Disclosure:  sample bottle of Zeiver Gin sent by the brand for review. Opinions entirely that of the author.

Zeiver Gin

Launched in 2020, Zeiver Gin (pronounced zay-ver) is inspired by Japanese spirits. Using polished rice as its base, it’s created using a truly unique mix of botanicals.

Read my review of Zeiver Gin to find out about its brand story, how it’s made, tasting notes and the intriguing list of botanicals used to create the spirit.

Story.

“A gin, unique”

“A gin, unique,” it states on the Zeiver Gin bottle. A bold claim for a newcomer to the category. I’ll forgive you, dear reader, for a sigh at this point. We’ve heard it all before, right? Every new gin (and indeed product) on the market almost always claims it’s unique.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first, but the more I read about Zeiver Gin, the more intrigued I became. Firstly, they use polished rice to make their base spirit. While rice as a base is not unique per se, it is a deviation from the usual grain spirit we’re used to seeing. What does make it unique, however, is that Zeiver’s base spirit is made from scratch prior to rectifying (more on that later).

But it was the botanical mix that really piqued my interest. And this is where Zeiver can further claim a uniqueness – at least, I’m unaware of any gin which contains the heady blend seen here. Juniper, is of course in the mix, but there’s no coriander, angelica root, orris root… all botanicals you’d ordinarily expect to see. Instead, peach, pistachio, aloe vera, apple, cherry, lime, macadamia and grapefruit all join the party. And to be quite honest, I have absolutely no idea what to expect!

I’m unaware of any gin which contains the heady blend of botanicals seen in Zeiver Gin.

Launched in 2020, Zeiver Gin takes inspiration from the Japanese spirit, Shōchū. It’s the brainchild of James Bilson and Clayton Patterson and as with so many gins I write about, it was dreamt up over a gin and tonic. With a clear style in mind, they set about creating a prototype for their gin, which took 6 months of trial and error to get right.

Once they were happy, James and Clayton sought out the best master distiller they could find to make their new gin at scale – Dr John Walters, founder of English Spirit Distillery.

The Process.

Size Matters

While not directly involved in the distillation anymore, it was reassuring that Zeiver were able to give me an extensive overview of how their gin is made. This doesn’t have the feel of another brand just paying someone to make a gin for them to market.

The first stage in the process is the base spirit and the use of polished rice, which is imported directly from Niigata Prefecture, Japan. Once fermented, the polished rice base is rectified (redistilled) with the botanicals in relatively small 200-litre copper alembic stills. These stills were designed by Dr Walters himself and he states that that “the choice of still size, design and energy input are crucial” to ensuring the spirits produced are distilled accurately, reliably and with finesse.

English Spirit owns over 20 of these stills, all of which are called Fanny The size of these stills allows for more control over when to ‘cut’ the gin during the distillation process resulting in consistency between each batch. As usual, the ‘heads’ and ‘tails’ of the distillation are discarded, but for even greater precision, three portions of the ‘hearts’ are cut separately and mixed together to a specific ratio. RO water – water which is filtered by reverse osmosis – is then used to dilute the gin to a meaty 47%.

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BOTANICALS

Juniper, peach, pistachio, aloe vera, apple, cherry, lime, macadamia and grapefruit

RECOMMENDED SERVE

Such is the balance of Zeiver Gin, there’s a lot of scope for playing around with different serves. I settled on dehydrated orange, but James from Zeiver suggested the following garnishes.

  1. Add plenty of ice to a glass
  2. Add 50ml of gin
  3. Pour 100ml of Fever-Tree Mediterranian Refreshingly Light tonic water
  4. Garnish with apple or apricot
  5. Stir gently and serve

Tasting notes.

Neat

Despite the unusual botanical mix, Zeiver Gin has a traditional scent. I was expecting it to be fruitier on the nose, but it’s big on the juniper with sweet citrus.

To sip neat, it’s very much what you’d expect from the aromas – juniper-led with a delightful sweet citrus on the palate, followed by a surprisingly peppery finish, given the botanical mix.

Despite its traditional flavours, the texture is what’s particularly intriguing – crisp, clean and smooth and not like anything I can put my finger on that I’ve tried before. It’s almost like velvet in the mouth!

A splash of water really takes the pepperiness away, bringing out a little more sweet citrus. It’s so easy just to sip!

Despite the unusual botanical mix, Zeiver Gin has a traditional scent. I was expecting it to be fruitier on the nose, but it’s big on the juniper with sweet citrus.

With tonic

To serve with a splash of tonic I get subtle menthol coming through, while the pepperiness calms down quite a bit.

As you add a little more, you get a very faint hint of fruitiness, which is what I expected more of, given the botanical lineup. It’s more citrus-forward here, with the juniper dialled down a notch on the lower ABV.

For garnish, James from Zeiver recommended a few different serves to me, but stressed he isn’t one for telling people how to enjoy their gin. I tried a few of these (apple, apricot, cherry) but settled on dehydrated orange as my own preference as it brought out a little more citrus.

For tonic, I went with Fever-Tree Mediterranian light, in a ratio of around 2:1. Any more and I felt the delicate flavours of the gin were lost. With Zeiver, there’s definitely plenty scope for playing around to find your own sweet spot.

REVIEW VERDICT.

It’s so hard to cut through the noise in the current market, let alone come out with a claim as bold as Zeiver have on the front of the bottle. The uniqueness doesn’t so much come from the flavour – but the story of the brand, its base spirit and botanical mix.

That’s not to say Zeiver is just another gin in terms of flavour. Yes, it’s reassuringly familiar in profile (gin should predominantly taste of juniper, right?), but of all the gins I own, it’s definitely one I think I’d have a good chance of picking out blind in a lineup, particularly when tasted neat.

There’s something of a duality with Zeiver – a juxtaposition of simplicity and complexity rolled into one. Despite the simplicity of its monochromatic label, there’s a lot of depth to this gin the more I explore. It’s definitely one to watch!

Zeiver Gin is available to purchase exclusively from The Gin Stall.

FAQs

Where is Zeiver Gin made?
Zeiver Gin is distilled by the English Spirit Distillery in Essex.

What is the best way to serve Zeiver Gin?
Zeiver Gin can be enjoyed neat over ice, in a cocktail, or served with a light tonic and garnished with apple, cherry or apricot.

How much does Zeiver Gin cost?
Expect to pay around about £42.

What are the botanicals in Zeiver Gin?
Zeiver Gin uses 9 botanicals. These are juniper, peach, pistachio, aloe vera, apple, cherry, lime, macadamia and grapefruit.