Iron Balls Gin Bangkok

Iron Balls Gin - Made in Bangkok

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 25, 2022 
With more and more gin brands flooding the market, it got hard to stand out. But Iron Balls Gin is different. Ashley Sutton, a famous and incredibly creative bar designer, showed once again his love for detail. The steampunk design, the bold marketing slogans, and the unusual but excellent taste of this Gin do not need much marketing to get noticed.

I discovered Iron Balls Gin in 2017, when I was living in Bangkok for a few months. I also was familiar with the name Ashley Sutton because he designed dozens of bars there and in other parts of Southeast Asia, as well. So without doubt, I had to try his Gin. Now, in 2021, all my friends and friends of friends know and love Iron Balls. But I can imagine why. 

“YOU ALWAYS HAVE OPTIONS IF YOU HAVE BALLS”This is one of the slogans Iron Balls works with, and it fits perfectly. The unusual shape of the bottle, forming half a cannonball, the hand-written batch numbers, the copper elements on the bottle, every part of this product packaging, and marketing so well thought-out. And as if this was not enough, there are even more aspects that make it exceptional, starting with where this Gin is distilled. 

Iron Balls Bangkok

Iron Balls Gin is distilled in the heart of Bangkok, making it one of the very few Gins produced in Thailand. And the distillery is not somewhere in the middle of nowhere. It is located right in one of the most exclusive and popular areas of the city. Plus, it is located inside the associated bar called the Iron Balls Distillery.

Iron Balls Distillery & Bar

When you first walk into this small and cozy place, you can instantly recognize Ashley Sutton's influence. All his bars have this unique vibe, antique decor, eccentric details, and most importantly, a small but exquisite cocktail selection.

The place has two sections. One is the bar and seating area, and the other is the distillery where they distill Iron Balls Gin. It takes less than ten steps to get from one to the other. If you are lucky, the staff gives a spontaneous tour of the distillery. But usually, you have to pre-book this kind of tour.

If you visit the Iron Balls Distillery, I recommend the signature serve of an Iron Balls Gin and Tonic or one of their beautiful cocktails. My personal favorites are the "Charred Sandalwood Negroni" and the "Spitcock". The latter is served with delicious half of passion fruit. The cocktails are around $12 on average, which is a standard price for quality bars in Bangkok.

Iron Balls Gin Parlour & Saloon

Next to the Sing Sing Theater -another Ashley Sutton creation- is the second location of Iron Balls Gin distillery: the Iron Balls Gin Parlour & Saloon. But keep your eyes open, or you will miss its entrance. It is worth to be searched and found.

The ceiling is full of empty Iron Balls bottles, and the marine theme makes you feel like sitting in a cozy cabin on a ship. This place is more spacious and offers more possibilities to sit or stand together. The bar is suitable for every occasion, from pre-party drinks to after-dinner sip, you will always feel like you came to the right place.

However, if you have to decide between visiting the distillery or the Parlour, I would always opt for the distillery.

The Ingredients of Iron Balls Gin

When joining the distillery tour, you will learn that instead of the usual grain spirit, Iron Balls uses a concoction of fermented Pineapple and Coconut to create a kind of wine, which then gets distilled into a pineapple-coconut Vodka.

Details about the ingredients or botanicals used in the Iron Balls Gin are not made public. It is a big secret. Only a few - juniper, hillside ginger, and lemongrass- can be found on the iron balls homepage. Besides that, there is not much information on the contents. So I will make an educated guess based on its taste. But regarding the base spirit, no guesswork is needed.

Tasting and nosing the spirit, there are some hints that the following ingredients could play a role in the Iron Balls Gin:

  • Hillside ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Pepper
  • Coriander seeds
  • Mango
  • Orange peel
  • Tangerine

Just keep in mind, I base this on speculation. The actual ingredients are not confirmed.

Tasting Notes

The production numbers are limited due to the small distillery. But the quality of the end product shows how much love went into this artisan spirit. The Gin reflects its strong southeast Asian heritage with fruity notes and spices.

Nose

When you first smell the Gin, you get a lot of fruity notes. The pronounced sweetness of Pineapples mixes with lemongrass, citrus notes, and ginger. While this is certainly not common, there are also some other, less traditional, Gins with similar nosing profiles.

Neat

Tasting Iron Balls neat is a pleasant experience. It is mild and has lots of fruity notes. Pineapple, Mango, and citrus together with a spicy finish of ginger and lemongrass. It goes down really well, even though it is a little on the Vodka side. A spirit I definitely would not turn down.

What is missing are strong notes of juniper. They do exist but not as dominant as you would expect it from a Gin. So if you are a fond believer in traditional Gins, this one might not be for you. Otherwise, Iron Balls Gin is one of my most frequent recommendations when someone asks me for an unusual Gin.

Gin & Tonic

An Iron Balls Gin and Tonic is something special. It does not taste very much like a Gin when tasting neat, and it is a category of its own when tried as a G&T. It is fresh, vibrant, fruity, and refreshing like no other Gin and Tonic I tried before.

The tropical vibes immediately take me back to the beaches of Thailand. The mix of fruit and spice is gorgeous, and you need to remind yourself that this thing is still an alcoholic drink that you should not drown in one big sip. Now, let's check what you need to create the perfect serve with this Gin.

Iron Balls Gin and Tonic - Perfect Serve

As recommended on their website, Iron Balls Gin and Tonic goes perfectly with a slice of pineapple, Thai Basil leaves, and a wedge of lime. That may sound a little uncommon, but it works, trust me. During my first visit to the distillery, I also asked about a tonic recommendation, and they offered me to taste different versions. It turns out the recommended tonic is also my overall favorite - Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic Water.

If you can't get your hands on Thai basil leaves, conventional basil leaves will work just fine. I always work with them when I am not in Thailand, and there were no complaints so far.

Use in Cocktails

Used in cocktails, the Gin can work fine. However, its subtle notes can easily be overpowered by other ingredients. But the "Spitcock" cocktail at the Iron Balls distillery is just brilliant. And I also like to use it in a tropical version of a Negroni. You can combine Iron Balls, Antica Formula, Campari, and Mahiki to create a very special Coconut Negroni.

Another Cocktail Iron Balls works perfectly with is a Martini. Mixed with dry Vermouth, it creates a not-so-traditional but great Martini. The fruity notes work surprisingly well. Also, the balance between sweet and bitter is just right, making Iron Balls an excellent choice for a Martini.

Conclusion

You see, I am totally in love with this Gin. But also from a more objective point of view, this is a great product you definitely should try. It pushes the limits of the Gin definition and delivers on taste and design. The price usually is around $60 - in liquor stores and when buying it directly in the distillery. It is a little complicated to get in the US and might not the cheapest option, but it is worth it.

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