Review: Hernö Pink BTL Gin

I recently met Jon Hillgren, the founder of Hernö, at his distillery in Dala, a small village outside Härnösand in the northern parts of Sweden. We talked about trends in the gin industry and of course, Pink Gin came up.

He had a very strong opinion on that topic, Pink Gin is a classic cocktail with gin and bitter, nothing else. The trend with gin that doesn’t taste like gin and is colored pink just as a marketing gimmick isn´t something he likes. 

When a press image was released from Hernö, on a bottle with a pink label I was curious, and expected great things. They didn’t reveal the whole label but a hashtag saying “#makegingreatagain” told me something exciting was in the making.

The BTL in the name is short for bottle, they have a pink bottle, or actually label, but the gin is clear as it should be. 

It´s made with eight botanicals, Hernö´s standards, juniper berries, coriander seeds, cassia bark, black pepper, vanilla and lemon peel, and then added rose petals and strawberries. Meadowsweet is usually a part of the recipe but has been removed and they use more juniper than ever. 

The distillation process starts with a 96% ecological wheat alcohol that is diluted with water from their well. Juniper, coriander seeds and strawberries are added and then heated to 60 degrees Celsius for 18 hours. The rest of the botanicals are then added at distillation which is made in a “one-shot” before the gin is finally diluted to its bottling strength. 

This gin, the name and the hashtag #makegingreatagain is a call against the decay seen in the industry where a lot of products should not be called gin. It´s a call for gin made according to legacy and history. 

Hernö is Sweden’s first and biggest craft gin producer. They started in 2011 in the small village of Dala far up in the northern part of Sweden. Hernö is the most awarded gin distillery in Europe 2013–2019, honoured with the World’s Best Gin 2017 and 2018 for their Old Tom Gin, and they have won over 100 gold and master medals in the world’s biggest competitions.

You can see more about their story on their great website here.

Their core range includes Hernö Gin, Old Tom Gin, Navy Strength Gin, Juniper cask gin, Sloe Gin and a Blackcurrant. They also have released a series of limited editions, a yearly sipping gin and interpretations, for example together with Four Pillars Gin in Australia.

Tasting Notes

Nose

  • A full and rich nose with lots of juniper and some heavy notes, but also with a present flowery tone. Lovely!

Neat

  • The taste is fresh and almost light, despite a big taste of juniper. Fruity with flowers in the next step, followed by the usual lemon freshness. A long aftertaste of pepper, juniper, and roses. You can feel that they don´t use meadowsweet, there is no sweetness and the level of berries is quite low. 

This is truly a no-bullshit gin, nothing artificial or sweet, this is a strong, well-balanced gin with lots of flavors.

Gin and Tonic

  • 5 cl Hernö Pink BTL Gin
  • 10 cl Indian Tonic (I use the Swedish brand Hammars Tonics)
  • Garnish with strawberries

To begin with I try the gin with just tonic and ice. It´s a fresh, almost classic Gin and Tonic with a solid base of juniper with a slight tone of flowers and berries. 

I could serve it with a lemon twist and get a classic Gin and Tonic, but I choose strawberries according to Hernö´s recommendation. That lifts the taste of berries in the gin and you get a very summery gin and tonic. I will enjoy a lot of these on our balcony this summer.

Dry Martini

  • 6 cl Hernö Pink BTL Gin
  • 1 cl Mancino Secco Vermouth
  • 1 dash Fee Brothers Orange Bitter
  • Garnish with a small strawberry

I tried it with both Dolin and Mancino but eventually choose Mancino. I usually go for lemon zest with Hernö gins, but that didn´t payed out great, so I skip that and use some orange bitters instead. I choose to garnish with a small strawberry, I know that isn´t traditional but it works well here. 

A very smooth and well-balanced Martini, not so classic as one made with Hernö Navy Strength, but a summery variant that should even please the ones who usually don´t care for Martinis. The strawberry brings out the beeriness of the gin without taking over, and the strength of the juniper matches that nicely. 

An amazing Dry Martini!

The Take Home

As a total score I can´t give this anything less than 5/5! I usually like both flowery gins and the classic juniper heavy ones, this one is a well-balanced combination of both with a remained typical character of a Hernö gin. They promised a no-bullshit gin that wouldn’t be a marketing gimmick and that they deliver!

It was released on the Swedish Systembolaget and online from UK on the 8th of April to a very reasonable price, so I recommend a purchase. 

This is my first article here for a while. (Welcome back Jens! Editor) Since my last one, we have moved from Sweden to a small island outside Denmark. I´ll start to review more Danish gin here in the future, but I´m also working on a book about Swedish gin so there will be more of Swedish gins as well. 

You´ll hear from me soon again 😊

Details

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