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A celebration of G&T and its Andalusian connections

A celebration of G&T and its Andalusian connections
  • While Larios moved its production away from Malaga some years ago, gin is produced in numerous small distilleries around Andalucía.

  • Ten years ago 19 October was declared International Gin and Tonic Day by relatives and friends of an elderly lady who loved the drink

International Gin and Tonic Day has been celebrated on 19 October this year for the tenth year running.The day marks not only one of the world's most famous drinks, but also remembers Mary Edith Keyburn, who loved to have the occasional tipple of gin and tonic. It appears that on 19 October 2010, 95-year-old Edith passed away in hospital with a teacup of gin and tonic at her side. Since then the day is celebrated annually.

Though, gin and tonic is associated with the British, Andalucía has a long gin-producing history. The origins of Larios go back to 19th century, when the Larios family moved to Malaga. In 1866, the company of the French entrepreneur, Charles Lamothe, and his Spanish associate Pedro Jiménez founded Jiménez & Lamothe distillery in Malaga - the pioneer in the spirits field in Spain.

In 1916, the third marquis José Aurelio Larios purchased the company and changed the name to Larios & Cía, and later, in 1932, to Larios S.A. In that period Malaga became doubly well-known internationally - both for its sweet dessert wines and for its gin. In July 2005 Larios was sold to the American company Fortune Brand by the French Pernord-Ricard group that had owned the company since 1997. It is now produced in the group's distillery in Segovia.

However Andalucía remains a prestigious producer of good gins even with world-famous reputation. Gin connoisseurs praise the local gins for their botanically driven taste with some unusual ingredients. Producers of Andalusian gins can be found in Seville, Huelva and Malaga provinces.

Seville

Seville is proud of its Puerto de Indias Gin which celebrates its 140th anniversary this year. The history of the distillery in Los Alcores de Carmona began in 1880. During the Carlist Wars, a Basque citizen Izaguirre settled in the village of Carmona not far from Seville and created a series of spirits distilled in copper stills using traditional methods and the water from Roman-era natural subterranean springs.

Over the years, Anisette and Pacharán appeared and eventually Puerto de Indias Strawberry in three varieties of gin: Classic, Pure Black Edition and Guadalquivir was launched. The Basque country has also been successful with gins, handcrafted and made from 100% natural products. This year the popular Basque brand Gin MG is celebrating its 80 years.

Huelva

Huelva has made more progress towards totally organic production. After Larios production was moved, the Martes Santo distilleries that were founded in Higuera de la Sierra in 1870 are now considered the oldest in Spain. Some years ago, in this small village in Huelva province saw the start of the first organic gin distillery in Spain. This means that they distil, double-distil and tri-distil in a very laborious and complex artisan process. This method influences not only the taste, but also the quality of the Organic Dry Gin because everything that causes headaches the next day has been removed.

Martes Santo remains not only an emblematic but also the most elegant factory because of its main building. It was designed by Aníbal González, who created the wonderful Plaza de España in Seville.

Malaga

Gin is produced in severla areas of Malaga province. Three years ago, in the eastern region, Axarquia, they started producing Gin Ballix flavoured with mangoes of the local variety Osteen. This product of the cooperation between the brewery Murex and the subtropical fruit company Trops has been a success.

First, the village of Almáchar, and now Velez-Malaga, have been home to Alborán Gin. The 5th anniversary of the gin has been celebrated by Cítrico Drink company with five products.

The north of the province is represented by Simbuya. The village of Cuevas Bajas has been famous for its purple carrot, but since 2016 the taste of the unique carrot is also found in the gin Simbuya, produced by Esalui.

Oxén Spiritus is produced in Ojén just behind Marbella. The aromatic plants growing in the Sierra de Nieves - coriander, cardamom, angelica – are delivered to the village of Ojén where the production takes place in the Una Copita de Ojén SL.

Malaga's oldest functioning distillery, El Tajo, in Ronda, launched gin on the market in 1895. The gin is named after its year of the birth. It means that the gin just turned 125.

As for Malaga city, five years ago, the gin connoisseur Carlos Villanueva, manager of the Gin Tonic bar chain, launched two gins. He named both gins after Malaga: Malaka 'London Dry' contains classic flavours, and Malaka Premium has a Mediterranean touch with a faint undertone of jasmine.