Review: Sweet Gwendoline Is the Ideal Sip for Gin Fetishists

A surprise ingredient imbues this cheeky and flavorful French spirit, which is practically a martini on its own

February 14, 2023 6:45 am
A bottle of Sweet Gwendoline French Gin
Sweet Gwendoline French Gin, inspired by the work of an early 20th century fetish photographer
Sweet Gwendoline French Gin

What we’re drinking: Sweet Gwendoline French Gin

Where it’s from: The gin is crafted in France, while the brand is based in Brooklyn

Why we’re drinking this: This gin is infused with Figue de Sollies, a variety of fig grown in the south of France, along with white wine and Mediterranean botanicals. The gin is great, and the artwork and bottle are spectacularly cheeky, inspired by mid-20th-century fetish photographer John Coutts (aka John Willie).

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The company behind the gin also has an unusual story. “I originally had a clothing line and was part owner in bars in Philadelphia and New York, and that’s when I got the bug to work in spirits,” says CEO Larry McGearty. “Now I’ve been about 20-plus years in the spirits business, and was able to use that entrepreneurial mindset as part of the team that created Sailor Jerry Rum.” (McGearty also worked on products including Espolon tequila, Abasolo corn whisky and Kraken rum.) 

An interesting note about the gin: Muscatel wine is added after the final distillation. “The tannins give it complexity and the muscat grapes give a bright fresh citrus note,” says McGearty. “It’s the perfect martini on its own because of the wine finish, and, of course, our gin adds complexity to cocktails.”

Sweet Gwendoline gin
The bottle resembles a 1940s perfume; the brand’s accompanying artwork is equally worthy of display.
Kirk Miller

How it tastes: Sweet Gwendoline is distilled in a copper still and comes in at 40% ABV.

Strong citrus on the nose gives way to a bright flavor full of lemon, juniper, orange and a hint of cardamom, complete with a round finish where the wine really comes into play, particularly in the mouthfeel. Ideal for a sweeter G&T or a French 75…or a Safe Word, which we tried late last summer.

Safe Word cocktail recipe
Safe Word cocktail recipe
Sweet Gwendoline French Gin

About the artist who inspired the gin: John Willie’s work often appeared in Bizarre magazine and featured his wife and muse, Holly Anna Faram. The character Sweet Gwendoline first appeared in 1946. As per the gin brand’s entertaining explainer: “Throughout the series, Gwendoline encounters role-playing characters depicting an upstairs-downstairs type of domesticity: maids, drivers, the “Countess” and ‘Sir (dystic) d’Arcy.’ Because of their dastardly plots to restrain her, the delightful but hapless whirlwind that is Sweet Gwendoline spends most of her time being rescued by her friend ‘Secret Agent U 69’ having been caught in a pickle – again.”

Where to buy: You can get a bottle for around $40 here.


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