Siderit gin hails from the beautiful Cantabrian region of Spain. Conjured up by two friends, David Martinez Prieto and Rubén Montero Leivas, over a few gin and tonics, this distillery is breaking boundaries. David and Rubén met at the University of Burgos and both went on to become engineers. This background put them in good stead for the science of distilling.
Spirits fans by nature, the two friends decided to set up their own distillery in their home region. Located in the northern corner of Spain, Cantabria hosts a picturesque landscape of the rolling Picos de Europa mountains, lush pastures and the Mediterranean sea. Brandy has been made in Cantabria for centuries, but the region is not known for its distilling heritage.
The original distillery opened in 2012 in the town of Torrelavega. As the quality of their products gained wider recognition and acclaim, David and Rubén decided to expand the distillery, returning to their home town of Puente Arce where they are a mere 10km from the Cantabrian coast. This new distillery marks an exciting time for all at Siderit.
Siderit boasts the use of many local botanicals. The name Siderit comes from a local plant called Sideritis or Rock Tea, (or Mountain Tea or Shepherd’s Tea). Thriving high up in the Cantabrian mountains, this little gem translates as “he who is made of iron”. The name is thought to refer to the sword-shaped leaves, but local legend believes it is linked to the fact that Sideritis has the ability to heal wounds made with iron weapons.
Somewhat surprisingly, Sideritis isn’t the plant depicted so beautifully by Antonie Josep Pascual on the bottle. That would the Iris, from which comes orris root. Orris root is a fixative and is equally commonly found in perfumery as it is in gin. David and Rubén hold this botanical in high esteem as without it the gin simply wouldn’t balance and the flavours wouldn’t combine. It is a stunning label, especially in black and white, but I would have preferred a picture of Sideritis…
As an aside, I discovered that Sideritis is also the name of a grape variety:
In the early nineteenth century Sideritis was mentioned as growing in central Greece, to which it is thought to be indigenous. In the northern Peloponnese, particularly in Pátra, it produces fresh steely white wines with distinct peppery tones. Sideritis used to be seen as a table grape, but its potential is slowly being realised and popularity is increasing. The name Sideritis comes from the Greek sidero meaning “iron”, which refers to the toughness of the skins.
The gin is produced using a rye base spirit in a nod to the original genever recipes. As David and Rubén are meticulous in all their undertakings and their engineering background requires precision, the final Siderit recipe took some perfecting. 139 attempts in fact. However, this attention to detail and passion for their product has paid off.
The botanicals are macerated in the base spirit for 48 hours before being distilled in 25 litre batches in a reflux fractional column. The entire still is made of Borosilicate glass instead of copper to prevent the liquid being tainted by unwanted smells or tastes.
The team at Siderit now have not one glass still, but four. The first still is named Princess, but the others are simply 2, 3 and 4. After each distillation, the stills are run through with pure alcohol to completely eliminate any trace residues.
Once the distillation process is complete, the gin is left to rest. Rather than setting a specific amount of time for this marrying of flavours and spirit, David and Rubén let the gin itself dictate when it’s ready for bottling.
Juniper – sourced in Cantabria
German Orris root, (also known as Lily root)
Sideritis – also known as Rock tea, Mountain tea or Shepherd’s tea
Bitter orange peel
Raw Marcona almonds
Tasting Note, 43%
Aromas: Bright zesty inviting aromas with pronounced floral tones. A touch of soft ripe peach and nectarine is balanced by a deep supporting juniper core. Notes of sweet lemon and thyme with soft nutty tones and rich liquorice. Very evocative of the Mediterranean coast.
Palate: Rich and creamy in texture with deep juniper and earthy lemon tones. Floral notes and liquorice. Crisp citrus appears towards the end with a pink pepper finish.
With Tonic Water: Rich earthy floral tones and ripe juniper aromas with a touch of woody citrus. A round mouthfeel with good texture on the palate. Perfumed floral notes with a hint of blackberry and almond. The creamy nuttiness comes to the fore.
A really lovely, complex gin. Surprising and understated.