The buzz surrounding the launch of Raven Spirits’ signature gin HRAFN GIN – ‘Thought & Memory’ was loud and well-justified. This was back in May 2018 when Aberdeenshire brothers Callum and Peter Sim founded Raven Spirits Limited and just a few short months later, the brothers received validation of the quality of Hrafn Gin ‘Thought & Memory’ with the first of a growing number of prestigious international awards.
The genesis for Hrafn Gin stems from these whisky drinking brothers’ trip to the Isle of Islay in 2017. While on the island, Callum and Peter booked one of the first gin tours around the Bruichladdich Distillery, home to ‘The Botanist’ Islay Dry Gin. The copper pot still, intriguingly named ‘Ugly Betty’, had been emptied after a gin run and the fragrance from the botanicals in the air was remarkable.
Later that evening, Callum and Peter were sitting soaking in the views over Loch Indaal, considering the day’s tour, while enjoying a glass of Laphroaig, with its deep flavoursome taste and lingering finish. Nodding at his glass, Callum asked Peter: “If you were to make a gin, what would you bring to it to achieve the characteristics of depth of flavour and length of finish reminiscent and as satisfying as this?”
They found themselves talking late into the night, discussing the gin making process; the botanicals; their preferred taste profile; how to craft the characteristics of their favourite spirit in; and even considered their emerging brand concept. The visit to Bruichladdich provided inspiration to motivate them on their gin making journey. Now the fun began.
One year on and HRAFN GIN ‘Thought & Memory’ has gained another Gold medal at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition and to replace their limited ‘Founder’s Edition’ they are now releasing HRAFN GIN ‘Valhalla’
HRAFN GIN’s unique ‘taste journey’ is that it has a deeper, more intense taste, with a long, lingering finish.
HRAFN GIN ‘Valhalla’ is a new core brand that echoes the taste of their ‘Founder’s Edition’ but fortified to 49%ABV making it even more intense in its depth and smoothness.
Nose: Juniper swelling into spiced mandarin.
Taste: Creamy and smooth in the mouth. The initial taste of classic herbaceous juniper. Then the journey crackles into warming spices and bursts of pepper that eventually completes into a citrus slide of deepening mandarin intensity that linger on the palate.
Finish: Long lingering finish of mandarin with prickles of spice.
With a drop of water, the sweeter elements of taste are emphasised and with mandarin in the finish, Valhalla, is lengthened to a very satisfying end. This is an elegant and refined gin that needs no adornments or additions.
HRAFN GIN ‘Valhalla’ is best enjoyed neat on the rocks with a twist of lemon peel. It also can be lengthened with a low quinine tonic and the recommended ratio of gin to tonic is 1:1. Take it nice and slow and savour the complex and deep flavours.
In the course of our research, we learned that ‘Valhalla’ refers to the ancient Norse “Hall of the fallen”. This knowledge, coupled with the stunning dark and dramatic label, gave us the sense that this gin was to take us on an adventure.
And we were not wrong. For a gin of this strength (49% ABV), it is incredibly smooth. The flavour is an exciting journey on the palate, but well-balanced, with juniper and warm spice melting into a long citrus burst of sweet mandarin.
Yet again, we are blown away by a bold and exhilarating gin from these Aberdeen brothers.