Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

New Generation Gins


  • Please log in to reply
369 replies to this topic

#241 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,109 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 29 July 2010 - 02:04 PM

Not for nothing was it recently suggested to me that many of these were designed as spirits that don't particularly taste like gin by people who don't particularly like gin to be sold to to people who don't particularly like the taste of gin but for some reason want to drink something called "gin."

Honestly... if you don't like juniper, then why would you want to drink gin? And, again, I am in no way saying that any of these products is necessarily a bad quality product. The quality of the product is an entirely separate issue.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#242 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 19,626 posts
  • Location:Rhode Island

Posted 29 July 2010 - 02:12 PM

The vodka field is so crowded right now that it must be nearly impossible to introduce a new product with any chance of getting a foothold; not so with gin. Lots more bar and store shelf space, in particular.

In addition, I've heard many people say, "I know you say you don't like gin, but you'll like this gin." Suddenly, people who hate gin like it. Or "it," depending on your perspective.
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#243 bostonapothecary

bostonapothecary
  • participating member
  • 1,265 posts
  • Location:have shaker will travel

Posted 29 July 2010 - 02:29 PM

for me i don't need some establishments authoritative definition of gin. i'm a connoisseur. i'm my own authority. i don't even need bottles labeled to conform to my opinions. we probably don't need consumer protection from bad art. if people want to make "sprite eau-de-vie" and call it gin let them. as long as i have buying options.


any liquor establishment would have a hard time regulating gin because we don't even know enough about the nature of aromas to force a quantifiable definition. "a gin must have X grams of extract from juniper per liter." this wouldn't cut it. the "dry" in london dry refers to the tension between aromas that decrease the perception of sweetness (and contributions from alcoholic proof) and aromas that increase the perception. its beyond our means to force a sense of tension and it constrains innovation. many potential gin botanicals exist on either side of that tension.


my definition of gin is:

1. contains juniper. my favorites being the juniper dominated. though i also like hops as an juniper alternative.

2. cheap. gin is full of opportunity for ingenuity. so many producers waste effort and money making their own intensely neutral spirits at poor economies of scale when the creative linkage of their botanicals is weak. you can make gins i'd call great for low dollars.

3. gin is full of protectionism and high art exclusivity. and its part of the fun! the science of producing gin is barely public knowledge. which is why so many new producers struggle to produce anything great. established producers also create barriers to entry by claiming the usage of botanicals that are insignificant to their recipes. new producers apparently fall for it. so many new products smells more like sprite or black pepper because bombay saphire tricked everyone into thinking their success was due to botanicals like cubebs and grains of paradise.

the evolutions of a less dry style to appeal to the vodka convert doesn't sum it all up for me. i believe it is because the most economically significant gin drink is/was the martini and many producers internalized the aromatic contributions of dry vermouth (stole vermouth's market share in the drink) and the lemon twist. for the last several decades barely a bartender knew how to effectively use a lemon twist. they only served inert pieces of rind so there was an incentive to internalize their effect.

now that the vermouth free martini is less economically significant, demand will grow for truly dry gins that create pleasurable tension when mixed with loud adjuncts (think grenadine) that increase the perception of sweetness (we love the tension).

people are also back to acquiring acquired tastes. through great bar experiences, the dissonant pine tree is becoming the consonant soul purifier.

Edited by bostonapothecary, 29 July 2010 - 02:36 PM.

abstract expressionist beverage compounder
creator of acquired tastes
bostonapothecary.com

#244 KD1191

KD1191
  • participating member
  • 941 posts
  • Location:New York

Posted 29 July 2010 - 02:45 PM

It's remarkable even to consider that people might be trading on the cachet of the term gin...
True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

#245 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,109 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 29 July 2010 - 03:55 PM

The vodka field is so crowded right now that it must be nearly impossible to introduce a new product with any chance of getting a foothold; not so with gin. Lots more bar and store shelf space, in particular.

Chris, I am sure that's part of it. It's true that there is a desire among people to drink something called "gin" for whatever reason. I do fear however, that these people can be a bit like those who wanted to drink a "Martini" out of the V-shaped glass without actually, yanno, liking Martinis.

In addition, I've heard many people say, "I know you say you don't like gin, but you'll like this gin." Suddenly, people who hate gin like it. Or "it," depending on your perspective.

Right. Part of the difficulty there is that this person likes the product they have been served, but doesn't necessarily like gin. But now having this idea that such-and-such product is "gin" they go and try an Aviation or a Ramos Fizz or a Martinez or a Clover Club or a Gin Gin Mule or a Gimlet with this product, and: "Yuck! It completely doesn't work. It's terrible. I'm sticking to my North Shore #6 'Fleur de Lys' cocktail that has those flowery flavors that go with it." An actual juniper-flavored gin, of course, would work in all those drinks. So what we have is not someone who likes gin. but rather someone who likes North Shore #6, which is more or less sui generis. (NB. I am using North Shore #6 purely as an example spirit based on KD1191's description of it as high quality and floral but not very gin-like -- not saying anything bad about it.)

It's remarkable even to consider that people might be trading on the cachet of the term gin...

Yea. I will say that that's pretty cool.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#246 Splificator

Splificator
  • participating member
  • 527 posts
  • Location:Brooklyn

Posted 29 July 2010 - 04:33 PM

...I could get behind your argument that there needs to be a different designation for these "gin like" spirits that have other flavors which are stronger than juniper, so long as the designation makes this clear. "New breed gin" or "new western dry gin" don't satisfy this requirement for me, because they still lead to the expectation that the spirit will have the traditional juniper flavor that defines gin. And they are clearly presenting themselves as being more or less in the same category of spirit. But, for example, "infused gin" or "flavored gin" wouldn't particularly bother me. Both those designations would make it clear that the product was going to have some prominent flavor other than the traditional flavor profile of gin, but that the traditional juniper component would be in the background somewhere. And these kinds of designations would also make clear that it isn't really gin. One doesn't expect a whole lot of whiskey character in "flavored rye whiskey," and one also doesn't expect that "flavored rye whiskey" is going to behave like rye whiskey. Perhaps this is what you're getting at? It would be a bit like Orangerie calling itself a "Scotch whisky infusion."

I'll jump in briefly to note that I've taken to calling these spirits "International Style" gins, since like International Style architecture they're not grounded in any one nation's historical tradition of spirit-making, they're cheap to construct, sleek and anodyne.

I think the real key to the sudden deluge of these things is the saturation of the vodka market, as has been pointed out here. Gin is almost as cheap to make as vodka, since it requires no aging before it can be sold (as opposed to, say, old rye whiskey, peach brandy or maple rum, to pick three things I'd like to see much more of) and the botanicals aren't all that expensive in the greater scheme of things. You're still working with GNS, and that's easy. Yet it has a marketable cachet (as has also been pointed out), if perhaps one that requires a little more work than vodka.
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#247 Alcuin

Alcuin
  • participating member
  • 644 posts
  • Location:Madison, WI

Posted 29 July 2010 - 05:06 PM

I like this and I think there's a resemblance to international style wines, made with little local character and designed to appeal to the masses who don't like the subtlety and structure you tend to find in local traditions, especially those from the Old World.

As for gin having cachet, I do think that's kind of cool but when you boil it down to the fact that there's a saturated vodka market and the next best installed base is gin, with concomitant dollars spent by the likes of Tanqueray to market not just their brand but the spirit itself, this coat-tail riding has likely only just begun. But if I can get one or two good gins out of it, I can ignore the junk. I don't know if it fits this category, but I quite like Small's which I only use in some applications but when I do it shines (eg martini with grapefruit bitters, gin fizz). Still takes a bit of judgment to match it though, that's why Beefeater's is my go to.
nunc est bibendum...

#248 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 19,626 posts
  • Location:Rhode Island

Posted 29 July 2010 - 05:34 PM

So, Dave, I'll push a bit on this "Define 'gin'" issue. Why do you call 'em gins? Because the distillers call 'em gins?
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#249 Splificator

Splificator
  • participating member
  • 527 posts
  • Location:Brooklyn

Posted 29 July 2010 - 06:33 PM

Well, ok, yeah. As long as there's a way to differentiate them from London gins (dry or Old Tom), Plymouth gins or Hollands, I'm fine with people calling them gin. I don't mind Canadian whisky being called whisky (kidding!). Seriously, American whiskey is a poor representation of Scotch/Irish whisk(e)y, although delicious in its own right, and English gin a piss-poor version of Hollands, although again wonderful in its own right. You can rarely make Scotch drinks with rye or Hollands drinks with Old Tom or London dry. (London gins' heavy use of botanicals was originally derided and held up as an example of adulteration, given that the Dutch only used juniper and perhaps a handful of hops, relying on expensive malt and rye to give flavor to their product.)

