- Jonathan Winters
Principe De Los Apóstoles Mate Gin Review
Review Principe De Los Apóstoles Mate Gin
Made in: Mendoza, Argentina, by Sol de los Andes
Method: Pot still distilled.
42.5% alcohol/85 proof
Botanicals: Juniper, coriander, yerba mate, red grapefruit skin, peperina, eucalyptus (note: The distiller only calls these the main botanicals, based on the flavor profile I suspect there are several others.).
Style: Modern gin.
If you’ve ever spent any time in Argentina you’ve certainly come across their national drink Yerba Mate . This Argentinian gin takes that to heart and produces the first gin using Mate. Mate, are the teal-like leaves of the yerba plant, a plant in the holly genus. Yerba Mate is typically served like tea with leaves steeped in hot water, and is both a drink, and a huge part of the social culture of Argentina.
Typically a cup of mate is made at the beginning of the day, and throughout the day, the cup is refilled with hot water, getting as much flavor from the leaves as possible, over the course of the day. And that cup is passed from person to person to visit the home all day. Each drinker sipping through a metal straw known as a bombilla. It’s a very social drink.
Principe de los Apostoles gin is the brainchild of the most famous mixologist in Argentina (and owner of one of the best bars in South America), Tato Giovanonni. He created a gin that was meant to highlight that social nature, and the Argentinian culture.
The gin doesn’t use the traditional dried tea-like leaves of mate but of young undried mate to extract the more floral notes of the mate, not the bitter part of it. The gin also only uses other locally sourced Argentinian botanicals- including eucalyptus (which was introduced to Argentina about a century ago), pink grapefruit, and an oddball called Peppina.
When I say peppina is an oddball, what I mean is that it is really a bit of a wildcard. That is because the plant is very variable, possibly due to species differences and has volatile oils that from plant to plant, can taste like peppermint, or thyme, or oregano, or spice, or citrus. Due to that, and the small 200 liter batches of this that are produced, I suspect the flavor profile of any batch can vary wildly from one to another.
So what’s in the bottle? Let’s find out.
Neat the gin is quite hot, with just too much heat to be really enjoyable but it improved dramatically with ice and a bit of time. Then it became cool, but intense and flavorful.
The nose has strong citrus tones, floral notes, mint, and eucalyptus.
The ingredients the distiller highlights in his ingredient list certainly come through when you taste this gin, you’ve got the resinous pine flavor of the juniper, mint from the peppina, a mellow undertone of eucalyptus, and sharp spiciness from the coriander and bitterness of the grapefruit zest. Unexplained is a slight taste of roasted corn.
On the tongue it is cool, thin, and bright.
This is a gin you certainly sip, but honestly, just because I don’t love this flavor profile, I’d prefer to use this gin as a mixing gin.
In a martini Principe De Los Apóstoles Mate gin was intriguing. It didn’t have the crispness of a traditional martini, or the same bitterness, you’d find with a juniper first gin but it was pleasant enough, and the eucalyptus and mate add some tantalizing aspects to the drink. It is certainly intriguing.
Selecting tonic to go with this gin is tough. It’s overwhelmed easily by tonics, in fact it took me three before I found one gentle enough that the gin still came through (that was London Essence grapefruit and rosemary). I can’t say I loved it as a G&T gin, it’s fine but nothing special.
Where this really stood out was in a negroni. I adapted Tato Giovanonni’s recipe from the gin’s website (you can’t really make the original unless you have Tato’s own vermouth which is only available in Argentina). In this the mate, and eucalyptus elevated the drink to make a true top shelf drink.
This is an interesting gin, not a spectacular one. The botanical mix is unique and the gin is well made, but the flavor profile certainty isn’t for everyone - I didn’t love it. BUT that doesn’t mean that other drinkers won’t. That said in the hands of a good mixologist I think you could make some very good drinks with it.
Sipping Rating: 76: Not a special sipper by any means. It’s just too hot, and the flavor profile didn’t wow me.
Mixing Rating: 84 This is an interesting mixing gin - in fact I though it was best in a Negroni, and sold enough in a martini.
Overall rating: 80 Remember that judging is subjective - especially on this one. No doubt some people will love this one, but that flavor profile didn’t quite agree with me.
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 c
riteria 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.