- Jonathan Winters
Elephant Gin, Elephant Strength Review
A gin with some unique African ingredients.
Review Elephant Gin, Elephant Strength
Made in: Hamburg, Germany by Elephant Gin Ltd.
Method: Arnold Holstein still
57% alcohol/114 proof
Botanicals 14: Juniper, ginger, pine, orange peel, cassia bark, pimento berries, elderflower, lavender, baobab fruit, buchu, lions tail, devils claw, African wormwood, apple.
Style: Modern gin.
*Note this review of a bottle from Shingwedzi 049
Inspired by trips to Africa, the distillers, tried to capture a bit of the spirit of that continent in a bottle. They use a number of unique African botanicals including Lions Tail (an herb, not actually the tail of a lion.), Buchu, Devils claw (one would hope I need not mention this is not the claw of an actual devil), and African wormwood.
The elephant strength gin, is a take on the distillery’s successful regular elephant gin, and is in fact a navy strength gin with a 57% alcohol content - which you can note by the rope, and anchor charm which adorns the neck of every bottle. But it’s not the extra alcohol that makes the gin different, it’s the doubled amount of botanical that they put into each bottle - so that the flavor is rather robust. Fans of Navy strength gins will appreciate that.
The name of the company, and the gin pays homage to the elephants of Africa, and the company donates 15% of its profits to conservation of elephants, anti poaching groups, education centers, and an elephant hospital and orphanage in Africa.
The batch names are tribute to the “Magnificent Seven” great tuskers (with tusks of over 50 kg each) who lived and died in Kruger National Park in South Africa between 1927-1985.
Not surprisingly, like any other navy strength gin, this is harsh and astringent when sipped neat. On ice though it mellows. It's still strong and rough, but far less so and sippable for those who like it strong.
This gin is potent with a complex and unconventional mix of flavors. It slams you with juniper with added depth of pine behind it, followed by lemon, lavender, orange, bitterness and mild notes of ginger and blackcurrant and a hint of tart apple. The pimento berries add some spice followed by a herbaceous finish that walks the border between pleasant and not. Part of that is certainly the strength of the spirit.
On the tongue it is silky smooth with a dry finish.
I can’t quite bring myself to say this a sipping gin, although I would drink it that way. So the issue really is how good is it in mixed drinks?
This makes a surprising mild martini, with a nice olive flavor, lemon, and pepper. It’s a nice backbone for a drink, but it makes you underestimate how strong this gin really is. Still it’s hard not to enjoy it.
The traditional sundowner, an alcoholic drink, enjoyed after completing a day of work in Africa is iconically the gin and tonic. This paired well with tonic, most notably with London Essence rosemary and grapefruit, and with Fever Tree’s elderflower. In these the gin managed to stand up with tartness, just the slightest hint of apple, and the blackcurrant nature of the gin shining through.
But where this gin shined was in more complex mixed drinks - this is not a gin that could easily be overwhelmed. In the Last Word, which is already a complex drink it added some depth. That meant it was also quite good in a Collins, and solid in an Aviation.
This is a great mixing gin, and a great drinking gin, although one that is best for mixed drinks. If you’ve never had a navy strength gin, this is a good place to start. It will sneak up on you a bit, but the flavor profile is interesting and somewhat unique.
Overall rating: 91 If you like Navy strength gin, this is a really good one. BUT (and you knew there was a bug coming) many will find this gin a bit overwhelming.
What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.