- Jonathan Winters
Nouaison Gin Review
An elite martini gin.
Nouaison Gin by G’Vine
Made in: Charente, France, by Maison Villevert
Method: Copper Pot still.
45% alcohol/90 proof
Botanicals 14 : Juniper, cardamom, cassia bark, cubeb berries, nutmeg, licorice, cardamom, bergamot, sandalwood, vetaveira, plum, lime, ginger, and grape blossom
Style: Mostly classic,
G’Vine bills themselves as the gin of France, and they produce two gins, Floraison, and Nouaison, as well as a gin liquor called June. This is the second coming of Nouaison - there was an earlier version which was a bit more juniper heavy, and lighter in alcohol content, a few years back. This recipe is a bit more refined, and elegant. It’s a gin designed to be a great mixing gin.
It’s an interesting gin for a number of reasons, both botanically and in terms of base spirit. The base spirit is grapes, specifically the Trebbiano grape, which is most famously used to make cognac and armagnac. Supposedly it uses the same botanicals, and a similar aging process in cognac barrels as well.
Unique in those botanicals are sandalwood, grape flowers, and bergamot - all of which are very floral scents, and add a strong perfume to this gin. While plenty of other gins use bergamot, I don’t know of any others that use sandalwood or grape flowers.
And the grape flower is key to this gin’s story. The name Nouaison, literally refers to the metamorphosis stage when the grape vines transition from flowering plant to fruit production. The flowers are short lived, and tied to the amount of fruit the vines can produce, and taking these blossoms for gin supposedly reduces the grape harvest.
Given a minute or two to mellow with some ice, this becomes a bit of a sipping gin, although it is a touch of the rougher side with heat. But once it dilutes with ice, it gets to be rather pleasant.
The perfume nature of Nouasion leads the nose on this gin. There is a floral, citrus - strong notes of bergamot, juniper, and woody nature to the scent.
This is not a classic London dry in terms of flavor - although most of the biggest notes of that classic profile are in the botanical mix. Those classic flavors make a very nice base, but the star of the show is the lusciousness of the grape spirit underneath . Botanically juniper is clearly at the front, there is bitterness from the coriander, peppery heat from the cubeb, followed by orangy citrus, floral notes, with just a hint of candied ginger, and a pleasant woodiness towards the end. It’s definitely a gin for those who like floral gins, and heavily perfumed gins.
Mouthfeel is viscous, lucious, full, and quite warming.
This gin is designed for mixing - that’s what the makers intended it for. It was designed to elevate classic cocktails but in truth it's an enjoyable sipping gin too, once you get past all the initial heat.
Nouaison is a spectacular martini gin, especially if you like your martini’s dry. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to say it wasn’t the single best martini I had in 2020. Served ice cold, with just a dash of Carpano dry vermouth the martini was just sublime - with the orangy perfume of the bergamot, sandalwood, and the grape flower elevating this drink.
In a gin and tonic with a premium indian style tonic it was decidedly pleasant, with the essence of the sandalwood , and it’s decidedly woody taste was the best note I could really derive from the gin. That alone made it worthwhile and pretty good - but not quite remarkable.
Then they launched, or should I say relaunched Nouaison back in 2017 they launched it with a Negroni a la Francaise - so that’s how I decided to drink it. It was a good choice as the gin really stood up well in the cocktail. It mixed well and the herbs and spices in the gin still came through. I think this would be good in a lot of gin cocktails, including the Last Word, Southside, Martinez, and Bijou. I think it might be wasted in something as strong as a Corpse Reviver as the absinthe will overwhelm many of the flavors
This is a really good mixing gin, and it makes for a unique and enjoyable sipper too. The botanical mix gives this gin a refined flavor, and a rather unique one. It’s a bit harsher than some, when sipped which does detract a bit from the overall impression. But when mixed, it’s a wow - certainly an elite martini gin, and one I’ll keep in my cupboard.
Rating (Sipping): 90 -extremely flavorful, perfumed, and pleasant, and hot in a almost pleasant way. That said, give it a but of dilution before you really enjoy it.
Rating (Mixing) 92 - Designed for mixing, it lives up to its purpose.
Overall rating: 92. This gin earns a place among the higher tier of gins. It’s not quite elite but it's damn good.
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.