Smaller and generally less crowded than Mallorca and Ibiza, Menorca has lots in common with its fellow Balearic Islands. They all boast incredible beaches, crystal clear turquoise seas and lovely warm sunshine. They also have notable towns, rich in history. Indeed, Menorca has two: Mahon and Ciutadella. But Menorca is the island favoured by people seeking a quieter and more laidback retreat. It’s also the only one of the three that’s been awarded with a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status for promoting community driven sustainable development and conservation. Something else that sets Menorca apart from the other islands is that it has its own gin.
Menorca gin has a long history, which harks back to the 18th century when the island was occupied by the British. And whilst they shipped in gin from home, Menorcans saw that demand was high enough to warrant making their own. After the British occupation ended, gin continued to be popular amongst islanders and visitors. And artisan distillers created a gin that is distinctly different to British gin.
Menorca gin: Xoriguer
The best known brand of Menorca gin is Xoriguer (pronounced: sho-ri-gair). They have a distillery in Mahon. Distilled in traditional wood fuel copper stills, Xoriguer uses high quality wine alcohol to make their gin. It also contains carefully selected juniper berries picked from nearby Mediterranean mountains and mixed with aromatic herbs – which are, of course, a top secret! During its making, it’s tasted by expert tasters every 10 minutes until they determine that it’s good to go.
On their website, Xoriguer explains that their gin is ‘distilled with such meticulous care that it emerges from the still ready to be tasted, at about its final strength of 38% alcohol’. This is in contrast to most gins, which are distilled in concentrated form before being diluted with water for bottling.
More than the knowledge of Xoriguer’s secret herbs, I want to know how to become one of these expert tasters!
Scroll down to the bottom to find out about visiting the distillery and free tasting sessions.
Move over G&T, here’s the Pomada…
In Menorca, the preferred way to drink gin is in a Pomada. It’s a cocktail made with Xoriguer’s gin, lemonade and served with ice and a slice of lemon. Under the warm sun, it’s a refreshing and tangy cocktail to enjoy. According to Xoriguer’s UK website, it should have equal parts gin and lemonade. The Pomada a popular drink in all the Balearics so it won’t be hard to find. Try it at a beachside bar or during one of the many summer fiestas, where it’s the beverage of choice.
Not a fan of lemonade? G&Ts are also popular – although Xoriguer call it an X&T. You can also buy a bottle of Menorca gin and mix up your own cocktail. Xoriguer and Summer Fruit Cup have some good cocktail ideas… I quite like the sound of the Passionate Limey! How would you like yours?
Gin O’Clock in Mahon: Visit the distillery
The Xoriguer Gin Distillery in Mahon is definitely worth a visit if you’re in town. There isn’t actually a tour but you can see the stills through the windows. Really, the big attraction to the distillery is that you can sample Xoriguer’s range of gins for free. It’s a popular thing to do in Mahon and is available during the distillery’s opening hours. You can, of course, also buy bottles of the stuff to bring back home. They sell miniature bottles, which are handy if you’re flying with hand luggage only. If you do take a liking to it, you may well want to consider paying for check-in luggage as the good folk of Menorca love it so much that 60% of Xoriguer’s gin never leaves the island!
Anden de Poniente 91
Mahon (or Mao)
Tel: +34 971 362 197
- During the summer, it’s open Monday to Saturday from 9.00am to 1.30pm and 4.30pm to 8.00pm.
- In the winter, it’s open Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 1.00pm and 4.30pm to 6.00pm. On Saturdays, it’s only open in the mornings from 9.00am to 1.00pm.
Can’t wait for a trip to Menorca to try it? You can find UK stockists at: xoriguer.co.uk.