Our Caorunn Gin review unearths a pure, fresh gin from Speyside in Scotland that loves to be served with a slice of crisp red apple.
Now ten years old, Caorunn comes to us from Balmenach Distillery near Cromdale (and Grantown-on-Spey), deep in Speyside whisky country. It’s a clear gin in a clear bottle, and is bottled at 41.8% ABV.
Caorunn retails at a very reasonable price point in the UK (typically between £20-£30) for the standard 70cl bottle, and is widely available.
Sample botanicals: in addition to the juniper, there are some traditional botanicals such as cassia bark, angelica root, coriander, orange and lemon peel. However, there and five more that are locally-foraged: rowan berry, dandelion, heather, bog myrtle and coul blush apple. Illustrations of these are nicely displayed through the bottle too.
The name Caorunn (helpfully highlighted as being pronounced ‘Ka-roon’ on the bottle) is the Gaelic for rowan berry. It’s not Carunn Gin, Caroon Gin or any other alternative, but please forgive us if we do spell it incorrectly elsewhere. It’s also quite entertaining in predictive text; we had Captain Gin and Carine Gin in this article until it was proof-read…
Our review here is of Caorunn Small Batched Scottish Gin. There are other Caorunn gins available, such as Caorunn Raspberry and Caorunn Highland Strength. We’ve not tried those ones yet. Please do let us know if you have, and what you think of them, in the comments below or at [email protected].
Caorunn Gin review
You can tell immediately that this is a well-crafted gin when opening the bottle for the first time. Nothing overpowers, nothing jolts. It smells like a quality gin. The batch size is small, at just 1,000 litres. The neutral spirit has vapourised through a Copper Berry Chamber containing the botanicals. This chamber looks a little like a round beehive, with trays of these botanicals ready to gently impart their aromas.
We found a very light spiciness on the nose, with just a hint of the lemon and orange peel. There’s definitely some of those more local, floral botanicals in the background too, but subtly so.
That’s perhaps not surprising. Caorunn is a dry gin, and we found that, upon tasting, the juniper and more traditional botanicals deliver that long, lovely mouth-filling experience that all good dry gins possess. Interestingly, we though the pepperiness of the nose slightly faded and became more balanced with the floral notes. The overwhelming taste sensation is one of a crisp, clean, traditional gin.
How to serve Caorunn Gin
We tried Caorunn neat and we’re not going to advocate that. Some gins work very well neat (like these recommendations for neat gin), but it wasn’t for us – we felt it needed the tonic.
This is incredibly lazy of us, but we just loved Caorunn’s own suggested serving for a gin and tonic; equal amounts of gin and tonic, lots of ice and a slice of red apple to garnish. The apple is relatively unusual, but it does just pick up that crisp taste really well. We tried other garnishes, but found that citrus fruits slightly detracted from the fresh taste.
Overall, please don’t think that we’re trying to underplay Caorunn by stating that it’s a ‘traditional gin’. It is, and it’s an excellent one at that. Caorunn is well made, well balanced and very good value. Do try it if you haven’t already.
Buy Caorunn Gin
The Caorunn brand is owned by International Beverage Holdings, so the good news is that it’s widely distributed and available.
Buy Caorunn Gin US, or in Canada, from Drizly. See if you can get it delivered within an hour in your area by clicking the advert below.
In the UK, buy Caorunn Gin from Amazon or from Master of Malt, or try the Unbeatable Gin prices + Next Day delivery at 31DOVER.COM.
Buy Balmenach Whisky
You may also be interested to note that the Balmenach Distillery, the home of Caorunn Gin, has produced some excellent whisky over the years (this is Speyside, after all). There’s an example below of one we found on Amazon, and also worth trying Master of Malt (link takes you to an example).