Anyone who’s read Patrick Süskind’s Perfume will know the risks involved in spilling unnaturally beautiful scented liquid on oneself (spoiler alert: one drip = mass orgy, whole bottle = mass cannibalism), so I take extra care when pouring measures of 44°N for the guests sat in my living room; after all, we’re renting and I want that deposit back. The nectar in question is a new style of gin that’s been fashioned in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. What’s particularly notable about this spirit is that it has been created using methods traditionally used to distill perfume, lending it such an innovative and delicate flavour that it could really send this dinner party one way (drip…) or quite another (splash!).
Perfume’s olfactorius antihero stalks Grasse, a verdant town on the Côte d’Azur, in search of virginal young women from whom he can steal their scent after killing – it’s a laugh a minute, I promise – and while I wouldn’t encourage this level of dedication to a craft, it’s clear that the team behind 44°N have paid close attention to the distillation methods involved in creating the delicate fragrances that grace necks and wrists the world over.
As someone who spent most of his GCSE Science classes sat too close to the gas taps, I’m not going to try and explain the distillation process that Master Scientist & Innovator Marie-Anne Contamin used to create this unique gin but apparently it involves ultrasonic maceration (OK…), vacuum distillation (mmm hmm…) and CO2 supercritical extraction (seriously, you lost me at ‘Master Scientist’). However, as someone who spent most of his A-Levels drinking stolen liquor at house parties and sneaking into cocktail bars with a fake ID, I can certainly have a crack at describing its taste.
On the nose, the gin evokes the soft rose aromas of Turkish Delight that give way to stronger floral notes that are echoed in the mouth, accompanied by a slight citric tang of pink grapefruit. The liquid itself has a pleasant oily viscosity that coats the tongue in flavour rather than puncture it with sharp stings. Like all good gins, the taste not only lingers in the mouth after it’s swallowed but actually develops further, painting the palate with tart orange peel and honeyed botanicals.
We enjoyed our 44°Ns straight up but I’m confident that it would stand up to a Dry Martini; alternatively, it could also work well as a wash to add a decadent bouquet to a glass of Champagne or used in an angelically bastardised Negroni along with white vermouth and Aperol.
With a wonderfully idiosyncratic flavour and green credentials on display – 44°N uses sustainable products from its local surroundings in Grasse – plus the fact that it’s presented in a particularly opulent vessel (a large perfume bottle, natch), this ambrosial spirit gets two big thumbs up from me and will be a mainstay in my house for future dinner parties, which you’re all invited to…drip, drip, splash!
David Harfield is the director of PepperStorm Media and writes about his three passions: food, booze and travel.
Photographs courtesy of Comte de Grasse