By Charles Passy
Salcombe Distilling Co. Rosé Sainte Marie gin, $39.99
The back story
Sure, you can gift your beloved flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day. But here’s another thought: Think pink, as in pink gin.
These days, you’ll find a number of gins on the market in that very shade — and indeed the coloring makes them a suitable gifting choice for the Feb. 14 holiday in all its pinkish/reddish fanfare. Moreover, the gins tend to be sweeter in flavor —almost candylike — compared to the juniper-heavy character of traditional gin.
But Salcombe’s Rosé Sainte Marie gin aims to be a disruptor of sorts in the category. That is, it “is purposefully dry and has no added sugar,” says Angus Lugsdin, one of the founders of Salcombe Distilling, an English company that launched five years ago and introduced its products to the U.S. in 2020. The gin’s name refers to a lighthouse in the south of France and the spirit is intended to evoke the “aromas, flavor and lifestyle of the Mediterranean coast,” Lugsdin adds — say, a dry rosé wine from the area. The coloring comes from unsweetened red fruit, he notes.
As for the brand itself, it is the vision of entrepreneurs Lugsdin and Howard Davies, who first met while working as sailing instructors in the English coastal town of Salcombe, where the company is based today. (Lugsdin notes that Salcombe “is one of the world’s only distilleries directly accessible by boat.”) Though the brand is new, it is already making a name for itself with its products. The Rosé Sainte Marie gin was awarded a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, for example.
What we think about it
If there’s such a thing as a pink gin for sophisticates, this is it — Rosé Sainte Marie is delicate, almost-floral like in its taste, but with the proper undercurrent of juniper that reminds you that you are drinking, well, gin. In short, it’s different and delicious all at once — and one of our favorite new sips in recent memory.
How to enjoy it
We think this is fine shaken with a little ice and then served on its own. (Essentially, a martini without the vermouth.) But the Salcombe team does suggest what it calls a Rosé Martini, made with rosé vermouth and splashes of elderflower liqueur and grapefruit juice.