If you think about it, these International-Style things do function as gins--they emphasize the botanicals, not the base spirit (obviously this is where Hollands differs from its many and more successful children) and, more importantly, they're invariably mixed, not drunk straight. You just have to invent your own cocktails for them. That, too, is nothing new: the Dry Martini was an English gin drink, not a Hollands one, and indeed helped kill the category. As long as that doesn't happen to London dry, I'm cool.

What I'd like to see, then, is these things deciding on a goddamn subcategory and identifying themselves with it, so when I'm fixing to Mart up or drink some Aviations or whatnot i won't drop $35 on something that tastes like my grandmother's potpourri boiled in drilling mud.

Chances o them doing that? Slim. Ah, well.
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#250 KD1191

KD1191
  • participating member
  • 941 posts
  • Location:New York

Posted 29 July 2010 - 07:31 PM

So, of course as soon as I get done talking about how I don't particularly care for North Shore #6, I sidle down to the watering hole and order up a "Bronx with Bitters" from a new (to me) bartender...he looks me over and extracts a North Shore bottle from the back bar. "I don't normally care for the Bronx, I find it far too flat," he says (insulting my favorite classic cocktail), "so, I'm going to amp it up a bit with this." He produces North Shore "Mighty Gin"...according to him, a bar/restaurant-only (for now, at least) over-proof version of #6. I didn't catch the exact proof, but I know it was well over 100. To put it bluntly, it was wicked. I still don't know how much juniper I was tasting, but the finished cocktail was really nothing short of amazing...

Words partially eaten, they went down fine with a shot of Fernet.
True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

#251 brinza

brinza
  • participating member
  • 466 posts
  • Location:Pittsburgh

Posted 29 July 2010 - 08:00 PM

Similar ambiguities are arising in the world of vodkas as well. Amongst the flavored vodkas (which aren't just flavored, but have significant sugar added to them), we have iced tea flavored vodka. Really? This isn't flavored vodka, it's tea with vodka. They didn't stop there: now there are flavored tea flavored vodkas. So any crap with alcohol is *vodka these days? Then, in another vein, we have things like bison grass flavored vodka. I don't know what bison grass even is, but it sounds to me like a botanical. So from one end, we've got nearly juniperless gins and from the other end we've got vodka with botanicals. Will they eventually meet in the middle, maybe overlap? Then what?

Certainly there is room for innovation, but while at first I didn't mind these newer products being called gin, I have to agree that their proliferation is distorting the notion of what gin really is. A consumer browsing a shop and considering untried brands should at least be afforded some reasonable expectation of what a product is by its categorical designation stated on the bottle. When I tasted New Amsterdam, for example, I realized just how far away from actual gin a product called "gin" can be.

I say we call them Melange Botanique.
Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

#252 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,109 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 30 July 2010 - 05:08 AM

If you think about it, these International-Style things do function as gins--they emphasize the botanicals, not the base spirit (obviously this is where Hollands differs from its many and more successful children) and, more importantly, they're invariably mixed, not drunk straight. You just have to invent your own cocktails for them. That, too, is nothing new: the Dry Martini was an English gin drink, not a Hollands one, and indeed helped kill the category. As long as that doesn't happen to London dry, I'm cool.

What I'd like to see, then, is these things deciding on a goddamn subcategory and identifying themselves with it, so when I'm fixing to Mart up or drink some Aviations or whatnot i won't drop $35 on something that tastes like my grandmother's potpourri boiled in drilling mud.

Chances o them doing that? Slim. Ah, well.

If we take this view, however, wouldn't it at some point be possible to market aquavit as "gin"? Although I suppose you could make the argument that gin and aquavit are already the same thing: GNS that emphasizes the botanicals over the base spirit.

I suppose I could get behind a new category of gin that means "there's a touch of juniper in there somewhere, along with a bunch of other stuff that's in the forefront." But considering that these products are all really, when it comes down to it, representing themselves as having a commonality with traditional gin ("riding their coattails" one might say), I agree that the chances of them doing that are exceedingly slim.

Certainly there is room for innovation, but while at first I didn't mind these newer products being called gin, I have to agree that their proliferation is distorting the notion of what gin really is. A consumer browsing a shop and considering untried brands should at least be afforded some reasonable expectation of what a product is by its categorical designation stated on the bottle. When I tasted New Amsterdam, for example, I realized just how far away from actual gin a product called "gin" can be.

I say we call them Melange Botanique.

