Local gin wins award for bottle…but how does it taste?

110_bronze_christies_gin_5So, continuing my quest for the best of local gins, I found one today that I hadn’t seen before. This one is the true-blue Aotearoa gin; it even has local ‘erbs in it.

Christie’s Crisp New Zealand gin claims to have Horopito and Kawakawa added to the botanicals that give it “flavour”. It also claims to be  “quadruple distilled”. Yeah, OK, I’ll buy that.

And I did, at $44.99, but the RRP online is $41.99 at PriceMe, though they’re charging a $5 delivery slug too.

[Bugger it’s warm in Auckland…I’m writing this as I sip my Dirty Gibson (olives and onions) and slowly savour a six-pack of Clevedon oysters]

Of course, this Martini is purely medicinal. I’ve been recovering from a nasty cold/flu bug this week and the humidity isn’t helping.

Hang on, I need a refill.

Ah, that’s better. So the gin.

Well, the bottle won something called a Pentaward in 2008 for design and packaging. An Auckland company, Curious?, designed the packaging. But are the contents any good?

The additional botanicals give it a nice edge. Straight from the bottle (not recommended) it’s a bit fiery, but the guys in the bottle shop assured me it matches up to Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire.

Verdict? Well, OK, at a pinch. Moac is not overly  impressed. Her comment (after 1.5 standard Gibsons) “I don’t think it’s very good.”  [Proofreader’s edit: ” I know the difference between good gin and rocket fuel… No seriously… Christie’s is a good local version of a botanical gin.”]

Can’t argue with that; least don’t.

The Horopito gives it a slight peppery finish and underlines my medicinal use of the Martini!

Horopito, New Zealand Peppertree, Winter’s bark, Red Horopito

Leaves of the Horopito tree were traditionally used by the Maori people of New Zealand to treat stomach pain and diarrhoea, this is probably due to its astringent (tissue tightening) and antiseptic properties. Skin complaints were treated using bruised leaves that had been steeped in water or chewed before application. The peppery constituents of Horopito stimulate the circulation when it is applied topically, and also taken internally. [Kiwiherb]

So I can drink this local gin knowing it’s doing me good. [The oysters were delicious, btw].

Not only am I protected for circulatory illness and stomach cramps, according to Kiwiherb and the University of Otago Pharmacy School, I can cure gonorrhea and syphilis with Kawakawa.

But, back to this mysterious gin.  It doesn’t have much of a web presence, though I found this curiousity and one of my former students at NZGirl. Nothing wrong here, except, using this style of gin in crazy drinks is a serious challenge to authenticity and political correctness. I am reminded, at this point, that a visit to Deschler’s bar in High street is long overdue.

I have, after carefully reading the label, discovered that Christie’s is made by Lion Nathan. And, to be honest, I feel a bit dirty and a little cheated.

If you actually check out what L/N does, it’s pretty much THE drinks business in New Zealand.

Manufacturer, added value converter and importer and distributor of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages

“added value converter”, WTF! Globalisation, what a bastard.

So Christie’s is just one brand in thousands, my suspicion is – unless someone can prove otherwise – that this brand is just marketing hype. The gin is probably not as good as Bombay, and certainly it is probably (according to local whispers) not a patch on the elusive Tanqueray 10 (which retails for a cool $100).

There’s more digging to be done. The bottom (0f the bottle) is a good 650ml away.

7 Responses to Local gin wins award for bottle…but how does it taste?

  1. nedska says:

    awesome. as were, I can only imagine, the oysters.

  2. If it doesn’t have “distilled in NZ” somewhere on the bottle then it is most likely manufactured to spec at some generic gin distillery overseas(who are sent the NZ botanical components), then imported back into NZ as a 95%ABV concentrate where its watered down and bottled as an allegedly “NZ spirit”. A lot of this goes on. Lion (originally an NZ company) is owned by the Kirin Brewing Co. (Japan) They also distribute Gordons, Tanqueray and Gilbey’s Gin in NZ and the only listing they have on their website for “Christies” is a generic appearing gin that says nothing about any NZ content or NZ origin. I suspect that one of above Gin makers is the actual source of this “NZ” gin. It looks like slik marketing ploy to me (after the “42 below” model).
    The Dog and Swan Alembic Company
    Artisan Distillery
    Waitakere City, Aotearoa/NZ

    EM comment: Wow, thanks Sean that’s a detailed response and it sounds very plausible. I should probably come and have a beer at the Dog & Swan sometme over summer.

  3. James Graham says:

    if you would like to try a truly New Zealand distilled Gin, then may I suggest you try Lighthouse Gin, made in Greytown in the mighty Wairarapa, very much hand crafted, and in our humble opinion worthy of comparison with the heavyweight gins such as Tanqueray 10. As the person who’s hands are using doing the crafting I must declare a certain self interest, but hope that you might find the genuine high quality NZ gin you are looking for.


    James Graham
    Lighthouse Gin

    [James, I will, check your email… EM]

  4. […] James [Local gin wins award for bottle…] […]

  5. erika says:

    I like Christies, we don’t like Bombay at all (floral overkill) and will happily drink Tanqueray 10 if on the off-chance it was cheap-er that week… but my standard, GO to is Lighthouse Gin. and we occasionally suffer through a bit of South, because let’s face it, the packaging is really uuber cool.

  6. Zaelene Maxwell-Butler says:

    While largely I agree with you about LN, I LOVE Christies and have converted many friends from South & Sapphire. That said, Sapphire is the ‘go to’ if I can’t get Christies. Keen to try Lighthouse….where does one get it from in Auckland…must Google

  7. Zaelene Maxwell-Butler says:

    Oh & by the way……it does actually say on the bottle – Distilled and bottled in New Zealand by Lion Nathan Wines & Spirits New Zealand Limited

Leave a reply and try to be polite

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: