“Cuenta la leyenda que los colores y los sabores de la tierra están relacionados con el aroma del universo” Gin Katún.
“Legend has it that the colors and flavors of the earth are related to the aroma of the universe” Gin Katún.
As the rise of Mexican cuisine and beverages continue, non agave spirits are piquing interest as a growing category unto themselves. Because of the rich culture of corn, aged whisky is an obvious contender, and while cane spirits, or aguardientes, has a long history in Mexico, we are only recently seeing more in the US market. And of course there have been some interesting mezcal-gin hybrids over the past few years. Gin as a spirit category is experiencing an international renaissance. From a production standpoint, this is thanks to the exponential growth in craft distilleries combined with the relatively quick production timeline. The world of craft cocktails has also embraced gin, with infinite Gin & Tonic variations and beyond. All of this makes it an ideal time to explore Mexican gin, and we are jumping in with a first look at Gin Katun.
Gin Katun founder Roberto Brinkman was also a founder of Bruxo Mezcal, which inspired a desire within him to pursue his own creativity in distillation: “When I left the [Bruxo] operation after 8 years I decided I wanted to distill…at that time there were no Mexican gin brands, though it’s a growing category throughout Mexico and the local botanical culture is incredible.” With creative juices flowing, he and his associate and master distiller Javier Pulido experimented and developed the recipe.
The first Yucatecan gin, the inaugural distillation was in 2017. Committed to making a product that embodies its origin, the 17 unique botanicals include local ingredients like heirloom citrus, cardamom, achiote, sage, chilies including habanero and xcatic, and tropical fruits. The botanicals infuse the gin with a sense of place, the only imported element being juniper. The neutral base spirit is made from corn, and after maceration and distillation the still strength liquor is mixed with cenote water before filtering and bottling.
One of the more unique, and terroir-forward, aspects to the gin is the use of cenote water, which is the manifestation of refreshment. “One of my friends always says…it’s like cenote water…the gin is very fresh,” recounts Brinkman, noting that there are layers of flavor, “…at the same time it is spicy because of the chiles.”
The complexity of the flavors from local botanicals reflect the cuisine of the region, and Mexico in general. The Mexican gin category is just starting to unfold with a handful of interesting brands already on the market, and rapid growth projected. Like all of the world’s best beverages, the ones that translate the flavors of their origin will be the most successful and exciting to sip.