Something like that would be fine with me... and it would also free the various producers from using token amounts of juniper.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#253 evo-lution

evo-lution
  • participating member
  • 437 posts

Posted 30 July 2010 - 08:25 AM

I don't think the issue of who decides matters overly much to the general subject at debate. Clearly, whoever makes the regulatory determination has decided that some products with very little juniper character are allowed to call themselves "gin."


Of course it matters, otherwise you're just complaining for the sake of complaining. The way I'm reading it is that you have an issue with products that aren't juniper-led calling themselves gin, the point I've repeatedly made is that there is a grey area because there isn't really anyone who decides if something is juniper-led or not.

But this is quite separate from one's ability to debate or indeed complain about the prevalence of products out there calling themselves "gin" that don't seem to have the predominant flavor of juniper which is the single most important defining characteristic of the spirit. As to this point, naturally, people who agree that a defining characteristic of gin is having a predominant flavor of juniper may reasonably disagree as to whether a specific product does or does not have such predominant flavor. This is why we have these discussions. Suggesting that one shouldn't debate or complain about these things is a bit like saying that one isn't allowed to debate or complain about bitters that aren't bitter or transplantation of American rootstock onto European grape vines because that water has run under the bridge.


I have not suggested that people shouldn't debate or complain, my issue was against the hypocrisy displayed earlier (which I've already covered and not going over again).

I have pointed out the reason why I added my thoughts to this thread, it had turned into a tirade against micro distilleries which I thought was wholly unfair. If they're not giving you what you expect don't buy their products. And at the same time, don't compare the price point of an international brand to a small micro, that's beyond ridiculous.

(1)What you seem to be arguing -- and perhaps I have simply misunderstood you -- is that having a predominant flavor of juniper is not a defining characteristic of gin, but only a defining characteristic of London dry gin, and that the so-called "new western dry gins" simply exist as a different designation of gin that does not include having predominant flavor of juniper as a defining characteristic. (2) If it is incorrect or mistaken, I would like to hear your position on this stated in a similarly clear manner. Or are you, rather, arguing that it's all a judgment call so we should stop debating/complaining because who can say one way or the other (more on which below)?


(1) One of my first posts (post #206) was asking Erik if his viewpoint was in regards the debate of London Dry Gins versus New World/Western Gins.

(2) My position is that there is a grey area within the definition of gin which now means another category is evolving within it. Genever > Old Tom > London Dry > New World

It seems to me that both the United States and EU regulations as to what can be called a "gin" under any designation quite clearly specify that the spirit must have a predominant flavor of juniper. Would you agree that's true?


I've already covered this point and acknowledged the definition of gin but for the last time;

Who is it that ultimately decides it has a predominant flavour of juniper?

You seem to have argued (and again, please correct my misinterpretations of your arguments where they exist) that it's only "London dry gin" that needs to be "juniper led." Perhaps you could start by explaining what "juniper led" means? This is a term I have only heard used by you. How is this different from "having a predominant flavor of juniper"?


Juniper-led and having a predominant flavour of juniper are one and the same, I use the term juniper-led as it's quicker to type.

As for what you think I am arguing, see my next point.

It also seems to me from reading the EU regulations, that many of the "juniper deprived" new gins out there should be able to qualify as London dry gins if they wanted to. The main difference between "distilled gin" and "London gin" as outlined by the EU regulations is that "London gin" has to be made exclusively by distilling high quality ethyl alcohol in the presence of natural plant materials to 70% abv, whereas "distilled gin" only has to distill juniper berries with a lower quality of ethyl alcohol, is allowed to use essences, etc. for the other flavorings and does not seem required to distill up to a specific percent abv. In fact, the EU regulations for London gin don't say anything about the presence of juniper flavor at all, except to say that it is "a type of distilled gin" which presumably means that it is subject to the same requirement that the "juniper taste is predominant." So, for example, if Hendrick's gin (which has already apparently passed the "predominant flavor of juniper" test) were flavored exclusively by distillation instead of adding cucumber and rose essences, there is nothing about the flavor profile that would prevent if from proclaiming itself a "London gin" despite not being "juniper led."


Production methods Sam, production methods...

"If your aunt had balls she'd be your uncle."

The EU regulations were brought in to tighten up the category and were based on production methods, not taste.

It's why Martin Miller's used to say London Dry on the bottle, but don't any more.

What I see through all of these traditions except for some of the "new breed" is juniper. And I would argue that it is juniper character that has enabled gin to work in such a vast repertoire of cocktails throughout the ages.


