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EvergreenDan

Gin that doesn't suck

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I'm generally happy with any number of mainstream gins: Bombay (usually regular, but Sapphire is fine too), Beefeater, and Tanqueray. And I've tried some strongly-flavored specialty gins.

 

  • Ransom Old Tom is very heavy on coriander. Too strongly flavored for a Martini, but makes an interesting Negroni.
  • Barr Hill (aged, not Old Tom). Also strongly flavored. Don't remember it clearly, but I recall being glad when the bottle was empty.
  • Botanist. Remember liking it, but don't remember exactly what it was like. Remember thinking it was spendy.
  • St George Terrior. Very strongly flavored, but don't recall it clearly.
  • St George Dry Rye aged. I think this was limited release. I recall liking it a lot. The non-aged is available I think, but you don't see it often.
  • Uncle Val's Botanical. Just bought this. Has a strange flavor that I can't quite place. Familiar, but strange. Disappointed.
  • Hendrick's. Too floral and cucumber.

 

So what are some good gins that aren't mainstream, but also aren't so out there that they make a poor Martini? Something a tiny bit unusual, but not batshit crazy? Not citrusy because I'm using it in a Martini where I don't care for citrus flavors. (Yeah, no orange bitters for me.) Not floral because grandma's soap should stay in the bathroom. I hate buying a whole bottle and then having to use it up in heavily disguised drinks like a Negroni. I wish I could buy a dozen nips and start sampling.

Thanks for your ideas.


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51 minutes ago, EvergreenDan said:

So what are some good gins that aren't mainstream, but also aren't so out there that they make a poor Martini?

Have you tried Sipsmith?  It's a pretty classic London dry but with its own flavor profile.  Excellent in a Martini.

 

54 minutes ago, EvergreenDan said:

Barr Hill (aged, not Old Tom). Also strongly flavored. Don't remember it clearly, but I recall being glad when the bottle was empty.

I liked the honey note of Barr Hill gin in a Bees Knees and in a martini.  Way too sweet for a G&T.  I liked it in a white Negroni but not in the traditional version.

 

49 minutes ago, EvergreenDan said:

Not floral because grandma's soap should stay in the bathroom

Stay away from Nolet Silver, it's overpoweringly floral. 

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Have you tried Ransom Dry Gin? It's our go-to gin at the moment.


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Hayman's London Dry. At my bar it beat out Beefeater and Ford's (which are both great), plus it's very affordable and completely a family business.

 

Cadenhead's Old Raj (the stronger of the two) is one of the best gins I've tried, and is made with saffron.

 

Barr Hill standard Gin is not aged, and is just flavored with juniper and honey. It's very light. You're probably thinking of the Tom Cat, which is aged and very strongly flavored.

 

Brooklyn Gin is quite a nice "new Western" style, makes a great 50-50 martini

 

Gin Mare and Mahon Gin from Spain are both complex and interesting...

 

The list goes on and on. If you're interested in tasting notes before committing to a full bottle, you might want to invest either in Tristan Stephenson's or Dave Broom's gin books, which have a lot of detail about the major available bottles.

 

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I drink gin regularly, and I appreciate your critique of Hendricks (which everyone around me seems to love, except for me). 

 

One to stay all the way away from is "Greenhook".  It's so nasty I keep thinking, I must not understand (I felt this way about mole poblano until I actually got to Oaxaca . . . but where was I --).  After two bottles I gave up.  

 

One that I'm currently enjoying, I mean for when I want something other than good ole' Plymouth, is called Martin Miller's:   "Blended in England Using Icelandic Spring Water."  

 

It took awhile for the gin buyer at my regular liquor store to convince me to try it.  And it turned out, he was right -- there's *something* atypical going on there, but not something crazy.  

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Thanks for the ideas. The  Barr Hill (aged) was not the Old Tom, which I see pretty regularly. It may have been a limited run.

I ended up buying the Monkey 47 and the Sipsmith. The Sipsmith is very typical with juniper front and center (but not overly so) and the other botanicals melded. I like it. It is very smooth, which makes me wonder if it has a touch of sugar or glycerin in it.

The Money 47 definitely has a slight weird aspect to the botanicals. I like it (and I found it for $55 right before I saw it for $59 - gulp).

We had three rounds of Martinis, which this morning seems like one too many. The third was the Uncle Val's Botanical, which after two Martinis seems interesting rather than just weird.

I've had Hayman's Royal Dock, which I do recall liking. The Navy Strength is good is some cocktails, but probably needs some time on ice in a Martini, or a different ratio.

I did inquire about gin nips, but they only had things mainstream things. It would be cool if someone could put together a sampler pack.

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Dunno if you can find it where you are, but Minnesota-made Tattersall is excellent.

 

Broker's gin is a straightforward and reasonably priced but nice quality gin from England. And it comes with a tiny hat.


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5 hours ago, EvergreenDan said:

I've had Hayman's Royal Dock, which I do recall liking. The Navy Strength is good is some cocktails, but probably needs some time on ice in a Martini, or a different ratio.


Until Royal Dock became scarce around here, we employed it in a Martini made 2:1 with Lillet Blanc, garnished with an orange twist, a ratio we picked up from a bartender at Holeman & Finch. If citrus in a Martini puts you off, maybe there's too much orange, but we like it. These days, we pour Plymouth Navy Strength as a substitute. It's not the same, but it packs the punch, proof-wise, that the ratio requires.

 

We also put the Plymouth to work in gimlets, where it's perfectly at home.

 

Gin is supposed to be juniper-forward isn't it? Having said that, we found Junipero took that a little too seriously. It's decently-made, but doesn't seem to play well with others. Also, it's on the expensive side. the same was true of several small northwest US offerings: lots of pine. I don't remember the names of any of them.

 

We quite liked Citadelle, until it priced itself out of our range. It is, or was, made by the same company that makes Landy cognac. I met the MD of Landy a few years back, and he told me that they started making gin just to employ their stills in the months when, by law, they weren't allowed to make cognac.

 

Aviation is another that's well-made but not to our taste. Too much -- coriander, IIRC.

 

Ford's is a good gin, and having been concocted by bartenders, is good for mixing. I'm looking forward to trying the higher-proof version, if it makes it here.

 

When money is tight, Gordon's is surprisingly good. We tried Seagram's, but it got a big no, even in the higher-proof version.

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Citadelle is made by Maison Ferrand. I have some issues with their practices in the rum department, but it's a great gin

 

Ford's Officer's Reserve is the navy strength one, and it's damn good

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