produce two more gins made by a couple of guys close by – “la vuelta” #2 and #5. Initially it was hard to find anything about Argentinian craft gin, but with persistence and our Spanish fluency, they were finally revealed.
The first Argentine artisanal gin, Principe de los Apostoles, appeared in 2013 and is now in more than a dozen countries. In 2018 gin exploded, most of which are produced in micro-distilleries – they included Gin Heredero, Hillbing Gin (by Aniapa Grapa producer), D-1313 by Distillery Helmich, Sur Gin, Terrier Gin, La Salvaje del Litoral, Buenos Aires Gin, Heraclito y Macedonia Pink Gin and la Vuelta.
We found a bar serving Principe de los Apostoles, and the wait was worth it. Distilled with Yerba Mate, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Pink Grapefruit, it has a herbal flavour accentuated by the bitterness of the tonic and citrus rind when blended. The addition of Yerba Mate is distinctly South American as the tea drink is popular in South America.
Another wonderful gin we encountered is the Patagonian Dry Gin by Last Hope Distillery in Chile and Brazil. Started by two Australians in 2018, Last Hope Distillery makes this London Dry gin from local botanicals including lemon verbena, winter’s bark pepper and maqui berries, blended with pure Patagonian water.
Great Gins from South America
Chile – Patagonian Dry Gin by Last Hope Distillery
Argentina – Principe de los Apostoles Gin Mate by Sol De Los Andes Gin and Grappa Distillery
Bolivia – La Republica Amazonica Gin by Pacha Spirits and winner of the London Dry Gin Category at the World Gin Awards 2018
Although we did not get to sample this relatively new gin, we aim to source it and a selection of these South American gins to Gintonica – sign up to our newsletter to be this first to know when they arrive.