Eight Gins Flavored With Potions From the Ocean

A illustrated wave in a glass
Getty

A growing number of gins seek to bring the ocean to your glass. These new bottlings find inspiration in seaweed, samphire and other botanicals sourced in and around local shores. They can add a touch of terroir to your martini.

It’s an extension of the spirits trend that utilizes foraged ingredients to add a hint of local flavor. But rather than alpine mountains or open fields, these gin producers access vast bodies of water and their resident sea life.

In addition to U.S. gins like Gray Whale Gin, Nautical American Gin and Automatic Sea Gin, many breezy, briny bottlings are made in England and Scotland. Each sport plentiful coastlines and a thriving market for gin. Isle of Harris Gin even works with a local diver to scavenge sugar kelp from the ocean floor.

Here are eight sea-inspired gins to seek out in the U.S. and abroad. Juniper is a required ingredient to make gin, so it’s present in all of these bottlings.

A bottle of gin surrounded by dry seaweed and an image of man at a still
Photos courtesy of Automatic Sea Gin/Oakland Spirits Co.

Automatic Sea Gin

Oakland, California

Nori, foraged from the Mendocino coast and dried in the sun, provides a funky umami quality to this small-batch Bay Area gin, which is rounded out with coastal bay leaf, sage and lemongrass. The base is distilled from grapes.

Edinburgh Seaside Gin

Edinburgh, Scotland

Created in partnership with Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University and inspired by the nearby shoreline, this gin is made with ingredients found near the sea, and it’s noted for its minerality. Shoreline botanicals include ground ivy, bladderwrack (a type of brown algae/seaweed) and scurvygrass (a flowering herb).

Woman and man holding a bright turqoise bottle, right image of gin bottle and a cocktail
Photos by Lyndsey Yeomans and Rick Allen

Gray Whale Gin

Sebastopol, California

The story of this gin, packaged in a stunning turquoise bottle, is that the botanicals are foraged along the migratory path of the Gray Whale, from Baja California limes to sea kelp in Mendocino. A portion of sales supports Oceana, an environmental charity that protects and restores the world’s oceans.

Left image is a clear bottle on wood, right image is a modern steep-pitched roof distillery
Isle of Harris Gin / Photos by Laurence Winram and John Maher

Isle of Harris Gin

Isle of Harris, Scotland

According to the producer, this gin is infused with sugar kelp harvested by seaweed expert Lewis Mackenzie. It’s foraged during the spring and summer months, which allows the kelp to replenish in winter. More traditional gin botanicals like juniper, coriander, cassia bark, bitter orange peel and licorice root balance out the maritime effects.

Mermaid Gin

Isle of Wight, England

Made on an island off the south coast of England, locally foraged rock samphire gives this gin a briny hint. There’s also hops grown at nearby Ventnor Botanic Garden, local elderflower and English coriander from Sussex. Other botanicals, like Sicilian lemon zest and exotic Grains of Paradise, are sourced further afield. In March, the producer unveiled its new sculpted bottle, which is made from sustainable materials and resembles fish scales.

A dark green bottle in white sand beach with turquoise water
Nautical American Gin / Photo by Mackenzie Kelly

Nautical American Gin

Sheffield, Massachusetts

Though made in New England, the key marine element in this gin is Pacific kombu, a sea vegetable sourced from Shandong Peninsula, China. Other “coastal botanicals” from around the world include spearmint, lemongrass, rosehips and coriander seed, plus Croatian juniper berries.

Shetland Reel Ocean Sent Gin

Unst, Scotland

Inspired by the sea that surrounds the Shetland Islands, where this gin is made, the key botanical is bladderwrack. This seaweed is gathered from along the coastline that provides a clean, sea-breezy exhale, plus a subtle mix of spices and citrus.

Woman in an apron saying "Rutte" standing in front of copper equipment, smiling at camera
Rutte’s Master Distiller, Myriam Hendrickx / Photo courtesy of Rutte

1872 Seaweed Gin

Dordrecht, The Netherlands

U.S. gin fans may be familiar with Rutte Celery Gin. This limited-edition version, available only at the distillery in the port city of Dordrecht, builds on that delightful, savory-fresh profile. It’s macerated with briny seaweed plus lovage, celery leaf, bitter orange and cardamom.

Published on May 20, 2019
Topics: Spirits
About the Author
Kara Newman 
Spirits Editor

Kara Newman reviews spirits and writes about spirits and cocktail trends for Wine Enthusiast. She’s the author of several cocktail books, including Shake.Stir.Sip., NIGHTCAP: More than 40 Cocktails to Close Out Any Evening and Cocktails With a Twist, released August 2019. Email: spirits@wineenthusiast.net



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