Our Panda Gin review finds a very drinkable premium Belgian Gin that majors on lychees, the fruit of a tropical Chinese tree.
Some of us from whichgin.com have visited Belgium frequently over the years, and have very much immersed ourselves in the fine Belgian brewing traditions. But, for our sins, we’ve never tried a Belgian gin. So, when were kindly gifted some of this Belgian gin to review by the kind people at Panda Gin, how could we possibly refuse*?
Panda Gin review
Let’s be very clear here. Panda Gin is a gin, not a liqueur. We’ve seen lychees (feel free to spell lychee ‘litchi’, by the way) feature in some gin liqueurs and cocktails before, but never as a botanical in a gin in its own right. When opening the white, minimalist bottle (that works well on any gin shelf), you get an immediate sense of what’s to come. The aromatic lychee is there straight away, with its sweet but subtle smell.
There’s balance there too. There’s basil, rosemary and star anise in the botanical mix, as well as more fruit through cherry and orange peel. We could certainly sense the fruitiness that was to come on tasting, but there was also the promise of some earthier notes through the juniper and star anise.
Incidentally, the water for the gin comes from the Hautes Fegnes (High Fens); a plateau region in the east of Belgium between the Eifel highlands and the Ardennes. This is supposedly some of the purest water in Europe, and perhaps adds to the clean taste.
And what of that taste – my word. Actually not fully what we had expected. That lychee shows itself first, but it’s far more subtle that we had imagined. Its sweetness also quickly mellows into a very rounded flavour. The lychee and juniper work very well together.
This is a unique and very drinkable gin; you don’t get overpowered at all by that initial sweetness. It’s not uncommon for quite perfumed gins to leave you enjoying one, but struggling with more. We didn’t find that at all here. We happily came back for more, each of us trying it out in several of the suggested servings.
How to serve Panda Gin
Panda is a hugely versatile Belgian Gin. We’ll be adding it to our best gins to serve neat page when we next update it. The mouthfeel neat is almost that of a schnapps, but without any of the burning sensation when swallowing. There’s quite a satisfying texture to it. If we could only recommend one way of serving Panda Gin, neat would be it.
That shouldn’t detract from the other suggested servings though. Another firm favourite was in a gin and tonic, over plenty of ice and garnished with fresh basil leaves. We think Panda Gin is quite forgiving – triple the tonic to gin is recommended, but we think you can simply mix to your own taste. The basil garnish worked very well, and we had a slight preference for this over serving this gin with a sprig of thyme (although both were very pleasant to drink on a summer’s evening of reviewing!)
You should also consider Panda Gin as an excellent base for a cocktail. We’ll not repeat them in detail here, but there are a range of cocktail recipes on the Panda Gin website that will bring even more out of the aromatic lychee.
Overall, we were all huge converts to this fantastic Belgian Gin. It’s reminded us just how much fantastic gin there is to discover around the world, and that we should keep on trying new expressions of our favourite drink. Highly recommended.
Panda is bottled at 40% ABV, with a standard bottle size of 50cl.
Buy Panda Gin
You can buy Panda Gin in the UK. In fact, we saw some available on Amazon. However, the main place to buy is from the Panda Gin website itself. They ship to the US, UK, Australia, Canada, China, Brazil and much of Europe – you can see the bottle and shipping costs on their website.
There are also smaller bottles available, as well as glasses too. Whatever you choose, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
We were gifted Panda Gin to review. However, we conduct independent gin reviews and have a policy of only featuring gins that we can recommend after tasting. We received no monetary payment for this article, but may receive small commissions if you click on an affiliate link and subsequently buy a product. By the way, we have no affiliate agreement with Panda Gin itself but are delighted to be able to recommend it. We hope you try it and enjoy it too! Many thanks for reading, and for your support.
*By the way, and for the record, we never refuse gin to review…