Friday 12 June, 2015

Not By The Hair of My Ginny Gin Gin! 8 Gins to Drink on World Gin Day





    Confession time: Gin and I go way back. In fact, while most of my friends in those experimental teen years broke their boozy teeth on cheap beer, wine and malt coolers if not Southern Comfort or some treacly schnapps flavor, I decided to go straight for gin. Partially motivated by Anglophilia, partially by […]




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Confession time: Gin and I go way back. In fact, while most of my friends in those experimental teen years broke their boozy teeth on cheap beer, wine and malt coolers if not Southern Comfort or some treacly schnapps flavor, I decided to go straight for gin. Partially motivated by Anglophilia, partially by some kind of young punk sense of “If I’m going to drink alcohol, I’m not going to hide it,” my first experiences with alcohol were with classic, unadorned, London dry.

That was pretty much all you could get back then (and not particularly well made versions, if memory serves), so my quirky decision actually probably limited my intake until I was old enough to over indulge legally. #unintendedconsequences

Nowadays, Gin varieties have exploded—like every spirit category, sure, but arguably to an even greater extent, perhaps just because gin had been narrowed down so severely in the second half of the 20th Century. And it’s even got its own World Gin Day, which if you know the chequered history of gin (the tragic Gin Craze of 18th Century London, the dubious politics of gin-drinking British soldiers during the British Raj) is a bit dangerous.

But gin is also becoming one of those spirits that’s doing a great job of crossing borders and allowing regional identities to shine through, from Tanqueray Malacca and Bombay Sapphire East to Argentina’s Principe De Los Apostoles Mate Gin, so perhaps there’s hope that gin can again become one of the world’s most universal spirits, in a peaceful context.

Anyway, even though my tastes have broadened considerably since adolescence, I have more than a few gins in my home bar, and thought this would be a great occasion to taste them against each other. I tried to build the tasting based on progression of expected flavor profiles, and I think I did a pretty good job at that…

Unless noted, the spirits are all crystal clear and 80 proof.

Few Standard Issue (limited edition, Navy strength): Sweetish softly herbal juniper flower nose; mouth is round sage and herbs, peppery with long finish

St.George Terroir (90 proof): Created to take pride in its California sourcing, Terroir is infused with Douglas, California bay laurel, coastal sage “and other evocative botanicals.” On the nose, you definitely get the fir and laurel; the mouth is surprisingly restrained and soft, floral and pine notes. Sippable.

Martin Miller’s: The successful ‘pet’ project of late antiques expert and hotelier Martin Miller is distilled twice and for some arcane reasons isn’t technically London Dry, but really it is the ultimate London Dry. Classic juniper/lime peel forward nose; sweet and soft coriander, angelica, cassia  mouth. Long lasting but not bracing, a little licorice in the end.

Few American : Not a strong nose. Woody, vanillin round mouth, a bit sour lemon oil-iodine, very slight juniper and pepper finish.

Hendrick’s: Clean archetypal nose of cucumber and citrus oils; mouth soft chamomile and elderflower but also salt and pepper, a little orange oil, long finish

Anchor Old Tom: Medicinal nose; mouth smooth caramel, iodine, white pepper, pepper flakes, very long finish

Few Barrel Gin: Light gold color; Woody, foresty nose with sweet vanilla; Mouth soft but salty before sweet fennel, black pepper, alcohol.

Bols Genever barrel aged: Very light straw color; Malty nose; soft, sweet, oaty mouth with very soft bite at the end.

Conclusions? Gin style is definitely a preference, although quality within them, less so… having said that, I would have to say I think my palate has evolved, and I’m less enamored of the dry styles of Martin Miller’s and Hendrick’s, though of course they’re both well made. The St. George and Bols Genever Barrel Aged would be the ones I’m likely to go back to most. I didn’t like the Anchor initially, but it’s growing on me. FEW’s gins are acceptable, but I think they do a better job with whiskey.

 


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