Evolution.

Edited by evo-lution, 30 July 2010 - 08:27 AM.

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

#254 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,109 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 30 July 2010 - 10:34 AM

I don't think the issue of who decides matters overly much to the general subject at debate. Clearly, whoever makes the regulatory determination has decided that some products with very little juniper character are allowed to call themselves "gin."

Of course it matters, otherwise you're just complaining for the sake of complaining. The way I'm reading it is that you have an issue with products that aren't juniper-led calling themselves gin, the point I've repeatedly made is that there is a grey area because there isn't really anyone who decides if something is juniper-led or not.

I disagree that it's "complaining for the sake of complaining" anymore than if would be "complaining for the sake of complaining" to remark that most of the Fee Brothers "bitters" products aren't actually bitter, and that this represents a defect in these products. Inherent in these comments and complaints, I suppose, is the premise that the regulators are getting it wrong. Considering that the current regulations were more or less put in place at the behest of certain producers who thought that their spirit category was being infringed upon, I suppose it's not impossible that they will agitate for more regulation of juniper character at some point in the future.

Out of curiosity (and I ask because you may know the answer to this question, which answer I do not know)... are we sure there is no person or persons who decides if the product has a predominant flavor of gin? If there aren't such persons, then what is the point of having legal regulations, standards of identification, etc. that involve these qualitative distinctions? Why not simply say that you're allowed to call it gin so long as you throw some amount of juniper berries into the still and have done with it?


I have not suggested that people shouldn't debate or complain, my issue was against the hypocrisy displayed earlier (which I've already covered and not going over again).

What? That Tanqueray makes Rangpur? You certainly haven't heard me saying that I think it's a great product.


I have pointed out the reason why I added my thoughts to this thread, it had turned into a tirade against micro distilleries which I thought was wholly unfair. If they're not giving you what you expect don't buy their products. And at the same time, don't compare the price point of an international brand to a small micro, that's beyond ridiculous.

Well, we part ways there. I don't believe it is "beyond ridiculous" to observe that there are a lot of products coming out of micros that cost 40% more than many brands of notably higher quality (not all of which are made by the international giants, I should hasten to add). I don't believe this is beyond ridiculous because there is abundant evidence before us on the shelves of bars and liquor stores that it is indeed possible to make a small batch product that evidences an understanding of the spirit category and is reasonably positioned vis-a-vis other brands on a quality/price basis.

A good example of this might be Redemption Rye whiskey that just came out. They haven't been around long enough to compete in terms of age, but they have managed to make a very interesting product by doing a 95% rye grain mash bill and releasing it at high proof. It's a couple of dollars more per bottle than Wild Turkey and Rittenhouse, and a few dollars less per bottle than Baby Sazerac. Ultimately, Redemption Rye isn't quite as good yet as these other products because it isn't aged long enough. But it's a very high quality product made by people who clearly love, understand and respect the tradition, and it has the additional interest of having an amplified rye character that maybe makes you reach for it sometimes rather than some other ostensibly higher quality brands. So, giving some consideration to the "price spread" this rye is pretty competitive on a quality and a price basis. Meanwhile, this is a lot more difficult and expensive to do with whiskey than it is with gin.

Another example might be Ransom Old Tom. This stuff is priced at around ten dollars more than Tanqueray, but is such an interesting product of high quality and historical interest (and it also isn't made with GNS) that it more than justifies the price. Still another example is Anchor's Junipero, an outstanding product of high quality and broad usefulness made by people who clearly understand and love gin. Only around $5 more per bottle than Tanqueray. Both of these products, albeit in different ways, compete very well on a price and quality basis.

My position is that there is a grey area within the definition of gin which now means another category is evolving within it. Genever > Old Tom > London Dry > New World

So maybe we should call it something else?


I think it's noteworthy that "genever" means "juniper" and so this juniper-flavored malty/sweet spirit evolved into a herb-forward sweet juniper-flavored spirit which then evolved into a herb-forward dry juniper-flavored spirit. And what's the common thread there? Juniper. So, I don't necessarily dispute that some other evolution may be taking place, but part of what happens in evolution is that sometimes you don't end up with some evolved form of the same species, but rather a new species. At some point it's no longer Homo erectus and now it's Homo sapiens. And maybe sometimes this is mostly clear in retrospect. I think it's noteworthy, for example, that we don't typically call genever "gin" anymore. We understand it as being different from this herb-focused spirit we call "gin" today. That some evolution may be taking place seems clear. Whether this will be a lasting evolution or a momentary departure last remains to be seen (wine coolers and white zinfandel once seemed like they would stick around, after all, and we even seem to finally be seeing the end of calling every cocktail a "something-or-other Martini"). But I think it's reasonable to suggest that if it evolves away from containing the noteworthy presence of juniper, maybe it has evolved into a different species that isn't "gin" any more (fwiw the word "gin" is etymologically derived as gin > geneva > genever > "juniper"). Time will tell. In the meantime we will see some interesting and not-so-interesting products.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#255 EvergreenDan

