- Jonathan Winters
McQueen and the Violet Fog Review
From the jungles of Brazil comes a complex, mellow, balanced gin.. excellent.
Review McQueen and the Violet Fog
Made in: Jundiai, Brazil, by Sovereign Brands
Method: Copper pot still, Vapor Infused,
40% alcohol/80 proof
Botanicals 21: Juniper, basil, rosemary, fennel seed, calamansi lime, star anise, acai, lemongrass, pomelo, jasmine, more
Style: Modern gin.
This is a gin that screams mystery, and that’s how they market it. From the mysterious looking bottle that reminds us of the symbols of the illuminati to the confounding story on the back about a concert, an enigmatic club, and the words which make up the name of the gin, McQueen and the Violet Fog.
Clearly my social upbringing was a little lacking there because my first thought about the name was to remember the old television series Night Court, and wonder what the heck Mel Torme had to do with this gin. Then I realized it was Violet Fog, not the Velvet Fog, and Night Court, quite rightly, was banished to the sections of my brain that handle trivia and fond memories.
It turns out that the story on the back is a poem, or fragment thereof by Instagram poet Atticus about a fictional rock concert. In any case it’s certainly mysterious sounding - and the bottle’s logo, a crown over an eye, comes from that poem too.
The gin I think is meant to be that way too. They certainly didn’t go for simple, but created a gin with 21 different botanicals, made in small batches of 500 liters at a time.
While this is clearly meant to be a great mixing gin, it hits it out of the park for those who like to sip gin on the rocks. It’s smooth, mellow, and has a load of complexity. Even neat it offers only a tiny bit of heat.
The taste is like a good meal, herbaceous, substantial, and well balanced with citrus. You can clearly taste hints of pepper (likely from grains of paradise, or peppercorns themselves), lemongrass, licorice, jasmine, rosemary and more. Each sip shows a bit more complexity. It’s remarkably well balanced and bright and far too easy to drink for its own good.
On the palate it’s cool and dry with lingering hints of orange, spice, and juniper.
McQueen seemed like it would be an excellent mixer, so I expected big things when I tried to make some cocktails.
It made a very solid martini, good, but even dry it seemed a bit wetter than I usually like. It didn’t quite elevate the martini, but it did a more than workmanlike job. I personally think the vermouth sort of washed out some of the subtlety I found when drinking this with just ice. That said it was excellent in a dirty martini.
Figuring out which tonic water would do best with this gin was a bit of a challenge, but in the end I decided to go with Fever Tree’s traditional Indian tonic water.
In terms of cocktails, I tried it in two - and it mixed extremely well in an Aviation, and almost as well in a Bees Knees. I think it would do quite well in a French 75 or a gin fizz.
This is a beautifully balanced gin that is very easy to drink. It’s a good mixing gin, elegant, and extremely complex yet still mellow. In terms of sugarcane based gins this one stands out. Whether you drink it straight or in a cocktail, it’s simply a good gin.
My favorite way to drink it was straight, with just a hint of tomato water.
Overall rating: 92. This one is just lovely. Complexity and balance with layers of flavor make this so much more interesting than even some of the better gins on the market.
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.