Scapegrace Black gin, $39.99
The back story
Sure, you can find plenty of good gin out there for an end-of-day martini or a refreshing gin-and-tonic. But what if you want something with a little more mystery and a little more color? Maybe even something that sets the mood for the ever-so-scary Halloween season?
Enter Scapegrace Black, which, true to its name, is a black-colored gin. It comes via New Zealand — specifically, from the Scapegrace Distillery, which already gained acclaim for a previous product that was named the world’s best London Dry Gin at an international competition. But Scapegrace Black is indeed about both the taste and color.
Mark Neal, one of Scapegrace’s founders, says the distillery was mindful that pink-colored gin was trending (and indeed, we’ve written about this emerging category). But Scapegrace didn’t want to think pink. “We wanted to do something that was 100% unique,” he says.
So, the black gin was born. To make something in this darkest of shades, you need to mix several colors together. So Neal and his team decided to use flavorings (or botanicals, as they’re called in the gin world) that added those right notes of color — in particular, sweet potato, aronia berry, pineapple, saffron and butterfly-pea flower. Of course, there’s also juniper, which is the botanical that truly defines gin.
And the resulting taste? “It’s what we call the taste of black,” says Neal. But he points to various flavor notes, such as sweetness from aronia berry, floral from the butterfly-pea flower and tropical from the pineapple.
What we think about it
This is as intriguing a gin as its name implies. The color certainly has a wow factor — and depending on the light, it changes from black to purple to grey, which adds to some of the fascination. But there’s a depth of flavor, too. Those looking for a juniper-forward gin might be disappointed, but there’s a lot else going on that gives the gin a delicious balance between the sweet and the savory. In other words, it’s more than just a novelty.
How to enjoy it
This is fine on its own — say, as a very dry martini. But Neal encourages you to experiment with it in cocktails that call for gin. He’s a fan of using it in a gin-and-tonic — with one part Scapegrace Black and three parts premium tonic water and a garnish of a slice of apple.