EvergreenDan
  • participating member
  • 992 posts
  • Location:Boston

Posted 30 July 2010 - 11:23 AM

So if I've got this straight, international-style gins are made by domestic companies and non-international-style gins are made by international companies? I need a Martini.
Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

#256 Alcuin

Alcuin
  • participating member
  • 644 posts
  • Location:Madison, WI

Posted 30 July 2010 - 12:09 PM

So if I've got this straight, international-style gins are made by domestic companies and non-international-style gins are made by international companies? I need a Martini.


Not necessarily-Junipero has a traditional profile as far as I'm concerned while Rangpur does not. Bombay Sapphire is from England, etc. I'd say its a style, like international wine, which can be made pretty much anywhere. International style is inoffensive to the palate and pushes fruitiness and plushness. This is at the expensive of the structure that a core of juniper gives you which is a baseline around which other botanicals may constellate, making for broad usability as well as innovation. My two cents anyway.

Edited to say: don't they market Damrak as "international style"? I wonder what they mean by this...

Edited by Alcuin, 30 July 2010 - 12:20 PM.

nunc est bibendum...

#257 Splificator

Splificator
  • participating member
  • 527 posts
  • Location:Brooklyn

Posted 30 July 2010 - 12:24 PM

So if I've got this straight, international-style gins are made by domestic companies and non-international-style gins are made by international companies? I need a Martini.

. . . and "Geneva" is from Holland, not Switzerland, and if you make it anywhere but in the Benelux countries and tiny slivers of France and Germany you have to find some name of your own for it, and "London dry gin" can be made anywhere but Plymouth, where you have to call it "Plymouth gin," and "distilled gin" is distilled, but so is every other gin, and Old Tom gin is sweetened except when it isn't, and . . . . Ah, t'hell with it. I'll join you in that martini. Up, please, not too dry. Twist.
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#258 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,109 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 30 July 2010 - 12:35 PM

. . . and "Geneva" is from Holland, not Switzerland . . .

Where I grew up in Boston, this was simply the way one pronounces "genever." :wink:

Edited by slkinsey, 30 July 2010 - 12:35 PM.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#259 Splificator

Splificator
  • participating member
  • 527 posts
  • Location:Brooklyn

Posted 30 July 2010 - 12:49 PM


. . . and "Geneva" is from Holland, not Switzerland . . .

Where I grew up in Boston, this was simply the way one pronounces "genever." :wink:

And those Bostonites were originally from . . . ?

What's yours?
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#260 EvergreenDan

EvergreenDan
  • participating member
  • 992 posts
  • Location:Boston

Posted 30 July 2010 - 01:39 PM

Up, please, not too dry. Twist.


Not too dry? 3/4 oz of Punt e Mes for you. :)

As I live in a Bauhaus-style home, I'm not too fond of "international-style" being used to mean "watered down for lowbrow tastes." Humph. But then my house was designed by an American. From Germany. Oh dear.

Oh, and Dave, it's Bostonian and it's "wicked pissa Geneva". I have friends who's relatives still live in Holland. It's funny to listen to them talk about being subjected to shots of Genever whenever they go there. Sounds like fun to me.

Edited by EvergreenDan, 30 July 2010 - 01:41 PM.

Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

#261 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,109 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 30 July 2010 - 01:53 PM



. . . and "Geneva" is from Holland, not Switzerland . . .

Where I grew up in Boston, this was simply the way one pronounces "genever." :wink:

And those Bostonites were originally from . . . ?

Ireland and England?
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#262 Splificator

Splificator
  • participating member
  • 527 posts
  • Location:Brooklyn

Posted 30 July 2010 - 02:14 PM

Oh, and Dave, it's Bostonian and it's "wicked pissa Geneva". I have friends who's relatives still live in Holland. It's funny to listen to them talk about being subjected to shots of Genever whenever they go there. Sounds like fun to me.

