Ah, gin! Mother’s ruin, the Devil’s drink. Much maligned, it’s really just juniper berry vodka and a fun way to stave off malaria. Gin is traditionally clear, which is why we’re intrigued by the new black gin recently created by New Zealand distillers Scapegrace. The spirit is the latest in a trend of specialty gins that are invading the Beefeater market. The special thing about Scapegrace is the “naturally” black gin changes colors with various mixers, such as turning a light purple when mixed with tonic water.
The distillers claim the gin gets its pitch color from various botanical extracts, such as aronia berry, saffron, pineapple, butterfly pea and sweet potato . All of these specialty ingredients are impressive, but it raises the question: is this still gin? At what point do you depart the “gin” universe and step into the Kräuterschnapps dimension? Can you throw juniper into any liquor and call it gin?
This is not to say these Kiwi upstarts are besmirching the sanctity of our favorite way to black out. Hell, I’ve had Scottish kelp gin, and it was delicious. I’m just curious what makes a gin a gin.
Maybe the flavor will speak for itself. We’d love to try a taste, but the onyx liquor is only available in New Zealand for NZ$ 80 (about US$50). And even then, they’re completely sold out for a few months. For now, I’m saving up my cash for a flight down under.