Review: Lighthouse Gin

Review: Lighthouse Gin

Foley Family Wines is best known — as the name would suggest — for its wine operations, a vast empire which includes Chalk Hill, Sebastiani, Chateau St. Jean, and many more brands. Recently Foley got into the spirits game, and while we’ll review its first bourbon in short order, today we’re examining its inaugural gin, Lighthouse Gin, which is made by New Zealand’s first head distiller, Rachel Hall.

Decidedly non London Dry in style, the gin is known for its use of New Zealand’s famous Yen Ben Lemons — so much so that “Distilled with Yen Ben Lemons” is the only text on the front label aside from “New Zealand” and the name of the product. Distilled from Australian grain and proofed with water from New Zealand’s Remutaka Ranges, additional botanicals include navel oranges, coriander seeds, almond, cassia bark, cinnamon quills, juniper, licorice root, and orris root.

Let’s give it a whirl!

They ain’t lying about those lemons: One whiff and a huge rush of Meyer lemon character invades the senses. There’s ample juniper here, then a subdued earthiness that wafts over the experience. The citrus fades surprisingly quickly. If you want that rush, get your nose in there quick.

The palate shows a curious construction, the coriander-driven earthiness complemented by a noticeable licorice quality, with much less citrus than I was expecting. The lemon notes make a return appearance on the finish, which is far brighter and sunnier than the middle of the drinking experience. Until then, things are a little green, mildly piney, and enveloped with mushroom notes on every side.

What’s really missing with this gin isn’t more juniper or a steadier citrus profile but rather more alcohol. This is something I almost never say, but Lighthouse Gin is just too weak at 40% abv. It (and gin in general) needs a little more punch to create the bracing experience that usually makes gin great. Navy Strength Lighthouse? Sign me up.

80 proof.

B+ / $50 / lighthousegin.co.nz

Lighthouse Gin

$50
8.5

Rating

8.5/10

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

2 Comments

  1. Not pleased with the stuff on February 17, 2024 at 10:16 pm

    Dunno, just tastes like bitter, watery gin. I bought it for the bottle, so I can fill it with blue liquid to make it look like an apothecary jar.

    After having some, my reasons for purchasing it remain the same. Expensive bottle.

  2. Garth Lyon, Christchurch New Zealand on February 18, 2024 at 5:28 pm

    Great to see a local product featuring on your site. In New Zealand this is bottled at 42% alcohol by volume and I suspect this difference is all to the good. One of my favourite NZ gins, even if not classic London Dry. Lighthouse have marketed a Hawthorn Edition here at 57% alcohol by volume which I have not sampled. I must pedantically point out Lighthouse mis-spelled what are actually the Rimutaka Ranges in the shadow of which they distil their wares.

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