Of the many, many gins out there, we find none as divisive as the Rojak Gin, a flagship product produced by Singapore’s Compendium distillery. The torch ginger aromas might be alienating to those not familiar with its scent, and its use in classic cocktail recipes do not often translate well when directly used as a gin substitute. Well, we’re here to say that the Rojak Gin isn’t your typical gin by any measure, and shouldn’t be judged as such.
What the producers say
“Each Rojak Gin is a cacophony of scents that are at once recognisable yet novel. Nose whiffs of torch ginger that then conjure aromas of that familiar rojak nuttiness in your mind, before tasting a bold botanical punch of juniper and lemon peel on your tongue.
Not made from a neutral grain spirit but from distilled homemade mead, you’ll find this to be a silky gin as smooth as the artisanal honey it’s made from. Sip on it chilled or have it in a Negroni; it’s good either way.”
What we like about it
It’s worth repeating that this is not a regular gin by any means. It may still fall under the gin category since it uses juniper berries as one of its botanicals, but the similarity ends there.
Like its producers say, the base spirit isn’t even made from neutral grain, but from honey (gins are typically derived from grains like barley or wheat). We find that the honey imparts less harshness to the product, giving it a softer body, yet still feels visceral on the tongue. It’s an improvement over using factory-made neutral grain spirits, which most gin producers do. We know for a fact that the producers make mead as well, and that the honey wine they use to distill into a spirit is also made by them on-site.
But the biggest difference between the Rojak Gin and a regular gin are its aromatics. Lemon peel and especially torch ginger is very pronounced, as you’d expect from the eponymous rojak dish that the gin gets its name from. Fans of the fruit and vegetable salad will thus find lots to love about the Rojak Gin. But unlike the dish, the gin delivers its flavors more elegantly and poignantly. We especially love how the gin lingers on your olfactory senses. It’s just great joy to taste such a familiar scent (if you’ve had rojak before), but in a completely different form and vessel.
What we dislike
It shouldn’t be used as a typical gin, and while its producers say it tastes great in gin-based classics like the Negroni, we simply disagree. A London Dry style of gin is what most classics are geared towards, and the Rojak Gin is simply too much of a standout in many common cocktail recipes. We think that any concoction made using the Rojak Gin should be more spirit-forward. From our tastings, a G&T might work, while plum and coconut flavors are especially complementary.
At SGD$108 for a 500ml bottle as sold on their website, this is a pricey bottle to be sure. But there’s none like it out there. We are fans of this gin, as it’s an expression of a flavor and aroma so distinctively Southeast Asian. Even the uninitiated will be able to distinguish the Rojak Gin from all the run-off-the-mill gins out there. So try it at least once, and slowly, chilled, sip by sip. If not for anything else, get it for a truly unique experience.
Top photo credit: Compendium
All product reviews on Drinkaholics are done independently and at the sole discretion of the writer. Only products that the writer have personally tried before are reviewed. Opinions expressed are personal and subjective. See our Editorial Approach for more on our content standards.