That's because it is fun! Kopstootjes all around! Screw the Martinis. We'll never agree on them anyway.
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#263 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,109 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 30 July 2010 - 02:18 PM

Speaking of which, if the web site is accurate, Astor Wines has a very good deal going on Bols Genever at $33 a bottle ($42 being more common around here).
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#264 evo-lution

evo-lution
  • participating member
  • 437 posts

Posted 30 July 2010 - 03:53 PM

Out of curiosity (and I ask because you may know the answer to this question, which answer I do not know)... are we sure there is no person or persons who decides if the product has a predominant flavor of gin? If there aren't such persons, then what is the point of having legal regulations, standards of identification, etc. that involve these qualitative distinctions? Why not simply say that you're allowed to call it gin so long as you throw some amount of juniper berries into the still and have done with it?


It's not been said that no person decides, I've been asking the question who is it that decides? The EU must have some sort of say in it as as the legislation on London Dry only came into play recently but I can't speak for gins from the rest of the World.

What? That Tanqueray makes Rangpur? You certainly haven't heard me saying that I think it's a great product.


That wasn't necessarily the sole point.

Well, we part ways there. I don't believe it is "beyond ridiculous" to observe that there are a lot of products coming out of micros that cost 40% more than many brands of notably higher quality (not all of which are made by the international giants, I should hasten to add). I don't believe this is beyond ridiculous because there is abundant evidence before us on the shelves of bars and liquor stores that it is indeed possible to make a small batch product that evidences an understanding of the spirit category and is reasonably positioned vis-a-vis other brands on a quality/price basis.


The comparisons made earlier in the thread were ridiculous in my opinion when it comes to price-point.

Obviously there are exceptions to the rule but for the most part the smaller companies cannot compete with larger brands.

Another example might be Ransom Old Tom. This stuff is priced at around ten dollars more than Tanqueray, but is such an interesting product of high quality and historical interest (and it also isn't made with GNS) that it more than justifies the price. Still another example is Anchor's Junipero, an outstanding product of high quality and broad usefulness made by people who clearly understand and love gin. Only around $5 more per bottle than Tanqueray. Both of these products, albeit in different ways, compete very well on a price and quality basis.


Again though, this is just your opinion which was another point I was trying to make. Taste is entirely subjective. Some may feel that these micros are under-valued, over-valued, or whatever.

So maybe we should call it something else?


I've no issue with them falling under the umbrella of gin (which is already a diverse category from Genever through to London Dry) so long as they know what they are (which at the moment no-one does). New World sounds fine to me...

Anyway, enough of this chat, I'm having a Martinez. With Boker's of course. ;)
Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

#265 brinza

brinza
  • participating member
  • 466 posts
  • Location:Pittsburgh

Posted 30 July 2010 - 08:25 PM

Well, anyone who has spent the last ten days or so following this thread deserves a martini by now. I had one tonight, in fact. Also I blame Chris for the fact that I have just run out of CAF. He keeps going on about Martinezeses made with CAF, so I started making them that way, and now my wife has decided that she likes Martinezes (to my utter astonishment) and she downed two of them tonight. Luckily, the week after next, I will have the opportunity to obtain some more. I'll probably also be able to get a hold of Junipero and even Damrak. I've heard that Damrak is really genever even though they call it gin on the bottle (here we go again). What's the consensus on it (ie whether it's good and whether it is in fact representative of genever--I don't care about what it should be called)?
Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

#266 Alcuin

Alcuin
  • participating member
  • 644 posts
  • Location:Madison, WI

Posted 30 July 2010 - 11:57 PM

Well, anyone who has spent the last ten days or so following this thread deserves a martini by now. I had one tonight, in fact. Also I blame Chris for the fact that I have just run out of CAF. He keeps going on about Martinezeses made with CAF, so I started making them that way, and now my wife has decided that she likes Martinezes (to my utter astonishment) and she downed two of them tonight. Luckily, the week after next, I will have the opportunity to obtain some more. I'll probably also be able to get a hold of Junipero and even Damrak. I've heard that Damrak is really genever even though they call it gin on the bottle (here we go again). What's the consensus on it (ie whether it's good and whether it is in fact representative of genever--I don't care about what it should be called)?


I'm certainly no authority but I did drink some Damrak this very night and it doesn't bear much resemblance to genever. It's got some more body maybe, but nothing like the maltiness of the real deal. As a baseline, I'd compare it to London Dry.
nunc est bibendum...

