This gin brand found its way to my G&T cocktail glass in Portugal whilst on my annual summer holidays in the Algarve region. The packaging and story behind the product also caught my attention at the local store, especially as I am always on the lookout for local brands when travelling abroad…
Apparently, after four years of testing around handmade stills, 438 botanicals trialled and over a thousand micro maceration and distillations, the Portuguese gin Friends Touriga Nacional was born.
As the name suggests, this gin was started by two friends pictured below in September 2015, Luis Ferreira (below left) and Tiago Cabaço.
From Estremoz, in Alentejo, came the first gin made from Portuguese grapes, aged in oak barrels using 38 botanicals. This is also the first gin made from Touriga Nacional, a caste of traditional Portuguese grapes, which highlights Portugal’s winemaking history by infusing Portuguese grape varieties into the gin.
In this gin, we find a balance between acidity and aromatic exuberance, more floral than citrus.
Following the success of the first release, the friends released a Friends Gin Dry Edition (pictured above right). This gin features a great citrusy aromatic intensity, a certain voluptuousness and some dryness using 28 botanicals. It also went through a stage in oak barrels and quadruple distillation in two traditional column stills manufactured in Portugal.
As Aaron Okada writes in his blog about the Portuguese blossoming gin industry:
Gin-making in Portugal is a relatively new endeavour. Big Boss was the first local brand to pop up. It’s one of the most versatile and commercial of Portuguese gins and they now offer several different variations. Soon after, other starting following such as Não (produced in partnership with a London-based distiller), Templus (Portugal’s first purely organic gin), and the one ruling the market right now – Sharish. Friends Gin is another addition as pictured below.