#267 Splificator

Splificator
  • participating member
  • 527 posts
  • Location:Brooklyn

Posted 31 July 2010 - 06:39 AM

Obviously there are exceptions to the rule but for the most part the smaller companies cannot compete with larger brands.

See, this speaks to the heart of my objections--which are by no means universal--with a some of what's being called craft distilling these days. I don't see why I should have to pay a 25%+ premium to fund somebody's effort to compete head-to-head with an established brand, even if the product is just as refined, mature, perfected. And usually you can't even say that: given the choice between paying $45 for a half-bottle of speed-aged local rye and $25 for a full bottle of six-year-old, I'll take the latter.

With many of these new gins, it looks very much to me like they're using the consumer to fund their learning curve, banking on the belief that local pride will create a market for them that they can't earn on taste alone. (Try tasting your local favorite blind in a line up of its peers; results can be eye-opening.)

Again, there are many exceptions. But to me the beauty and utility of craft distilling lie in finding blank spots in the pallette of available spirits and filling them in; markets the big companies have either abandoned or not yet identified. The Kuchan Peach Brandy from California is a perfect example. Peach eau-de-vie, barrel aged and delicious. Sure, it costs $43 a half-bottle, but I can't go out and buy a six-year-old version of it from Wild Turkey or Sazerac at a quarter of the price. I wish more of these small distillers had the vision to do something like that, rather than bubbling GNS through a random assortment of botanicals, not omitting a hint of juniper, and calling it "gin."

Square One are entirely to be applauded, IMHO, for throwing away that marketing crutch and calling their entry "Botanical Spirit." I wish we could get everyone else to adopt a similar label, but that ain't gonna happen. So gin it is.
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#268 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,109 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 31 July 2010 - 08:35 AM

Thank you Dave for articulating the core of my argument here in a way that is both infinitely more succinct and also more far more clear than I was able to do.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#269 evo-lution

evo-lution
  • participating member
  • 437 posts

Posted 31 July 2010 - 07:26 PM

See, this speaks to the heart of my objections--which are by no means universal--with a some of what's being called craft distilling these days.


I think this gets to the heart of the matter as the craft explosion seems to be a lot more prevalent in the US (although similar things are happening over here) so I'm only exposed to a small minority of what you guys have at your disposal.

In the UK there are smaller companies emerging (let's talk specifically about gin to keep it on topic) but for the most part their products are pretty damn good and they stay true to tradition. Darnley's View, Sipsmith's, Chase and Sacred to name but a few...

At the same time there are other brands calling themselves gin just for the hell of it, but they're largely ignored, well they are in this house anyway. ;)
Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

#270 Splificator

Splificator
  • participating member
  • 527 posts
  • Location:Brooklyn

Posted 01 August 2010 - 05:38 AM

Yeah, over here there is a good deal of small-scale distilling going on. That is a very good thing in the long run; I don't think anyone would argue with that. But "small scale" is not automatically synonymous with "craft," just as "large-scale" is not antonymous (why do we never use that word?) to it. I think that's the gist of what Sam and I are saying (oh, and thanks, Sam!). We're far from the only ones--the whiskey writer Chuck Cowdery, for example, has been on about this for some time.

Some of the small-scale producers are making traditional-style London gins, with purchased GNS and the usual botanicals. Their gins taste "normal" and work just fine in the classic gin cocktails. If their prices are within a few bucks of the Tanquerays, Plymouths and Beefeaters of this world, then I don't particularly mind spending a little bit extra to encourage a small local business, but I'm also not going to trumpet the stuff as the greatest thing since juniper met ethanol. If their prices are appreciably higher than that, then I'll pass.

Others still use purchased GNS, but come up with their own, often hasty and random-seeming (although definitely not juniper driven), botanical formulae, wrap the mantle of art around themselves--"we're redefining the category of gin," etc. etc.--and charge people through the nose for the privilege of trying their "hand-crafted" formula. I'm tired of these. I participate in a lot of blind tastings, and they rarely fare well in them.

Yet others actually are hand-crafting their gins: long-time, experienced distillers who are making all or at least a significant part of their base spirit from mash, coming up with either painstakingly-researched historical formulae that enable us to wake up old recipes or patiently developed new formulae that are balanced, clean and delightful. I don't think anybody's arguing against them. Unfortunately, they're in the minority. My hope is that as some of the enterpreneurs and career-changers who populate the first two categories gain experience they're going to step up their games; come out with better or more interesting products. We'll see.
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895